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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Year Without A Santa Claus Review

Premise:A ill Santa decides not to make his yearly trip, so his wife looks for another option.

Cast:Shirley Booth as Mrs. Claus, Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus, Bob McFadden as Jingle Bells, Bradley Bolke as Jangle Bells, Colin Duffy as Ignatius "Iggy" Thistlewhite, Dick Shawn as Snow Miser, George S. Irving as Heat Miser, Rhoda Mann as Mother Nature

Directors:Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.

Genres:Holiday, animation

Notes:Poster taken from IMDB.

Pros:Characters. Good dialogue. A couple of good songs.

Cons:Several strange or annoying musical numbers. One character serves no story purpose. Standard "Christmas without Santa" message. A couple of plot issues.

It happens to all of us. You've got something big you need to do, but then you get sick. Now all you want is a break from everything. But what if you're Santa Claus? How does that affect the world?

The two biggest strengths here are the dialogue and the characters. The former is often clever and kind of funny. The latter is the main reason to watch it. Jingle and Jangle made a fun duo. The Miser brothers (and their mom) brought something special to the table. But Iggy seemed like he was there just to have a human kid and could have easily been left out without affecting the story at all.

Several of the songs didn't really need to be in there. In the mayor's case, it's clear he doesn't believe the elves, so why does he sing about it snowing? Also the "I believe in Santa" number came off as preachy. The Miser brothers' songs were fun, though.

I mentioned a while ago that Christmas specials which push Santa as the only reason Christmas has any meaning are annoying. This is no exception. There were even hints of the idea that generosity is more important than getting gifts, but they don't go anywhere with that. Also, what was up with the inconsistently rhyming narration? Or with Vixen's age? How old is she now, and how old was she when she first made the Christmas Eve trip? And why did anybody think going to the mayor would solve their problems?

Overall, unless it has sentimental value for you, I wouldn't pay to see it. Wait for it to come on TV.

Sex:Nothing beyond terms of endearment between married couples.

Violence:Heat Miser shoots down the elves when they wander too close to his territory. Vixen gets rather sick and is separated from her friends. The Miser brothers hit each other with their respective powers. Heat Miser melts things, once laughing about it. After hearing Santa isn't coming, some of the kids thought he died. There's a chase between a "dog" and a cat.

Language:Just words like "heck" and "gosh". The Misers insult each other with cold and heat related puns.

Drugs/Alcohol:I heard somebody mention they saw pipe smoking.

Spiritual:A man says elves can work magic (it's unclear if he's right). One of the toys the elves work on is Noah's arks. A song tells listeners to say their prayers tonight. Heat Miser's lair is reminiscent of Hell.
Otherwise, most of the spiritual stuff is related to having faith in Santa's existence like you would in love. There's also use of the phrases "God bless my soul" and "speak of the devil".

So what did you think?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

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