Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pooh’s Christmas Adventure

Rabbit, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, and Christopher Robin draw up a Christmas list and send it to Santa Claus. They left out one little detail though -- they forgot to ask Pooh what he wants. Since Christmas is tomorrow, poor Pooh must rush to get the letter back, add his gifts to the list, and go to the North Pole to give the letter to Santa personally. While Pooh is away, his friends decide that the best present in the world is to spend the holidays all together.

Title: Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too
Release: December 14, 1991
Genre: Animation- TV Christmas Special
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne (characters)
Writer: Karl Geurs & Mark Zaslove
Director: Jamie Mitchell
Music By: Steve Nelson & Thom Sharp
Produced By: Jamie Mitchell and Ken Kessel
Distributed By: Walt Disney Company/ ABC
Run Time: 40 minutes

In the early 90’s the Disney Channel produced quite a few animated TV shows but none were as popular as The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Re-runs were shown as recently as 2006 after the original show was cancelled. Because of the huge audience response, quite a few holiday specials have been made in recent years. Especially for Halloween and Christmas! One of the best ones was Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too although you can only find it now on DVD edited and released as A Very Merry Pooh Year.

Who could resist “silly ol’ Winnie the Pooh” ? Certainly not me! I just adored this cartoon as a kid and I actually still have the coloring book based on this Christmas special. ABC decided to show it this year along with several other wonderful Christmas specials but unfortunately, they showed the edited version that cuts a few minor scenes to fit the required 30 minute length.

I just love how big-hearted Pooh is! He’s not even worried about his present once he realizes that his friends won’t get what they asked for and although it takes everyone else to realize the true meaning of Christmas, they eventually come around too. Hopefully next year we’ll get to see the whole thing on TV!

If you would like more information on Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too please check out the Wikipedia
article and as well.

Related Reviews
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Winnie the Pooh: A Celebration of the Silly Old Bear by Christopher Robin Finch
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Santa’s Biography

Every child knows about Santa Claus, the jolly man who brings gifts to all on Christmas Eve. There are many stories that tell of his life, but the delightful version related in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is by far the mist charming and original. Only L. Frank Baum, the man who created the wonderful land of Oz, could have told Santa's tale in such rich imaginative detail.

Deep in the Forest of Burzee, a wood-nymph discovers an abandoned baby and raises him as her child. Young Claus is taught by the wise mythological creatures of the Forest, who love him as one of their own. Though he lives among magical creatures, he comes to cherish his fellow humans, especially the children. When Santa Claus whittles his first toy, he knows he has found the way to bring happiness and love to children all over the world.

Title: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
Author: L. Frank Baum
Illustrator: Mary Cowles Clark
Published: 1902
Publisher: Bowen Merrill
Pages: 192

There are tons of books about Christmas but I have to admit my favorites are the ones where the life story of Santa Claus is told. So I was incredibly excited when I learned that the wonderful author of The Wizard of Oz stories, L. Frank Baum had written one! The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus was a great story and I just loved how very different and imaginative this version of Santa’s biography was with the mythological and almost pagan creatures from old tales. This was even made into one of Rankin/Bass’ Christmas specials although it doesn’t show as often as the other more famous Christmas films by them.

The only thing I didn’t really care for in the entire book was the fact that Santa’s reindeer had ridiculous names like Flossie! Since the book was published in 1902 though it is understandable. I’m pretty sure the traditional names of Santa’s reindeer came much later. Mary Cowles Clark’s simple, yet beautiful illustrations on almost every page does make up for it though.

Very seldom will you find books nowadays that were written with children in mind but yet at the same time something and adult can enjoy as well but Mr. Baum does it beautifully. Be warned though: he refuses to sugarcoat the bad things like the major battle with the Awgwas and the other nasty mythological creatures that wanted to harm Claus so this book may not be appropriate for small children.

This book has entered the public domain so you can read the entire book online now. If you would like more information of this story Wikipedia has an article on it and this page has more illustrations from the book. Also here is a short clip of the Rankin/ Bass adaptation of the same name.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This is Definitely Not Going Anywhere!

The story of how Santa Claus came to be is brought to life through the magic of stop-motion animation in this Christmas-themed production for the family. A friendly postman (voiced by Fred Astaire) explains how friendly Kris Kringle (voice of Mickey Rooney), a foundling taken in by a family of toymakers, took it upon himself to bring some happiness to the children of Sombertown, despite the grumpy opposition of Burgermeister Meisterburger (voice of Paul Frees) and the Winter Warlock (voice of Keenan Wynn).

Title: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Release: December 14, 1970
Genre: Animation- TV Christmas Special
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Romeo Muller
Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr.
Music By: Maury Laws
Distributed by: Rankin/ Bass Production
Run Time:
53 minutes

You better watch out, you better not cry, and I’ll tell you why: Santa Claus is Coming to Town! Everyone knows that when Christmas comes to town, so do the Christmas specials and none so good (or as many!) as those by Rankin/Bass. When it comes to the tale about Santa and how he became who he is today though not one film has ever come close to being as good as this certain one.

As you may have noticed, the Rankin/Bass producers sometimes got famous actors at the time to voice a few of their main characters in their specials but in this particular Christmas special, they had not one but two distinguished actors! The brilliant Mickey Rooney voiced Kris Kringle, later known of course as Santa Claus (a role he was to reprise in two other Rankin/ Bass features) and the legendary Fred Astaire as the narrator S. D. Kluger.

Oh and you can’t get any better than Put One Foot in Front of the Other and such other great songs like Fred Astaire singing the classic Santa Claus is Coming to Town title song. I also love how the stop-motion animation is still able to hold it’s own against newer films almost 40 years later.

If you would like more information on this classic Christmas special the Christmas special Wikia has an entry and so does Wikipedia (both have little known trivia). Of course the Rankin/Bass website also has a page on this film as well.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pull Up an Ice Block and Watch!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer recounts the tale of a shy, young reindeer whose Christmas spirit is dampened because his shiny red nose has made him the laughing stock of all Christmastown. Frustrated by their inability to fit in, Rudolph and his friend Hermey, the Elf who wants to be a dentist, set out on their own. However, they soon find themselves pursued by the Abominable Snowmonster. They flee to the island of Misfit Toys in the Arctic wilderness where Yukon Cornelius, a prospector they meet along the way, comes to their rescue. Returning to Christmastown, they learn that bad weather may cause Christmas to be canceled. But Rudolph's headlight--his illuminated nose--saves Christmas by serving as a beacon to guide Santa's sleigh.

Title: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Release: December 6, 1964
Genre: Animated- TV Christmas Special
MPAA Rating: G
Based On: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert May
Writer: Romeo Muller
Director: Larry Roemer & Kizo Nagashima
Music By: Johnny Marks
Produced by: Rankin/Bass
Run Time: 51 minutes
Official Site

Rankin/ Bass has produced most of the world’s most beloved Christmas specials but none of
them are as loved as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Not only is it one of the world’s longest running Christmas specials but its actually inspired several sequels too. This is simply a must for everyone of any age that has ever felt like a misfit.

I’m just amazed at how well Rudolph has withstood the test of time! Most older cartoons look so fake nowadays compared to what we’re used to seeing that it’s hard to let yourself get completely lost within the movie but not Rudolph! There are even parody commercials for Aflac insurance that mimic this beautiful film made this year.

I could continue going on and on about the stop-motion animation that Rankin/Bass are best-known for but I’d much rather talk about how wonderful the songs are. Burl Ives, who plays the Snowman Sam sings what have now become Christmas staples, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas and Silver and Gold but there are also other good songs like We’re a Couple of Misfits and The Most Wonderful Day of the Year which is sung by the inhabitants of The Island of Misfit Toys.

For more information on this great film check out these links: the Wikipedia articles on this
TV special and Rudolph himself, the Rankin/Bass Rudolph website (which includes tons of interesting photos), and the Wikia Christmas Special article too. Also for a great download of the soundtrack go to Children’s Records and More and a recent podcast with the cast.


Aflac Commercial:

There's Always Tomorrow:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Chomping All the Way!

Santa Claus and his reindeer crash land in PacLand on Christmas Eve and lose all the gifts they were going to deliver all over the world. The Pac-Family help them recuperate and Santa tells them the meaning of Christmas. Pac-Man and Chomp-Chomp search for the gifts, only to see the Ghost Monsters have found them first. Will they get the presents on time for Santa to deliver them?

Title: Christmas Comes to Pacland
Release: December 16, 1982
Genre: Animated- Christmas TV Special
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Jeffrey Scott
Director: Ray Patterson
Music By: Hoyt Curtin
Produced By: Joseph Barbera, William Hanna, & Kay Wright
Distributed By: ABC (American Broadcasting Company) & Hanna-Barbera Productions
Run Time: 25 minutes

Most people know about the Pacman video game (unless they live under a rock) but did you know that it was a cartoon TV series in the early 80s? It only ran for two years before it was cancelled but it still managed to get it’s own Christmas special called Christmas Comes to Pacland.

The Pac-man cartoons were a bit before my time so I had never even heard of them, much less knew that there was a Christmas special but to be honest it wasn’t that great nor something I would probably watch again.

The animation is probably this Pac-man’s only redeeming quality. I just loved Pac-man’s dog Chomp-Chomp and Pac-Baby was pretty cute too. I usually enjoy anything by Hannah-Barbera but this time I have to say that they should have just left the Christmas specials to Rankin/Bass.
There isn’t too much information available about Christmas Comes to Pacland but Wikipedia has an entry about the Pac-man TV series and mentions it. There is a complete plot synopsis on the Christmas special wikia site too but it includes spoilers. Also has their page on this as well.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Going Back to Narnia

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are suddenly pulled into Narnia by a distress call from Prince Caspian. Once, the children had been great Kings and Queens there. But since they've been gone, everything has changed. An evil King rules and magic is forbidden. The Old Narnians are in hiding.

Prince Caspian has raised an army to fight his uncle, but they are few. Will the children reach him in time to help, and where is the Great Lion Aslan?

Title: Prince Caspian, The Return to Narnia
Author: C. S. Lewis
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes (original)
The Chronicles of Narnia , Book 2 or 4
Published: 1951
Pages: 238
Genre: Fiction-Fantasy

The second book published in the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis was Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (though chronologically it comes fourth). Unfortunately, since the book is set thousands of years after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe none of the Narnia characters that I adored in the first one (like Mr. Tumnus) except Aslan of course make a reappearance but there are several new characters that I enjoyed meeting such as Reepicheep, Trumpkin, and Trufflehunter.

I don’t know why but I just didn’t enjoy Prince Caspian as much as the first book I read from The Chronicles of Narnia. That’s not to say it wasn’t good though! There’s a big battle, loads of new interesting characters, and the four Pevensie children are in it but the magical feeling that the first one had wasn’t there. Also the title character,
Caspian wasn’t a very prominent figure in the book. Most of his story is told in a flash back by another character!

The movie for Prince Caspian is currently in the works and is scheduled to come out in May.
Narnia Web has plenty of information available at their website and Wikipedia has entries on both the upcoming movie and this book. There is also a great site called Into the Wardrobe which is run by Lewis' stepson.

Publication Order:

Chronological order:

Related Reviews:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Have a Yabba-Dabba Merry Christmas!

The Flintstones, the first animated family to find prime time television success, celebrate Christmas in this made-for-TV special, which originally aired on NBC December 7, 1977. Betty and Wilma nag Fred to dress up like Santa for the company party, but only his boss Mr. Slate is able to convince him. However, when the real Santa gets hurt, Fred and Barney take over his duties for the evening. Lacking Santa's expertise, they make time-costing errors that make yet another example of Fred's perpetual tardiness when he's late for the party. Fred and Barney then must prove that their hearts were in the right place, despite taking so long to show up.

Title: A Flintstone Christmas
Release: December 7, 1977
Genre: Animation- TV Christmas Special
MPAA Rating: N/A (G)
Writer: Duane Poole & Dick Robbins
Director: Charles A. Nichols
Music By: Hoyt Curtin
Produced By: Hanna-Barbera Productions
Distributed By: Warner Bros. Television
Run Time: 45 minutes

Despite the fact that the Flintstones takes place before Christmas was ever even thought up (or

before Christ was born, depends on your religion) it didn’t stop the Christmas specials! Matter of fact if I’m not mistaken, I think there were at least three if not more and although A Flintstone Christmas isn’t the best one it’s still really good.

This is another one of those Christmas specials where an average Joe (in this case Fred Flintstone) has to take over Santa’s job delivering presents because Santa is sick (or hurt). At least Barney gets to come along for the ride as “Santa’s” little helper, complete with a cute elf costume!

As I said before, there are many other Flintstone holiday specials
(one of the most popular being The Flintstone Christmas Carol) and as a consequence, A Flintstone Christmas has been almost forgotten. Luckily, AOL has gotten into the Christmas spirit and started hosting these great old cartoons so you can watch the entire cartoon online now.

~ More information:
Wikipedia,, & Big Cartoon Database Articles

Monday, December 17, 2007

Narnia: A Place Beyond Imagination

Four siblings — Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Lucy (Georgie Henley), Peter (William Moseley), and Susan (Anna Popplewell) — are sent from their London home to the country estate of an eccentric professor in order to ensure their safety during World War II. The house is very dull, except for a large, ornate wardrobe discovered by young Lucy during a game of hide-and-seek. Venturing inside of it in the hopes of finding a hiding place, Lucy is transported to a snowy alternate universe: a magical world called Narnia. The land is populated by talking animals and ruled over by the benevolent lion god Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), but sadly, the world is also in a state of perpetual winter. The white witch Jadis (Tilda Swinton), lustful for power and governed by narcissism, has cursed Narnia with a tyrannical decree that it will always be winter but never Christmas. Now, the children must fight alongside Aslan for the salvation of Narnia, but one of them, seduced by the charisma of the white witch, may choose to fight on the wrong side.

Title: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Release: December 9, 2005
Genre: Family-Fantasy
MPAA Rating: PG
Based On: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Writer: Ann Peacock, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Director: Andrew Adamson (also credited as a writer)
Music By: Harry Gregson-Williams
Produced By: Mark Johnson, Philip Steuer, & Douglas Gresham
Distributed By: Walt Disney Productions & Walden Media
Run Time: 139 minutes

Lately there have been tons of “fantasy” type film series based on books like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and most recently The Chronicles of Narnia which are to be based on the books by C. S. Lewis. So far only one has come out, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe but the others are currently in production (Prince Caspian comes out in May 2008!)

I have to admit, I’m one of the people who saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe before I had even thought about reading any of The Chronicles of Narnia. I simply adored the movie and when I finally did read the book I was amazed at how closely it followed the original story and the changes made were very few and far between (I have a post on the book

My favorite characters were of course Mr. Tumnus, Aslan, Peter, and Lucy in the book and in the movie but the Beavers were such brilliant comic relief (the voices fit so well!) that I can’t help but love them as well. Everything about this film was perfect from the actors to the special effects I can only hope the rest of the movies will live up to the standards that this one has set.

~The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Links:
Wikipedia entry and entry.
There are tons of interviews with the cast


Related Reviews:
Prince Caspian: Return to Narnia (2008)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Very, Very Sooney, Christmas Will Be Here!

Frustrated by the havoc of directing the Acme Looniversity Christmas play, Buster Bunny reaches his wit's end, and in a moment of despair, decides to quit "Tiny Toon Adventures." A visit by a guardian angel rabbit named Harvey helps Buster change his mind by showing him what Acme Acres would have been like without him.
Title: It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special
Release: December 6, 1992
Genre: Animated- TV Christmas Special
MPAA Rating: N/A
Writer: Sherri Stoner & Deanna Oliver
Director: Tom McClenahan
Music By: Richard Stone
Produced By: Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, & Steven Spielberg
Distributed By: Fox Television
Run Time: 23 minutes

It’s a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special is a parody of one of the best Christmas movies ever made called It’s a Wonderful Life (starring James Stewart). Like all of the Tiny Toon cartoons there are tons of allusions to other films and Christmas specials including How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (look for the snowman who bears a striking resemblance to the snowman voiced by Burl Ives) and also “guest” appearances by famous celebrities like Cher and WhoopiGoldberg.

Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toons Adventures (that ran from 1990 to 1992) was one of my favorite cartoon shows when I was a kid . I may not have always understood some of the humor but I still enjoyed it. I‘m surprised to learn that during all that time only one Christmas special was made but at least it was a good one. They even revised the original theme
song for it!

This will never be a Christmas special classic but it was funny and not a bad way to spend some time. Tiny Toons was a great show that will probably never be matched in wit and animation ever again so watch Buster, Babs, Plucky and the rest do what they do best in the way only cartoons from the early 90s can do it.

~There isn’t too much information on this Tiny Toons cartoon but has an entry on it and Wikipedia as an article on the Tiny Toons.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Perfect Match

Identical twin 9-year-old girls, one a poor orphan, the other a rich heiress, cause confusion when they decide to meddle in their caretakers' love lives in this family-oriented comedy. Amanda (Mary Kate Olsen) is the orphan, a scrappy young girl with no family, relying on the support of her caring social worker, Diane (Kirstie Alley). When Diane brings Amanda to a summer camp, she first encounters Alyssa (Ashley Olsen), the wealthy daughter of the camp's sponsor, Roger Callaway (Steve Guttenberg). The girls immediately bond and decide to switch places for the fun of it. They soon conclude that their lives would be improved if Roger and Diane were to get together and form a family, and they set out to bring the adults together.

Title: It Takes Two
Release: November 17, 1995
Genre: Family- Comedy
MPAA Rating: PG
Writer: Deborah Dean Davis
Director: Andy Tennant
Music By: Ray & Sherman Foote
Produced By: Jim Cruickshank & James Orr
Distributed By: Warner Brothers Pictures
Run Time: 101 minutes

There are a few twin celebrities but none so popular as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Ever since they were little kids they have starred in films and TV shows that cash in on their cuteness and the fact that they are twins, it didn’t hurt that they were extremely talented either. The film It Takes Two is a variation of the Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain and the movie The Parent Trap.

I love movies from the early 90's because they seem so much more real and I grew up in that era. There are several movies starring the Olsen twins’ but It Takes Two was always a favorite. Even if the film is lighthearted fluff (not many kids would sit through it if it wasn’t), I think it was actually one of the last good movies the girls made together.

The story is cute, funny, and a great film to watch with the family (especially if you have mischievous little girls) but it is rather predictable. The humor is what pulls the whole thing through especially the many clever one liners ( “...Yeah right, and Santa Claus lives with the Tooth Fairy in Queens”) so although you know that the fairy tale ending pulls through in the end, you’ll have fun on the journey!

For more information on It Takes Two:
Wikipedia entry and


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Journey Into Narnia

Narnia... the land beyond the wardrobe door, a secret place frozen in eternal winter... a magical country waiting to be set free. Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the Professor's mysterious old house. At first, her brothers and sister don't believe her when she tells of her visit to the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund, then Peter and Susan step through the wardrobe themselves. In Narnia they find a country buried under the evil enchantment of the White Witch. When they meet the Great Lion, Aslan, they realize they've been called to a great adventure and bravely join the battle to free Narnia from the Witch's sinister spell.
Title: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Author: C. S. Lewis
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1 or Book 2 (see below)
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes (original)
Published: 1950
Pages: 198
Genre: Fiction- Fantasy

I had never read any of the books about Narnia before, although I loved Disney’s film adaptation made a couple of years ago. So when my online reading group, The Children’s Books of Yesterday decided on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as December’s group read I figured it would be a good time to at least try it and I’m so glad I did! I know there is a bit of controversy over the order the series should be read but I decided to go with the order they were written (which is the order the Disney film adaptations appear to be coming out as well).

I just adored the land of Narnia and it’s (good) inhabitants! It’s one of the most wonderful, magical places ever written about. Forget Wonderland and Neverland! I’d much rather go to Narnia and meet all my favorite characters. Especially Mr. Tumnus the Faun and Aslan although Lucy and Peter are interesting as well. Could you imagine having supper in the Beaver’s cozy little den?

I think the reason why most children (and adults!) still find The Chronicles of Narnia so compelling is not just because of the imaginativeness of the stories but because C. S. Lewis put so much of his friendly personality into the books. Well that and who wouldn’t want to read stories about adventure? Here is one of my favorite passages:

That ride was perhaps the most wonderful thing that happened to them in Narnia. ...He [Aslan] rushes on and on, never missing his footing, never hesitating, threading his way with perfect skill between tree trunks, jumping over bush and briar and the smaller streams, wading through the larger, swimming the largest of all. And you are riding not on a road nor in a park not even on the downs, but right across Narnia, in spring, down solemn avenues of beech and across sunny glades of oak, through wild orchards of snow-white cherry trees, past roaring waterfalls and mossy rocks and echoing caverns, up windy slopes alight with gorse bushes, and across the shoulders of heathery mountains and along giddy ridges and down, down, down again into wild valleys and out into acres of blue flowers.

Wikipedia has many articles on the
Chronicles of Narnia including one on C. S. Lewis and this book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There is also a great site called Into the Wardrobe which is run by Lewis' stepson.

Publication Order:

Chronological order:

Related Reviews:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

You're a Great One Mr. Grinch

"Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot." And every family likes How The Grinch Stole Christmas! a lot! This joyous, heart-tickling holiday event based on Dr. Seuss' beloved book and featuring the voice of Boris Karloff has delighted viewers of all ages since its 1966 debut. The fun begins when the grumpy, grouchy, Yule-hating Grinch plots to ruin the Who's Christmas. Can he steal their holiday spirit by stealing their holiday treats? Or does Christmas...perhaps...mean a little bit more?

Theodor Suess Geisel, better known as Dr. Suess created many books in his day that have not only withstood the test of time, they’re still read and loved by millions of children the whole world over. Several of his more popular books were even made into movies but none of them are as wonderful as How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

There are just so many things I love about this film! The wonderful voice talent, the utterly unique nonsense songs, and Chuck Jones’ animation makes this fabulous Christmas special something that I simply have to watch every year!

Can you imagine anyone else but the gravely voice of Boris Karloff as the Grinch or Thurl Ravenscroft (most famous as the Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger) as the narrator and singer? Of course you can’t! These two men are just as an essential part of what makes How the Grinch Stole Christmas as the wonderful songs such as my favorite, You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch are.

Every year families gather around the TV to see and hear time and time again this animated classic, (myself included) and I can’t properly explain why this little cartoon has lasted more than 40 years but maybe the fact most of us start feeling a little Grinchy ourselves right before Christmas gets here may have something to do with it! We may not be eating Roast Beast when the 25th rolls around but hopefully everyone’s Christmas isn’t just from a store.... hopefully it’s “a little bit more”.

~ If you would like more information on How the Grinch Stole Christmas there are Wikipedia entries on the animated movie, the live-action movie, and the book too.

Here is the link if you would like to read the original Dr. Suess story and the complete film is available on Tudou.


Related Reviews:
Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel by Judith and Neil Morgan
Halloween in Grinch Night (1977)
Horton Hatches the Egg (1942)
Horton Hears a Who! (1970)
The Cat in the Hat (1971)
The Lorax (1972)
The Hoober-Bloob Highway (1975)
Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? (1980)
The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (1982)
The Butter Battle Book (1989)
Daisy-Head Mayzie (1995)

Dr. Seuss on the Loose (1973)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Hitman Doesn't Miss

The Hitman is a genetically-engineered, elite assassin known only as Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant). His hallmarks are a lethal grace, unwavering precision, and resolute pride in his work. But even 47 couldn't anticipate a "random equation" in his life of exactitude: the unexpected stirrings of his conscience and the unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a mysterious Russian woman (Olga Kurylenko).

Xavier Gens has done what very few directors have been able to do lately: he has taken the best-selling video game Hitman and turned it into an action-packed film that’s actually good! Originally meant to be played by the (wonderful) Vin Diesel, I don’t think even he could have done a better job than Timothy Olyphant as 47.

I’ve never really been into video games myself, much less movies that are based on video games. I have enjoyed Timothy Olyphant in just about everything I’d ever seen him in so I was pretty sure I would like the movie. Plus the trailer just looks so cool!

I found the movie itself to be very original but at the same time it kind of reminded me of other movies in the fact that the main character is technically a bad guy but the viewer doesn’t really see him as such. He’s just such a neat character that you can’t help but root for him. That’s partly because of wonderful acting but it’s also because the director didn’t feel the need to tie the character to the video game and let him become a person instead of the “machine” he was supposed to be.

~ There is more information available about Hitman at the Official Site and Wikipedia. Interviews with Timothy Olyphant are on and



Related Review:
Scream 2

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ebenezer Shrek?

Just when Shrek thought he could finally sit back, relax and enjoy his happily ever after with his new family, the most joyous of all holidays arrives. It's Christmas Eve and everyone is filled with holiday cheer -- except for Shrek. He isn't exactly the picture of yuletide joy, but for the sake of Fiona and the kids, he tries to get into the spirit of things as only an ogre can. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have their own ideas about what Christmas is all about, so when Donkey, Puss In Boots, Gingerbread Man and the whole gang try to join in on the fun, Shrek's plans for a cozy family celebration end up spiraling into one truly unforgettable Christmas.

Debuting this year is the latest in the Shrek franchise: Shrek the Halls. It’s a 30 minute Christmas special that stars the originally voices from the movies and almost everyone shows up from Shrek and Donkey to the Gingerbread Man. Unfortunately, that’s the best thing I can say about it. Even the soundtrack was a disappointment!

I never really got into the whole Shrek thing myself (I haven’t even seen the third one yet) but I did think the first one was pretty good. I really did try to enjoy Shrek the Halls but in my opinion, it was just too loud and too much chaos. It’s almost like Dreamworks said, “Slap Shrek into a Christmas special then terrorize and annoy him until almost the very end.”

Even though I didn’t care for it, I did like how it tried to come across as a nutty family
Christmas. Hopefully it will cause new (and better!) Christmas specials to be made and for that I’m grateful. If you’re still hankering for some green for the holidays, just stick with the Grinch. Now there’s a fellow that can make a mean Christmas special!

~ For more on Shrek the Halls there is of course the
Wikipedia entry.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Southern Story of Hope

A landmark in children's literature, winner of the 1970 Newbery Medal, and the basis of an acclaimed film, Sounder traces the keen sorrow and the abiding faith of a poor African-American boy in the 19th-century South. The boy's father is a sharecropper, struggling to feed his family in hard times. Night after night, he and his great coon dog, Sounder, return to the cabin empty-handed. Then, one morning, almost like a miracle, a sweet-smelling ham is cooking in the family's kitchen. At last the family will have a good meal. But that night, an angry sheriff and his deputies come, and the boy's life will never be the same.
William H. Armstrong wrote a book in 1969 about a nameless family told to him by an old man. “It is the black man’s story, not mind. It was not from Aesop, the Old Testament, or Homer. It was history – his history.” He said in the author’s note at the beginning of Sounder.

I’ve read many books in my life but I’ll always have a special affinity for books with dogs as the main characters which is why I picked up Sounder in the first place. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the dog was mainly a symbol of faith and had a minor part in the story. I was a kid when I first read this for the first time and re-reading it now, I understood it better... although I still don’t know exactly what to think about it!

There was more violence than most people will care for but that’s actually what made the book seem so real. Even if this is a Newbery winner (and therefore a part of
The Newbery Challenge as well as the Four-Legged Friend Challenge), it may not be appropriate for small children but most young adults and adults who are still young at heart seem to enjoy this classic, bittersweet story.

~ Sounder has been adapted to the screen in 1972 and again as a sort of sequel by the Disney Company in 2003.

For more information about Sounder check out the article on
Wikipedia and the Glencoe Study Guide (PDF)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Magical Adventure

Five adventurous humanoid dogs are trying to find their way home via a magical key that creates portals when they arrive on Earth and are mistaken as real dogs and taken to the animal shelter. They are soon separated when the leader Stanley is taken home as a birthday present for a boy named Jaime. Jaime is enlisted in helping get the rest of the gang out by any means necessary. However, a mean and wealthy collector of rare animals named J. J. Wagstaff becomes aware of the talking “dogs” and is after them. Will the Fluppies make it home?

In 1985 the Disney Channel ran two animated fantasy cartoons, hoping at least one of them would be successful. They were The Adventures of the Gummi Bears and The Wuzzles. The latter only ran for 3 months so when 1986 rolled around there was a space open for a new animated TV series. This time the new show was presented in a one hour pilot episode so the company could claim it was just a Disney channel movie if it didn’t pan out. Making the Fluppy Dogs the first ever Disney Channel Original Movie.

Unfortunately, even with all of the puzzles, books, and stuffed animals out there the Fluppy Dogs never did catch on and the TV series was cancelled before it even got off the ground. If it wasn’t for those stuffed animals then no one would be able to remember the Fluppies, me included. Thankfully they did exist (matter of fact the yellow one was my first stuffed animal) and some people do still remember.

Thanks to Mystic Orca I finally got to see this forgotten film and I thought it was wonderful. You can tell that a lot of creative effort went into the Fluppies and their story, it’s just a shame that you can’t find stuff like this anymore.

For more information about the Fluppy Dogs:
Wikipedia Entry, Retro Junk Entry, & Fan-Listing

To buy Fluppy Dogs and related items: &

Fluppy Dogs Intro:


Home is Where...?


Megan O'Rourke's beloved grandfather had always been determined to lure her out of New York and back to the ranch in Whispering Wind, Wyoming, where he had raised her. And when Megan returns for Tex's funeral, she realizes his will is going to make it impossible for her to refuse.

Her "inheritance" is Tex's daughter, Tess, an eight-year-old bundle of trouble Megan had never even known existed.

Jake Landers has also come home to Whispering Wind. After leaving town years before under a cloud of suspicion, he's returned to put down roots. And when he comes face-to-face with the woman who shared his troubled past, he hardly recognizes Megan. She's become a driven, stressed-out powerhouse who runs a successful entertainment empire, but who's forgotten what's really important.

He knows Megan is going to have to make some big decisions -- about life and love, about where home really is. And he's only too happy to help. Because he's letting go of old grudges and beginning to recall some old dreams.
And the best one begins with Megan.

Sherryl Woods is a popular romance (and sometimes mystery) writer who has written over 100 different novels and yet somehow I had never managed to read anything by her until I came across After Tex. Published in 1999, its one of her few books that isn’t a part of a series although there is one other unrelated book that also takes place in Whispering Wind.

I loved how Mrs. Woods made all her characters seem so real with each one being complex (with trust issues of course) and facing real dilemmas. However, you can tell that the story could have taken place just about anywhere and that the book is more character driven than anything. Don’t expect more than just a vague western feeling in some places.

I only had one tiny problem with After Tex and that was the fact that ended rather abruptly. Usually that would leave me feeling cheated but although I didn’t like it, I had a feeling that the story ended well. Sherryl Woods will probably never be one of my favorite authors but I did enjoy the way this story was written enough that I won’t hesitate to pick up another one of her books again. I still don’t think the world could survive with two “Martha Stewart’s” (Megan runs a corporation similar to the famous household goddess single- handedly) though!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Disney War Propaganda Film

This World War II film, meant to send a message rather than entertain, is adapted from a book by Russian-born Major Alexander P. de Seversky. It starts out with a brief but interesting history of airplanes, starting with the Wright Brothers' first flight in Kittyhawk. We see aviation being explored by various nations for various purposes and then airplanes put to limited use in World War I, followed by a series of successes in flight, before finally moving on to World War II. The film talks about the history of Major de Seversky, who later explains about how the advent of aircraft spells change in the face of traditional warfare. It then goes on to explain how the Allies chose not to embrace the use of air power and instead, used old-fashioned methods of warfare to battle the Axis powers, who used aircraft to do their dirty work. The point the film makes is that the only way for the Allies to secure victory over the robust Axis is to make heavy use of military aviation, because, as we're told, fighting on the surface puts the advantage in the hands of Adolf Hitler. ~ From Wikipedia

During World War 2 the Disney Company made many entertaining and educational cartoons shorts for the war effort but only one feature-length film and that was Victory Through Air Power. It was the very first Disney theatrical release that featured not only animation but also live-action too. The film is based on the (then) controversial book of the same name by Alexander P. de Seversky which was published shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Unfortunately, it’s also the only Disney movie I’ve ever seen that’s not only dated but is actually kind of boring too. I think the only people that this educational film could hope to appeal to are history buffs and seriously devoted Disney fans. Because Air Power was put together in such a hurry, not even the animation could redeem this film for me. To put it bluntly: I was bored and had to make myself watch the last 30 minutes.

That’s not to say that maybe for it’s time it was good but I only watched it because the Disney name was attached. To me it seemed like one long lecture but I’m sure there were many people back then that the message impacted but I just didn’t care for it.

~You can now buy this film in the Disney Treasure’s DVD: On the Front Lines anthology along with other propaganda shorts such as Der Fuehrer’s Face and Donald Gets Drafted (that are much more interesting).


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