Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Megan Follows. Peter O’Toole, Phyllis Diller, Mike MacDonald
Director: Paul Schibli
Release Date: 21 November 1990
Length: 75 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars
“The timeless holiday tale of “The Nutcracker” springs to life as an animated musical. After young Clara receives a wooden nutcracker as a Christmas gift, she dreams about a fantastical battle between her Nutcracker Prince and the evil Mouse King. At stake is the Nutcracker’s freedom – and Clara’s future happiness. Kiefer Sutherland, Peter O’Toole and Megan Follows lend their voices to this family-friendly adventure.” — Netflix.com
I found this adaptation of The Nutcracker surprisingly enjoyable. While the storyline is pretty much the same as always as Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music is featured, this is not the ballet version. Clara (voiced by Megan Follows) is struggling with the thought of growing up and wants to stay young and happy in her fantasy world for a bit longer. The forlorn Nutcracker (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) wants to return to life and save his fairy-tale kingdom, but the Mouse King (voiced by Mike MacDonald), pushed into by his mother (voiced by Phyllis Diller), will do anything to keep that from happening. There are so many other little characters that add to the enjoyment such as the elderly soldier (voiced by Peter O’Toole), the beautiful swans and all of the little fairy-tale-like dwellers who live in the Nutcracker’s kingdom. I really enjoyed the storyline and thought that it added a lot to this traditional Christmas tale for me. I did not think that the animation was the greatest, but it was not that bad and did not detract from my enjoyment. By far the best part of the film is the top-notch voiceover talent that is utilized. I felt like the characters became more real and knew what emotions they were dealing with by listening to the inflection in the actor’s voices. I also loved the fantasy world that Clara got to visit with the Nutcracker prince. It was such a beautiful little world and it would have been very difficult to leave. Still, the main premise of the movie is when it is time to grow up and take on adult responsibilities versus staying a child and keeping your dreams alive. I would like to say that it is possible to do both as you don’t have to become an old fuddy-duddy when you reach a certain age and can still have fun and remain a childlike sense of appreciation and awe. I think this version is a wonderful option to show your children instead of The Nutcracker Ballet, which they may not enjoy as much when they are younger. It is simply delightful and is cheap and easy to find. I recommend that you rent it this Christmas or find it on TV.
There is a fairly intense battle sequence where the Nutcracker kills the Mouse King that can be a bit intense and frightening for younger children. Still, if you are watching this movie with your children, they will be fine. If they are going to be watching it alone, I would recommend this movie for ages 5 and up.