A Magical Cartoon Christmas (2004)
Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Release Date: 2004 (DVD Collection)
Length: 75 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: Online Streaming
Join Jack Frost, little penguins, silly dogs and dancing cakes in this Christmas cartoon collection! With a total of ten classic cartoons, including “Somewhere in Dreamland” and “Christmas Comes But Once a Year,” these cartoons from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s will be sure to bring a nostalgic smile to your face and give you a chance to share your childhood entertainment with the next generation.
There are a total of ten cartoons in this collections including:
“Ginger Nutt’s Christmas Circus” (1949) – A sneaky parrot steals a circus ticket from a weasel and then heckles all of the circus performers. Includes Santa Claus in the circus parade & a Peace on Earth sign at the end, otherwise a regular cartoon.
“Peeping Penguins” (1937) – Four curious little penguins climb down the chimney into a human house and explore. Features “Curiosity Killed the Cat” song. Takes place during winter and there is snow outside, but no mention of Christmas. A cautionary tale about not getting into dangerous items around the house.
“A Waif’s Welcome” (1936) – When a poor little orphan boy is welcomed into the home of a family, their spoiled brat of a son does everything he can to get him in trouble. This cartoon doesn’t feature any Christmas touches (aside from some sleigh bells jingling on the roof), but it is a good message for all little children to remember how lucky they are to having a loving family, food to eat and a roof over their heads.
“Christmas Comes But Once a Year” (1936) – It’s Christmastime again and all of the little orphans at the orphanage are excited to play with their toys. Unfortunately, all of the toys break the first time they try to play with them! Can a talented inventor save the day and create new toys? This is a cute little Christmas cartoon that I can remember seeing when I was a little girl. I love the toys that the inventor creates – I wish I had that kind of ingenuity! This cartoon also reminds us that it really doesn’t take that much to make a young child happy and to remember to give around the holiday season to those who are less fortunate.
“Jack Frost” (1934) – When Jack Frost arrives to warn the animals about winter’s approach, one young grizzly bear cub believes that he doesn’t need to be afraid of winter. He decides to run away from home, but he soon learns that even grizzly bears need to have a warm den for wintertime. This cartoon features some very cute scenes showing a gnome-like Jack Frost preparing the forest for winter. There are no specific Christmas references, but the little bear does lick some candy canes and the cartoon takes place in a snowy forest. While we all feel like running away at times, this cartoon reminds us that being at home with our families is often the best solution.
“Hawaiian Birds” (1936) – When a group of flashy birds arrives from the big city, a local island girl leaves her hardworking boyfriend to follow them to their nightclub. Unbeknownst to her, the girl’s faithful boyfriend follows her to try and persuade her to return home to their island paradise. This cartoon features the instrumental version of “Jingle Bells” playing while it is snowing in the city. Otherwise, it is a normal cartoon about being happy where you are at and not running away from those who love you.
“Hector’s Hectic Life” (1948) – Hector, a dog, is warned by his owner that if he makes one more mess, he is out on the street! Determined to be good, Hector is doing all he can to stay out of trouble. But when three little puppies show up on his doorstep, Hector will have his hands full trying to keep the house clean! The puppies destroy a Christmas tree and make a mess of the Christmas presents, eventually ending up in the Christmas stockings. I really enjoyed the creative ways that Hector cleans up the puppies’ messes – I wish cleaning in real life was that easy!
“Snow Foolin’” (1949) – Different animals show off their ice skating skills in funny and creative ways. There is also a sing-a-long with a bouncing egg for the song “Jingle Bells.” This cartoon doesn’t feature a plot, but it was one of my favorites in the collection. It was just cute, fun and short. I love the different animals ice skating and got a kick out of their antics.
“Little Audrey: Tarts and Flowers” (1950) – Little Audrey bakes a gingerbread man whom she follows to the magical land of Cakeland, where the gingerbread man is going to be married to the angel food cake. But the devil’s food cake wants angel cake for his own and will do anything to keep her! This is a cute little fantasy cartoon that features many cakes and sweets that children dream about. Not a Christmas cartoon, but a sweet treat for little ones.
“Somewhere in Dreamland” (1936) – A poor boy and girl work hard to try to help out their single mother put food on the table, but they are always hungry. On Christmas Eve, the children dream sweetly of a special place called Dreamland full of new clothes, toys and all the delicious food they can eat! When they wake up on Christmas morning, they find that their hovel has been magically transformed into a Christmas dreamland thanks to a few local merchants. This is probably the most well-known and beloved of the cartoons in this collection and there is something really moving about it. Not only do we get to see the lovely dreamland that the children have created to escape their bleak reality, but we get to see some good, kind-hearted people reach out to help those in need during the holidays.
One of my main complaints still remains the fact that they are always trying to cram non-Christmas-themed cartoons into a Christmas cartoon collection. Other than that, these cartoons did give me a sense of nostalgia. I remembered some of these cartoons from TV when I was a little girl. These cartoons are definitely simpler and more basic than the cartoons that children watch today. I am not sure if little children will have the patience and interest in watching these older animated features. These have not been cleaned up or brightened to appeal to a new generation of viewers. The colors are quite muddy and dark. Also, these animated cartoons are sorely in need of a clearer soundtrack. The volume is quite low and you can hear the feedback from a poor quality soundtrack as you listen to the songs and speaking. Still, it was fun to see these cartoons again and, while they cannot really compare to the Disney cartoons (which have been digitally remastered in most cases), they do possess a certain charm and are enjoyable.
These cartoons feature parents spanking their children, the threat of blows, poverty, and some rather scary looking villains. Recommended for children ages 3 and up.