‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2(out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass delve into cell animation with this 1974 Christmas special about a young mouse who ruins Christmas for a whole town. Narrated by Joel Grey, the story follows a mouse family whose youngest know-it-all son wrote a letter to the editor of the paper declaring Santa a fraud. As a result, the North Pole returns the town’s letters to Santa with a clear message that the jolly old elf isn’t coming. It’s up to a clock-maker named Trundle to find a way to send Santa a message that he is really wanted.
WHAT I LIKED
I remember watching this special every year on television while I grew up in the 70s and 80s. It was as much a part of my holiday tradition as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” There’s a lot of nostalgia to be found for me (and others of my age) in this 24-minute show.
“’Twas the Night Before Christmas” is a charming adaptation of the original Clement Moore poem, working a story around it very smoothly. Like many Christmas specials, there are things that aren’t exactly new or original. After all, a know-it-all kid denouncing Santa Claus happens in schoolyards every day. But the freshness and charm that this special has makes its overused story acceptable.
I showed this special to my kids for the first time this year, and they loved it. They have no idea who Joel Grey is, but they can appreciate the story and spirit behind this. Plus, considering it takes place in the early 20th century, the stylized animation makes it feel rather timeless.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I always get nervous with stories that open with a know-it-all kid trying to disprove the existence of Santa. Consider this my knee-jerk reaction as a parent who loves to wrap himself up in Christmas magic, but this opening gets repeated a little too much for my tastes. That’s why specials like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” are so comfortable for me.
Finally, there’s Santa… what’s up with the lack of the ‘stache? That is all.
There is a single bonus feature on this disc, a look at Christmas around the world in the featurette “Christmas: A Global Holiday.”
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Children of the 70s and 80s, and their kids.