Must see animated classics

Journalism 1 students , Staff Writer

 

“The Muppet Christmas Carol” 

By: Nicole Posont

 

Muppet Christmas Carol Walt Disney Pictures

 

Disney’s “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992) will leave no one saying, “Bah, humbug” this Christmas season. 

Familiar faces such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie Bear are seen in London, filling the roles of  Mr. and Mrs. Cratchitt  as well as “Fozziwig” in this musical spin-off of Charles Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol.” 

As the townsfolk stir in Christmas-eve excitement, Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine), a coldhearted moneylender, goes about his day squashing any merriment he comes across. He returns home, only to meet multiple eye-opening characters that might make him rethink the true meaning of Christmas. 

Gonzo, playing Charles Dickens himself, and Rizzo the Rat, serve as the story’s narrators. The witty duo follow Scrooge on his journey, yet constantly find themselves in sticky situations. 

Throughout the 90 minute musical, the cast sings 18 songs. Some titles include “Room in Your Heart”, “Fozziwig’s Party”, and “Bless Us All.”  The choice to include songs in this film is the cherry on top of Muppet-style storytelling. 

Many of the Muppets movies use recycled puppets, and this film is no different. However, this is the first Muppets movie not to feature any “Sesame Street” characters, although diligent viewers may still be able to spot them in the background. 

“The Muppet Christmas Carol” is available on Disney +.

 

“Arthur Christmas” 

 By: Jenny Peery

Arthur Christmas Columbia Pictures

“Arthur Christmas” (2011) brings Santa Claus into the 21st century. 

Contrary to popular belief, Santa is not an immortal jolly man, but a figurehead passed

from father to son through generations. He travels around the world on Christmas Eve with a super-sized spaceship and an army of elves to deliver gifts to every child. 

This complicated operation is run at the North Pole Headquarters by Santa’s eldest son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), who sees Christmas as a business, not a magical time of year. Nevertheless, Steve has hopes of becoming Santa next year. 

Santa’s second son, Arthur (James McAvoy), is the opposite of Steve. He is awkward, clumsy, cheerful and full of the Christmas spirit. 

When Santa returns from delivering all the presents, it is discovered that a child was missed. To Steve and Santa, this is merely an outlier compared to millions of successful deliveries. But, to Arthur, this means that a child won’t feel the magic of Christmas, and he is determined to make sure she receives her gift in time.

McAvoy’s Arthur is the most enjoyable character. When he hits rock bottom and feels like giving up, he remembers what it truly means to be Santa, and keeps going, inspiring everyone – at the North Pole and in the audience. 

“Arthur Christmas” is a creative, fresh take on the timeless tale of Santa Claus and reminds viewers of all ages of the magic of Christmas.

Streaming on Hulu, Starz and Amazon Prime Video.

 

“The Polar Express”

By Valerie Loeblich

The Polar Express Warner Bros. Pictures

 Based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg,the animated classic “The Polar Express” (2004) embodies the magic of Christmas. The tale follows a doubtful boy (Tom Hanks) questioning the reality of Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, he discovers outside of his home a locomotive with a conductor calling him aboard. Bound for the North Pole, he skeptically joins the other children on board.

Through each unnamed character, including the hero boy, hero girl, know-it-all and the lonely boy, the film teaches the young audience the importance of friendship, leadership, courage and letting yourself believe. 

Watching this film brings intense nostalgia of the older audience’s childhoods, the doubts that stir within them about the big man (Mr. Claus), the yearning to know what gifts were received and the dreamlike whimsy surrounding the holidays and Christmas morning. 

Brought to the cinematic world by director Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future” Trilogy), the tale is full of easter eggs. From the appearance of Lone Pine Mall in the newspaper to the Flux Capacitor in the train, Zemeckis added his own special touch to the animation.

Executive Producer Tom Hanks is the shining force of the film.  He voiced six separate characters, and several scenes were animated to directly mimic scenes and the cinematography from the film Forrest Gump. 

“The Polar Express” is a rollercoaster, but is full of meaning and will remain a true Christmas classic for families.  It can be streamed through AMC or Amazon Prime.

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas

By: Aiden Madonia 

Nightmare before Christmas Touchstone Pictures

Tim Burton’s animated cult classic “The Nightmare before Christmas” (1993) combines Halloween and Christmas with surprisingly heartwarming results.

Pumpkin King Jack Skellington (voiced by Danny Elfman and Chris Sarandon) becomes disillusioned by his current life in Halloween town and stumbles upon Christmas town. Inspired by the new sensations of joy and happiness, he wants to mimic this new holiday to amuse himself. The townspeople try to replicate the holiday but with their own aesthetic. 

The basic plot for the movie is based on a 1982 poem penned by Burton while working for Disney. This simplified version of the storyline was turned into a celebrated motion picture.

“The Nightmare before Christmas” was Burton’s first foray into the world of stop-motion animation. He followed it up with “The Corpse Bride.” 

Elfman is the star of the film – not only as the voice of Jack, but he also wrote the lyrics and music. The hauntingly poignant “Jack’s Lament” captures the main character’s emotional state and clues the viewers that this will not be a typical animated feature. In total, Burton and Elfman have collaborated on 17 live-action and stop-motion films.

If this movie is supposed to be a nightmare, it is a terrific one that viewers would like to have every night.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) is available for streaming on Disney+.