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Truckloads full of Easter joy: A spoiler-rich commentary (cottontary?)...,
This review is from: Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie (DVD)
Confound this movie! It's gonna have me going around shipping Jackie Frost/Irontail (Ironjack?) to random strangers. O.o I had expected it to be lame and wound up rather pleasantly surprised.
The opening sequence is cute; it can't touch the original's, but it is rather Noggin/Nick, Jr.-esque, so there's nothing BAD about it. I got the sense that they tried to pay respect to the story and unmistakable Rankin/Bass style of the first one via the character and set designs, color palettes, shapes, and fantistical, dreamlike, or abstract elements (especially during songs.)
Seymour S. Sassafrass: This guy is cute and lovable, and his voice is great, but he's NOT THE SAME PERSON by any stretch of the imagination. O.o He's more of a goof. Trying to accept them as the same person is jarringly impossible. We must understand that this is another Seymour S. Sassafrass, perhaps a relative of Danny Kaye's.
The same thing happened when the CG sequel "Rudolph & the Island of Misfit Toys" was made--I didn't dislike that movie, but like most sequels to Rankin/Bass productions made in recent years, it falls short of the original's magic...and it could have stood to be more faithful, which would make it feel more legitimate. The new "Sam the Snowman" narrator, voiced by Richard Dreyfuss, was very likable--but again, a wholly different snowman, taking over for Burl Ives' Sam. And, come to think of it, WHY couldn't they use stop-motion puppetry today, rather than recreating the characters in computers--which, of course, can create its own type of sheer magic, but is how nearly everything's done nowadays.
All of the voices are good. Tom (Spongebob! Who is more evident in Junior's voice, of course), Kenan, Molly, Christopher, Miranda...Roger...they did very well...but WHY couldn't they have tried to find someone who can do a good Vincent Price?! Peter, oKAY, he's older, so I can kinda understand...but Irontail? *sigh* Roger Moore has a great villain voice, actually, but you can't help but be disappointed in anything that doesn't sound like a valiant effort to imitate Vincent (think of Slinky Dog in Toy Story 3, or Fillmore in Cars 2! Now, those are jobs well done...in very sad situations, of course...as opposed to the poor choices made for Snow Miser in "A Miser Brother's Christmas!") Anyway, it's a very Nickelodeon-derived cast. :3
April Valley: High-tech and modernized. Very similar to Hop, actually. In fact, this was made in 2005, but I finally bought it in 2011--the year Hop came out. Well, the similarities are rather striking! Easter bunny's son has trouble adjusting to the conventions of his future post. Hmmmm. Wonder whether there was any influence. Anyhow--the setting may not be as charming as in my beloved original, but it's still cute. There' still a nerdy assistant to the chief Easter bunny. :D The whole setting is still a springy paradise, but looks somewhat different as you'd probably expect. The "Easter factory" we now see is a large, more enclosed (and more "Hop"-like) place loaded with the usual types of huge, fantastical machinery and gadgetry that are so often used to produce "fun stuff" in family films.
Antoine: Good heavens, WHY is he still a (GIANT?!?) caterpillar?!? This is just distressing. How could they simply disregard his metamorphosis?!? He regressed at some point in the future?! =| Odd...wouldn't have been anything wrong with letting him be an appropriately small butterfly for this film...
VERY typical storylines: Child of the orignal's main character somehow doesn't "fit in," is a disappointment to their parent, is in some way irresponsible or foolish and makes mistakes much as the parent(s) did...scientifically minded inventor whose stuff always fails (think of A Bug's Life, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, etc., etc...even Rankin/Bass's first film [which I completely adore! Highly recommended! See it today, any way you can!!], Willy McBean and His Magic Machine.) ) The formerly spunky and spirited but immature and irresponsible main character is now the strict, worrisome parent of a child who's "just like s/he was at that age."
There is some very amusing writing in here that will actually stick with you (I found myself quoting the whole nougat spiel a few times.) On the whole, it's almost a worthy sequel. (I'm still kind of shocked at myself for saying so.)
The music and musical numbers: At first I was hugely taken aback by the modernity and disappointed, even slightly appalled, at the gap between them and the orignal songs. However, repeated viewings have caused them to grow on me immensely. Yeah, they're very different from the original's, but they are well written and performed, and rather catchy/memorable/fun in their own rights. At the same time they represent the changes that have come even to the animated world, from past to present. Naturally, I like some more than others. It's still a bit hard to accept this as the canonical sequel to the classic...it seems like too large of a jump into the future...but maybe not...I suppose I can accept it. Maybe several Easters from now it'll all feel quite natural... ^^;
Jackie Frost: Yikes. I like this chick. She's sort of a flying fairy-thing who controls winter weather. Awesome. Her abused, waddling penguin henchbirds are adorable and absurdly hilarious.
The villain situation: also quite typical. They want to make winter last forever. Grand. I love winter too (and "watching things shrivel"), but hopefully they can get her to appreciate the rest of the year. After all, what's one without the others? Can't have that, now can we? And, her ice fortress reminds me of Mt. Krumpit. xD
Irontail: Hmmm. He looks preeetty good, but, he was accepted as a member of the April Valley Sanitation Department at the conclusion of the original. (Which is one of the many, many things I love so much about the Rankin/Bass shows; there's a lot of villain redemption and reform, and turning enemies into friends--or at least, not forever banishing/despising/murdering the villains...) Anyway, Irontail. The guy was even right in the middle of the crowd of characters at the end, singing and waving and wishing viewers a happy Easter day. (Willingly or by some coercion, who knows, but he was THERE.) Now, it's many years later, he's been gone from April Valley for some time, the story of what happened in the original has been passed down to Junior, who dismisses it as "ancient history"...and then Iron turns up as a villain again, still hungry for revenge against Peter after all this time. Teaming up with a fairy/pixie/magical humanoid lady...;) I do loooove the dynamic between those two.
But really, a Jack Frost figure has been used as a 'villain' twice before that I can think of right away--antagonists to Frosty the Snowman (redeemed! Yay!) and to Tim Allen's Santa Claus. Ol' Jack was the hero but once, in his own Rankin/Bass show. And now, we have his feminine counterpart.
We've seen the "stuck seasons"/"let's save [insert holiday/season]!" thing before, too, naturally. The seasons got stuck for the Berenstain Bears (and hey, for us in "reality" too, numerous times); winter kept on chugging right along and they had to convince Boss Bunny to come out of his funk and let spring/Easter come. 'Cause the holidays and seasons become inextricably linked.
"Mama Bunny": Who is she?? Is she supposed to be Donna?!? I found it difficult to believe they would have neglected to wed Peter and Donna...!! Yet this mother is a fairly blandly standard one with no hint at a name or familiar identity or anything...O.o I just kind of assumed she was older-Donna, but they really made very little effort to suggest that if it WAS indeed the intention...
What doesn't make sense: Why is it APRIL Valley, but the other three "seasonal lands" are all named for the actual season rather than for a month? It's incongruous. They're nice enough names, though. Summer Hill can't be THAT far from April Valley, right? A hill, a valley, two adjacent seasons....and yet Flutter's mom reacts to Pete, Jr. by telling him that he's a long way from home. :/
The clocks are a great idea. "The spring of Spring." I like it. Again, of course, it's the odd one out, the one that doesn't really belong with the objects from the other three clocks. (Leaf, sun...literal spring? Lulz. You're so weird, spring. That's why we love ya.) But I do enjoy that this movie fits in well with the Rankin/Bass universe and can also coexist with all of the various mythologies within it. Even in the modern computer-generated format, it's evident in the colors, backdrops, designs, etc., that they tried to make the style gel with that of the original.
They mention that Father Time made the clocks (brilliant!) The whole concept of basing a holiday story around the seasons, creatures who control them or elements or weather, characters who want one season or type of weather to dominate, and so on, is quite common, but has never been done better than in their classic films.
Montresor: Yay, they brought him back! But like Antoine, he's...disproportionately huge, for some reason. And he reminds me of Fidget, from The Great Mouse Detective--another bat sidekick to a Vincent Price villain. I also maybe kinda get a hint of Bartok. :D
"Fluffy": Makes for a hilarious running joke, but fails to explain where the "January Q." fits into his name. Did he voluntarily drop Fluffy and adopt Irontail following "the accident?" o.O Still, even if they hadn't tried to literally NAME him Fluffy, it would've been amusing just as a nickname--since he once had a fluffy tail, and wore a large one again in this to hide the artificial metallic tail.
^^ And man, I love Flutter the robin; he's so adorable and hysterical. Really nice design, too, with his mosaic-like feathers. He's just an all-around good character. And his MOM! Omg...xD
Munch the field mouse is kind of a little smart alec, but mostly she's just got a one-track mind, hardy harr!
The "today/tomorrow" conflict is an homage to that of the original, and to the Yestermorrowbile...and of course, "If I Could Only Get Back to Yesterday." <3
Then they meet...WIND. Or to be more specific, the East-by-Southwest Wind! A clownish flying jellyfish windbag. LOL. I like him too; he's funny. Of course, we now may now have to realize that some winds resemble aerial jellyfish while others are humanoid (*cough* North Wind from "A Miser Brother's Christmas," *cough*)And then the ice floe scene is reminiscent of Rudolph and his pals floating. THEN, the ice sliding scene is SO Ice Age.
Anyway, the movie's got a pretty gratifying ending that involves an infernally, epically catchy remix of the Peter Cottontail theme song, characters rocking out in the name of Easter, and two particular ones frozen beside one another, exchanging priceless expressions... This is scary; am I actually finding myself wanting a THIRD movie?!? Like THE BEE WHO SAVED ARBOR DAY? Oh, I gotta see that next, fer sure. Every holiday needs someone to rescue it, right?