Sesame Street started its regular weekly programming for children in 1969 and it has remained on air for over 40 years. So naturally most Americans were raised on Sesame Street and have a fondness for them.
It is a combination of educational skits, puppets, and human characters. The puppets or Muppets were first introduced by Jim Henson and there are worlds of Muppets that actually rarely combine together.
You have Sesame Street that has Elmo, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Ernie, Bert and the Count.
You have Muppets that has Fozie, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Skeeter, Ralph, Swedish Chef, Animal, Gonzo and many more.
Then there are Muppet Babies which are baby versions of the traditional Muppets.
and Fraggle Rock.
We’ll talk about The Muppets more when I review their Christmas Carol but today we are talking about Sesame Street and 3 of their Christmas films including one that has a rare combination of all 4 Muppet universes. Pretty exciting!
What makes Sesame Street so wonderful is it teaches children ABCs and other skills while making them laugh and providing messages from a diverse multicultural cast. They do not talk down to kids and have tackled hard topics over the years including AIDS, death, and divorce. The writing in all the Muppet Universe is always sharp, funny for adults and full of a warmth.
The key is they treat the world like an ordinary world. In the Christmas Eve on Sesame Street Big Bird is lost and the adult troupe at Sesame Street are as worried and upset as if it was their own little girl. It’s the same with the comedic moments. When Steve Martin has a scene with Kermit in the Muppet Movie he plays it just the same as if he was working with Chevy Chase or Dan Akroyd. That’s what makes The Muppets stand the test of time like Mickey or Winnie the Pooh because their worlds are thoughtfully rendered with universal themes.
So let’s talk about 3 Sesame Street Movies
First our Christmas Carol movie-
A Sesame Street Christmas Carol
This is my least favorite of the 3 and is more of a clip show than a movie but let’s talk about it.
Scrooge- Naturally our Scrooge is Oscar the Grouch. He is the Muppet that lives in a trash can. This is very similar to the Grouchy in the Smurfs movie.
I’m really surprised they didn’t use his song ‘I Hate Christmas’ from Christmas Eve on Sesame Street but there is a very funny narration by Tim Curry that starts out regal and stuffy and Oscar interrupts them.
The gimmick here is that Oscar doesn’t want to be disturbed until after Christmas but he gets a visit from Joe Marley of Scaredy Pants Delivery Service.
Then he gets a vintage bean can or a ‘ghostigram’ and is visited by 3 spirits that are not puppets. That was a major problem for me!
No CG in Muppets movies!!!
But if I ignore the CG they are actually pretty clever. The first ghost is Rhubarb the Scottish Grouch to show 2 clips of Christmas Past.
The 2 clips are Burt and Ernie Gift of the Magi which we will talk about in a bit (a favorite of mine).
And then we get Big Bird singing ‘All I Want for Christmas’. She is missing Snuffy and it is a lovely heartfelt moment originally from Elmo Saves Christmas.
Both of these segments have tons of heart and I enjoyed them both.
Next for Present we have Christmas Carole who is voiced by Kristen Chenoweth.
There are 4 clips in this segment.
1. Elmo and Santa Claus from Elmo’s World: Happy Holidays
Elmo in the Muppet World symbolizes love. He isn’t telling jokes or getting stressed out like Kermit, or full of himself like Piggy. He is always loving.
2. Elmo sings about ‘Everyday Can’t be Christmas’ from Elmo Saves Christmas.
3. A nice segment on Chanukah and Kwanza from Elmo’s World Happy Holidays.
4. Keep Christmas With You from Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.
Final Ghost is a Robot from the future and we get a cartoon about Christmas in the future.
And that’s about it. It’s a pleasant film but the other 2 I am going to talk about are much better.
Christmas Eve on Sesame Street-
This is a film I loved growing up and you know what I still love it! It’s funny and got real heart like the best of the Muppets.
This one starts with 2 musical numbers with the kids and adults skating.
Coming out of the rink Oscar starts teasing Big Bird about Santa not being small enough to fit down the chimney. This starts the plot for the film.
Worried Big Bird asks Kermit to find out how Santa gets down the chimney so him and Grover interview a bunch of cute kids during segments. Freaking adorable.
We also get a the Gift of the Magi from Bert and Ernie and this is one of my favorites Muppets moments ever. It is so sweet and heartfelt, and gets to the core of the message of Christmas. I loved it as a kid and love it now even more.
I also love they sing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas at the end which is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It honestly makes me tear up a bit. It’s just a sweet little story about friendship and thinking of others more than yourself . I mean its his paperclip collection!
We also get this hilarious segment from Cookie Monster trying to write to Santa.
Everyone starts searching for Big Bird because he is up on the roof trying to see Santa and find out. Everyone becomes very worried. Maria scolds Oscar and says with real intensity (again like they are dealing with real people).
“The nest is something different. He’s got electric blanket there. And his friends are there. ‘What are you going to do about it”
When they find Big Bird it turns out Santa has come and he says ‘Now we will never know’
Bob says ‘Why do you want to know?”
Big Bird says ‘Because it’s important’
Bob says “No, what is important is we lost you tonight and we were all very worried and now we’ve got you back safe and sound for Christmas”
That’s the kind of heart I love in Sesame Street and Muppets. It’s just great.
This film is a perfect Christmas film for kids. It will make them laugh with Cookie and Grover, teach them about friendship from Bert and Ernie and remember from Big Bird what is important.
A Muppet Family Christmas
This is a very special Muppet movie because it is the only one that includes all of the Muppet universe- Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and Muppet Babies! It was very exciting to watch!!
It’s a pretty simple story. All the Muppets are gathering at Fozzie’s house and we get to meet his mother and as the day goes more people arrive. As they arrive we get more songs.
Robin and Kermit go in the basement and find a Fraggle Hole and invite the Fraggles up for Christmas. They sing a song.
It ends up being a very full house but the writing is funny. Ms Piggy is hilarious with a photo shoot at the beginning. Again, the photographer treats her like any other model which is why the Muppets works . He says ‘do that pouty thing’ and it is very funny.
Like I said the rest of the movie is just people arriving and singing songs. We get We Need a Little Christmas, Jingle Bell Rock, Sleigh Ride, Deck the halls, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, No Place Like Home for the Holidays.
Then the last 10 minutes are a Christmas medley of carols and it is very cheerful and entertaining.
This movie is a real treat. It’s so much fun to see so many of the universes together and so many characters. The jokes are funny. The songs are good. It’s not that long so the gimmick worked fine for me. It’s just great!!
So we have 3 solid Sesame Street Christmas films. I think kids and adults will enjoy all 3 with Christmas Eve and Family Christmas being the best of the 3. They are well written, funny, and have real heart. The Muppets are treated like real people and they don’t talk down to kids or patronize them. It’s the best!
Have a great evening!