Missing Link Review

Everyone who reads this blog knows animation is my first love. I adore the medium in all its formats- 2D, CGI, anime, stop motion, motion capture, whatever. I particularly love stop motion with its attention to detail and unique world-building. Aside from a rare Wes Anderson or Tim Burton project, most stop motion over the last 10 years has come from either Aardman or Laika studios.

I love both of these studios and admire so much the work these talented artists are doing. That said, I do not always love the movies the studios produce. Last year I found Early Man, with its soccer themes, to be underwhelming from Aardman and this year I found Laika’s latest Missing Link to be a disappointment.

Missing Link tells the story of adventurer Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman) who finds a sasquatch named Susan (Zach Galifianakis) and agrees to take the friendly beast to meet his family of yetis in Siberia. Along the way they meet Adelina (Zoe Saldana) who has a rocky past with Frost. It’s then mostly a road trip movie with these 3 on a series of adventures across the globe.

Let’s start with the positives. The animation in Missing Link is outstanding. They use a lot of CGI for a stop motion film but the amount of world building and action set pieces they designed is second to none. I can’t even fathom the amount of time spent on one short sequence in India or getting the action right in an old Western bar brawl scene. That would be incredibly difficult and I admire the animators for their great skill.

I also thought the sound design was really good. As they go exploring everything feels tactile and real, which helps immerse you in the experience. I particularly liked scenes on an ice bridge where the sound of the ice crackling and characters sliding upon it felt just right.

I think kids will have fun with the adventure aspect of the film. The kids around me seemed moderately engaged. I doubt it will be a favorite but it has fun moments and the message of self-confidence and friendship is lovely so you could do worse than taking your kids to see it.

missing link

And now let’s talk about some of the issues I had with Missing Link…The biggest problem I had (and I had felt this in the trailers but was hoping the movie would win me over) is the strange character designs. I guess I can understand designing a sasquatch any way they want but the bright red pig-like nose was so off-putting. But even stranger is designing adventurer Frost with a bright red triangle nose. It looks like he is in a perpetual state of having just sneezed, and I don’t get it. He’s supposed to be human. Why would you design his nose like that?

While I think Jackman is fine as Frost, I also didn’t love the voice casting. I especially didn’t like Zach Galifianakis as Susan. It didn’t fit for me, and I felt it missed out on huge comic potential. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the big beast with a big booming voice was actually really sweet and named Susan? Occasionally they’d have him roar and that was funny. The juxtaposition was humorous and could have been much more so if they had gotten someone like Brad Garrett with a lower voice.

Speaking of comedy, that’s my other major problem with Missing Link. I maybe chuckled twice in the film. The humor is a weird mixture of the adult and juvenile variety and it almost all lands flat. It felt kind of like Laika trying to do Aardman and failing. In particular, a whole sequence with the Emma Thompson yetti was long, drawn out and kind of dull. There’s lots of humor that revolves around fighting hijinks. Fighting at a bar, fighting on a train, fighting in the jungle, fighting at the yetis and while the animation in these sequences is impressive they didn’t make me laugh. Is this stuff kids think is funny? It felt very weird to me. Do kids like bar-room brawls and petty fighting between British elites? (I think the film is going to be a very tough sell. I don’t see it appealing to many families and kids unless they happen to like Westerns).

missing link3

I feel bad for being so harsh on a Laika film because I really value what the studio is doing. However,  I have to be honest with my response to a film like Missing Link. It just didn’t do it for me despite the incredible animation. My friend Jen had the same reaction but then my friend Larry loved it so it will be interesting to see what others think.

If you get a chance to see Missing Link let me know what you think. Do the character designs turn you off in the trailer or are you excited for the adventure?

Final Score 4 out of 10

frown

 

 

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Early Man Review

One could easily make the argument that Aardman animation is the most consistently great studio working today. Even more so than Pixar, their films have an amazing track record for being smart, funny and visually delightful. It is with this reputation that I was eagerly anticipating their latest release Early Man and it is also part of the reason why I left feeling disappointed.  It’s not a terrible movie but it is probably my least favorite of their films.

The trailers for Early Man make it seem like the film is going to focus on Dug (Eddie Redmayne) and his group of cave dwellers as they come to interact with more civilized people led by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). Unfortunately that is not entirely the case. After a brief introduction to the cave dwellers, Dug and Lord Nooth meet and challenge each other to a soccer (or football as the Brits say) match. Almost the entire movie is then this game.

If you are super into soccer you might find the jokes funnier and the game more interesting, but I really didn’t. I hardly laughed at all.  It’s also really hard to have dialogue or develop meaningful characters within the confines of a soccer game. I honestly started to yawn at a point and grew restless in the theater- something shocking to say about an Aardman film. If I didn’t look up the information I couldn’t tell you a single character name or what was important about them. That is definitely not the case with Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep or Arthur Christmas that had such memorable characters. Some don’t like the Aardman film Pirates: Band of Misfits but the jokes with the monkey alone in that film stand out way more than anything in Early Man.

There are some cute moments between the characters and the animation is adorable so it’s enjoyable on that level. The theme of teamwork is nice to see and you can root for the underdog like any sports movie. The voice acting is all good and if you like soccer you will probably get a lot of jokes that went over my head (there are jokes about DC United and teams like that which Brits will get).

In the week since I saw it I have kept looking for excuses for Early Man because I love Aardman so much. However,  if I am going to be tough on studios like DreamWorks and Sony Animation I have to be tough here to:

They made a boring movie that I didn’t think was funny (Sorry Aardman!)

Overall Grade- C

Kubo and the Two Strings Review (Masterpiece)

kubo-and-the-two-strings-posterYesterday I got the chance to see the new film from Laika Animation Studios called Kubo and the Two Strings. Here is my youtube review that I made after seeing it:

2016 has been a very strong year for animation in my opinion. Zootopia, Finding Dory, Little Prince, Only Yesterday, April and the Extraordinary World, Kung fu Panda 3 are all special releases. No we get Kubo and the Two Strings and it may be the best yet. What an amazing animated stop motion adventure. It took my breath away but I was also engaged in the story and loved the lead character, Kubo.

The film tells the story of Kubo who is a little boy with magical powers. He can make origami paper come alive and tell stories. He even at one point is able to build an entire boat with his paper. Each day he tells stories to the villagers but he only has one problem- he can never think of good endings to the story.

kuob4His Mother is a sickly woman who he has to care for. He has to cook for her and even feed her she is so weak. However, his Mother warns him to not be out after dark or he will be in great danger. Unfortunately one night he ends up outside and spirits begin calling for him “Kubo, Kubo, they call”. As he follows them he ends up on adventure to get the armor of his father that will protect him and his Mother.

kuboAlong the way he meets a monkey and a beetle who help him on his journey. One thing I liked is I was never sure where they were headed or what the next step was going to be. This is not like Lord of the Rings where the clear goal is Mordor and the destruction of the ring. Without a clear roadmap the film was very unpredictable and surprising.

The dialogue is also very well done. Monkey and Beetle are funny together and have a lot of sarcastic jabs at each other without being too modern or hip. In fact, Kubo is probably too old-fashioned for its own good. It would probably be easier to market if it had the wise cracking modern sidekick like Mushu in Mulan.

kubo6Nevertheless, I loved the characters, especially Kubo. Much like Judy Hopps in Zootopia this year, there was an earnestness and sincerity to Kubo that won me over immediately. He is blind in one eye but that eye is expressive and his smile made me very happy. I wanted him to be happy. I was rooting for him to succeed, which is probably the greatest compliment I can give to a character. He was brave and strong but felt real and vulnerable at the same time.

kubo-and-the-two-strings-official-trailer-3-2-820x795Do I even need to say the visuals are stunning? Yes, the visuals are stunning! There were so many moments when you can’t believe it is stop motion. The character movements are so fluid and the fast paced movements and lush landscapes are like something I haven’t seen before. It is without a doubt the greatest looking stop motion animated film I’ve ever seen.

kubo8It also has a great emotional reach. There are moments that will make you smile, laugh, cry and get a little scared. I don’t think it is too scary for most kids but maybe if they aren’t able to handle darker Disney villains like Maleficent than it isn’t for them. My theater was full of kids and they were totally engaged (unlike so many animated films I’ve seen in last few years because with the good comes the bad too…).

KUBO_monkey_laika_focus.0.0Mostly the film just has a huge heart that wins you over to the story, characters and world-building. I loved it and I fully intend on doing a detailed spoiler review once I get to see it more than once like I have done with Zootopia and Inside Out.

Unfortunately, it looks like this film is pegging to open at 12 million this weekend. That is so discouraging. It really is a masterpiece. I don’t want to live in a world where The Angry Birds Movie does better than Kubo and the Two Strings and yet there it is. What’s wrong with America?

Please let’s prove these prognosticators wrong!  Go see this film. Take your family. Take your friends. It’s great for all ages. It’s great for all interest levels. It’s a great movie. You don’t want to be the one who missed 2016’s masterpiece do you? See Kubo and the Two Strings. It’s that special.

I wouldn’t recommend the 3D as it didn’t do much to enhance the experience. Just see it in 2D and enjoy a truly special animated adventure.

Overall Grade- A+

2015 Animated Oscars: Did the Right Film Win?

I’m very excited to announce my next video reviewing the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film is up!  I have reviewed every year from 2001-2015.  Here’s the entire playlist and the Animated Oscars Tag videos people have done.   It’s a long video, so perhaps a good one to listen while doing another task.  If you like it please give it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7wz447AgL4x2fxnrGhVdu-6ZZa8v18Vl

Here are my base thoughts on each of the nominees.

boy and the world poster2Boy and the World-

A beautiful hand drawn animated film by Ale Abreu that tells the story of a little boy looking for his father.  Using basically no dialogue Abreu creates a kaleidoscope of colors and textures as the boy ventures into the city and confronts war, waste, commercialism and fear.  Sometimes it can be heavy handed and a bit self-indulgent but it’s also bright, colorful and fun.  The music is infectious and will make you smile.

anomalisaAnomalisa-

A somewhat cynical yet thought provoking stop motion animated film from Charlie Kaufman for adults. The animation is fluid and smooth as it focuses on a man named Michael who has become disenfranchised with the people in his life.  Everyone looks, behaves and even sounds the same.  Then he meets Lisa who is different and this excites him.  Some of the adult content I felt was distracting from what really made Lisa special. We could have dug deeper but instead we get superficial differences like a scar or voice. Still, it will definitely make you think and if you can handle the content worth a watch.

inside out3Inside Out-

I don’t know how I could say more about this film.  It was my favorite film of 2015 and it is rapidly becoming one of my favorite animated films of all time.  I have found myself watching it most weeks since I got it on blu-ray.  There’s just something about the dual stories of Riley and Joy that doesn’t age for me.  It improves each time I see it.  I love the humor, visual splendor, and heart.  The end when Riley admits to her parents ‘I miss home’ is perfect.  Joy’s journey when she finally realizes that happiness requires sadness is equally strong.  Perfection from Pixar.

shaun the sheep posterShaun the Sheep-

A delight from the team at Aardman.  A spin off from the TV show (which is great and you can watch on Amazon Prime) Shaun is tired of his boring routine and wants a day off.  So him and his friends go to the big city and have an adventure.  It has the spirit of a silent comedy with minimal dialogue and some great visual jokes.  I loved when the Farmer becomes a barber to the stars.  It’s a sweet, simple, endearing film.  And of course, the animation is wonderful as is usually the case from Aardman.  I wish more people in US saw their great films.

when marnie9When Marnie was There-

This film really impacted me emotionally.  Seeing the journey of Anna as she struggles with deep depression and her family’s effort to save her is very beautiful.  The main message is that we all have love in our lives.  The key is recognizing that love, both here on earth and from those who have passed on.  We all have love, and that love has power to rescue.  The animation is stunning.  I particularly loved the sound mixing and how lush everything felt.  The ending may not work for everyone but I thought it was pure truth. Great way for Studio Ghibli to go out. The music and song by Priscilla Ahn is gorgeous.

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So 5 wonderful films!  It’s funny looking over these 5 nominees I feel 2015 is a bit of a an underrated year.  It certainly was a diverse year especially when you consider 2 very strong films, Peanuts Movie and Good Dinosaur, that were not nominated.  And how amazing is it to have a year with only 1 CG film nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.  2014 only had 2. Take that 2D animation is dead crowd! 😉

Anyway, I think you guys know Inside Out is the clear winner in my books; although, I think all 5 are quality films.  As I said earlier, Inside Out is a game changer for me.  A film I will never forget.

What about you?  What do you think of the nominees and do you think the right film won?

Rankin/Bass 9: Year Without a Santa Claus

yw santaSorry I have gotten a bit behind on my Rankin/Bass month what with that little thing called Star Wars! Luckily they have a lot of non-Christmas specials so I should be fine stretching it into January where hardly any good movies come out.

One thing I’ve learned about these Rankin/Bass specials is they all have a kooky weirdness to them.  I don’t know if you notice it as much when you watch one a year like a normal person.  At least it is more noticeable watching them in a block like I have been.  I’ve been wondering why some of them are weird and work and others miss the mark?  I’m not sure but I think the weirdness is better as an embellishment than the whole story.  Like in Jack Frost the story was pretty good and so it made it better to have weird touches.

Anyway, The Year Without a Santa Claus is definitely one of their more successful entries and it is also full of strange elements.  Released in 1974 it is a stop motion 48 minute special that tells the story of the year Santa decides to stay at home!

yw santa-2Santa, you see, is in need of a break and his doctor tells him to ‘forget delivering presents to those ungrateful kids who don’t believe in you and stay home!’ (amazing how many people in these specials hate Christmas!).  Santa listens and Mrs Claus and the elves Jingle and Jangle are horrified (you think he could just take a day off and not the entire year!).

Jingle and Jangle decide to take a young reindeer named Vixen (they both ride the little reindeer like a horse which looks very strange) to find proof for Santa that someone believes in him.

They are stopped in their quest by the Miser Bros’ who rule the clouds- Heat Miser and Snow Miser who hate each other.  I liked these character’s designs and behavior.

yw santa-6They end up in a town called Southtown where they try to find anyone who believes in Santa but Vixen becomes sick and nearly dies.  Mrs Claus comes and they meet a boy named Ignatius Thistelwhite who doesn’t believe but his father believes.

yw santa-5Then they must go and find Mother Nature in order to convince Heat Miser and Snow Miser to work together so that the town and Ignatius will believe in Santa.

yw santa-4Santa then comes to save Vixen but before that we get a very melancholy version of Blue Christmas sung by a little girl with lots of stop motion tears.  Rankin/Bass loves the stop motion tears!

yw santa-9Santa eventually see’s the error of his ways and makes everything right in the end.

yw santa-7I mean come on- you hear that description it’s pretty creative right?  It’s wacky and nutty but very creative.  In one 48 minute short we have elves, dying reindeer, Santa playing hooky, Mother Nature, Heat and Snow Miser and a girl singing Blue Christmas. That’s great!

There are also some really nice songs with good performers.  I like I Could Be Santa Clause, I Believe in Santa Claus, The Snow Miser and Heat Miser Songs, Blue Christmas and Hear Comes Santa Claus.  They are all well sung and some of the best writing from Maury Laws and Jules Bass.

At least to me this is just wacky, weird fun:

I also like Year Without a Santa Claus is a little less heavy-handed in its messaging than some of the other Christmas shorts.  It is mostly about Santa with a thin message of believing in things and being kind.

The animation is also a little more seamless than some of the other shorts and I really liked the colors in scenes like at Heat Miser’s castle.

Scenes like this are just so nutty and silly:

It’s certainly one of my favorite of the Rankin/Bass specials.  Have you seen it?  What did you think?

Rankin/Bass 8: Nestor the Long Eared Christmas Donkey

nestor2One thing you have to give Rankin/Bass credit for is their creativity.  Maybe it’s partly running out of Christmas stories to tell but even their Rudolph special (that review is coming on Christmas Day if you were wondering) they were very creative having plot points like an elf that wants to be a dentist. You can certainly see such creativity on display with their short Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. I mean have you ever seen a film about a long-eared donkey?  I haven’t until this one!

No doubt taking cues from Dumbo, Nestor is a donkey during the time of the Romans with abnormally large ears that go down to the ground.  For some reason they decided to give this story a folksy narrator donkey named Spieltoe voiced by Roger Miller.  It never quite fits with the feel of the short.

As if having long ears isn’t trial enough things go from bad to worse for poor Nestor.  The opening scenes soldiers come and take all the donkeys except Nestor including his mother.  Then Nestor is thrown out by the farmer and he and all the animals are really mean.

nestorNestor and his mother are caught in a blizzard and the next morning his mother has died. (It really is quite a grim film for a Christmas special!).

nestor7Then Nestor meets an angel who tells him to travel to Bethlehem because “your ears can do wondrous things no other ears can do”.  Then he and the angel travel across desert and have quite the journey.

nestor4When they arrive near Bethlehem Nestor is seen as unneeded so the owner sells him to Mary and Joseph for cheap so she can get to Bethlehem.  It is a perilous journey but “he follows the voices of the angels” and Nestor helps them find the stable to have he Christ-child.

nestor5I expected the film to end with Nestor staying at the nativity stable but in an odd turn he goes back to the original stable where they were so mean to him and he is treated like a hero.  This is strange because how would they know what he had done in Bethlehem and why would he want to go back there?

I give them huge points for creativity on this one and  it’s harmless enough.  The animation is quite good as it is one of their later films (1977).  And I’m always up for stories about characters who fight bullies and come out on top.

However, the film is so gloomy for a Christmas picture.  Almost nothing but death, rejection and persecution happens to Nestor until the very end.  Also the ending didn’t really make sense to me.  I also found he music, while pleasant to not really fit the tone and characters very well.

So over all I’d say see this as a curiosity and to see their creativity but it is not a favorite of mine.

Rankin/Bass 5: The Little Drummer Boy

drummer boy8Oddly enough there aren’t very many holiday specials or films for that matter that focus on Jesus Christ- the reason for the season!  And that is truly one thing that stands out about the Rankin/Bass film The Little Drummer Boy.

Before reviewing this film I must own The Little Drummer Boy is not a carol I particularly enjoy.  It’s nice sung by a choir but I guess I prefer the Christmas songs that I can sing easily by myself and ‘rump a pum pum’ doesn’t work with only one!

That said, the Little Drummer Boy is about a boy named Aaron who has a magic drum that charms his friends a donkey, sheep and camel. The animation is not very fluid in this movie but I oddly got used to it after a while.

drummer boy

Life seems good for him but one night his family is killed and his home is burned to the ground by roughians.  That’s right.  They don’t mess around in this film!  It’s pretty dark to begin with.

drummer boy4Then a man named Ben Haramad abducts Aaron and forces him to join his circus of nitwits.  Aaron becomes very bitter towards the people watching him in the circus and to Ben.  At one point Ben paints a smile over Ben’s face because he refuses to smile for the crowds.  It looks kind of like the Joker.

drummer boy9Aaron meets a group of Wise Men from East heading towards a new born King.  Aaron escapes but as they head to Bethlehem Aaron’s sheep is injured and near death.

drummer boy5Aaron presents his sheep before the Christ-child and plays his drum as his gift. The sheep is healed and Aaron feels joy.  It’s really quite a lovely moment.

drummer boy6I was ready to give this one a pass at first- especially when it got so grim and sad but by the end it had won me over.  I liked seeing the character arc of Aaron and the whole sequence at the nativity was lovely.

The other standouts are a great voicecast with Greer Garson, Teddy Eccles, Jose Ferrer, Paul Frees, and June Foray

The music is also really special by Rankin/Bass regulars Maury Laws and Jules Bass.  I particularly loved the Vienna Boys Choir throughout which fit for a story about a little boy.

Of course we get our title song and I think it was all handled beautifully.

So The Little Drummer is definitely a film worth a watch.  It’s only 25 minutes (made in 1968) so what have you go to lose!

Rankin/Bass 3: The First Christmas Snow

first christmas9The next entry I’m looking at in my Rankin/Bass month is the 22 minute program The First Christmas: The First Christmas Snow.  The rather ungainly title refers to a nativity play put on but really the The First Christmas Snow is more the plot of the special.

first christmas3The First Christmas Snow unfortunately is one of the weaker entries I’ve seen but that’s not to say it doesn’t have some positive elements.  It’s just very syrupy and preachy.  More along the lines of something you’d watch as a kid in Sunday School to teach a principle than a real piece of cinema.

It tells the tale of a little blind boy named Lucas who is lost in a storm watching over his sheep and some nuns including Sister Theresa take him in and care for him.  Theresa is voiced by Angela Lansbury and I could listen to her all day.  Basically little Lucas gets to know the nuns and starts to feel at home with his sheep at the monastery.

first christmas7But mean old Father Thomas (Cyril Ritchard) doesn’t think it is the right place for a little boy and insists he be taken to the orphanage.  But Lucas and his friend Louisa pray for a miracle and they get what they ask for and more.  Lucas is also trying to thwart off pranksters who lose his sheep and also trying to find the perfect gift for Sister Theresa.

first christmas2there’s a Christmas pageant where Lucas and Louisa are our angels (did any of you doubt that would be the case?)

first christmas6The thing that makes this bit watchable and sweet in its own way is the songs.  Angela Lansbury sounds completely lovely singing White Christmas, Christmas Snow is Magic and Save a Little Christmas.

first christmas8The stop motion is fine but not the best I’ve seen from Rankin/Bass and it’s just so syrupy it is hard to recommend- and that’s coming from an adamant apologist for many Christian films.

If you need to have a sub for Sunday School and want to teach about faith and miracles it would be a fine choice but I can still think of better. Honestly any of the veggietales shorts would be better with a similar message.

first christmas5So this will definitely be near the bottom of my Rankin/Bass rankings if I do one but luckily it is only 22 minutes and I can stand just about anything for that long.

Rankin/Bass 2: Santa Claus is Comin to Town

santa clausLet’s talk about our first holiday short in Rankin/Bass month (I’ll try to mix up the holiday and non-holiday).  We are talking about Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I have to say from the start this is not one I remember watching as a kid.  I remember Rudolph but not this one for some reason.  I’m not going to say this was my first watch-through but if I have seen it was a long time ago.

With that said, I will say- this movie is weird.  It’s just the oddest assortment of strange story, characters, animation, and everything else.  I don’t think that is a bad thing per say but it’s just a bit hard to write about.  It’s really a very befuddling movie!

santa claus2Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town aired on ABC in 1970 and it is basically a Santa Claus origin story.  Our narrator is SD Kluger (SD for Special Delivery) voiced by Fred Astaire who isn’t given as much to do as you might think.

santa claus7Basically there is a villain named Burgermeister Meisterburger (a great name!) who hates everything.  One morning a baby is dropped on his doorstep and he sends it away to the ‘orphan asylum’ and then the animals rescue the baby from him and the Winter Warlock and then take him to stay with the Kringle Family who make toys. Who knew St. Nick had such grim beginnings!

But luckily the Kringles are sweet and lovely people and Kris grows up and wants to restore the Kringle family as the official toymakers of the King (who knew the king needed such a thing?).  So he sets out to make and deliver toys.

santa claus5Unfortunately Burgermeister has outlawed all toys and basically any other kind of fun.  Everything in Sombertown (the name of Burgermeister’s kingdom) is dark and gray and sad.  He not only bans toys but declares they are ‘illegal, immoral and unlawful and that anyone who has a toy will be placed in a dungeon!’.  These must have been quite the toys!

santa claus4So that’s sort of the set-up and I won’t give any more away but it involves the magic of the Winter Warlock and Kris Kringle’s attempts to circumvent Burgermeister’s  crazy laws.  In the course of the story you find out origins for Santa’s name, his relationship and marriage to Mrs Claus, presents under the tree, Christmas trees, going down chimneys, December 24th for presents, flying reindeer etc.

santa.88I could see someone really roasting this movie.  It’s just so nutty but I enjoyed watching it.  It’s only an hour so it didn’t wear out its welcome and did surprise me with the strange choices.  The ending is very odd in that Santa doesn’t really save the people from Burgermeister.  His family rules for generation until the townsfolk come to their senses. That’s more than a little disturbing if you really think about it…

The voicework by Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn and Paul Frees is all fine and fun to hear but nothing too special.

santa claus6The music is a bit of a letdown with nothing that stood out for me.  Songs like ‘No More Toymakers to the King’ and ‘First Toymakers to the King’ weren’t anything special and ‘If You Sit on My Lap Today’ made me a little uncomfortable.  It’s just odd for Santa to be asking kids to ‘be prepared to pay’ for sitting on his lap.

So overall it is an odd trippy little film but I enjoyed watching it.  Have any of you seen Santa Claus is Coming to Town?  Have you watched it recently?   Let me know what you think.  Thanks!