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SONY ENTERTAINMENT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Cast:
Jimmy Durante, Billy De Wolfe, Jackie Vernon, Paul Frees, June Foray
Writing Credits:
Romeo Muller

Synopsis:
What's become a bigger holiday tradition than building a snowman? Watching the original Christmas classic, Frosty the Snowman! Grab your scarf, bundle up, and get ready for the incredible adventure of a magical snowman who's got enough personality to win over the whole family. You can't go wrong with Frosty!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
Spanish Monaural
Subtitles:
None
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 25 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 9/14/2004

Bonus:
• “Frosty Returns” Special
• Introduction by Arthur Rankin
• Pencil Test


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

Single Disc Version

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Frosty The Snowman: Christmas Classics Collection (1969)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 1, 2004)

Although the public perception of 1969’s Frosty the Snowman places it in the category of Christmas classic, I think it falls into a second tier category. The show displays some charms but lacks the quality to be stronger than that.

Set on Christmas Eve, a school class receives “entertainment” from inept magician Professor Hinkle (voiced by Billy DeWolfe). When he tries to pull his rabbit Hocus Pocus out of his hat, the gag doesn’t work and Hinkle decides to throw away his headwear.

Class lets out and the kids use the new Christmas snow to build a snowman. They call him “Frosty”. When Hocus Pocus flees Hinkle, he hops out in the discarded hat, and it ends up on Frosty’s head. Magically, this briefly brings the snowman to life, but when Hinkle sees the power of the hat, he reclaims it. The kids protest but he ignores them.

Hocus Pocus intervenes, however, and steals back the hat. He returns it to the kids and Frosty (Jackie Vernon) again comes to life. After a few minutes of fun, Frosty runs into problems because the temperature starts to escalate. This means his imminent demise via melting, so young school kid Karen (June Foray) suggests they transport him somewhere colder, and they choose the North Pole. The rest of the show follows their attempts to keep Frosty frosty as well as Hinkle’s efforts to retrieve his hat.

The best parts of Frosty come from its voice artists. Both DeWolfe and Vernon offer lively takes on their characters. Their roles are the most interesting of the bunch, though the wacky Hocus Pocus also is fun and likable. Jimmy Durante’s narration offers quirky charm for that element. Foray is neither good nor bad as Karen, but I suppose she does fine in the role.

Actually, Karen is one of the show’s weaknesses. At best, she’s a bland personality, and at worst, she’s annoying. She comes across like a smug know-it-all. When we first meet her, she builds the snowman’s head, and she declares “The head is the most difficult part - ask anyone!” She seems like she’s full of herself and she doesn’t create a likable personality.

I didn’t think a lot of the animation or art of Frosty, though some parts work okay. The character design for roles like Hocus and Frosty seem good, but many of the participants have an unpleasantly crude look. The animation is stiff and awkward. It’s not worse than we usually get for cheap TV specials, but it doesn’t look good in any case.

Too erratic to present a really great experience, Frosty the Snowman does impart some fun. Obviously folks like it since it continues to prosper after 35 years. I just don’t think it compares favorably with the best efforts in the genre.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus C

Frosty the Snowman appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite the show’s cheap origins and age, the DVD presented very nice visuals.

Sharpness mostly fared well. A little softness interfered at times, but not much. Instead, the program usually came across as concise and well-defined within the crude parameters of the original art. Jagged edges and edge enhancement failed to interfere, but a little shimmering occurred. Source flaws remained minor. I saw occasional specks and marks, but not as many as I expected. Some of the concerns seemed to stem from poor cleanup work, so the print itself appeared quite clean.

Colors didn’t dazzle, but they consistently looked solid. The tones were basic but bright and clear. Blacks were also more than satisfying, with dark and deep elements, and the occasional low-light shot was appropriately defined. I didn’t expect much from the visuals of Frosty, but it provided a positive experience.

As for the monaural audio of Frosty the Snowman, it seemed fairly average. Speech lacked much naturalness, but the lines were acceptably concise and distinctive, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Effects sounded clean and accurate, though they also lacked range. The score seemed a bit too bright and shrill and failed to deliver much in the way of dynamics, but I still thought the music was adequate for an older show. A little hiss accompanied the audio. It wasn’t anything special, but the sound was perfectly fine for an older program.

Only a few extras round out the set. We start with a six-minute and 44-second introduction from producer/director Arthur Rankin. He talks about the show’s inspirations and its look. He also chats a little about the characters and themes. To a large degree, though, he just retells the story. Rankin doesn’t present much interesting information.

The most substantial supplement presents 1992’s Frosty Returns special. It lasts 23 minutes as it tells the tale of unhappy Holly DeCarlo (Elizabeth Moss) and her friendship with Frosty (John Goodman). The original special presented a true sequel with 1976’s Frosty’s Winter Wonderland; Vernon reprised his title role there, and he’d also play once more with 1979’s AniMagic Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July. However, Returns doesn’t enjoy much of a connection to the 1969 show. Really, it’s closer to a Charlie Brown show, probably because director Bill Melendez helmed many examples of that franchise.

Surprisingly, Returns might be superior to the original. It shows more of a hipster attitude, with a form of humor that doesn’t appear in the original, and it offers a fairly similar plot. What makes it better? The characters are better drawn and more likable, as sad friendless Holly presents a substantially more endearing role than the smug Karen. John Goodman’s Frosty isn’t quite as good as Vernon’s, but he adds his own spark to the part. Add to that solid support from performers like Andrea Martin and Jan Hooks and Returns presents a surprisingly entertaining show.

Finally, we get a series of pencil tests. This 62-second clip shows early tests for a few characters. Oddly, we don’t see Frosty himself here.

Frosty the Snowman endures as one of the more popular Christmas specials, but it’s not one of the best. It moves briskly and has some good moments. However, it suffers from a number of flaws that make it only moderately above average. The DVD gives us pretty good picture with acceptable sound and a smattering of supplements highlighted by a fairly entertaining “sequel”. You can do worse than Frosty, but it’s not a holiday show I strongly recommend.

Note that you can find Frosty on DVD in a couple of releases. The one I reviewed comes from a package called The Original Television Christmas Classics. That box packages Rudolph with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, and The Little Drummer Boy. It also includes a CD called Songs from the Christmas Classics with “new recordings by the Silver and Gold singers”. From what I understand, the single-disc Frosty is exactly the same as the platter in the Classics set.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4 Stars Number of Votes: 20
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