A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that even though this colorful holiday special is suitable for kids of all ages, some very young viewers may find the main characters a little scary. There are also extended scenes of cartoon violence in which characters throw fire balls and lightning bolts at each other and call each other names. The good news is that everyone is reprimanded in the end for their bad behavior, and no one is seriously injured. In the end, the message is that it's better to work together than fight.
What's the story?
With Christmas fast approaching, Santa (voiced by Mickey Rooney) and his elves are working overtime to prepare for the big day. But the spirit of the season hasn't helped the warring Miser brothers -- hot-headed Heat Miser (George S. Irving) and cold-hearted Snow Miser (Juan Chioran) -- get along any better. Things only get worse when the Miser brothers' megalomaniacal sibling, the North Wind, sets his sights on bringing down Santa so that he can take over the job and get all the glory. Now that Santa's out of commission, can the Miser brothers set aside their differences and save Christmas?
Is it any good?
Although it was inspired by the 1974 Rankin-Bass holiday special The Year Without Santa Claus, A MISER BROTHERS' CHRISTMAS is unlikely to become a Christmas classic that stands the test of time. The award-winning animation is stellar, to be sure. But the story loses major points for a convoluted plot involving Mother Nature, a failed assassination attempt, and mostly lackluster characters who fail to capture our hearts. The North Wind -- a devilish blend of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and Stephen Colbert -- is a notable exception. Without him, A Miser Brothers' Christmas would be utterly skippable.
The odd thing is that, even though they're central to the plot, the Miser brothers and their petty rivalry get pretty old, pretty fast. (And if kids haven't seen The Year Without Santa Claus, they probably won't even know who the Miser brothers are, making them even less likely to care about what happens to them.) When it comes to holiday programming, A Miser Brothers' Christmas will do in a pinch. But it doesn't measure up to the classic Christmas fare it pays homage to.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the repercussions of sibling rivalry and how fighting can cause problems for everyone -- not just the brothers or sisters involved in the dispute. Kids: Have you ever fought with someone close to you over something you just couldn't agree on? Why? Did you end up saying or doing things that you wish you hadn't? Were you able to come to an agreement in the end? Parents who've seen the classic holiday special upon which this story is based (The Year Without a Santa Claus) can also share their memories of the story and its characters.
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