A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this isn't a Christmas tale per se, but a winter story that revolves around unrequited love and heroic acts, with a dollop of Russian peasant repression for good measure. Mild battle scenes occur, but their stop-action animation style prevent them from being too scary. An explanation of what a Russian Cossack is may be helpful to younger children in understanding the villain. Workers in Father Time's realm are called "gypsies."
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What's the story?
Narrated and sung by Buddy Hackett, JACK FROST is characterized by the stop-motion animation which its directors, Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, made famous. In this 1979 film, remastered in 2008, Jack Frost (voiced by Robert Morse) longs to become human to win the affection of Elisa (Debra Clinger), a resident of impoverished January Junction. Father Winter (Paul Frees) grants his wish -- with conditions. But when Jack joins the residents of the village, posing as an itinerant tailor, his plan is imperiled by an evil villain and a knight in golden armor, both of whom want to marry Elisa. Jack is forced to make a difficult decision about the best way to honor Elisa and her fellow villagers.
Is it any good?
Overall, the movie is a bit convoluted, and there are so many secondary characters introduced and never seen again that it's hard to keep track. Though the animation is as good as one expects from a Rankin/Bass production, the songs that accompany the action aren't particularly memorable. The movie ends on a poignant note, and some viewers may wonder if Elisa has made the right choice.
The movie may seem like a Christmas story, but it actually opens with an extended riff about Groundhog Day and a bargain that Jack Frost has made to extend winter for as long as possible. Christmas plays only a small role in the movie so families looking for alternatives to Christmas movies could incorporate this into their viewing. However, in the 2008 edition there is an easy-to-follow special feature on making holiday gifts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Jack's decision to become human. What do you think you would miss about being magical, if you were in Jack's shoes? For older kids, discuss the "ice money" that Jack provides. How could the villagers use that sort of system year-round? Also, families can try some of the crafts included in the remastered edition of the movie.
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