Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July



Dark, creepy story lacks Yuletide spirit.
  • Review Date: November 26, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1979
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters sacrifice their own needs for those of others, suffering steep consequences in the process. A married couple repeatedly talks about how much they love each other and their children, a mantra that comes in handy when they're threatened.

Violence & scariness

No direct violence, but a suprising amount of threatening imagery for a holiday special, from evil King Winterbolt to his malevolent Genie of the Ice Scepter to "rein-snakes" that menace Rudolph.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

There's lots of Frosty and Rudolph tie-in merchandise out there -- but most of it is tied to higher-profile specials.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a surprisingly dark tale, considering that it's part of the Rudolph and Frosty pantheon. Though it features beloved holiday characters, the complex plot and the villain's evil machinations -- which, while not overtly violent, put Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa in peril -- may make this iffy for the youngest kids. That said, the cheery Christmas carols interspersed throughout the story act as a welcome contrast to the sinister plot, and the characters learn lessons in the end.

What's the story?

RUDOLPH AND FROSTY'S CHRISTMAS IN JULY starts with the drawn-out tale of how Rudolph (voiced by Billie Mae Richards) earned his special red nose. His North Pole neighbors include Frosty (Jackie Vernon) and the cheerful snowman's expanded family -- much to the chagrin of evil King Winterbolt (Paul Frees), who wants to retake the frigid territory from Santa (Mickey Rooney). When the friends help a hapless circus led by Lilly Loraine (Ethel Merman) they unknowingly step into Winterbolt's scheme -- which will result in Frosty and his family narrowly escaping death by melting, Santa and Mrs. Claus getting caught in a funnel cloud, and, worst of all, Rudolph becoming an unwitting accomplice to a felony crime.

Is it any good?


Bringing all of the best-loved characters from Rankin and Bass's beloved holiday specials is a creative idea, but a complicated plot and scary imagery make this animated tale an iffy choice for the young audience at which it was presumably aimed. Cheerful Christmas songs -- punched up by secular hits like "Don't Let the Parade Pass You By" -- save it from being a total washout, but few kids will want to see Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph threatened with bodily harm over and over again.

The stop-motion animation and recognizable voice cast make the movie's style familiar, and the addition of Merman belting out tunes only improves it. The alternate world of Winterbolt's holiday, where the sleigh is pulled by hissing, slithering rein-snakes and the reindeer looks like he came off Skid Row, gets points for creativity. But for the most part, this '70s special is a better fit for a Halloween scare than Christmas comfort.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the sacrifices that Frosty and Rudolph make on each other's behalf. Have you ever given something up to help a friend or family member? What made you willing to do it? Why do you think Scratcher was so jealous of Rudolph? Families can also discuss how this special compares to others starring Rudolph and Frosty. Is it scarier? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 1, 1979
DVD release date:October 5, 2004
Cast:Billie Mae Richards, Jackie Vernon, Mickey Rooney
Directors:Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July was written by

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old November 29, 2008
Where is the true Christmas spirit in this movie? Seeing my favourite Christmas characters threatened like this isn't my idea of a good movie. Rankin-Bass almost always manages to create a memorable and wonderful Christmas special each time, but this is one of the very few examples why they aren't perfect. The musical numbers aren't amazing, and certainly not great. It would be a very saddening movie for young children, and it's best to just skip this one.
Adult Written byDominicboo1 December 18, 2014

Dark But Mostly Sweet Tale

One star really? This special is certainly NOT that bad. It's actually good to see all of these characters together in my opinion. Sure there are some scary moments, and one pretty upsetting scene where Winterbolt tricks Frosty into giving him his magic hat in return for helping Rudolph. Some kids might be upset after Rudolph's nose goes out and his friends refuse to talk to him thinking he's guilty of theft. However this is the reason Rudolph won't tell the truth and save his nose. The villain gives Frosty and his family magic amulets, so they won't melt at the seaside in summer. An evil reindeer helps the villain trick Rudolph into giving money to another one of the villains. You see, if Rudolph uses his power for evil he can't use it again. When Rudolph hears this he's about to tell, but Winterbolt tells him that if he does so Frosty and his family will all melt. He chooses to give his power and good reputation instead of losing his friends. Naturally he gets his powers back and everybody apologizes to him, but all that COULD upset kids and maybe even some adults who don't want to see an innocent character's friends being rude to him.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent of a 7 year old Written December 23, 2010
Rankin-Bass put all the best and moderate of their filmology, dropped it into a Waring blender, and poured out this long, boring, convoluted, and contrived slop. AVOID!!!


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