A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rudolph's story has a great message about nonconformity: Just be yourself, don't worry if you don't fit in, get the support of other "misfits," and you'll find that there's strength in numbers. Kids older than 4 will likely get the message, and for those younger than that, the cute little reindeer and all the musical numbers -- as cheesy and outdated as they might seem now -- will hold their interest. Even the show's "scary" antagonist, the Abominable Snow Monster (or "Bumble"), seems harmless, especially by today's standards.
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What's the story?
Burl Ives, in the guise of Sam the talking snowman, narrates the tale of a misfit reindeer named Rudolph (voiced by Billie Mae Richards) who's finally appreciated by peers and parents when Santa (Stan Francis) discovers the usefulness of his light-bulb nose to guide the sleigh during a terrible snowstorm on Christmas Eve. (But, of course, you already know the song: "All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.") Rudolph finds his compatriot in an elf named Hermey (Paul Soles) who has become disillusioned with his job making toys and dreams of becoming a dentist -- which is, of course, out of the question for elves. Hermey and Rudolph run away from the North Pole together and, with new friend Yukon Cornelius (Larry D. Mann), make it to the Isle of Misfit Toys. Here they find company among others who stand out from the crowd.
Is it any good?
This classic, beloved holiday TV special -- the highest-rated, longest-running in TV history -- seems almost inextricable from the idea of Christmas. Parents will no doubt have memories of this delightful film, which first aired in 1964, from their own childhoods. And you can't watch it without appreciating the simplicity of a pre-computer-animation world. Just hearing Ives' voice and songs transports you back to a simpler time, when Christmas didn't hold as many TV-viewing options and McDonald's wasn't part of the marketing deal.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to not fit in with the crowd.
How would you feel if no one wanted to be your friend because you were different?
Families can also talk about the fact that Rudolph, who doesn't get much support from his father, decides to run away from home.
Could Rudolph have found another way to express his feelings about not being accepted?
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