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 kid-friendly extension of the Rudolph holiday franchise follows the red-nosed reindeer as he seeks the runaway Baby New Year, who is repeatedly humiliated by people laughing at his big ears. A threatening vulture on the hunt for his own sinister reasons repeatedly menaces Rudolph and his friends. Discussions about the passing of time are handled with an inventiveness that may help kids who are struggling with that concept.
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What's the story?
Featuring the beloved reindeer of song and film, RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR follows everyone's favorite red-nosed misfit (voiced, as in the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, by Billie Mae Richards) as he helps Father Time (Red Skelton) find Happy, the Baby New Year, in time for New Year's Eve. Persevering, empathetic Rudolph has all the right instincts to find the missing baby, who ran away because everyone makes fun of his giant ears. As expected, Rudolph's friendly nature attracts helpers wherever he goes. If it sounds appealing to you to see the earnest reindeer accompanied by a caveman, a knight in shining armor, and Ben Franklin in his hunt for the baby, then this movie is right up your alley.
Is it any good?
Like the original, the genial Rudolph's Shiny New Year features stop-motion animation and upbeat songs. Skelton is an engaging narrator, taking over from Burl Ives in the original. The villain, Eon the vulture, is about as scary as the Abominable Snowman was in the first movie. In other words, very young children may be alarmed by a few of his scenes, but most will find it too cartoonish to worry.
The story -- originally broadcast as a TV special in 1976 -- provides good reinforcement for the message that making fun of someone's differences can be cruel. Since it's not strictly a Christmas movie, directors Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass get away with some pretty imaginative storytelling about the nature of time, including a long sequence set on the Archipelago of Lost Years -- an island chain where every island represents another year frozen in time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Archipelago of Lost Years. If you could go there, what year would you pick, and why? What would someone find on the island you choose? Families can also discuss what it means to not fit in with the crowd. Happy is sad about being different -- kids, have you ever felt that way, and how did you cope?
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