A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate.
"Somehow Santa Claus always comes." Don't give up on people. People should believe in Santa Claus the way they believe in love.
Positive Role Models
Mrs. Claus is determined to prove to her husband that people do believe in him, hoping that will spur him to jump in his sleigh and deliver presents all around the world. Santa seems a bit depressed about the lack of Christmas spirit, but when he meets good people he realizes that they still believe.
Violence & Scariness
Vixen takes ill when she travels to the American South because she isn't used to the heat. A dog catcher snatches her and cages her at the pound. Snow Miser wants to make everything really cold and Heat Miser wants to make everything melt. Children cry when they realize that Santa doesn't know they believe in him.
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Products & Purchases
Santa delivers toys to children, but in this story, kids send gifts to Santa and even needy children write letters telling him they love him and miss him.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Year Without a Santa Claus is a 1974 Rankin/Bass animated made-for-TV special for young kids. Santa, feeling under the weather and certain that the world is low on Christmas spirit, cancels Christmas. Mrs. Claus, elves, and reindeer conspire to prove that the world still has the spirit and believes in Santa. The animated characters encounter peril -- hot- and cold-blowing evil brothers and a reindeer in the dog pound -- but nothing too scary for most younger kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a sweet piece for younger viewers, promoting "Christmas spirit" and a belief in the jolly Christmas symbol that can make the holiday memorable for kids. Older kids more used to today's seamless, computer-generated animation may find this 1974 show's stop-action movement creaky and outdated. But 4- and 5-year-olds may still be able to appreciate the way this resembles a recorded puppet show, a kind of old-style cartoon with its own set of charms. Shirley Booth has the perfect old-fashioned school teacher-y voice, having fun with a Mrs. Claus imagining herself impersonating the vacationing Santa. She jumps down a chimney in her mind, making sure everyone only sees her "from behind." The Miser Brothers provide mild scares -- the hot one singes someone's britches and calls Santa's crew a "gang of goodie-goodies." The movie uses the 1947 Gene Autry song "Here Comes Santa Claus" nicely as well as other Christmas tunes. The Year Without a Santa Claus may introduce the notion of not believing in Santa to some children for the first time, and parents may want to be ready for that discussion.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.