A Miser Brothers’ Christmas (2009, Warner Home Video)
When I heard this Christmas special was premiering on ABC Family on December 13th 2008, I had mixed feelings. Being a HUGE Snow Miser fan, not to mention a HUGE Rankin-Bass fan, I was excited yet I wondered how they were going to screw up this sequel to 1974’s The Year Without a Santa Claus. After all, there have been many weak Rankin-Bass “sequels” (Frosty Returns, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of the Misfit Toys, The Legend of Frosty the Snowman) meant to cash in on the rich history and nostalgia of the Rankin-Bass characters but they all had one missing ingredient… Rankin-Bass had nothing to do with their production. Thus, the heart and soul of those features was missing.
So is A Miser Brothers’ Christmas yet another low-budget cash grab or did some good ol’ TLC finally get breathed into one of these “sequels”? Well, after catching the world television premiere and having watched the recently released DVD, I have to admit, this movie comes close to matching the charm and warmth The Year Without Santa Claus or many other Rankin-Bass specials. This is a fun treat for the young and the young at heart and it is obvious the cast & crew enjoyed their work and put a lot of their own heart into the project. If you’re a Rankin-Bass fan, I think you’ll enjoy it. It can never take the place of some of those specials, but there’s always room for more. This could very well be a “new classic”, in my eyes.
Oh, the plot? Yeah, it’s pretty fun. The brothers are of course feuding with each other (nothing like good fireball/snowball fight) and we have the sinister North Wind (a very well done and delicious pompous Rankin-Bass-style villain) who is plotting to take control of Christmas from Santa Claus. One thing leads to another, Santa gets injured, the brothers learn to work together while running Santa’s toy factory, North Wind’s plans finally fall apart and the Misers even get to help deliver presents on Christmas Eve! Of course, a movie featuring the Mister Brothers wouldn’t be complete without their signature song either, so that’s here as well!
Also of note and interest to RB fans is Mickey Rooney returns as the voice of Santa Claus. His voice was previously used in the Rankin-Bass specials The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph & Frosty’s Christmas in July and Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. But that’s not all! George S. Irving also reprises the Heat Mister role. Another cool feature is this isn’t CGI, it’s the traditional stop-motion that we all know and love!
On the DVD, the behind-the-scenes documentary What Makes Stop Motion Go? is well worth checking out. Tons of cool sketches, storyboards and the process behind creating and designing the characters and stop motion are shown.
So call A Miser Brothers’ Christmas a success. I hope Warner Bros. is considering doing another sequel for the Misers or perhaps a sequel to a different Rankin-Bass special, and if they are, they need to get as many people from this crew to work on the project.