Ellman Film Enterprises, Key Industries Ltd., Pirate’s World,

Hal Smith, Jean Vander Pyl, Christina Ferra-Gilmore

This classic 1970 animated feature tells the story of two bear cubs and their mother (Jean Vander Pyl) and their good friend the Park Ranger (Hal Smith). When Mr. Ranger tells the little cubs about Santa Claus and Christmas, they are very disappointed that they have never been able to see it for themselves because bears hibernate in the winter, long before Christmas comes. But these fellows decide that they want to stay awake to experience Christmas for themselves.

This classic Christmas movie from 1970 is fondly remembered by folks like me. It was originally shown in the theaters on Saturday matinees which attracted kids like me to watch along with lots of cartoon shorts. Then it began to be shown on TV for a number of years. As of late it’s kind of a forgotten gem, so the feeling on nostalgia is high for those who remember this from childhood. However, by today’s standards, it’s very simple. This is Hanna-Barbara type animation (although not done by Hanna-Barbara, it’s obviously copying their style, this will remind you of Yogi Bear. The story is really simple, but there are a few things that probably wouldn’t be in a newer release for young kids. For example, the bear Mom and Mr. Ranger have a discussion about how Santa does not exist, and Mr. Ranger decides to pretend to be Santa. Of course the real Santa does show up, and his existence is confirmed, but it introduces kids to the concept that they are being tricked by someone dressed in a Santa suit which parents might not want their kids to see. This film is a great reminder of animation of old, and serves that purpose, but I am afraid that if you try to recreate your childhood for your kids by expecting them to enjoy it like we did, they’ll be quickly bored, and you’ll be disappointed. It’s actually pretty slow moving and somewhat annoying. There is a reason why this has faded away and other classics like Rudolph and Frosty have endured. So for the nostalgia value, it’s worth watching, but don’t expect today’s kids to appreciate it like we did back in 1970. It has simply not held up. This is probably not the one you want to add to your library.

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