Holiday special review: ‘Frosty Returns’

During the month leading up to Christmas, Mike will review popular or, more likely, not-so-popular holiday specials. This review appears in 11/29 The Glendale Star and the 11/30 Peoria Times.

“Frosty the Snowman” is a special that contains all the essentials of classic, holiday entertainment: a talking snowman, an evil magician, a girl who can easily take a train to the North Pole with a talking snowman she just met five minutes earlier as long as she's "home for dinner," etc. It’s not really Christmas season until you’ve watched “Frosty,” and this year Christmas season began Nov. 23 on CBS.

Not so classic is “Frosty Returns,” the unnecessary early 90s follow-up to the original that now airs immediately after “Frosty” in an attempt to lure Americans into believing the two are comparable pieces of entertainment. Wikipedia goes out of its way to note “Frosty Returns” is not a sequel, since it was produced by Lorne Michaels (?!) Broadway Video and not Rankin/Bass, the company that produced the original and every great holiday special that has ever existed.

Thankfully the special is still narrated, except this time by Jonathan Winters as opposed to Jimmy Durante. I always appreciated the holiday special narrator because as a child, and also as a 34-year-old man writing about children’s specials, it’s often difficult to follow the complex storylines without a narrator’s assistance. For example, the gap between when Rudolph leaves home to when, in like the next scene, he is an adult, is explained by the talking snowman (not Frosty; a different one) with the umbrella-walking stick who informs us that Rudolph was "growing up."

Anyway, the plot line of the original “Frosty” was pretty simple. Snowman comes to life thanks to a magic hat, he thinks it’s someone’s birthday because he’s kind of an idiot, they march through the streets, then he melts/dies but Santa and the girl save him because they believe in Christmas or whatever. The plot line of “Frosty Returns,” however, is not only inconsistent with its superior predecessor, but it also seems to bizarrely adhere to a left wing agenda.

Drunk off “Roseanne” money, John Goodman provides the voice for Frosty, advancing the snowman’s personality from naïve to grunge-era realistic. An evil character develops a spray that makes snow disappear, earning the praise of the snow-hating townspeople who can't get to their cartoon jobs due to a snowstorm and threatening Frosty’s existence. Oh no I hope they can save Frosty aga—zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

By the way, "Frosty Returns" doesn't only rip off the original - it seems to "borrow" from other cartoons as well. For example, there is a kid in this movie who is like the town nerd or something and looks like he was pulled off the set of Peanuts. Also, he doesn't have eyes, which is distracting.

Isn't this lady from a comic strip? Or those birthday cards with the sarcastic remarks about "I am so old I don't have sex anymore and neither do you?"

Oh, a balding cartoon villain with an ugly cat? That's original.

If you’re thinking that an aerosol spray that gets rid of snow would be environmentally unsafe, you are not alone. According to Wikipedia, When one of the members of the town council voices concern about the environmental impact of the untested product, Mr. Twitchell has her dropped through a trapdoor. Oh, councilwoman so-and-so just fell through a trap door, I guess this topic is closed, is how everybody reacts.

Since I am a hippie vegetarian, I have no problem with environmentalism, but I don’t want it in my Christmas specials. All I want is for a person or animal to discover the true meaning of Christmas; I don’t want to learn about global warming. More disturbing, however, is that “Frosty Returns” seems to ignore Christmas altogether. Neither Santa nor Jesus even makes an appearance (I’ll forgive the latter) and the major plot device is not Christmas itself but the “Winter Carnival,” a pagan ceremony where virgins are sacrificed (not true—but who really knows?).

By expanding upon a beloved Christmas tale that needed no expanding upon, “Frosty Returns” reminds us that the most important thing of all is to limit our carbon imprint so that our grandchildren can continue to celebrate this special holiday we call winter. I give it zero Christmas stars.


Bill said…
I had never even heard of this Frosty Returns until I read this article...but I think Non-Denominational Mr. Winter is on his way to celebrate the equally comically vague "Winter Carnival!"
mkenny59 said…
Ha, I totally forgot about Non-Denominational Mr. Winter! Man I miss that show. Thanks, Bill!