Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Flight Before Christmas|
Actors: Carly Baker, Patrick Fitzsymons, Morgan Jones, Norm MacDonald, Andrew McMahon
A reindeer boy named Niko dreams about flying like his father, whom he has never met. Despite suffering from severe vertigo, he sneaks out of his home valley to take flying lessons from Julius, a rare member of a Finnish f... more »
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Good European animation -- for older kids and grown-ups
Rowana | 12/15/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When this popped up on CBS TV the other night, I started watching it, and the first thing I thought was "This is not an American-made film." For one thing, it's fairly densely plotted and has a much more complex and dark storyline than a U.S. cartoon would have. Sure enough, although CBS zipped through the ending credits almost too quickly to read them, I saw that it was made in Finland. That explains it! The night I watched, it followed on the heels of the awful 1996 "The Return of Frosty" cartoon, which made the Finnish production seem that much more intelligent.
As a grown-up viewer, I thoroughly enjoyed the story -- a young reindeer searching for his father, whom he believes to be one of Santa's heroic flying squadron. The youngster is helped along his way by a fatherly, protective flying squirrel and a female ermine/weasel (?) who warbles pop tunes like an American Idol contestant. There's also a pink French poodle who appears suddenly and disappears mysteriously once her plotline is over (what becomes of her??). Yes, there are implications of reindeer one-night stands (how very Scandinavian of them!), and Niko's real dad turns out to have, shall we say, commitment issues (many kids will relate, I'm afraid). And there are some scary wolf villains -- but really, no scarier than the hyenas in "The Lion King," which this production seems to channel (one could say "copy" if one were ungenerous) more often than not. The digital character animation looks a bit clunky, with giant grinning amorphous faces that too often really look computerized -- but the backgrounds and landscapes are quite lovely. There are shots of the Scandinavian forest with the aurora borealis overhead that are very memorable. The musical score recalls Howard Shore's "Lord of the Rings" and almost seems a bit too grand for the room. But this is an hour-long cartoon that is really trying to be quite epic in its story and scope, and I think it's the first Finnish production (that I can recall, anyway) to make it to the U.S. TV market in such a big way (major network broadcast).
As for the scare factor of the big bad wolves -- really, can ANYTHING be scarier than the classic 1939 "Wizard of Oz"?? "Oz" gave me tornado and flying-monkey nightmares for years as a kid, but I loved it and watched it whenever it was on. I think a few good TV scares never hurt any child! Classic Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales are chock-full of scary and often quite violent situations; even the best Disney films (like "Lion King") are full of scares and sadness. I give the Finns points for offering a little darkness and scare factor, and not serving up sugary holiday syrup like "Frosty Returns" (or even the original 1960s "Frosty the Snowman," which also preceded "Flight Before Christmas" the other night -- yup, it may be a beloved classic, but wow, it's so sweet it makes your teeth hurt!).
So, yes, I recommend "The Flight Before Christmas" -- a Finnish production that is a quite worthy and surprisingly intelligent entry into the annual holiday animation derby."
Parents beware - not good for young children
Anonymous | USA | 12/20/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I just watched this with my 3 and 7 year old boys. Entertaining - yes. Beautiful scenery and animation - yes. But I can't believe this is rated G and described as a "a festive addition to the holiday library that the entire family can enjoy." Folks, this movie is centered on a young reindeer whos hotshot flyboy father knocked up his mother during a one night stand, then left never to be seen again. It is a dark story about wolves (quite scary for a three year old by the way) who conspire to eat Santa and all the reindeer so the head wolf can travel to all the homes of the "delicious boys and girls" on Christmas night. The positive message of a reindeer who learns to fly because he believes in himself is far outshadowed by the dark, almost disturbing storyline and the awful family values it portrays. I know that is the sad reality of many families these days, but does that make it OK for a children's movie? To be frank, I can't believe some reviewers here see no problem with the movie and let their 3 year old watch it daily. Maybe for older kids... but this is NOT a children's movie."
Flight Before Christmas: More Enjoyable Than Rudolph
Rani Clark | 12/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I liked this film, I thought it was better than Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It had a great moral at the end: no matter if the person in your life is your real parent, it just matters that they care. Niko was a cute little reindeer, I loved the animation and I thought it was far better than a movie about a red nosed reindeer whom no one liked until he became useful to them. I watched it on television though, so some of it was cut out because it was edited for the time alloted but I want to see it on DVD, I really enjoyed it. I don't agree with the G rating though, I thought it was more of a PG movie. They disguised the more mature themes through colorful dialogue and I think that's why they got away with a G rating. But all in all it was worth watching and I wouldn't mind seeing it again and again. Niko is the cutest reindeer in a movie, he blows Rudolph out of the water:)"
M. A. Ficklin | 12/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Flight before Christmas is one of the best Christmas specials that I have seen in years. I found the plot compelling, the character's interesting, and the animation beautiful. I have no problem with children viewing this special; I agree the children should be more mature than when they first veiw Frosty and Rudolph. I am a man in my thirties and, admittedly, Flight before Christmas is not like the Rankin*Bass Christmas specials of my youth.
I strongly disagree with the detractors of Flight before Christmas. I wish to remind them that many of the Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse cartoons the we watched as children were originally intended for a theater audience that included adults! I do not understand why so many seem to confuse 'made for children' with 'made by children'. I humbly suggest that the displeased reviewers should instead wacth Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer: the Movie (1998) with voices from John Goodman, Whoopi Goldberg and Richard Simmons; I'm sure they will adore this cartoon for the exact reasons that I do not."