Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Celebration

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It's Claytastic!

Nov 10, 2006 (Updated Nov 10, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Memorable characters, use of clay, short and sweet

Cons:Some continuity problems on DVD

The Bottom Line: Don't lie, you know you thought the California Raisins were cool at one point.


Back in the late 80's, someone said, “Why not create dinosaurs, walruses, bells, and raisins out of clay, reposition them repeatedly to make it look like they are moving, and have them sing classic Christmas carols?” Why not indeed, I say. A Claymation Christmas Celebration figures prominently in my childhood Christmas memories, as this made-for-television special was released when I was five and showed on television for years afterward. While it is tough to find on TV these days, it can still be purchased on DVD, which I couldn’t resist doing this year.

Video Contents
Hosts by Herb and Rex, two claymated dinosaurs, run this show. They introduce the various video clips and puzzle over the meaning of “wassailing” throughout the film. Several different claymation segments are shown, each accompanied by a well-known Christmas song. Highlights include:

-A rendition of “Carol of the Bells” conducted by Quasimodo featuring anthropomorphic bells ringing themselves

-The California raisins singing and acting out “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

-A very snappy version of “We Three Kings” performed by the three wise men and their camels

-A walrus romance on ice

The Good
This claymation special is classic, and I love watching it now as much as I did when I was younger. Some parts are just funny, like the various plays on the word “wassailing”. Think waffle, wallow, etc. The Carol of the Bells segment is the absolute highlight for me and I laugh at the clueless bell who looses his mallet every time I watch this scene. There is something really charming about the walrus musical number. The California Raisins can’t be beat for pure nostalgic value. This special is really just a zany combination of characters. I applaud the creativity behind it. Pairing the skits with classic Christmas carols was a great idea, and many of my favorite songs can be found here.

I love the look of claymation in general. It has become somewhat of a lost art. Obviously the characters don’t actually look real, but they look intricate and are fun to watch. The best examples of claymation can be scene in the California Raisins scene, with its extremely detailed background and wide array of colors. The walrus ice-skating scene is also impressive, and the walruses look pretty much like I would expect ice-skating walruses to appear in real life. “O Christmas Tree” isn’t the most exciting part of the film, but it shows that some really amazing and artistic things can be done with clay. A lot of labor went into this video and it is a high-quality presentation.

The Not-So-Good
I have very few complaints here. I always found the musical “Joy to the World” presentation boring as a kid, and I sort of do as an adult too. It has no claymation, just some bright colors and abstract images.

On video form, A Claymation Christmas has some minor continuity problems. This special was very clearly made for television. At several points, Herb and Rex promise “We’ll be right back!” and then some repetition occurs.

Overall…
You probably haven’t thought about this film for a while, but I bet you remember it. A Claymation Christmas Celebration is definitely a holiday classic with some really memorable moments. Claymation pretty much rocks and I highly recommend this fun family Christmas special.

*Check out my Top Ten Animated Christmas Movies!


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD


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