Archive for the ‘Animation’ Category

“The operation of Grace”

December 4, 2013

That was what Evelyn Waugh described as the theme of Brideshead Revisited.

Oh, how far we have fallen when, at Christmastime, that phrase refers to Point of Grace:

The insipid lyrics and the popcorn audio track are matched only by the sub-VeggieTales animation featuring some poor girl with a unibrow to create a true Christmas Spirit Fail classic. [This text refers to a now-unavailable video version since removed. You’re welcome. –Ed.]

And why in the name of all that is good would anyone sing this “Love Came Down” song when Christina Rossetti’s vastly superior version is available?

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I Have a Hunch that We Should Rename It Cacophony of the Bells

December 10, 2009

I love “Carol of the Bells.” It was always one of the Christmas carols I would play when I was still taking piano lessons. I love the way it crescendos. However, I ran across this monstrosity and felt compelled to make it a Christmas Spirit Failure even though it’s usually a Christmas Spirit Winner. There are so many things wrong with this that I’m not sure where to begin.

First, claymation is scary. (See prior post.) Second, why does this even exist and what Christmas special is it a part of? Third, why do the bells have faces? Why are they wearing bow ties? And why are they hitting themselves? Fourth, Quasimodo? Really? The narrator thinks he’s being so clever by saying that he has a “hunch” that the performance will be good. I just don’t get it. The whole premise of this is stupid. To cap it all off the “hosts” of this Christmas special appear to be dinosaurs with bad senses of humor. For a nicer rendition of this song click here.

A is for Annoying

December 6, 2009

I’ve never understood why anyone liked Alvin and the Chipmunks. They’re not funny and their voices make your ears bleed. In the grand tradition of Christmas commercialization, this song is all about the toys these Snuggie-wearing chipmunks want for Christmas.

One other thing I don’t understand is why Alvin is the only chipmunk with a monogrammed turtleneck/Snuggie/sweater dress. Simon is characterized by glasses, which apparently means he’s smart, Theodore is the fat one who eats all the time so wouldn’t Alvin by default be the other one? He’s also the shortest and the most annoying. Oh, that’s why there’s an ‘A’.

Sha-na-na

November 18, 2009

Refrains can be good: Psalm 136 comes to mind. (“His steadfast love endures forever.”) Others seem a little less inspired–if no less fun–filling out a line, looking for a rhyme. “Sha-na-na,” “Na na na na na na na na na na na,” and “Pa rum pa pum pum.”

“The Little Drummer Boy” is proof that oldies are not necessarily goodies. First written in 1941, it has been covered more than 220 times, by artists as diverse as the Trapp Family Singers, Joan Jett, Alicia Keys, Boyz II Men, Gladys Knight, John Denver, the Brady Bunch, Neil Diamond, and a very-strange-bedfellows pairing of Bing Crosby and David Bowie. It was Richard Nixon’s favorite Christmas song. (‘Nuff said.) Apart from its uncreative refrain, the song is a shiny plastic piece of Christmas kitsch, on the order of “Silent Night” or “Away in a Manger,” downplaying the gritty fleshiness of the birth of Jesus.

On the plus side, it is the centerpiece of a charming Rankin-Bass TV special, and I think we can all long for the days when Yuletide TV specials were more like this and less like this.

And, as a holiday bonus, enjoy this little gem:

Fruit with Spirit

November 10, 2009

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without terrifying claymation specials. I particularly like it when the clay figures are anthropomorphized raisins wearing sunglasses. They’re pretty much the personification of cool. I’m not sure how they’re from California when they sound like they’re from Detroit. Maybe they moved out West to take advantage of the sunshine! In addition to singing, they tell jokes and dance. The “cab” joke is worth noting-layers of meaning in that one! Nothing gets me in the mood to celebrate Jesus’ birth quite like a bunch of grapes. Enjoy!