Although I have been planning on reviewing a whole bunch of Rankin/Bass Christmas specials over the coming weeks, I decided instead to take a break and focus on the upcoming holiday of Easter. Yes, although Rankin/Bass is far more known for their Christmas specials, they actually made three Easter specials during the 70’s, all three of which I’ll be reviewing over the course of this week in reverse chronological order. Today’s review is going to focus on their last Easter special, The Easter Bunny is Comin’ to Town from 1977.
If it isn’t already apparent what this stop motion special is trying to do, I will take it one step further by saying that this movie is narrated once again by the postman, S. D. Kluger, voiced by Fred Astaire. That’s right, dear readers, this movie is attempting to recapture the magic of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town from 1970. Now, this particular Christmas special is one of my all-time favorites. And if they think they’re going to mess with such a cherished childhood memory, then I might just have to mess with them.
Ahem, sorry for sounding so ominous. But there’s a reason why I’m reviewing these in reverse order…because I’m going from worst to best. And while I might have otherwise gone easy on this one, considering it is for kids, after all, I can’t say I take kindly to this lazy, Easter-themed retreading of one of my very favorite Christmas specials.
This special starts with some of the orphans from a town inhabited only by children (creatively named…Kidville) finding an orphaned baby rabbit. They name him Sunny, and he grows up to be the Easter bunny. The end.
No, no, that’s not right. Not only is that not the whole story, this special actually starts in much the same fashion as SCICTT (I’m abbreviating Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town from now on). The newsreel. S. D. Kluger promising to answer the questions kids have been asking in letters to the Easter bunny…
Wait a minute, since when did we ever write letters to the Easter bunny?!
Ahem, yes, and then Sunny is rescued by the kids of…Kidville. After he grows up, he decides to deliver eggs to the town of…Town?
Okay, is this some sort of a joke? Someone’s messing with me, aren’t they? Who wrote this load of…
Town is basically a replica of Sombertown. It’s ruled by a very poor replacement for the Burgermeister, Lady Lily Longtooth. To be honest, the true leader is actually her nephew, the meek child King who goes by the very promising name of Bruce the Frail. Ahem, Lady Longtooth forces everyone to eat nothing but beans and won’t allow anyone to have children. We never receive any explanation for these arbitrary rules, which I found frustrating. At least the Burgermeister made toys illegal after he tripped on one and broke his “funny bone”. They even have the nerve to have a character that I can only assume is supposed to be a replacement for the Winter Warlock? This would be a big, mean bear by the name of Gadzooks, who initially seems like he’ll be a threat, but ends up becoming kind and gentle after they give him new clothes.
Sunny ends up trying to help…Town by delivering eggs and jellybeans and by giving everyone new, brightly colored clothes. These are all meant to explain why we have certain Easter traditions, such as painting and hiding eggs. I don’t want to go into any real detail about them because I think the explanations are pretty silly and many of these supposed traditions are things I’ve never heard of before. Dear readers, did you ever have a drawn-out ritual before eating Easter eggs? Did you, as a child, enjoy rolling said eggs down hills?
Did you know the Easter bunny has a train? …Did you know trains can get stuck if you put butter on the tracks? Have I just lost my mind?
Perhaps it’s unfair of me to merely compare this movie to SCICTT, but darn it, I wouldn’t have if they had just been a bit more creative! You can’t just copy and paste an earlier, far better work and not expect people to make comparisons! As you can no doubt tell, I didn’t really like this movie, but fortunately, it gets better from here. Next time, we’ll be discussing The First Easter Bunny, an animated short from 1976!