Frosty Returns (1992) – Directed by Bill Melendez – Starring Jonathan Winters, John Goodman, Elisabeth Moss, Michael Patrick Carter, Brian Doyle-Murray, Andrea Martin, and Jan Hooks.
FROSTY RETURNS contains one great character in Holly, a little girl from Beansboro who befriends a newly rejuvenated Frosty the Snowman, but the rest of this special is pretty dreadful. If there’s anything magical about RETURNS it’s the power to make 22 minutes feel like 90 minutes.
While ostensibly a sequel to earlier Rankin-Bass specials, this cartoon has nothing to do with Rankin-Bass. There are four main problems with RETURNS: the characters, the story, the songs, and the animation.
The characters are just one-note types, but that’s not a hugely damning in a kid’s cartoon. The real concern is that they’re just not very interesting, nor do they work well together. There’s a narrator here, and it’s Jonathan Winters, because apparently the special was intended for kids from 1972, not 1992. Winters plays the character of “the Narrator,” who looks and sounds just like Jonathan Winters.
There’s Charles, a knock-off of Charlie Brown who’s really smart. There’s Mrs. Carbunkle, a mean old teacher who’s mean because she’s mean. When not insulting students inside school, she’s busy insulting schools outside of school. Mr. Twitchell is the evil corporate guy trying to end snow with his cans of Summer Wheeze. He’s evil and he raps.
And then there’s Frosty. Voiced by a game but unconvincing John Goodman, Frosty shows up and builds some confidence in Holly, but then just kind of meanders through the episode, trying not to melt. He’s positive, which is nice, but says too many things like, “Lighten up, kid. Some things can’t be explained – like rhythm!” Right.
The story is where the episode ultimately dooms the special. Beansboro has an annual Winter Carnival but Mr. Twitchell wants to be crowned King this year, so he unleashes his Summer Wheeze concoction on the public. Summer Wheeze melts snow via aerosol spray cans. It’s so effective that there threatens to be no snow at the Carnival, as everyone in town decides, “Screw snow” and sprays everything. “What’s convenient for today isn’t always best for tomorrow,” Holly tells Twitchell. Yeah, there’s an environmental message here that’s pounded over your head repeatedly. I’m a pretty pro-environment guy and the special drove me nuts.
The songs … blech. “Let there be snow, let there be snow!” is the imaginative chorus of the main song and it’s sung by the vocal talents with all the skill and joy of an elementary school Christmas concert. Unless you’ve always wanted to hear Brian Doyle-Murray rap, well, the songs in RETURNS don’t offer much beyond annoyance.
And finally there’s the animation, which looks like it was put together by that elementary school chorus during Arts and Crafts. It’s awful, all thin-lined and cheesy looking, containing none of the charm of the Rankin-Bass material.
FROSTY RETURNS is just a bad twenty-two minutes of TV, another “holiday” special that’s really just a snow special that’s really just not worth my time.
Be sure to check out the Holiday Review Index for all the Holiday-themed reviews to be found at Atomic Anxiety.