- Year: 2005
- Director: Greg Sullivan
- Starring: Kath Soucie, Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke
Ever want to be really confused around the Christmas season? Try breaking down the logic in the Frosty the Snowman series. In today’s world of endless sequels, spin-offs and cinematic universes, it’s easy to forget the time when sequels didn’t necessarily have perfect continuity. There are four sequels (seriously) to the 1969 cartoon Frosty the Snowman, and none of them seem to be in agreement with the others. To understand today’s special, let’s take a brief look at the first four specials: Frosty the Snowman, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, and Frosty Returns. See if they remind you of anything.
In the first film, a creature is created and comes to life by magical means.
In the second, a bride is created for him.
In the third, there is a son, but more time is dedicated to a new bearded villain who acts like he’s been there the whole time.
In the fourth, there is a considerably lower budget and a new actor as the creation.
That’s right, Frosty the Snowman follows the same formula as the Universal Frankenstein films. So what happens in today’s special? Does Frosty meet the Wolfman? Well no, but he does make an offhand comment suggesting he knows what a werewolf is. Get on this conspiracy theorists.
Now for the continuity, because it makes no sense. In the first one, Frosty comes to life by the magic of Professor Hinkle’s hat. In Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, his wife Crystal comes to life when Frosty gets her a bouquet of ice flowers, and then when he melts, he comes to life when she kisses him. This is then undone in the claymation Christmas in July, where only the hat… or the winds of Jack Frost can bring them to life. In Frosty Returns, he no longer has a wife or family, and is voiced by John Goodman, coming to life when a hat randomly lands on his head. Each special seems to exist in a slightly different universe than the last, with Frosty Returns pretending that the last two of them just never happened. That brings us to today’s special…
(I’ve given the judging panel a week off, because apparently watching something with a mayor in it only reminded them of Mr. Mayor who recently died in that tragic Sherbet Buffalo accident.)
With the exception of the 97-minute-long Christmas in July (in which Frosty was really just a supporting player), the Frosty specials up to this point are 25 minutes or so each, just enough to be a half-hour TV special with commercials. The Legend of Frosty the Snowman is a little over an hour long! That’s quite a long legend.
We open on a narrator letting Frosty’s hat out of a chest locked away in a basement.
Hmm, by the looks of it, I think they got Alex Trebek to narrate. That would be interesting.
Burt Reynolds? Just why? Frosty, Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, and Frosty Returns all had animated narrators who looked just like their actors. Here, it’s like they did all the animation first and grabbed the first has-been they could find. While we’re at it, even Burt Reynolds is better than this. Sure, you’re ashamed of Boogie Nights, but you’ll do The Legend of Frosty the Snowman.
Since he’s the narrator, Burt painfully sings his way through “Frosty the Snowman,” (Come on man, Jimmy Durante was a better singer) before telling us some of that famous Frosty mythos. “It is said that Frosty the Snowman always goes where he is needed most.” WHEN WAS IT EVER SAID THAT? I’m sorry, I don’t know about you, but I have never once mixed up Frosty the Snowman with Mary Poppins!
Winds in the east, mist coming in
Like something quite stupid’s about to begin
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
Wait a minute, he was also named Bert. Now this is starting to make sense.
Anyway…Frosty’s hat floats on over to Evergreen, a town that probably exists somewhere in the 1950s, or rather a parody of the 50s. We’re told that no one needs Frosty more than Tommy Tinkerton (Kath Soucie), but then Frosty meets like four kids before ever fully appearing to Tommy.
I mean, he appears on Tommy’s window at one point, but nothing ever comes of that.
Tommy’s father (Tom Kenny) is the mayor of the town, and he is OCD to the point of absurdity, making sure every last detail of the town is perfectly in order.
This guy wills the sun up and is mad if it doesn’t rise right on time. He is obviously in love with his clipboard, and he even rubs his finger on the sidewalk and licks it to prove it’s clean. He is clearly not well, but it’s played totally for laughs… except it’s not funny. This guy wakes his kids up, tells them to be ready and downstairs in 3 1/2 minutes, but then asks them if the dog was walked. Who can walk their dog properly in 3 1/2 minutes?
His oldest son Charlie (Jeannie Elias) seems to love all the rules and has a military-type demeanor about him. At dinner, Mr. Tinkerton randomly throws a Dinner Quiz to ask about proper etiquette, and Charlie answers everything correctly, earning a #1 button.
They have confetti, balloons and a big hokey sign ready for this occasion? Really? Who does this? This random, slapstick-ish form of comedy doesn’t blend with the laid back feel of other Frosty specials… or even with the rest of this special! It can’t decide what kind of humor it’s going for, so it just throws everything at you, except for actual funny scenes.
Even though this is set in the ’50s (thematically at least), the Tinkertons have these floor-to-ceiling windows that really weren’t popular then.
I mean, yeah, it works so we get a better view of the falling snow and so Frosty can appear on the window, but pick a setting!
When Tommy sees Frosty on his window (and isn’t all that surprised by it or anything), he tells him he can’t play with him, because it will disappoint his dad. Instead, Frosty decides to go to “the home of Walter Wader, Tommy’s friend and next door neighbor.” This is the only line that rhymes in the whole thing. Why? Just why?
Like everyone in the town, Walter’s parents are obsessed with order… except they’re just really confusing about it. When Frosty knocks on the door, Walter’s mother runs to the cupboard and grabs a can of corn.
When Frosty doesn’t answer her when she asks who’s there, Walter’s mother quizzes Walter on what to do next. He says, “Open the door and hit him with the vegetables,” to which she replies that corn is a starch, not a vegetable. When he says she should “Open the door and hit him with the starch,” she again tells him he’s wrong and that he should put the corn back in the cupboard. She also throws in that he should do the dishes while he’s over there.
This very well might be the most confusing scene I have ever watched. Forget the “I definitely have breast cancer” scene from The Room, forget “Pull Ze String!” from Glen or Glenda, forget the fact that Attack of the Clones has a ’50s diner a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, or that Santa apparently keeps a fake beard with him just in case in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. This one takes the cake for Scenes that Make No Sense.
The town is obsessed with perfection right? So if an intruder comes to the door, why would you grab the corn? What purpose would that serve? Are you going to confuse him to death? Are you going to bonk him on the head with the jar? How about you just don’t answer the door? You are obviously near the kitchen. I’m guessing there’s a knife there, right? Even if you’re so perfect and pristine that you don’t keep knives in your kitchen, you have a can. There must be a can opener! That would do more damage to an intruder’s skull than a can of corn!
Then, after arguing with your son about starch vs. vegetable, you do absolutely nothing with the can of corn and give it back to him to put in the cupboard. What is the point of this scene?
When Walter soaks himself with the dishwater, he goes up to change his clothes and sees Frosty’s hat at his window. Why we couldn’t just start with this scene is beyond me. When he opens the window and grabs the hat, he begins flying.
When Tommy looks out his window and sees his friend Walter flying through the air, he asks him the question we all would, “Where are you going?” I know if I saw my neighbor flying through the air while attached to a hat, my first question would be “Where are you going?” not “Why are you flying through the air while attached to a hat?”
Walter puts the hat on a snowman, of course bringing Frosty to life. He says his famous “Happy Birthday” line, but there’s just something off.
Frosty is voiced by Bill Fagerbakke, probably best known for voicing Patrick Starr on Spongebob Squarepants, and he’s using practically the exact same voice. Why are you a legendary voice actor when you only have one voice? It’s the same one you used in The Night of the Headless Horseman, and it’s the same one you’re using here.
Also, Frosty is drawn almost identically to the way he was in the Rankin/Bass cartoons, even though the rest of the movie is animated in an entirely different style. It’s jarring. What’s weird is they could have totally rebooted the Frosty story as a whole. Frosty started as a song, not a TV special, so if they had completely rewritten the mythos, I could accept that. However, this is clearly trying to do its own thing while using the Rankin/Bass character, just so people seeing the thing will think it’s a sequel.
When Walter points out that Frosty is a snowman, Frosty takes his own head off to look at himself! Never mind the fact that he could just see his reflection in the ice, we need some snowman decapitation in this one.
Frosty teachers Walter how to make a proper snowball, but thankfully we never get to the scene where Walter shows Frosty how to make a proper skinsuit. See how weird it sounds when the roles are reversed?
After Walter goes back home, Frosty turns directly to the audience and says, “One down, the rest of Evergreen to go.”
First of all, that sounds creepy. Is Frosty a slasher villain now? Second, WHY DO WE HAVE A NARRATOR? If the characters can break the fourth wall and address the audience, what is the purpose of a narrator?
The next day at school, apparently everyone knows that Walter was out after curfew, because no one has a life. The obviously evil Principal Pankley (Larry Miller) advises Mayor Tinkerton to punish the boy, even though he’s a mayor and probably should be at town hall instead of the elementary school. When the mayor goes go reprimand Walter, Pankley brings in a chained box.
Inside is a dunce cap that Walter is forced to wear. Alright, I’ve got some questions.
- Why is the penalty for breaking curfew wearing a dunce cap? He didn’t get a question wrong.
- Are they trying to say he’s a dunce because he made up a story about a talking snowman? Well no, they don’t know about that yet. They only know he was out after dark. He hasn’t been allowed to tell his story.
- Why does the principal keep a dunce cap in a huge chained box?
- Why does the principal keep a dunce cap at all? Don’t teachers keep that for students who get questions wrong?
- Why is the principal allowed to help a mayor hand down a punishment? The punishable action had nothing to do with school.
After the mayor’s other son Charlie gets detention for food fighting, he too is forced to wear a dunce cap. Apparently that’s the only punishment in this town. Food fight? Dunce cap. Speeding? Dunce cap. Murder? Dunce cap. Stealing the dunce cap?
Tommy meanwhile becomes the mayor’s favorite son. In another subplot, he has a crush on his classmate Sara Simple (Tara Strong), but can’t get up the nerve to talk to her. Her mother insists she’s a princess, but she’d rather be an urban planner. I mean… I guess that’s a solid goal for a ten-year-old, but do most of them even know what that is? Anyway, she’s working on building a replica model of Evergreen.
When Tommy sees Frosty’s hat again, he chases it to the local library. Here we are folks, 25 minutes into the special—the length of the original Frosty the Snowman. How much of The Legend of the Frosty the Snowman has Frosty been in at this point? 3 MINUTES! Seriously. Frosty the Snowman has been in his own special for less than 1/8 of the run time.
So finally, we get some story actually involving Frosty the Snowman, but trust me, it gets even more confusing. Tommy goes into the basement of the library where, instead of outdated newspapers and porno, he finds Frosty the Snowman, the comic book.
I understand that the principal is intentionally trying to keep the Frosty story out of public consciousness, but if Frosty is famous enough that there’s a comic book about him, word’s gonna get out. Comic books don’t just get published in one town.
The comic tells the story of a boy who didn’t believe in magic, even though his father was a magician.
Hold the phone. The boy’s father was Professor Hinkle!?! The villain from the original Frosty cartoon? Are you going for continuity or are you not?
We then see this boy alone create Frosty and bring him to life.
This doesn’t even follow the continuity of the song! You know, the song that Burt Reynolds sang at the beginning of this special! How’s it go again?
There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found
For when they placed it on his head, he began to dance around.
THEY! The hat THEY found. THEY placed it on his head. One boy is not they. Don’t worry, we’re not even at the confusing part yet. We later discover that the boy in this comic is Tommy’s very own father, Mayor Tinkerton. Once again, it’s question time.
- That magician is clearly Professor Hinkle from the original. If this is Tommy’s father’s father, why is the family name Tinkerton and not Hinkle?
- Has Tommy never met his grandfather? If he’s dead, has he never seen a picture? He obviously can’t recognize that these are scenes from his own father’s life.
- Has Tommy never seen a picture of his father as a boy?
- Has he never heard stories about what his grandfather did for a living and could at least guess this was his dad?
- Did the boy in the comic book also name the snowman Frosty? Is that just a go-to name for snowmen?
- If little Teddy Tinkerton was the only kid to see Frosty the Snowman in this continuity, why did he get a comic book written about him? Why does said comic book have three children on the cover?
Tommy’s dad meets him in the library…
Which seems to have ignored the “perfection on the outside” feel of the rest of the town, judging by the disorganized books on the shelves. When the mayor meets his son, we see some bizarre, stilted animation that reminds me a bit of William Shatner’s acting.
Maybe if you would have chopped the thing to 25 minutes, you would have had the right amount of money for a decent animation budget! This is terrifying.
As more and more children, including Sara and Charlie, begin to play in the snow with Frosty, they form The Secret Society of Frosty the Snowman. I’m assuming the hazing for this secret society either involves being left out to freeze overnight or being force-fed a live rabbit. Anyway, even though Tommy is apparently the one who needed Frosty the most (at least according to narrator Burt Reynolds), he is not a member yet. Burt says that the group’s “most important member was still missing.” Huh? If he wasn’t a member yet, how could he be the most important one?
Tommy’s mother (while scrapbooking) shows Tommy pictures of his grandfather, because it’s time for this part of the plot to be revealed. If the family had those pictures around, why would Tommy never have seen them before?
The mayor begins to lose it as more and more of the town’s order begins to fall apart. Apparently Frosty the Snowman is an agent of chaos.
Principal Pankley convinces the mayor that this must be his fault, and that perhaps he should hand his mayoral duties over to someone else. In a public ceremony, Mayor Tinkerton passes the mayorship over to Principal Pankley, because he can do that apparently.
In a very Hitler-inspired speech, the new Principal-Mayor promises that the town will never hear about Frosty again.
Why do Christmas specials need such cartoonishly evil villains… even if they’re cartoons? The villain in the original was Hinkle, sure, but at least he was trying to get his hat back! Plus, just as much conflict came from getting Frosty to the North Pole in time as came from him. Here, the villain is this evil Principal-Mayor-Dogcatcher who’s evil because… he’s evil? We spend a lot of time on his rise to power too, because apparently kids just love business politics in their specials about talking snowmen.
When Tommy wishes the comic book had more pages, they magically appear. I’m just going with it at this point. He finds out that the current Principal-Mayor-Dogcatcher-Janitor was the one who sealed Frosty’s hat away all those years ago. So he’s always been evil, great. What’s the point in this? Was he plotting his rise to power all the way back then?
The Principal-Mayor-Dogcatcher-Janitor-Orthodontist manages to trap Frosty, by promising Walter some alone time with him. While they’re playing, he drowns and melts Frosty, taking the hat and locking it away again. Somewhere safe you, ask? Of course not, he puts it on display.
Since the hat is in plain sight at the school, Tommy and his friends manage to break in and steal it, bringing Frosty to life and proving to everyone, including Tommy’s dad, that he’s real after all.
The Principal-Mayor-Dogcatcher-Janitor-Orthodontist-Haberdasher puts up one last fight, but it’s in vain, and everyone plays in the snow.
In an epilogue, we learn that the narrator was Tommy Tinkerton all-grown up. So he traveled back-in-time to unleash the hat that would bring Frosty to the town he lived in as a child? Also, he’s married to Sara, but since they live in this house…
I’m guessing she gave up on the urban planning. Give up on your dreams, kids. Merry Christmas.
The Legend of Frosty the Snowman is a disaster—an utter and complete disaster. None of it makes any sense. From literally the first seconds of the movie, we know what kind of crap we’re in for. The animation is ugly, cheap and inconsistent, trying to mix Frosty and Hinkle’s character design with this different style. The jokes are all over the place and they very rarely land, although I’ll admit I did laugh when Frosty pelted a whining parent with a snowball. The story doesn’t line up with any previous Frosty special, nor does it try to be a complete reboot. Burt Reynolds can’t sing, and there’s no need for a narrator anyway, since Frosty addresses the audience in one scene (albeit never again). Frosty is barely even in the thing, which makes no sense for a special called The Legend of Frosty the Snowman. They should have called it The Legend of Mayor Tinkerton or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Oh Yeah, Frosty’s in This Too. Patrick Starr as Frosty is just the icing on the awful cake. There’s no question about it, this is the worst one I’ve watched this year.
Next week, I’ve got an especially angry religious special in store. Will it make me even madder than this Frosty movie?