Review Date: 12/11/19
Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Cast: Buddy Hackett, Robert Morse, Paul Frees, Don Messick
"Pardon Me" Pete (Buddy Hackett) is the official groundhog of Groundhog Day, and he's made a deal with Jack Frost (Robert Morse) to always be afraid of his shadow so that Winter lasts another six weeks and he can sleep in his burrow for another six weeks. This is the narrative framing device for Pete to tell us the tale of a young Jack Frost who decided to become human in a foolish attempt to find love and happiness. Jack clumsily tries to woo a ditzy blonde named Elisa, but his plans are put on ice by the cruel and nasty Cossack lord, Kubla Kraus (Paul Frees). In order to save Elisa and her village from destruction, he rejects his humanity to become Jack Frost again, and whips up an epic storm to defeat Kraus and his robot army.
First of all, the stop-motion animation is superb and it's one of the best looking Rankin-Bass holiday specials there is. Unfortunately, the story is a bit odd, the music isn't particularly memorable, and the voice acting falls a bit short. Paul Frees and Don Messick are excellent (naturally), but Robert Morse is downright annoying as Jack, and Elisa comes across with an inappropriate dingbat vibe. The other supporting characters are pretty weak and the traditional Paul Coker Jr. character designs seem exceedingly creepy this time around for some reason. But maybe that's just me. It's a fun and innocuous movie, but it fades quickly from memory (except for Kubla Kraus's musical number).