Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Special: Prancer and Prancer Returns

Prancer (1989)

Jessica Riggs (Rebecca Harrell), a precocious eight-year-old girl, still believes in Santa Claus. So when she finds an wounded reindeer, it makes sense to her to assume that's Prancer, who had fallen from a Christmas display in town. She plays an angel in her school play and becomes a real guardian angel when she vows to nurse Prancer back to health and return him home to Santa. She hides him in her barn and feeds him Christmas cookies, but before she can carry out her plan, Jessica discovers that her father (Sam Elliott) has made another - very different - plan of his own. Will she be able to help her antlered friend find his way home in time for Christmas?

My Thoughts
This was one of my all-time favorites when I was younger. I haven't seen it in a really long time, though, so I guess we'll see if it holds up to time. I love the idea behind it, focusing on a kid and one of Santa's reindeer instead of one of the more "mainstream" ideas and characters that we always see. It's still a little cliche, but it was made in 1989, so who's surprised?

Somehow my TV got stuck with French subtitles, so we might see if I can learn some French as we go!

Jessica's got a gruff dad and stinky older brother and people who make fun her for not being able to sing beautifully like everyone else. Christmas carols don't have to be beautiful, especially when you're eight! I'm just happy to see eight-year-olds who still believe in a little bit of magic. I still believed in Santa until I was almost ten and I'm not ashamed of it! I love that my parents still tried to keep the magic going, even if I did get made fun of a little at school for it...

I need to move to a place that gets snow like that and live that close to a nice, big sledding hill. I haven't been sledding in years, and I haven't seen snow like in years, either! I know I've said it before, but if I say it again maybe it'll happen...I hope that we get one of those snow blizzards like we used to this year. A good two or three feet in a day would be nice.

I think if I met a reindeer that looked like Prancer who wasn't afraid of people, I'd probably assume it was one of Santa's, too. Totally makes sense.

For being an eight-year-old, Jessica sure spends a lot of time walking around the woods by herself. I guess she's gonna be a very independent kid. She did get yelled at for it, at least. Sam Elliott was definitely the right choice for the rough and gruff dad character. He scares me a little bit.

Prancer is such a beautiful reindeer. I wonder how many little kids added a reindeer to their Christmas wishlists after this movie came out. I probably did, right under pony and above puppy.

Why does there always have to be a scary old lady character? You do always find the coolest stuff cleaning out an old lady's house, though. But then the snooping starts and then you're really in trouble...

I love when the little boy gives scary Mrs. McFarland his candle during church. It's such a simple, kind gesture for a little kid to make. It made me really happy and shows the Christmas spirit, and she did look so very out of place there, so it probably helped her out quite a bit, too. And then the big brother shows his true stripes. Big siblings are always annoying, but when the rest really need 'em you can't break brother/sister loyalties.

It always breaks my heart when the kids in movies give up on Santa and Christmas. I'm always glad when they get their magic back (because they always do in the movies). I just wish kids could hold on to that magic in real life a little longer. You might disagree, but I don't think there's anything wrong with believing in some magic in the world. The ending of this movie is full of that magic; it even makes Sam Elliott cry!

Joyeux Noel! (That's Merry Christmas in French. I guess I learned a little...)

Random Facts
The reindeer who played Prancer's real name was Boo. Boo is female, even though she is referred to as "he" in the film. Both male and female reindeer have antlers, though a female's are smaller and daintier than a male's. (And male antlers apparently fall off in the winter months, so Santa's reindeer were probably female, anyway.)

Rebecca Harrel, who plays Jessica, gave up acting to pursue her dream of environmental activism, and she is now married to director Joshua Tickell, and they drive the world's first algae gasoline powered car.

The passage that Jesse loves to read so much from her "Christmas Book" is taken from "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus". It is a famous editorial that was written by Francis Pharcellus Church in response to a young girl's question about the existence of Santa. The young girl's name was Virginia O'Hanlon. The editorial first appeared in New York's "Sun" newspaper in 1897. (The movie also references it in the newspaper article feature Jesse.)

Prancer Returns (2001)
Eight-year-old Charlie Holton's (Gavin Fink) life is about to change. He and his older brother Ryan (Robert Clark) live with their mother, Denise (Stacy Edwards), in a small rural town, while their father still lives in Chicago. Deep in the mountain woods, Charlie discovers two reindeer on his way home from school, which he believes to be Santa's reindeer called Prancer and his son and heir, also called Prancer. He takes the gentle baby reindeer home to care for until Christmas and his brother's help bonds the brothers again. Charlie sends Santa an email telling him to pick Prancer up on nearby Antler Ridge on Christmas Eve (sound familiar?). When Prancer gets out, evil vice principal Klock is bitten and wants the 'public danger' put down. Handyman Tom Sullivan (John Corbett) comes to the rescue and one boy's faith brings hope and happiness to a family, a town, and himself. (And the vice principal ends up in reindeer jail...always a bonus.)

My Thoughts
I didn't even know there was a second Prancer, but I figured I might as well watch them both. It starts very similarly to the first one. The same missing Prancer in the town decoration, and an eight-year-old kid hoping to return Prancer to Santa. It's a single mom with two boys, instead of a single dad with a boy and a girl, and it's made in 2001, so it's a little more current than the first one. I think the common-held idea that sequels aren't as good may hold. However, the first one has been a favorite of mine forever, so I might be slightly biased...

I guess it's the same town about 10 years later and Charlie wants to know the local legend about Prancer. Tom Sullivan is the local expert, but he tells Charlie the story and passes on the expertism to Charlie. He's this adorable, shy 8-year-old who really pulls off the elf outfit he has to wear in the parade. He seems to enjoy the small-town life much better than his older brother, Ryan, who just wants to go back to Chicago (to where I'm assuming their dad is and they used to live...).

The vice principal, Mr. Klock (Michael O'Keefe), seemed a little extreme at their recess. One thrown snowball from a kid who's never done anything before, and he gets detention?? Geesh.

It has similar eight-year-old trekking through the woods scenes, though they're quite a bit scarier than the first movie. Then he finds the gangly baby reindeer and a grown one that he's convinced is the original Prancer. Charlie runs through the woods, gets chased by a cow and shot at by an old man just to get some help...That's a lot of effort for some old deer in the woods. Gotta love eight-year-olds...

Another similarity with the eight-year-old working for the scary, old person down the street to feed the reindeer. Little kids can always give the magic back to the people who have lost it :-)

Ugh. Enter the obnoxious ex-boyfriend (who just happens to be the evil vice principal...) from the home town trying to get back with the mom. I hate that story line. Competing with the irresponsible, fun-loving 'brother's best friend from high school'. I'm definitely rooting for Tom. A fun-loving, motorcycle-driving, handy man seems much more fun than the son's horrible vice principal.

This vice principal just gets worse and worse. Taking advantage of his power and using it against a defenseless baby deer! (Well, maybe not quite defenseless...). And lying to his mom to try and get on her good side. He's the worst. But Charlie's on the case. I'm not worried :-)

Another similarity with the first Prancer: getting the media involved. I guess if you want to get some support and get your story out there, the media is the way to go. Be adorable and get get everyone to hate the annoying vice principal. :-) The town and Charlie's family comes together to save Prancer and to prove the true meaning of Christmas.

I'm still kind of wondering where all characters from the first movie went. It's only 10 years later, supposedly (maybe 20?), but they even talk about people moving home and how it's a small town. Being from a small town, myself, I can attest to the fact that 20 years from now, there will still be the same people here (plus and minus a few...). It would've been nice to carry over a couple, since it's supposed to be the same town...

I've read some very negative reviews about these movies, but I haven't decided for myself if I'd retract my previous statement about sequels being worse than the original. This movie is pretty cute, and Charlie's adorable. I like baby Prancer, too. He's pretty cute, in an ugly reindeer kinda way. It's another Christmas cornfest, but I liked it a lot more than I thought I was going to. Tom Sullivan (John Corbett) isn't the greatest actor in this movie, but I don't think it pulls the movie down much. I think, overall, it's worth a watch. A pretty good family movie, if you have kids or liked the first one.

Random Facts
Gavin Fink (Charlie) has been working since the age of four, when he was signed by the Ford Modeling Agency and hired for the first job he ever tried out for, a Pepsi commercial.

*Not a lot of random facts for these movies...Sorry!*

I also found out that I can set a schedule for posting! I don't know if I've shared this or not, but I'm not the most technologically advanced individual. Hopefully, my blog will be more of a scheduled thing now instead of 3 posts one day and none the next...We'll see :-)

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