I have extremely fond memories of Rankin/Bass movies around Christmas time. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, and on a non-holiday note, the iconic cartoon version of the The Hobbit that definitely had the creepiest version of the wood elves ever.
Weird sequels notwithstanding, these claymation shows are a part of Christmas, or, well, at the very least, a part of my Christmas. Bad voice acting, Burl Ives, and cheesy showtunes about misfit toys. I even searched the deep dark trenches of the internet to be able to watch these while I was in Germany. That’s what I like to call dedication and I commend myself for it.
Holiday cheer aside, there is one Rankin/Bass movie that fills me with utter rage and malcontent—not, of course, including the abominations about Baby New Year or Frosty’s circus-bound cavorting during July. There are also some others, but for the sake of this article, we’ll narrow it to only one—and that dubious, yet probably fought over, honor goes to Jack Frost. This. Movie. This movie is horrible for so, so many reasons, and I’m about to tell you about them all.
Let’s start at the beginning.
These are the characters:
■ Pardon-Me-Pete the Groundhog: narrator
■ Jack Frost: the lovable, naive and idealistic winter spirit
■ Snip: Jack’s useless sidekick (he makes Etta Candy looks well rounded, and no, that’s not just because she’s rotund)
■ Holly: Jack’s other useless sidekick (also akin to Etta Candy, if you couldn’t get that)
■ Elisa: the Kate Upton of all the countryside
■ Papa and Mama: Elisa’s parents, impoverished character fillers used to give Elisa depth
■ Sir Ravenal Rightfellow: Prince Drop-Yo-Panties
■ Father Winter: all-powerful (we’re talking Morgan Freeman level) winter dude
■ Kubla Kraus: dude who wants to marry Kate Upton and take over ze whole voooorrrld
Pardon-Me-Pete (otherwise known as PMP, otherwise known as PIMP) introduces us to the day of the year that everyone is looking at him, through musical merriment that involves a lot of calender pages flying across the screen and stuff. It’s okay, however the story really starts picking up when he decides to tell us the tale of how he landed this sweet ass job, anyway. He has one man to thank. Guess who! That’s right, Jack Frost, the incorrigible trickster with a heart of gold who goes around frosting shit up and looking forlornly at the people world in a way that would make Ariel look totally stable. Then Elisa comes along and his icicle gets rigid.
Jack decides that he must become human so he can get with dat ass. He goes to Father Winter and is like “plz dude halp,” and Father Winter gets all eye-rolly and is like, “alright, fine, but you must prove you can succeed as a human. You need to earn a house, a horse, a bag of gold and a wife by the first sign of spring or toughsky shitsky.” Jack turns human and dubs himself Jack Snip, the tailor with the help of two sidekicks that I probably won’t mention beyond this point (see character list). Oh, we also have already met Kubla Kraus, an OT (original troll) who basically represents the underbelly of reddit. He lives alone in a mountain, calls everyone peasants, and his only friend seems to be a robotic puppet that he uses to compliment himself.
Elisa finds Jack super charming and gets her flirt on, even if she harbors romantic fantasies about her very own ~knight in golden armor. You see where this is going?
Anywho, Elisa is kidnapped by Kubla Kraus on his majestic as fuck mechanical horse named Klangstumper. Kraus has robbed the little town blind because he can and he’s decided that the only way his life would be complete would be if he had the hottie of January Junction on his arm. So off to Miserable Mountain they go! Jack, Mama, Papa, Sir Rightfellow and the two stooges all go to the mountain together to save her/right the world/etc. Jack and his stooges, as well as Sir Rightfellow take different paths to save her—ultimately, Sir Rightfellow gets the job done and is injured in the process. Elisa, Mama, and Papa are all like “OH SHIT TO THE HOUSE WE GOTTA NURSE HIM BACK TO HEALTH,” while leaving Jack and company behind. The other three that risked their lives to save fairy princess Mc. Featherhair aren’t mentioned for the rest of the time.
Oh, and Jack & co. get captured by Kubla Kraus.
Jack decides to become a sprite again so he can have a super intense snow storm freeze Kubla into his castle so that Elisa can be safe. Spring approaches and PIMP gets scared by Jack’s frosty shadow, extending winter. He then goes up to Father Winter, requesting to become human again, because he has one hour left and he needs to defeat Kubla once and for all, or January Junction will never be safe/rich/happy. Father Winter is like “ugh, k. But you have 60 minutes to fulfill the requirements or it’s no beans.”
Blah blah blaaah, Jack bests Kubla Kraus and Father Winter blows KK very far away (why didn’t he do that before, exactly?). Jack claims the horse, the gold and the castle. 3/4! Running back to January Junction he looks for Elisa, proposing….only to find out that Golden Armor Man and Blonde Arm Candy are doing the naughty tango and, sorry Jack, but can we just be friends? Jack turns into a sprite and watches as the girl he’s been in love with marries another guy. His friends pat him on the back and say that winter wouldn’t be the same without him, basically saying the bro equivelant of “I mean, dude, like, we still love you.”
While there are a lot of self-proclaimed nice guys who view relationships with girls as putting in niceness coins until sex comes out, there are actual, genuine, wonderful nice guys out there (I’d know, I’m friends with a lot of them and am dating one), and Jack Frost is one. Sure, the case can be argued that his nice guy currency is in the hope that he’ll get to any sort of base with Elisa, yet, I actually think he’s one of the good ones. He does everything for her and in the end…? Nadda. Nothing. His human alter ego is a footnote in Elisa’s life after they leave him to die/fend for himself at Mt. Miserable, and spirit Jack, “her old friend,” secedes from the race at winning her over when realizes that he simply can’t compare with the walking manly perfection of cash money and golden, Fabioesque hair. Jack single handedly saves January Junction from mass poverty/starvation and he doesn’t get an ounce of acknowledgment, shit, a thank you, for doing so. His heart gets shattered into little itty bitty ice bits and he barely gets a second glance.
What horrible, ungrateful bastards! This movie makes me so angry because it treats this behavior as being perfectly okay and it definitely is not, no matter how you look at it. I hate that there is yet another piece of evidence in the “Screw Nice Guys” category in popculture, even if it is a ridiculously popular trope. All Jack wanted was to fit in and be loved, you know, kinda like Rudolph. They differ, though, because old Red-Nose becomes glorified for being different, a hero and everyone knows who he is. His weird quirk gives him a place in society. Jack? He remains exiled, staring at the world he desperately wanted to become a part of, killing the bad guy, returning power to the inhabitants of the town, and he’s left with nothing. There is no happy ending for Jack Frost…we can only hope that his ice cream freezer is off the chain. How is this a happy Christmas story? The hero gets shat on by the town he’s done everything for and doesn’t get the credit for it. It’s bogus. It’s sad. It’s wrong.