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Billy Summers: ‘Rise of the Guardians’ a fun holiday flick for viewers of all ages

Dec. 02, 2012 @ 06:56 PM

Rookie Director Peter Ramsey brings his art room experience to a holiday movie that expands on the idea that Santa can “save the world.”

In this animated version, Santa, played by Alec Baldwin (”The Hunt for Red October,” “30 Rock,” “Beetlejuice”) is a masculine man, more Yukon Cornelius, than any Rankin/Bass Claus. He is more closely drawn as a Russian northerner and he brings with him a team of helpers from the world of make believe.

Chris Pine (”Star Trek,” “Unstoppable,” “This Means War”) stars as Jack Frost, a sprite little fellow with a gap in his past.  

A Tinkerbellish Tooth Fairy is played by Isla Fisher (”Wedding Crashers,” “Definitely, Maybe,” “The Lookout”), and action star Hugh Jackson (the “X-Men” movies, “Van Helsing,” “Steel”) arrives as the Easter Bunny, part fabled hare and part Alice in Wonderland.

The enemy here is Pitch Black, aka The Boogieman, voiced by Jude Law (“Enemy at the Gates,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Cold Mountain”).  He seems to be a cross between Gru, of “Despicable Me,” and the food critic from “Ratatouille.”

The plot involved the aforementioned (as well as a mute Sandman) heroes foiling the plot of the Boogieman from taking away a child’s belief in the make believe characters of youth.

It’s simple and amusing, nothing too complicated nor too risky — just a tame Christmas movie that tries to stay interesting enough to keep the adults awake, too.

This is a fun film, which brings back seriously delicious memories of Walt Disney style animation with a little Ralph Bakshi smuggled in on the side. DreamWorks Animation does cartoon movies right, but hardly perfect.

The general premise is difficult for smaller children to grasp, but it’s not like the little tykes are trying to figure out plotlines and what the actor’s “motivation” is. They like the colors, the actions and the music — all of which “Rise of the Guardians” does well. This is a traditional cartoon, based on time-honored legends (no “Wreck-It Ralph” contemporary themes here).

It’s all Christmas mythology, with Santa being Godlike, ready to shower the world with lightning bolts at a moment’s notice. The Man in the Moon sits like Zeus, in the sky, tampering with his mortals from time to time, but  letting Good fight Evil, with little interference.

If you want to see a slightly irregular version of a child’s Christmas action movie, this is it. Nobody who paid to sit in the theater seats, here, needs to be embarrassed or afraid that they wasted their money.

It is a good children’s movie, made well, and delivered with a great pace and a lot of heart.

Just think, we could be forced to watch stoner Santa movies with potty humor and sexual innuendo. Then again, we DO have four more weeks until Christmas…

Billy Summers can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.

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