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Here Comes Peter Cottontail

review by Andres J.

 

 

Not Rated

Running Time: 95 minutes

 

Studio: Sony Wonder

Retail Price: $16.98

Features: Sing-Along Songs, "Puss In Boots"

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection

Released: February 5th, 2002

 

 

 

When I first popped Peter Cottontail into my DVD player, I had mixed predictions. Looking at the box, it definitely seemed as though it was geared to a much younger audience than myself. On the other hand, this was another stop motion animated film from the creators of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a timeless classic which I have been watched religiously every Christmas since I was five years old. But that was a lifetime ago. I seriously doubted that I would be able to say that I enjoyed watching a children's' Easter film at this point in my life. After all, Easter has never been a serious holiday for my family, and it sure doesn't seem like there's enough to it to create a 95-minute feature. Could this really entertain me? In a word: Yes. I was very, very surprised at how much I liked this film.

The beginning of the film, narrated by Seymour S. Sassafrass (voiced by Danny Kaye), takes place in April Valley, home of the Easter Bunnies. The chief Easter Bunny is about to retire. He wants the kind yet somewhat irresponsible Easter Bunny, Peter Cottontail, to take his place. Peter's a good man for the most part, although he is a bit of a fibber (his ear droops every time he tells a lie). When he's about to take the job, the not-so-nice Irontail (voiced wonderfully by Vincent Price) proposes a contest: Whichever of the two of them can deliver the most eggs on Easter becomes the chief Easter Bunny. Peter agrees, but oversleeps (courtesy of Irontail tampering with his alarm system) the next day. Irontail, despite his nastiness is able to deliver a single egg, beating Peter by one and becoming chief Easter Bunny. With the child-hating Irontail in charge, Easter will be horrible and ruined. Peter leaves April Valley in shame, and it appears that he is, well, pretty much screwed. Enter Seymour S. Sassafrass and his time machine (which for some reason comes with a French caterpillar as the pilot). The plan is to simply return to Easter and deliver some eggs, but due to outside interference, the time machine goes to the other end of the year. Peter is taken for a ride to different holidays (Mother's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, even Halloween and Christmas) as he tries to deliver eggs to people on each. But how can he get people to receive Easter Eggs on days other than Easter? Therein lies the challenge, as well as the fun of this flick.

Peter Cottontail is a fun feature full of imagination, and this is why it works. The Easter Bunnies at work in the beginning is a sight to behold, as they paint daffodils yellow, prepare Easter baskets, and work with all sorts of candy, as well as painting eggs. It's all very thoughtful and creative. Expecting an Easter movie, I was very surprised and delighted to see many different holidays touched upon. Little surprises like this are everywhere. Irontail is actually pretty cool, living in his dark castle and riding a bat as his form of transportation. There's something very strange and cool about Peter, during his holiday travels, coming into contact with characters such as a talking Easter bonnet, Halloween monsters, and even Santa Claus. The script is very smart and well thought out in that it presents very entertaining situations and still ties everything together at the end. In style and entertainment value, it is quite similar to the Rudolph special I first discovered as a kid, but is a wonderful creation in its own right. If you enjoyed Rudolph years ago, you may find that Peter Cottontail is fresh and entertaining, yet still has a familiar quality. This one's great entertainment for the whole family.

 

 

Overall, the quality is decent enough, but that's it. Expect about the clarity of a brand new VHS copy. There are little spots here and there on top of the image, seemingly the signs of old age. The transfer's okay, nothing more.

 

"Alright" is the word here too. Most of the Dolby Digital mix comes from the front, so the back speakers won't be doing much work, nor will the subwoofer. Most of the time there isn't much reason to, but some more immersive sound mixing would have been nice. What's here is pretty clear though. Sound effects, dialogue, and musical numbers flowing from the front get the job done.

 

As far as supplements are concerned, Peter Cottontail is a lightweight. There are some Sing-Along Songs taken right from the film and subtitled in a large font. A nice diversion for the children, I suppose. There's also the short Festival of Family Classics adaptation of Puss in Boots, which you'll probably watch once and never again. It simply tells the classic story and nothing more, with some rough cell animation and hardly any thought put into the characters or places. It's simply very plain and uninspired. Nothing to write home about. Those are the features, unless interactive menus and chapter selection count.

 

Overall

If you dug "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" or are just looking for a good family film, "Peter Cottontail" is most certainly worth checking out. Honestly, there's next to nothing in the way of extras, but the flick is pretty special on its own. You'd do well to give this one a look.