A Week of Christmas Movies: The Legend of Frosty the Snowman

Film: Legend of Frosty the Snowman

Plot: The town of Evergreen runs right on schedule, from top to bottom, thanks to Mayor Tinkerton and his trusty clipboard. It is all great, except it is not, especially for his youngest son, Tommy. Into this scene comes the mystical hat of Frosty—which had been, until very recently, locked away in some attic in the town—and where the hat is, Frosty cannot be far behind. And sure enough, the Snowman arrives and shakes up the town by slowing revealing himself to the town’s children, disrupting this rigid world. Mr. Tinkertown, despondent, gives up control of the town to the even more dictatorial school principal Hank Pankley, setting up the final conflict between fun-loving anarchy minded Frosty and enemy of imagination Pankley.

Fun Fact: George Stephanopoulos is listed in the credits as the film company’s legal counsel.

 "Gather close and worships me! Err...play with me. Yes, that's it. Play." (image from classicmedia.tv)

"Gather close and worships me! Err...play with me. Yes, that's it. Play." (image from classicmedia.tv)

My Take: Streaming sites sometimes make odd choices in what they offer. For instance, there is no Frosty streaming on the Hulu Plus app, but you better believe that they offer THE LEGEND OF FROSTY THE SNOWMAN from 2004. So that’s good news.

Obviously, living up to a children’s classic that precedes my birth by some 22 years and I grew up watching probably every Christmas from, I don’t know, three through the present. So, you have to feel some sympathy for LEGEND OF FROSTY THE SNOWMAN.

Sympathy, however, is not enough to make this thing any good.

First, to do away with the obvious bias on my part: Bill Fagerbakke is no Jackie Vernon. His Frosty is—and I only say this because I can’t think of another way to put it—sort of demented. Vernon’s had a sort of naiveté to him, but in a way that felt light and happy. Fagerbakke’s, on the other hand, sounds sort of dangerously out of touch with reality. It’s a subtle distinction but one worth acknowledging.

And while the voice issue could amount to “liking what you grew up with” it sort of points towards the bigger issue in this special: Frosty is an immoral agent of chaos. He lures children out of their homes after dark without any adults knowing where they are going. He encourages them to skip out on chores, ditch detention, and skate on ponds without wasting time discerning if the ice is thin or not. He is not just “fun all the time guy,” he’s wildly reckless to the point of child endangerment. Additionally, in a later development, he does not really care about how his behaviors affect his first “friend” in the town who he rapidly ditches for the company of other, arguably cooler, children in the town.

Looking beyond his actions, Frosty is also a source of all sorts of body horror. He loses his head multiple times, encourages a girl to plunge her hand into his chest to pull something out of his body cavity, and has a hole blown out of his midsection by a parent. It’s not particularly graphic, but Looney Tune level violence does not play the same when it’s happening to a beloved children’s icon not known for this sort of thing.

Making Frosty into a sort of colder, more actively dangerous, and prone to decapitation Cat in the Head is problematic in and of itself. However, then taking said character and making him the hero of the special is a step beyond. And yet, it is what we must conclude, and not just because the closing narration lays on some nonsense about teaching everyone about the magic of childhood again. See Evergreen is an autocratic nightmare state.

Mr. Tinkerton is so dedicated to the concept of order, he literally has exerted his will to order over nature itself. The sun rises every day at the same time, lest it incur his wrath. Flowers bloom in winter at his urging. The sidewalk literally twinkles below his feet. The principal may prove worse but that is a bit like pointing out that Stalin was worse than Lenin. True? Yes. But neither’s great, you know?

The way he manages his family is even worse. He pits son against son in a nightly trivia contest where the prize is a pin documenting them as #1 son which crushes one’s son’s confidence and inspires the other to become a thug and know-it-all simultaneously.

What begins with Tinkerton filters down to the rest of the town. One parent only allows her daughter to play scales on the piano, never songs. Another is so iron in her grip, she has caused a literal anxiety disorder in her son. And, seemingly, so on through every house in this town.

Thus, we are literally left with this choice: an autocratic state where the leader literally holds sway over all aspects of the lives of his citizens or a seemingly insane man of snow who is unable to be killed and seemingly either expects the same of his followers or does not care if they live or die. In a children’s movie.

So…Merry Christmas?

Verdict: My daughter seemed to love it, but…it’s not good. Stick with the original. It’s shorter and better.