Christmas Animated Specials (non-Rankin/Bass Category)

( Note: I published this article last year on the old site)

Earlier, I discussed the animated Christmas specials of the Rankin/Bass studios, but there are, of course, several other classic and modern specials.


A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)


Director: Bill Melendez

Starring: Peter Robbins as the voice of Charlie Brown, Christopher Shea as Linus

Synopsis: Feeling depressed and anxious over the commercialization of Christmas, Charlie Brown, on the suggestion of Lucy, becomes the director of the Christmas play. He is mocked when he finds a small tree, but he receives encouragement when Linus explains the meaning of Christmas

Are there songs?: It’s not a musical, but the special features a jazz score by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, and many of the pieces became classics, including “Christmastime is here,” “Ice Skating,” and “Linus and Lucy,” which became the official theme of the Peanuts property.

Did it become a musical?: Although there have been Broadway musicals based on the Peanuts property, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, there has yet to be a musical based on this special.

Notable quotes: “Lights, please.”

“Maybe Lucy’s right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.”


How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)


Directors: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam

Starring: Boris Karloff

Synopsis: While the Whos in Whoville celebrate Christmas, the Grinch hatches a plan to ruin their holiday. He steals all of their presents, but has a change of heart.

Songs?: One of the best “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch,” sung by Thurl Ravenscroft

Did it become a musical? : Yes, in 2006 a musical production appeared for the Christmas season on Broadway. It was revived the next season.

Notable quotes: He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!


Shrek the Halls (2007)


Director: Gary Truesdale

Starring: Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Bandaras

Synopsis: Wanting to give his family a traditional Christmas, Shrek shoos away his friends, but realizes that friends and family is what Christmas is about.

Songs?: Nothing original, but the Shrek movies always feature contemporary songs.

Did it become a musical?: Although, this story was never staged, the original story was staged in 2008.

Notable quotes: “Why didn’t you say so? That’s super! I know all about Christmas, and I have just the book for you: ‘Christmas For Village Idiots.’ ”


Prep and Landing (2009)


Directors: Kevin Deters, Stevie Wermers

Starring: Dave Foley and Sarah Chalke

Synopsis: Elf Wayne gets a new rookie partner, Lanny, after his previous partner got the promotion he wanted. Lanny has to remind Wayne of the Spirit of Christmas and the importance of being an elf in Santa’s Prep and Landing elite unit.

Songs?: No

Did it become a musical?: No

Notable quotes: Dancer: How we going to make it through all this snow?

Dasher: Laughing all the way, my friend. Laughing all the way


Toy Story that Time Forgot (2014)

e5216f1a46966a7d2bed2f6f8d0ffd9b36439c22dfe45b6889806bdb04174138Director: Steve Purcell

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Kristen Schaal

Synopsis: During a playdate, the toys have to deal with new dinosaur toys

Songs?: No

Did it become a musical?: No

Notable quotes: Woody: Trixie, the dinosaurs aren’t playing! They were never playing! THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW THEY’RE TOYS!

Buzz Lightyear: Incredible, isn’t it?

“Remember, you must inhabit the part. It’s not enough to play the dinosaur, you must be the dinosaur.”


The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)


Written by: Tim Burton

Director: Henry Selick

Starring: Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara

Synopsis: Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept. He has Santa kidnapped and attempts to replace him.

Songs?: The songs by Danny Elfman include “This is Halloween,” “What’s This?” and “Oogie Boogie’s Song”

Did it become a musical?: No

Notable quotes: “What’s this? What’s this? There’s color everywhere! What’s this? There’s white things in the air! What’s this? I can’t believe my eyes, I must be dreaming; wake up, Jack, this isn’t fair! What’s this?”

“That’s right. I AM THE PUMPKIN KING!”


Arthur Christmas (2014)


Director: Directors: Sarah Smith, Barry Cook

Starring: James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie

Synopsis: Santa’s clumsy son Arthur gets put on a mission with St. Nick’s father to give out a present they misplaced to a young girl in less than 2 hours.

Songs?: No

Did it become a musical?: No

Notable quotes: “Last time I took Evie for a spin. I didn’t know it was the Cuban missile crisis! I nearly started World War III.”


Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas (1977)


Director: Jim Henson

Starring: Jerry Nelson, Frank Oz, Marilyn Sokol

Synopsis: In order to buy each other Christmas presents, Emmet and his Ma each enter a talent contest on Christmas.

Songs?: Paul Williams wrote a number of songs: “Ain’t No Hole in the Washtub,” “Barbecue,” “River Bottom Nightmare Band,” and “When the River Meets the Sea.”

Did it become a musical?: I didn’t think there was, but looking for images I saw a full on production by the Goodspeed Opera House in 2008

Notable quotes: “A persons got to take some chances or life will never come to nothing.”

Next: Classic live-action Christmas movies