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Christmas Comes to PacLand (1982)
*** (out of 4)
Surprisenly good animated film has Santa Claus landing in PacLand where PacMan and his family are confused by who he is and what he does. Santa explains that he delivers presents to people on Christmas but his sack of toys have gone missing. PacMan must then go out to the Ghost Brothers to try and get them back. Christmas COMES TO PACLAND is a pretty entertaining little short that clocks in at 24-minutes and actually manages to be entertaining throughout. I never watched the television show so this here was the first time I had actually seen anything with the characters (outside the game of course) and I was surprised at how entertaining and likable they were. As you'd expect, the Christmas message is full of bright and the ending is also incredibly cute. The animation itself was also very impressive and I really liked the colors used for the scenery.
I re-discovered this special this past Christmas when it was shown on Boomerang. I recorded it on my DVR and forgot all about it until today. I sat down with my 2-year-old daughter to watch and am surprised to see she can't take her eyes off the screen. (Probably wondering what the heck I am subjecting her to now) Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it as good as I remembered? Sort of. It does hold up well, but some things are better watched when you're 7. The animation is typical of Saturday morning cartoons from the 80's and it does bring back the memories of all the cartoons I used to watch (the best being Dungeons & Dragons, which I recently found on Toon Disney). If you get a chance to re-visit this, you should.
The Pac-Man cartoon was, of course, based off of the mega-popular video
game. This Christmas special is spun-off from that. It's about Pac-Man
(who sounds like William Bendix) and friends helping Santa after he
crashes. Santa comes across as kind of incompetent in this. He wasn't
even aware that Pac-Land existed. I wonder how many other places he
doesn't know about? Santa's a real mess here. He even breaks down in
tears feeling sorry for himself at one point. Anyway, Pac-Man helps him
get his butt in gear and delivering presents to all the places he
bothered to remember.
The animation is limited, as most television animation was at the time. The humor is mostly kiddy stuff, which is fine as that was the target audience. Now it seems mostly of interest to people who grew up in the 1980s. Still, little kids might like it. Full of bright colors and playful characters. Older kids will probably just wonder who Pac-Man is and if Santa is on medication.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Christmas Comes to Pacland" has often been referred to as one of the
worst holiday specials of all time. Indeed, while it will never even
come close to other animated specials such as "How the Grinch Stole
Christmas", or any of the Charlie Brown shows, there are certainly much
more terrible offerings out there. You want to see a bad Christmas
special....try to sit through "The Star Wars Holiday Special", "Cosmic
Christmas" or that "Night Before Christmas" deal...the one with the
mice and the broken clock. Godawful!!!
"Christmas Comes to Pacland" is pretty much standard from that era...the early 80's. The story concerns Santa Claus accidentally becoming stuck in Pacland following a mishap with his reindeer and he not being familiar with the place at all. Likewise, the citizens of Pacland have never heard of Santa Claus themselves, so with that it's a lesson in the spirit of the holiday as everybody works together to get St. Nick back on his way.
The animation is basic Saturday morning quality, though the message is understandable (the animators and producers meant well). There are even some funny scenes and lines...care of the Ghost Monsters. Somehow this TV special still shows up on an annual basis on various networks during the holiday season...almost 30 years after the regular series ended. And while it's no classic by any means and can be considered to be quite a cheesy product of pop culture from it's original time period, the positive message of good will is present. Kids will enjoy it, adults will get a laugh, and the producers will revel in the thought that there are much worse offerings floating around out there.
I never thought I'd be reviewing a Pac-Man Xmas Special. Up until a few
days ago I didn't even know that there was a Pac-Man TV show.
This cartoon has Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man and Pac-Baby enjoying the snow and winter season before Santa Claus ends up crash-landing in PacLand. Having never heard of PacLand the rounded Pac-People have never heard of Santa or Xmas either. The Pac-People help Santa on his way and end up experiencing their first ever Xmas in return.
So what do you know...it's another one of those "Xmas is all about..." cartoons. But this time it's quite enjoyable and has nice wintry animation. It won't be a fondly-remembered special like Charlie Brown or Garfield's Xmas cartoons, but still worth watching.
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