- Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
- April 4, 1971
- Peter Cottontail-Casey Kasem
- Seymour S. Sassafras, Col. Wellington B. Bunny, Antoine-Danny Kaye
- January Q. Irontail-Vincent Price
- Mom, Sue, Madame Esmeralda, Bonnie Bonnet, Hat shop owner, Martha Washington-Joan Gardner
- Col. Wellington’s assistant, Dad at Thanksgiving table, Santa Claus, Fireman, Rooster-Paul Frees
- Donna-Iris Rainer
- Tommy, Boy 1 (Independence Day)-Greg Thomas
- Boy 2 (Independence Day)-Jeff Thomas
Peter Cottontail must save Easter from the villainous January Q. Irontail.
I really miss the Rankin/Bass specials. There was a weird kind of magic about them. They were charming and quaint and just simple fun with a possible message woven in. You had bouncy songs and silly stories. They were unburdened by being ironic or topical. They were there to make you happy.
Here Comes Peter Cottontail seems to have gone a little bit by the wayside and been more than a touch forgotten amongst the Rankin/Bass catalogue but it should not necessarily have been There are plenty of rabbit centric movies and specials but the grandaddy of them all does not get much love for some reason.
Then again the big ones were always was Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Heck those two were so big they even had them in a movie where both characters teamed up in an adventure. The Avengers film may have been more famous, but they did it before the first.
In Here Comes Peter Cottontail we learn how Peter Cottontail became the Easter Bunny. From what little they tell about Peter and his past he is a bit of an out of left field choice for the role. Peter is a bit of a slacker here and has a penchant for dishonesty, but his predecessor Col. Wellington B. Bunny sees a little of himself in young Peter and picks him. Brings into question the standards to be Easter Bunny. How low are they here?
Peter’s main nemesis throughout the film is an evil rabbit named January Q. Irontail. I am not sure why a prosthetic tail made of iron makes sense but try not to think about things too much here. That goes for any Rankin/Bass special. Irontail is not necessarily out to destroy Easter but rather what he wants to do will really screw it up. But honestly some of his changes make the candy portion much more interesting. I am good with a chocolate octopus. How is that any weirder than a rabbit delivering eggs and candy?
Per the Constitution of April Valley (all Constitutional questions should be solved this way) there is a contest between Irontail and Peter and to the winner goes the title. Our narrator Seymour S. Sassafras says the reason that Peter lost was because of his boastfulness and irresponsibility. Huh? The reason Peter loss was because Irontail cheated. He used magic bubblegum to silence the alarm clock rooster and Peter slept through the entire day! Does the boy have narcolepsy?
Stop motion animation (or Animagic as they called it) is as painstaking probably as anything hand drawn with the added difficulty of not being able to do a quick run through before you actually film. If you screw up one frame you screwed up an entire take. What you could get is something with a unique a look all its own.
Here Comes Peter Cottontail is very much a kid friendly film so any gripes I have are the gripes of an adult. The child in me though says I’m being a bit ridiculous and overly critical. Adult says you’re probably right. Glad they get along well enough to have a reasonable discussion. Despite any gripes I have this is still an enjoyable family friendly television special from back in the day. It’s not perfect but it is very enjoyable.
The main flaw? It talks down to the intended audience. That is where all family friendly material goes wrong. Kids are not stupid.
The weirdest part of this though is the time traveling to other holidays of the time machine. That seems exceedingly specific for a time machine. And perfectly silly for this special.
Here Comes Peter Cottontail is certainly not aimed at adults. It’s for little kids and they will most certainly enjoy it. If you can still find your little kid and they’re willing to listen to the adult then you can sit down and enjoy this. If you haven’t checked it out or haven’t seen it in years I suggest you find it somewhere and give it one more look. I recommend this. Not perfect but it is good.