A mouse-ical adventure for the whole family!
Christmas—is there a more joyous time of the year—where good cheer, peaceful tidings, and mounds of unopened presents fill the seasonal air with familial mirth. Nothing gets you into that holiday spirit more than some solid yuletide entertainment. Think of all the great memories we have watching those enduring Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, or my personal favorite, A Christmas Story. Unfortunately Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night certainly cannot stand alongside those timeless, beloved holiday classics.
Facts of the Case
Buster and Chauncey, the world's greatest mouse-icians, arrive in Oberndorf to perform for the Queen (voiced by Marie Osmond) at the annual Christmas pageant, seeking "fame and fortune." Concurrently, a pair of thieves arrive in town under the pretense of checking security for the Queen's visit. As they plot to steal riches from the town's church, a little orphan girl winds up entangled in the trouble, accused of stealing from the poor box and running off with the golden treasure. Chauncey (voiced by Phil Hartman) has a soft spot for the orphan and sets out to rescue her from the clutches of the dubious thieves. Buster, however, has his mind set on performing for the Queen and attaining glory. Eventually however, Buster finds the spirit of Christmas and sets out with the help of the bird, Fritz (voiced by Tom Arnold), to capture the real culprits and reveal the true meaning of Christmas to the town with a few songs and some touching sentiment.
This is certainly no The Nightmare Before Christmas; well, actually it was my own little nightmare before Christmas, having to watch this relatively unimaginative holiday film at a time when thoughts of sugar plum fairies are far from dancing in my head.
While Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night features name talent lending their voices to the project, it is sadly squandered on dialogue that attempts to be humorous but falls well short of the mark. The beginning of the movie is filled ad nauseam with puns on the word 'mouse'; I found myself grimacing only several minutes into the movie.
Adult viewers will frequently find themselves wondering just how much the late, great Phil Hartman was paid for lending his notable vocal talents to this clichéd rubbish, which actually strives ardently to be nothing more than a Disney-direct-to-video wannabe and stills falls considerably short of that admittedly low standard.
The Christmas theme of Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night seems almost an afterthought, as the good-guys-versus-bad-guys story is what this interminable 49-minute tale seems to focus on. Religious themes make an appearance at several points, although they are greatly understated, despite the fact that it's Christmas Eve, much of the story is set in a cathedral, and the movie was inspired by the creation of the hymn, Silent Night.
Interestingly, the good guy characters in this German-set story all have straightforward American accents, while the bad guys and the mindless townspeople have vaguely German accents. Is there some subtle message hidden there for the kiddies? Oberndorf indeed!
Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night is presented in digitally mastered full screen format with flat 2-channel audio. The animation is poor by today's standards, with facial animation regularly out of sync with its corresponding vocal narration, wholly drab muted colors, and segments that are outright blurry with backgrounds that fade in and out of soft focus. Extras include three bonus theatrical trailers, 'talent' files on Tom Arnold, Marie Osmond, and Phil Hartman, along with four "sing-alongs," which are essentially excerpts from the movie featuring the song lyrics printed on your screen. Oohs and ahhs all around, right?
The Rebuttal Witnesses
While the story and animation are bland, this would be a suitable rental for young kids who are easily entertained and can sit still for about an hour. Let's face it, 2-5 year olds will watch just about anything their parents put on the television once, and just about every small child likes a Christmas-themed cartoon, if for no other reason that it reminds them that they'll soon hopefully be receiving toys and presents. Marie Osmond does a nice, credible job singing the closing titular number, Silent Night. Bonus trailers for The Nuttiest Nutcracker, Stuart Little, and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland will certainly appeal to the kids. Ironically, these trailers may have kids begging their parents to press stop on the Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night DVD and instead let them watch one of the previewed features. Trust me, do not play the bonus trailers for your children before watching this film or you are going to have some awfully bored, irritable, and ultimately disappointed youngsters on your hands.
The store shelves are literally lined with top-flight animated kids' videos out there, full of wonder, humor, and imagination, as well as some educative value. Do yourself a favor and spend that hard-earned dough on such entertainment for the kids, and leave lesser mundane material like this to fade, wither, and rot on the display cases. Your kids will thank you later.
Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night is found guilty of being utter crap, and hereby sentenced to be properly disposed of in the proverbial landfills of America, and its plastic recycled to create something substantial, lasting, or at least more entertaining than the absolute pap it currently is.
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