Share the holidays with Caillou in his first feature-length movie!
When four-year-old Caillou wakes up one morning and finds snow outside, it's only a matter of time before he stumbles onto a wonderful surprise—Christmas is coming! And with just under two weeks to go until the big day, he finds that waiting for Christmas isn't as easy as he expected. But with the help of family and friends, Caillou manages to learn some valuable lessons about giving and sharing, and he discovers that waiting for Christmas to arrive can be just as much fun as the holiday itself.
When it comes to holiday-themed entertainment, I have to confess something of a bias. As a child of the 1980s, I was raised on a steady diet of the big five: Garfield, Charlie Brown, The Muppets, Mickey Mouse, and The Grinch, and some of my favorite Christmas memories are associated with these. So when someone brings out a new Christmas movie aimed at a young age group, comparisons to these five holiday staples are invariably going to arise. I know that I should probably try to put them out of my mind and review something like Caillou's Holiday Movie on its own merits, but it's just impossible to avoid.
By this rationale, Caillou's Holiday Movie just doesn't hold up to the classics. I don't mean to sound like a Grinch, but that's just the way it is. It's not that there's anything particularly wrong with it. The lessons aimed at kids are all valuable, to be sure, and Caillou's adventures are about as inoffensive as is possible. The songs are cute enough, and it's hard to really find anything objectionable about Caillou himself (except for the whole lack of hair thing—aren't kids supposed to have hair by the time they're four?). But there's just nothing here that really stands out, or separates Caillou's Holiday Movie from the deluge of other Christmas entertainment out there. The lessons, as important as they are (Christmas is about giving, everyone celebrates the Holidays differently), have all been repeated many times before, and have been done with more humor and wit.
I understand that I'm about twenty years older than the targeted age group for Caillou and that there are probably thousands of two to six-year-olds out there for whom Caillou means as much as Garfield or Charlie Brown do for me. So be it. I just can't help but think that there has to be material out there that relates the same lessons conveyed here in less bland way, so that the kids' hearts and minds are fed not just by bright colors and inoffensive songs but by real imagination and clever storytelling. The makers of Caillou's Holiday Movie were no doubt sincere in their intentions, but sometimes sincerity just isn't enough.
Fans of Caillou's adventures will no doubt be thrilled at Warner Bros. DVD presentation of his first feature-length movie. The full-frame video is crisp and vivid, with bright colors and not a trace of dirt to be found. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is just fine, and songs and dialogue come through with crystalline clarity. Warner have also included language tracks in French and Spanish.
Warner has also taken Caillou's fan base to heart when putting together the extras for this release, as there are a number of features that extend beyond the film itself. There's a brief "Animated Interview with Caillou" that runs about two minutes as well as two games—one memory and one odd-man-out—that are divided into three levels apiece. In addition, two of the film's songs are available separate from the movie itself, as is the story of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
I can't find it in my heart to convict Caillou's Holiday Movie on any counts, as it's so inoffensive that I can't seem to find any grounds for conviction. But it's also so bland that an acquittal is equally difficult to issue, leaving me with no choice but to declare a hung jury. Fans of Caillou as well as most kids six and under will probably find enough here to enjoy, but everyone else is advised to steer clear. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Animated Interview with Caillou
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