After college, Judge Erich Asperschlager backpacked across cartoon Europe.
Our reviews of The Madeline Movie: Lost In Paris (published March 24th, 2010), Madeline On The Town (published April 3rd, 2011), Madeline's Great Adventures (published July 18th, 2010), and Madeline's Halloween And Other Spooky Tales (published September 19th, 2010) are also available.
"Joyeux Noel, my little friends!"
Long before Dora first said "hola," a plucky Parisian girl took young readers on multicultural adventures of her own. Madeline first appeared in a series of books written by Ludwig Bemelmans. She later made the jump to movies and television, introducing a new generation of kids to her charming world of butter and baguettes. Shout! Factory gives those young fans an early Joyeux Noel, with a DVD collection of five holiday-themed episodes, called Madeline's Christmas and Other Wintry Tales.
• "Madeline's Winter Vacation"
• "Madeline at the North Pole"
• "Madeline and Santa"
• "Madeline's Holiday with Mr. Grump"
• "Madeline and the Ice Skates"
Having seen more than my share of kids' DVDs lately—with more to come if my infant daughter has anything to say about it—I thought I knew what to expect from Madeline. For the most part, I was right. The episodes are filled with plucky young girls placed in mildly unpleasant situations who emerge victorious after twenty-some minutes with minimal effort. The animation is serviceable, even stylish in places, and the occasional song provides just enough melody and beat to get young toes tapping.
But Madeline distinguishes itself from other tiny tot fare with its easygoing charm. Maybe it's the European flair, maybe it's Christopher Plummer's laid back rhyming narration, but Madeline is a welcome break from the hyperactivity of modern kids' cartoons. Her holiday adventures don't have any high-speed sleigh chases or Battle of Gettysburgh-esque snowball fights, and that's a good thing.
The downside is that Madeline's cordiality won't work on every kid. If your children are either too old or too young, these Wintry Tales might be too boring to entertain them while you try to sip your eggnog in peace in the other room.
The DVD itself gets the job done. The full frame animation is clean and colorful in a muted European sort of way, with only minor flecks and specks; and the stereo soundtrack delivers the dialogue, narration, and synthesized background music just fine. There are no bonus features or alternate language tracks to clutter up this bare-bones disc.
Although it won't appeal to everyone, if you like your holiday with a bit of Old World charm (and your kids have a thing for walking in two straight lines), then Madeline's Christmas and Other Wintry Tales is a worthy stocking stuffer.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
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