Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas 🎶🎄

A sweet little, probably lesser known Jim Henson (Muppets creator) gem – “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.”

Emmet Otter Jug-band Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas joys is watching and sharing my favorite animated Christmas specials. This month will be dedicated to these wonderful specials and films.

The story is based on the children’s story of the same name which was written by Russell and Lillian Hoban. Jim Henson’s production of Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas premiered on HBO on December 17, 1978, as an hour long TV presentation. It’s the charming tale of Emmet Otter and his loving mom’s dream of presenting each other with the perfect Christmas gift. But unfortunately, Emmet and his Mom, a widow, scrape by on the small amount of money she gets from doing laundry and that Emmet gets from doing odd jobs around their home in the town of Frogtown Hollow.

As Christmas approaches, they hear of a talent contest in the nearby town of Waterville and separately decide to enter to afford that perfect present: the guitar Emmet dreams of, and a beautiful piano for Ma. However, in a twist on The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, they must sacrifice each other’s livelihood for the talent contest. Mom hocks Emmet’s tools for dress fabric while Emmet turns Ma’s washtub into a washtub bass for a jug band.

The special received a very positive review in The New York Times on December 15, 1980: “Jim Henson and the Muppets are on a dazzling winning streak these days… Mr. Henson has produced and directed one of the most charming Christmas specials of the last several years.

Emmet rehearses diligently for the contest with his bandmates and mom secretly practices her solo, However, a local band, Rivertown Nightmare Band enters the contest as well. I won’t spoil it, but the Nightmare Band is awesome!

The songs by singer/songwriter Paul Williams are wonderful and Jerry Juhl’s story is simple and sweet. I loved Jim Henson and miss him and his talent for capturing the imagination of not only children but of us all!

Jim Henson

Jim Henson

 

 

 

 

A Merry “Gremlins” Christmas!🎁

“Gremlins” June 8, 1984 Directed by Joe Dante

One of my favorite Christmas joys is watching and sharing my favorite animated Christmas specials. This month will be dedicated to these wonderful specials and films.

I have to start off by saying I know, “Gremlins” isn’t technically an animated film, but it is animated with Gizmo and some scary Mogwai.😊

I couldn’t resist featuring “Gremlins” because Gizmo is too darn sweet and Stripe and his cohorts are out of their minds. The story revolves around Billy, (Zach Galligan) a young man who spends his days working in a bank owned by the tyrannical, elderly Mrs. Deagle, (Polly Holliday) but he’s really an artist. A couple of days before Christmas, his father (Hoyt Axton) brings him a very special Christmas gift he purchased in Chinatown – a Mogwai – Gizmo. (voiced by Howie Mandel) His father explains there are 3 rules by which he must abide:

  1. Don’t get Gizmo wet.

  2. Don’t feed him after midnight

  3. Keep him out of bright light

Unfortunately, Rule number 1 (Don’t get Gizmo wet) is broken soon after when Pete (Cory Feldman) a neighbor friend accidently spills a cup of water on Gizmo while Billy is at his drawing desk. Immediately Gizmo begins to shake and convulse as furry looking balls eject off his back. We then find out why Rule number 1 is so important because the furry looking balls turn into other Mogwai lead by the villainous Stripe.

Stripe

Stripe

Rule number 2 (don’t feed after midnight) is just as powerful as number 1 because as a result of Stripe tricking Billy into the feeding the Mogwai after midnight, (except Gizmo) they turn into a bunch of “crazy Mogwai.” Yikes!

The “crazy Mogwai” begin their reign of terror at the local bar where Billy’s girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates) works as a barmaid. She barely makes it out of the bar by flashing them with a camera as the “crazies” proceed to get drunk, destroy the bar, and start shooting at each other, The bar scene even includes a flasher Mogwai. Too much!😄

My favorite scene is when the “crazy Mogwai” take over a local theater to watch “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” And just like regular people, they’re enjoying popcorn and snacks while singing “Hi Ho” along with the Seven Dwarfs. What a crack-up!

Rule number 3 (No bright light) is really crucial because the light kills Mogwai. Momentarily exposed, Gizmo cries out in the sweetest little voice, – “bright light, bright light.” Too cute.

Finally, Billy and Gizmo are charged with finding and eliminating the “crazy Mogwai” especially Stripe because he’s now creating more “crazies” by purposely getting himself wet.

gremlins- billy, kate, and gizmo

Billy, Kate, Gizmo

The fight with Billy and Gizmo forces Stripe – “crazy Mogwai” in charge, to pull out all the stops to keep up his goal of taking over the town. But Gizmo is no easy win and proceeds to give Stripe his money’s worth!

Gremlins- Gizmo Car

Gizmo’s car

The puppetry is great and the blend of human and puppets is totally fun! Steven Spielberg (Executive Producer) explained: “It’s one of the most original things I’ve come across in many years, which is why I bought it.” Because of the effects and original storyline, (by Chris Columbus), I include “Gremlins” as holiday worthy and recommend checking it out or revisiting if it’s been a while.