The Nutcracker (Jetlag Productions, 1995)

“It is Christmas Eve, and the Stahlbaum family is happily unwrapping their Christmas gifts… seven-year-old Marie receives a very special gift – a mysterious Nutcracker – from her beloved Godfather Drosselmeier… Marie discovers that this is no ordinary Nutcracker, but Godfather Drosselmeier’s nephew, who was transformed into a wooden toy by the curse of the evil Madame Mouserink. To break the curse, the Nutcracker must win the love of Marie and defeat the malicious, seven-headed Mouse King.”

– Anonymous, IMDB.

This version of the Nutcracker is brought to us by Jetlag Productions and Goodtimes Entertainment. Jetlag Productions is an American-Japanese studio that previously worked on The New Adventures of He-Man and Conan The Adventurer. Jetlag was approached by the Cayre Brothers of GoodTimes Entertainment, who were looking to replace Golden Films as the provider of their animated productions after contracts had expired. Beginning in 1994, Jetlag Productions produced 17 different films.

Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below)…
The Nutcracker is yet another film that I first watched growing up, so once again there is some nostalgia involved with this one. I will also admit, I think the Jetlag Productions era is probably the best that GoodTimes ever looked, both in terms of general look and feel as well as animation, so there’s some bonus points there as well.

This movie is probably the most faithful adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s original story, and it definitely doesn’t have as much action as other versions of The Nutcracker. The majority of the film takes place in Marie’s home, specifically with Marie laid up in bed after hitting her head early on in the story. I think it adds to the charm somewhat, the movie ends up feeling a bit more personal because we’re so closely following Marie, rather than have the focus split on other characters. Her actions feel a lot more significant as a result… but as mentioned, she spends most of the story laid up in bed. So the actions she does take are limited by what she can do within arm’s reach of her mattress. I think your enjoyment of this might rely on whether or not you find Marie’s bed-ridden resistance against the Mouse King to be compelling, or boring.

There is admittedly not a lot of depth to this adaptation. Marie and the Nutcracker are a tad bland, especially compared to other films like The Nutcracker Prince, which really made Clara and the Nutcracker feel like real, rounded characters.

To be fair a bit part of that is due to the runtime of this film, a tight 45 minutes, and the film chooses remaining faithful to the original story then cutting out plot points to give more time to develop Marie and the Nutcracker as characters. I can’t say it’s the choice I would’ve made, but it’s what they went with, and at the very least they ended up with a watchable movie.

This is another movie that’s not going to be big on laughs, unless you find it more cheesy than charming. So this is another one I’d recommend that you preview first and see how you feel. That, or go into this one with the mindset that this is a movie to be discussed rather than laughed at.

References

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