I’ve already established what I think about the Care Bears (See my Care Bears Movie post if you’re interested). This was their attempt at a christmas movie. Let’s take the Care Bears and throw them into the story of the nutcracker. And strangely, it works. I’m not going to lie: this is the ONLY version of the Nutcracker I’ve ever seen. Yeah. I’m not a fan of ballet, and well, this is originally a ballet. I know we owned another version when I was a kid and I might have seen part of it, but I don’t remember.
Anyway! What would a version of the nutcracker with Care Bears look like? Well, here we go!
This story is very much framed, much like the Care Bears movie was. We start with a the practice of a school production of the nutcracker, where we meet a little boy who really can’t believe he’s in a ballet. The teacher sits all the kids down and says she has a version to tell them of the nutcracker that they might like.
The Care Bears are up in Care-a-lot and find a girl and boy who are sad on christmas. Not believing that anyone could be sad around the holidays, some of the care bears head down and find Anna. They try to do their cheering up thing when all of a sudden a portal opens and a strange life-size nutcracker comes though who can talk, but doesn’t remember who he is. Some rats come after him, attempting to capture him. Obviously the care bears and Anna (and her brother) help keep him from getting taken, and the rats return through the portal. The nutcracker remembers where he’s from, and the care bears and Anna are through a portal to Toyland, the place the nutcracker is from. It’s being overtaken by the evil Vizier, who has the sugar plum fairy hostage and is looking for the nutcracker.
After seeing what the Vizier has done to Toyland, the care bears, the nutcracker and Anna decide they’re going to rescue the sugar plum fairy, and at some point in here we also learn that the reason the Evil Vizier has her is because she hid a ring: whoever has the ring has the power to toy land. If they can rescue her and find the ring before him, then Toyland can be free.
There’s some chases, they get captured and turned into wood for a time, but eventually everything does work itself out. It is a christmas classic story, but I don’t want to ruin the end for anyone who hasn’t seen it. Let’s just say the nutcracker isn’t all he’s appeared to be.
Oh yeah, and in this version there’s a side story with baby hugs and tugs and Anna brother. they sneak into toy land after being told to stay home because Hugs and Tugs want to find the perfect ornament for their tree.
In a nutshell (hehe – you’d get it if you know the movie or the ballet), that’s the care bears version. It is super super adorable for kids. It really is like a lot of the other care bears stuff that came out in the 80s: the movies and the TV show. Since this is ’88, it’s during the same timing as the TV show was on, and as a result you DO have a lot of overlapping of instrumental background music and voices (for example: the rat king is voiced by the name actor that voices the villain Beastly in the series). That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but even as a small child I remember thinking it was really odd that this voice I knew so well for one character was coming out of another. Otherwise, the voices are fine and the way we remember them.
our new characters are also pretty interesting. I like Anna, but almost wish she’d be a little bit more gung-ho about the whole thing. I dunno, maybe I’m just used to crazy “I can do it myself” girls in the movies nowadays. But she is likable, and the relationship we get between her and the nutcracker as friends is believable.
The nutcracker himself is also very enjoyable, although I wish the voice actor wouldn’t have a tendacy to be a bit whiny. He’s drawn to protecting Toyland and wants to do anything to help, but can’t remember much. He attaches to Anna and they do care about each other, but I don’t know, maybe I wanted him to be REALLY into saving Toyland. I can’t get too upset though. This is a story that isn’t so much about the drama.
The villains, because this is a kids movie, are a bit played up for their goofiness. the Vizier himself isn’t stupid. He’s smart, has a plan in motion, and acts most of the time more frustrated than anything with his rats and his rat king. I do have to say this: If he thought his rats were doing such a bad job, he could get up off his ass and go get him himself. I feel like we only ever see this guy sitting, talking to the fairy, or giving orders. GET UP OFF YOUR BUTT! ok.
The rat king and his rats are our comic relief, and honestly it works. The king is arguably smart to a point, but doesn’t quite think things through the whole way. His two henchmen are the ones who always seem to screw up, even though its him that get blamed. But they’re fun to watch.
The care bears are the care bears. They don’t change. they’re the characters we know and love.
Probably the thing I love the most about this movie is that it is a GREAT way to introduce the music of the nutcracker ballet to your children. not all the time, but a bunch of the time as our characters are going through certain scenes, the instrumental music IS the music from the ballet. You would think that that might be a bit weird, but honestly it isn’t. It fits in really well because it’s the story, not necessarily the medium. It’s refreshing to hear that at times and not the care bears music that’s used for the TV show.
I also completely adore the storyline with Hugs and Tugs. I think it’s a good secondary storyline because it talks about something a bit more christmas-y. They have to find an ornament that’s all their own, but they want it to mean something. They end up using the walnut the ring was stored in, and I think that’s really cool.
All in all this is a really cute, safe Christmas movie. It’s a great way to introduce the Nutcracker to your child, and it isn’t half bad to watch as an adult. It isn’t deep, but it’s fun. I will note that I was terrified of the part where the Vizier turns the care bears into wood when I was a kid. I remembered not much of this movie until I started watching it but that. I think it scarred me.
I give The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite (1988) a 3 out of 5. Solid holiday fun for your young child and not (too) scary.
Up Next: Christmas with the Kranks (2004)