Two Family Films from Disney
In Search of Santa (January 12/05)
Featuring the voices of Hilary and Haylie Duff, In Search of Santa is strictly one for the kids. The storyline involves feuding penguin sisters Crystal (Hilary) and Lucinda (Haylie), who must put aside their differences in order to prove that Santa Claus is real. If they don't, their claim to the throne will be usurped by a trio of evil, elderly penguins. Crystal and Lucinda's journey brings them face to face with pirates, a cute little seal pup, and a polar bear (the latter of which is gleefully murdered by Crystal, in a sequence that's best described as disturbing). In Search of Santa's poor animation is the least of the film's problems, although it's really quite incredible just how bad the film looks (particularly when compared to any of the Pixar movies or, heck, even most video games). The Duffs are suitably perky and enthusiastic in their respective roles, ensuring that fans of either will likely walk away satisfied.
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas (January 20/05)
Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas marks Mickey and the gang's first foray into the world of computer animation, and despite the risks involved with such an experiment (remember how weird Homer looked in 3-D?), the change isn't nearly as jarring as it could've been. The film features all the major Disney characters - even Scrooge McDuck makes an appearance! - in a series of short films, all having to do with Christmas (ie Pluto runs away to the North Pole after being scolded by Mickey, where he's quickly adopted by Santa's reindeer). Each of the stories features an expectedly sappy resolution, though it's hard not to get a kick out of seeing all these classic characters in the same movie (sadly, Goofy's infamous scream doesn't make an appearance). Any concerns about the transition from 2-D to 3-D animation are quickly forgotten, as the movie is imbued with a bright, colorful style that's impossible to resist. Add to that a screenplay that's peppered with some surprisingly funny moments, and you've got a film that appeals to children and adults alike.