(ARC ENTERTAINMENT/KICKSTART PRODUCTIONS (47 minutes, Rated G); 2014)
A few weeks back, I railed against a kids’ movie that featured a little girl who cared for no-one and nothing except for herself and what she wanted to do. That movie was produced in China, so I eventually came to the conclusion that the girl’s attitude had to be some type of cultural thing. After watching two-thirds of FROZEN IN TIME, I was reconsidering that estimation and moved forward under the supposition that all children everywhere were actually evil, self-centered, smaller versions of politicians, lawyers and other such snake-oil salesmen.
Eric and Patty (voiced by Valin Shenyei and Alyssya Swales) are siblings who enjoy torturing each other (and their brother, Brody, played by Drake Bell) and getting each other into trouble. Eric’s motto is, “I’ve always found that whole being good thing to be overrated.” The family dog, Arnie, is equally annoying and hyperactive; he looks a whole lot like Ed Asner (a name that you’ll be seeing again!). The kids’ inability to follow simple commands (actually, their blatant disregard for their parents’ instructions) causes a near catastrophe as, on Christmas Eve, the family heads out for Grandpa’s house. Having been told that Arnie couldn’t come along for the trip, Eric hides the pooch in a box disguised as a present; when the rambunctious canine gets loose, he bounces all over the vehicle, causing Mom (Mira Sorvino) to almost wreck the car, barely missing an oncoming truck and losing all of the presents over a snow-covered embankment. Things get worse when the family finally arrives at Grandpa’s house. Grandpa (Ed Asner) is an inventor with a bunch of whacky ideas; Patty and Eric are very disrespectful to their Grandpa and manage to destroy an entire automated kitchen (and their dinner in the deal) after being told to stay out of the room. The two take it on the lam before their Dad (Colin Murdock) can think of a punishment more severe than sending them to their room and denying them dessert (which is what they were after when they demolished the kitchen), heading out back to Grandpa’s workshop. There, they discover a weird looking old clock and, as these two destructive forces are wont to do, they find a way to break it.
From there, the movie turns into GROUNDHOG DAY with kids, Christmas and, of course, Santa Claus. As they discover that they are repeating the same day over and over again, Eric and Patty decide they can do whatever they want because it won’t matter when punishments are meted out… they won’t have to serve them since they’re the only ones who realize what’s happening to them and the clock will reset as soon as they fall asleep. Here’s where things start to turn around. After four or five days, they are getting sick of the auto-repeat. Besides, if Christmas never comes, they never get their gifts! As they’re once again confined to their room, Grandpa comes in and tells them a story about an inventor who built a clock that stopped time; the clock worked so well that Santa asked if the inventor would build one for him (making millions of stops in approximately five hours was no easy task… this would help). The light bulb finally goes on for Patty when her Grandpa tells them that the inventor didn’t stay at the North Pole with Santa because he didn’t want to be away from his family. The solution, Patty tells Eric, is being nicer to their family. The kids, over the course of several more Christmas Eves, straighten up their acts, displaying kindness, helpfulness and cooperation, turning FROZEN IN TIME into a pretty nice family Christmas story. They actually help Santa and save Christmas (the commercial aspects of it, anyway). How? Well… that’s called a spoiler and I won’t be the one to spoil it for the kiddies. If you can get through the pint-sized thuggery, the pay-off is pretty sweet.
The movie is, obviously, geared for very young children… I think that kids older than say seven or so would lose interest in the repetitive aspects of the middle part of the thing. The animation and design is also something that will appeal more to the smaller kids; the animation is just okay and everything is presented in very bright primary colors. Having said that, if you have small children (and maybe a pair of sunglasses), FROZEN IN TIME is a good way to kill the better part of an hour.