Movies: Rise of the Guardians

It is true that most children uusually shed their beliefs in the Tooth Fairy, Santa and similar characters by the time they’re out of elementary school. Yet, it seems, we adults cherish the memories of these beliefs and the innocence with which we believed in them when we talk about these characters with fondness. We knew Santa would visit our house on Christmas. We knew if we lost a tooth and put it under our pillow the Tooth Fairy would visit during the night and leave us money. These characters were real to us. Now, they’re given life and further reality in the new DreamWorks/Paramount animated film Rise of the Guardians.

The Tooth Fairy explains to Jack Frost that his baby teeth are precious because they contain all his early memories.
Photo: Courtesy DreamWorks Animation

With a script by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Linsday-Abaire (The Rabbit Hole) from a book by William Joyce, Rise of the Guardians tells the story of North (or, as we know him, Santa, played by Alec Baldwin employing an odd Russian-German dialect), Jack Frost (Chris Pine), Tooth (Isla Fisher), E. Aster Bunnymund, the Easter Bunny, (Hugh Jackman), Sandy, the Sandman who does not speak and a boy named Jamie (Dakota Goyo, the kid who was so terrific in Real Steel). All of these characters — but, most especially, Santa and the Easter Bunny — are portrayed as “guardians” of childhood and their existence is threatened by Pitch, the Bogeyman (Jude Law).

The animation is very well done and, even to an adult audience, there is satisfaction in seeing these childhood stalwarts realized on the screen. (I did, however, worry that Jack Frost was way too cold, as he was barefoot throughout.)

The only problem is that the story is so cluttered with different sub-plots about what’s to befall each character that it’s very, very busy. If this movie were a holiday gift to children, the wrapping would be so elaborate that kids might get bored before they were finally able to find the gift within.