Editorial Review of Jingle Bells starring Jason Alexander, Don Knotts, Shelly Long courtesy of Amazon.com
Sacrificial giving–reminiscent of O. Henry’s timeless “Gift of the Magi”–is the theme of this lighthearted Christmas gem ideally suited to young audiences. Jason Alexander (of Seinfeld fame) lends his ever-mirthful voice as Santa’s Elf, who narrates the animated tale of a poor family and a father’s wish to give his kids a special gift at Christmas “to put a sparkle in their eyes.” Even though Mom and Dad (voiced by Shelley Long and James Eckhouse) have sold most of the farm animals to pay off debt, Tommy and Beth are unaware that poverty has struck their household.
They are brimming with excitement as they put the finishing touches on a surprise gift for their parents–a one-horse open sleigh to be pulled by Kris, their trusty, talking horse (voiced by Don Knotts). Meanwhile, Dad quietly decides that the only way he can afford to get his children a Christmas present is to sell the family’s beloved steed. What looks like an ideal solution brings dismay on Christmas morning, despite the kids’ best efforts to put on a brave face in the absence of their gentle gelding. It would take a Christmas miracle to remedy this mishap, not impossible if “you think with your hearts and not with your heads,” says Elf. The tender tale is loaded with valuable Yuletide lessons, especially a reminder that the best Christmas presents are often the ones that can’t be gift-wrapped. And all ages will enjoy a rousing rendition of the title song at the film’s end. —Lynn Gibson