The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town (1977)

easter-bunny-is-coming12So I sat here trying to think of reasons why I liked “The Easter Bunny…” and then after about three hours of sitting still and looking into a wall, I realized that I was being a little too easy on Rankin Bass. Even in this day and age, there’s a certain charm to Rankin Bass and their stop motion creations. “The Easter Bunny…” has a great visual sense with character designs and pastels that are aesthetically pleasing and rather appealing to the eyes, and they’re always nothing short of superb when providing special effects, even considering the time these movies were made.

I just didn’t like “The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town.” Granted, for all the entertainment value it has in the way of cute characters, and bright landscapes, it’s essentially a very formulaic retread. It’s one thing to strike on the device that you built on one movie, but to do it again is just pushing it sometimes. “The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town” relies on the very same story themes as “Santa Claus…” relied on. There’s our kindly post man, his trusty vehicle, his letters from children, and the odd moment of their questions that we—apparently—have been wondering about. Perhaps I’m a bit too cynical, but I don’t care why we color eggs, I don’t care why Lillies are Easter flowers, and come on, we get new clothes on Easter because people go to church on Easter.

But, I approached this movie with a stern optimism and I just didn’t like it. I didn’t care for Sunny the Easter Bunny who was once an abandoned rabbit discovered by children in Kidville and became a hero who delivered eggs and candy to people all over the world. The problem with Sunny is that he’s not as interesting as Santa Claus. So, we’re instead forced to sympathize for him, when really he has nothing that’s remarkable about his origin, regardless of how hard they try to paint him with depth. And his insistence on telling children to stand up for themselves feels often very out of place with the general story themes.

On the same spectrum, there’s a constant struggle here in whether it wants to be a secular tale or a religious tale. So instead there are themes here and there connecting to religion, along with uses of the word “Lord” thrown about, but it stays mired in the same superficial story about the creation of jelly beans and Easter Eggs. For Rankin Bass, this just isn’t the best they’ve put out for kids. In spite of the always pleasing animation and colorful set pieces, “The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town” is not the best in the Rankin Bass stop motion gallery with a story purely a retread of former outputs, and a boring lead character. The DVD is great, but you’d be hard pressed to enjoy it, all the same.