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Appealing 'Richie Rich' Gets Wonderful Wish

November 26, 1998|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Holiday Videos

Richie Rich's Christmas Wish. Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. 85 minutes. $19.96. Shades of "It's a Wonderful Life": The richest boy in the world wishes he'd never been born and then has to put things right when his evil cousin Reggie takes his place in this surprisingly watchable comic book-based fantasy. David Gallagher ("7th Heaven") is especially appealing in the lead; his well-cast co-stars include Keene Curtis, Eugene Levy, Jake Richardson and Marla Maples, who infuses her small role with an unexpected comic spark.

Holiday Classics Collection. Golden Books Family Entertainment. $12.95 each. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," told and sung by Burl Ives, and "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," told by Fred Astaire, with the voices of Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn, are among several classic and not-so-classic TV holiday offerings being released in newly restored, quality home video versions.

These two stop-motion 'toons, with their charming animated toys and miniature sets, are the best of the bunch. There's also "The Little Drummer Boy" and the traditionally animated "Frosty the Snowman," narrated by Jimmy Durante; "Frosty Returns," with Jonathan Winters; and "Cricket on the Hearth," a heavily sentimental, 30-year-old Danny Thomas/Marlo Thomas cartoon project loosely based on the Dickens tale.

Buster and Chauncey's Silent Night. Columbia TriStar Home Video. $12.95. The animation is standard, but the message about the meaning of the season, based on the writing of the soulful Christmas carol, comes through. The most notable thing about this story of two musical mice and a little orphan girl is the talent: The late Phil Hartman, Tom Arnold and Marie Osmond do expressive voice-overs; two of the original songs are by Lynn Ahrens and Michael Flaherty ("Ragtime," "Anastasia").

Dear Santa. A-Pix Entertainment. $29.98. 87 minutes. Bah, humbug. Lame performances and a lame script don't do much to promote the spirit of the season here as a sleazy car salesman's unhappy son asks Santa to give his dad a new attitude. So, Dad is turned into a "secret Santa" by one of Santa's elves--a chirpy young blond woman, human size.

Gullah Gullah Island Christmas. Paramount Home Video. $9.95. 46 minutes. Lots of music and familial warmth with Ron and Natalie Daise and their extended family in this two-part Nickelodeon video. Shaina visits the North Pole with Binyah-Binyah Polliwog, who saves Christmas when the reindeer get sick; then the entire family celebrates Polliwog Day.

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