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For Kids, Tapes to Heighten Holiday Mood

Look and Listen

December 08, 2001|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

From TV's popular, stop-action animation preschooler series, three winter-themed episodes starring construction worker Bob and his pals Wendy, Scoop the backhoe, Travis the tractor, Farmer Pickles, his dog Snuffty, and bumbling Spud the Scarecrow. The charming sets and characters, the gentle messages of friendship and teamwork, and all those tools and trucks make a winning combination.

Barbie in the Nutcracker. Artisan Family Home Entertainment. 75 minutes. VHS and DVD: $20. Ages 4 to 12.

Not surprisingly, this elaborate, computer-animated version of the E.T.A. Hoffmann classic "Nutcracker" fantasy can be viewed as one long, lush commercial for all the Nutcracker-themed Barbies and related merchandise tie-ins that now line toy shelves. But the story, although departing considerably from the original, is candy-colored, plastic-coated fun, taking Barbie Clara and the enchanted Nutcracker into a fantasy landscape on a search for the Sugarplum Princess. The object: to undo the wicked Mouse King's evil magic.

Prancer Returns. USA Home Entertainment. 90 minutes. $15. DVD: $20. For the family.

This sequel to the holiday film "Prancer" is awash in sentiment as big-eyed, vulnerable little Charlie (Gavin Fink) finds an orphaned young reindeer in the woods and is sure that it is Prancer Jr.

Charlie's mission: to return young Prancer to Santa by Christmas Eve. With a crusty misanthrope (Jack Palance) to win over, a mean school vice principal to thwart and cynics of various ages due for a wake-up call, and with Charlie's lonely, divorced mom (Stacy Edwards) about to find her soul mate--the sexy and kind town handyman (John Corbett)--nary an opportunity for a teary moment, or teary music, is missed.

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