A Very Merry Cricket (1973)

Okay, do you remember the book A Cricket in Times Square? Me too. Do you remember the animated special adapted from the book, or at least that there was one? Yup. This is the holiday-themed sequel to that animated special. And it’s really quite good.

We meet back up with our heroes from the first story: Harry the cat and Tucker the Mouse, who live in the tunnels near Times Square. Tucker is upset with how loud and angry everyone seems to be, even though it’s the holidays. The two mull it over for a while, then decide to get their friend Chester (the musical cricket) to return to New York to bring everyone a little Christmas Spirit.

It’s Chuck Jones animation, which means that the movement is kinetic without being totally unrealistic, and the character designs are lovely. The soundtrack, however, might be the biggest star here. The montage that opens the special is meant to convey the insanity of New York City, and it does a pretty good job. There are a few songs sung or spoken-in-time by the characters, and they are well done, but the incidental music is what is really solid and intriguing throughout. About the only misstep, I’d say, is near the end they bring in a choir when it really isn’t needed. There’s a traveling theme earlier, though, that matches up the sound of a train with the song “White Christmas”, and it’s just a spectacular choice.

There’s a lengthy flashback which wouldn’t be necessary for anyone who’s seen the original recently. Other than that and the fact that the end section runs a smidge long, though, this is just great.

There’s gentle humor and only mild tension, but in this case that never felt boring, only warm and reassuring, like a fire in the hearth. It might be slightly dated for some tastes, and it’s not perfect, but it is a nice change from the modern everyday, and I recommend it.

You can probably find A Very Merry Cricket on YouTube, I did. Or it’s available on a few DVD collections of Chuck Jones Animation.