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|Distributed by||DreamWorks Classics
|Directed by||Bill Melendez
|Produced by||Eryk Casemiro
|Written by||Oliver Goldstick|
|Music by||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Production company||Broadway Video
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Preceded by||Frosty's Winter Wonderland|
Frosty Returns is an animated Christmas television special starring Jonathan Winters as the narrator and John Goodman as the voice of Frosty the Snowman. The special was directed by Bill Melendez and Evert Brown and features music by Mark Mothersbaugh. It first aired in 1992 on CBS. The special is not a direct sequel to the original 1969 special, as the two were produced by different companies (Rankin/Bass produced the original, while this special was made by Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video for CBS), and feature different characters, setting and voice actors. Since Broadway Video produced this special and owned the 1969 original, Frosty Returns follows the CBS showings of the original and is coupled with the original on all DVD releases,. (Although Rankin/Bass had produced a sequel to Frosty with most of the original cast and in the original style, the rights to the original and the sequel were broken up when the company dissolved in 1987. The original, having been produced prior to the 1974 dividing line, was owned by CBS, but Frosty's Winter Wonderland was produced after 1974 and was thus part of the package now owned by Warner Bros. and licensed to ABC Family.)
- Jonathan Winters as the Narrator
- John Goodman as Frosty
- Elisabeth Moss as Holly
- Michael Patrick Carter as Charles
- Brian Doyle-Murray as Mr. Twitchell
- Andrea Martin as Ms. Carbuncle
- Jan Hooks as Lil
The special begins with a musical number showing that Beansboro Elementary School is canceled for the day due to a seven-inch snowfall. While the adults incessantly complain about the problems snow and ice cause, the children enjoy the opportunity to play in it.
We then see Holly DeCarlo (Moss), a relatively lonely young girl and aspiring magician with only one friend, a tone-deaf, somewhat geeky character named Charles (Carter) who has a knack for climatology. While practicing a magic act with Charles, Holly's hat blows off her head, out the window, and onto a snowman who comes to life as Frosty (Goodman), thus revealing that Holly's hat was "that old silk hat" featured in the original song and previous adaptations.
Meanwhile, evil Mr. Twitchell (Doyle-Murray) is the inventor of "Summer Wheeze", an aerosol spray that makes snow instantly disappear. He hopes to use the product to win over the people of Beansboro so that he will be crowned King of the Bensboro Winter Carnival. When one of the members of the town council voices concern about the environmental impact of the untested product, Mr. Twitchell has her dropped through a trapdoor.
To Twitchell's delight, and Frosty's dismay, the town of Beansboro falls head over heels for "Summer Wheeze" which makes Frosty concerned about his safety. Although many of their classmates rally for the elimination of snow, only a day after singing about its virtues, Holly and Charles take on the duties of protecting Frosty, including hiding him in a freezer and securing refuge for him in an ice castle built for the Carnival. Later, Holly gets Frosty to appear at the Winter Carnival in an attempt to persuade the townspeople to rethink their hatred of snow. Singing about the joy of winter, Frosty is unanimously declared king of the carnival while still allowing Mr. Twitchell to wear the cape and ride in the sled of the carnival king.
Despite its association with the 1969 special, Frosty Returns has a notable lack of continuity with it. For example, Frosty has a different physical appearance, a more streetwise sense of humor compared to the naïvete of the original Frosty, and the ability to live without his top hat. In the original special and its other sequels, the removal of Professor Hinkle's hat from Frosty's head immediately causes him to become a regular snowman again.
The plot of this particular special is more political and/or socially conscious than its predecessors and successors, alluding to climate change, environmentalism, and corporate greed. In addition, instead of a Christmas celebration, the term "winter carnival" is used. In fact, neither Christmas nor Santa Claus is used at all and Charles makes mention of creating a "fertility goddess" in the snow, possibly a reference to Frey, the Scandinavian fertility god and a deity associated with peace and prosperity during winter solstice. The use of aerosol cans hints to the use of fluorocarbons, which were used as propellants for decades before their potential to deplete the ozone layer was discovered in the 1970s. Frosty no longer has a corn cob pipe. The Frosty song, when sung, uses humming or whistling through the corn cob pipe section, thus avoiding all references to smoking.
Largely because of the differences between the "classic" Frosty shows and its heavy-handed environmental theme, Frosty Returns was largely panned by the media and has only a 31% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Frosty Returns is a musical special, with two songs featured prominently on the soundtrack. "Frosty the Snowman" is featured at the beginning as an instrumental and sung by the entire cast at the close. "Let There Be Snow" is an original piece composed for the special, with three verses (each sung by a different character) sung at various points in the special.