Dec. 23 – Care Bears Nutcracker Suite

Original Air Date: December 10, 1988

A handful of Care Bears and their stupid cousins grab ass around for what seems like a goddamned eternity

If you can believe it, The Care Bears were launched within the folds of American Greetings’ cards in 1981 with ten bears differentiated by little more than color and tummy emblem.

Following what was then called “the biggest character launch in the history of retail,” the Care Bears debuted in doll, board game, and even cereal form in a mass licensing deal with Kenner, Parker Brothers, and General Mills.

The original theatrical poster for The Care Bears Movie (1985)

Following the success of their first syndicated TV Specials, Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings and The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine, The Care Bears received its own movie and TV series, launched within a month of one another in the spring of 1985.

Oh, you better belive there was a touring live show

The Care Bears were on a high, with the TV show receiving two more seasons, which integrated the plot elements introduced theatrically, such as The Care Bear Cousins, in two bigscreen sequels. The fourth film never made it theaters, instead seeing release on home video and television…

Pardon the lack of Suite-ness

Okay, if you’re a Care Bears fan looking to have your memories sugarcoated, you may as well turn back now. Seriously, hit that back button up there and leave!

You’ll never guess how this opening ties into the special (You will)

Care Bears Nutcracker Suite is, to put it lightly, an unwatchable abomination. This thing is fucking excruciating and  needlessly long, and I sincerely recommend no one ever watch it. I may even go so far as to head up a Kickstarter campaign to launch its original negative to launch into an active volcano, so that once those DVDs and VHSs wither away, it’ll be justly forgotten about and disappear from the collective consciousness.

Don’t get used to this. Care-A-Lot is in this for like 90 seconds

Perhaps some of you remember what we posted in our Mission Statement: Taking Back Christmas Specials. One of our intentions here at A Cartoon Christmas was to praise and call attention to a new generation of Christmas Specials, since not a lot of ’em made after the 1970s get exalted in the same way as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Hope you don’t like these characters ’cause you’ll never see ’em again

Not only does my generation have (what should be anyway) modern-day classics worthy of curation, like A Garfield Christmas or Emmet Otter, children of the 80s and 90s received many Xmas-themed episodes, Fraggle Rock and Talespin come to mind, that deserve to stand toe-to-toe with whatever the fuck the major networks consider “Timeless Holiday Entertainment” and thus worthy of airing in households annually.

Click to enlarge panorama

NONE OF THAT applies to Care Bears Nutcracker Suite. This is truly insipid horseshit that more than deserves to stay lost to time. Or only enjoyed by the most nostalgic among you with a shit ton of pot.


I honestly believe garbage like this and The Smurfs, bear the lions-share of responsibility of why people think they hate cartoons, Christmas Specials, and Cartoons Christmas specials.

“I’ll be standing in for a majority of the characters. RAWR!”

This is a classic example of not only 80s licensing gone mad, but writing so fucking lazy it enters the realm of cynicism and evil. Every time you see an animated Christmas special parodied- Happy Little Elves on The Simpsons comes to mind- this is the kind of sickening shit they’re mocking.

I always imagined Tenderheart Bear as the original bear other Care Bears were genetically cloned from

I honestly cannot believe the people behind Care Bears Nutcracker Suite had intended for this hour-long, “feature length” presentation to come to theaters, but it sheds some light on why Pixar, and even Dreamworks’ movies, are so universally lauded by comparison.

Of course you’d want the most cantankerous bear leading a mission to save Xmas

When I think about dragging my parents to sickeningly sweet turds like this back when I was a kid I actually feel bad! Little more than a colorful brain babysitter, which I imagine works just the same on cats, there’s absolutely nothing for even the dumbest adult to latch onto for a second, and crap like this was all up in theaters back when I was growing up.

In a stroke of brilliant writing, we begin our special with an unexplained dimensional portal

Unlike movies like Toy Story and even Sherk, there is nothing in Care Bears for both kids and adults to enjoy, and I have to assume a lot of parents would walk away from a showing deeply resenting their own children. My Little Pony The Movie, Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute… this was a time of saccharine Hallmark lines making there way to theaters.

He always falls asleep right afterward

I feel like calling my parents and apologizing. I remember loving The Care Bears movies, Care Bear Cousins, and adjacent TV shows as a child. And I literally recall dancing in the aisle as a hyperactive child during Care Bears II.  (Sidenote: That movie theater of my youth would later be closed down and converted into a government business regulatory commission, where I worked miserably  in a cubicle for a year right in the spot I formerly danced. Depressing!)

All the stopping power of a gay flashlight

If you wonder why Don Bluth films like American Tail and The Land Before Time– or even wildly dark animated  fare like The Last Unicorn- hit so big in the theater in the 80s, it’s because the big screen was somewhat dominated by fucking Hasbro.

Click to Enlarge

Disney was going through a rough period (The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective) but the movie going public was clearly hungry for theatrical cartoons. The first Care Bears movie was the first-ever animated film based directly on a toy line, and ended up shattering box office record, becoming the most successful animated movie made outside of Disney.

So… yeah, there’s an even more evil guy

No joke, and the utterly repugnant piece of demon shit that is Care Bears Nutcracker Suite was originally destined for theaters before someone realized either A) they’d gotten lucky with the first crop of dumbass films, or B) it was fucking horrible.

This way to more meaningless story details!”

Now, as a former Care Bears fan, I don’t recall feeling any particular fondness for the material. I just loved the look of the characters and world. Rooftops shingled with cupcake icing. Flying cars. PINK SHIT! I recall taking my first airline flight and being crushed to discover that not only was there no Care-A-Lot, just attempting to stand on a cloud was a fool’s errand.

Cynically sweet

As I’ve stated in the past, I cared a helluva lot less for “Boy Cartoons” and usually preferred the hyper-colorful, neon bukkake meant to appeal to girls. Give me a Gay Pride flag assemblage of pastel bears firing rainbows out of their dicks and I’m a happy boy.

A train powered by diabetes – GENIUS!

I’m not saying that doing such would’ve made Care Bears Nutcracker Suite any more palatable, but some focus group somewhere decided that this Christmas Special/Exiled movie should contain a tighter all-star cast of only the most popular Care Bears.

This scene, featuring an attack of misfit toys, might’ve been interesting almost anywhere else

Understandable, given that the Care Bears movies had introduced them to their animal cousins and ballooned the cast to more main players than all five seasons of The Wire. Sure, I’m a little upset that they’d throw away the color palette, however, Nutcrackers “Best of” choices are far more excruciating.

Still more travel…

Tenderheart is an obvious choice, as the groups default brown leader, and whom I assumed was the first bear all of the others were cloned from in some cruel act of science. Funshine Bear… okay, I would’ve preferred Cheer Bear or Good Luck Bear, but whatever. But that fucking elephant. All it ever does is punctuate every stupid line said by others with “And that’s the truth!” I’m assuming the imbeciles compiling focus group data into a script just plain mixed up the “Elephant never forgets” stereotype with George Washington.

Just DIE already!

You know, we usually have regaled the reader with a few plot details at this point, but I really feel like I’m doing the world a service by bypassing any of that. It reminds me of this instance in 3rd grade where my class paired up to create short plays and then perform them live. Not only did my friend Ben and I not prepare anything whatsoever, we didn’t even bother scrambling for a story at the last minute. Instead we decided we’d just improvise something.

Totally feelin’ ya, Grumpy…

It went a little something like this: “Oh, what a lovely day here on Cybertron! What are you doing?” “I built a flying car. Let’s go for a spin!” “Whooooaa! Now, we’re back in time – AH, DINOSAURS!” “Grab a grenade launcher…” After about fifteen minutes, our teacher stood up and shouted “THAT’S ENOUGH!” Care Bears Nutcracker Suite is that play, and I am now my angry third grade teacher.

Yeah, yeah there’s something in that walnut…

It really is astounding how little thought went into the writing. Animation is a hard medium to improvise in, but perhaps Nelvana could get away with it, since I imagine the months of hard work was being performed by Koreans overseas who’d be whipped mercilessly should they offer any insight on the script.

SPOILER: This is fucking stupid

I have a loose familiarity with the Nutcarcker Suite, and by that I mean I had a little sister in ballet and was forced to endure annual recitals where I was bored to the point of wanting to blow my brains out. There’s a toy soldier, a rat king, and some recognizable music used to transition scenes. But rest assured, everything else would have Tchaikovsky spinning in his grave so fast he’d bore a hole to the center of the earth. Eat a dick, Care Bears!

There. Is. No. God. But Care-A-Lot is probably what Heaven looked like in the 80s!

NO! There’s almost no Holiday imagery outside of the very beginning. And since the script certainly feels like it was written at gunpoint, I honestly have no idea why no one lazily chucked Kringle in. Perhaps if the script ever entered a second draft…

Fuck the Care Bears Nutcracker Suite. The only reason it isn’t getting ZERO balls is because I don’t feel like making one and I already resent every moment of my life this special has sucked from me. It’s a moronically layered tale with absurdly obvious conclusions and false starts, that basically sees the candy-colored grizzlies sucked into the a dimension where there’s a vague Nutcracker theme and NOTHING HAPPENS. Everything about it is insulting, especially the ridiculous things it thinks an audience with more IQ points than Care Bear Cousins will be surprised by. Oh, there are certainly chase sequences, but nothing is ever lost or gained in order to create more poorly animated chase sequences and pad its feature length runtime. You think you can still take in a viewing as an ironic curiosity, big dog?! It’s already the length of three regular episodes, and feels infinitely longer. I swear you wont make it. Nor should you. In case I wasn’t clear: I hate this.


Care Bears The Nutcracker is available on it’s own standalone DVD, with more bonus Xmas features, albeit in an more updated animated form. If you’re overflowing with free time, love crap and are in the mood to betray your own nostalgia, every episode of Care Bears The Original Series is collected on DVD. Of course, we don’t recommend any of those, but you can still purchase classic Care Bears plush dolls, which is frankly where they’re better off…









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