Remember those wonderful Easter Bunny movies they showed on tv when we were kids? Fortunately they are now available on dvd to share with a whole new generation – along with some new ones that are destined to become classics.
We have a long-standing tradition in our house that Saturday night is family movie night. We pop some popcorn, turn off the lights, settle in on the couch, and enjoy a family-friendly film. In March and April, our choice is usually an Easter Bunny movie.
These whimsical movies take me back to my childhood every time. Plus with the great assortment of television specials from the 70’s and 80’s that are now on dvd, I can share a bit of the Easter magic with my own kids. Despite the fact that some of these movies have been around for 30 years or more, my kids absolutely love them. I am a total child of the 80’s so it has been so much fun to see my old favorites through my kids’ eyes.
This year, we have enjoyed watching the classic Easter Bunny movies like Here Comes Peter Cottontail, along with new favorites like Hop. With such a great assortment of Easter Bunny movies available, why not have a family movie night of your own?
Here Comes Peter Cottontail
“Therefore, I have decided that whoever delivers the most eggs tomorrow, Easter, will be the new ruler of April Valley!” – Col. Wellington B. Bunny
The first Easter Bunny movie we watch each year is Here Comes Peter Cottontail. I dare you to watch it and not be singing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Hopping Down the Bunny Trail” for days afterwards! Like most of the classic stop motion tv specials from my childhood, this one was produced by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass.
Here Comes Peter Cottontail tells the story of how Peter Cottontail comes to be Chief Easter Bunny. The only thing that stands in Peter’s way is the villain, Irontail, expertly voiced by Vincent Price. Peter agrees to a competition with Irontail to see who can deliver the most Easter eggs. The victor will be crowned the new Easter Bunny. Peter is overconfident that he will win, but ends up oversleeping. With the evil Irontail now in charge of Easter, Peter must travel back through time to save Easter. The scenes where he travels back through all the different holidays of the year are my favorite.
While this film is great fun for kids, I like that there are some subtle lessons in there too. For one thing, it shows the danger of arrogance and telling lies. It shows that our actions have consequences that extend beyond ourselves. The film also demonstrates the importance of perseverance when things seem hopeless.
With its fun songs and delightful characters, Here Comes Peter Cottontail is definitely a classic worth adding to your film library.
“Hey, wait. You’re not surprised I’m a talking rabbit.” – E.B.
“Little man, my best friend is a talking car.” – David Hasselhoff
We didn’t get around to seeing it at the theater, but we made sure to watch Hop as soon as it came out on DVD. Although we rented it first to see if we would like it, I can definitely say this is one worth buying. Even my husband, who dislikes all things cutesy, was laughing at parts of this one. (And the fact that Kaley Cuoco was in it didn’t hurt either!)
Hop is the story of a rather reluctant heir to the Easter Bunny throne. EB would much rather be a drummer in a rock band than take over the role of the Easter Bunny from his father. In fact, he runs off to Hollywood to try to achieve his dream, leaving his father to pick up the pieces. Throw in a charming slacker, played by James Marsden, and a takeover staged by an army of disgruntled chicks, and you have a delightful Easter tale that the whole family will enjoy. My youngest daughter loved it so much, she watched it several times before our rental period was over.
The Easter Bunny Is Coming to Town
Watching The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town is another annual tradition in our house. Another stop action special, it was first shown on TV in 1977. I remember being so excited when this special was on tv every year when I was little. My mom would make popcorn, we would get in our jammies, and the whole family would settle down to watch. Now I can watch it with my own kids!
The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town features Fred Astaire as the mailman who answers letters about the origins of Easter traditions. The story is similar to Santa Clause is Coming to Town, in the terms of the format. You have a narrator answering questions about the traditions and how they came to be. Both stories also feature grumpy town leaders who don’t want to let children have any fun. This leads to the hero of the story finding clever ways to deliver their goodies to the children.
In The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town, the town is ruled by the child king’s evil aunt. Sunny, the Easter Bunny, has to get a bit creative to deliver his dyed eggs and jelly beans to the town, but he eventually wins them over. In the tradition of other Rankin Bass tv specials, it is filled with memorable tunes. The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town has an overall whimsical feel that is sure to delight kids over and over again.
It’s the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown
“You’ll see. The Easter Beagle won’t let us down. ” – Linus
Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown and the Peanuts? My family does, that’s for sure. We have nearly all of the Peanuts holiday specials on DVD, but It’s the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown is one of my favorites. The gang is gearing up for Easter with often hilarious results. One of my favorite parts is Peppermint Patty trying to teach Marcy about dying Easter Eggs. Poor Marcy really doesn’t have a clue! Linus, who was such strong supporter of The Great Pumpkin, is also apparently a believer in the Easter Beagle, much to the dismay of his pals. It is a delightful romp through the Easter season with all your favorite characters along for the ride. This is a must-have for any Peanuts fan.
There may be several different editions of the DVD floating around out there, but our copy also has a special Earth Day episode on it – It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown, along with an all-new featurette: In Full Bloom: Peanuts at Easter.
The First Easter Rabbit
The First Easter Rabbit originally aired on television in 1976. With memorable songs performed by Burl Ives, this fanciful movie is a welcome addition to any childrens’ Easter DVD collection.
I have to admit that The First Easter Rabbit is one Rankin Bass TV special that I never saw when I was little. Unlike the majority of their other television specials that use the distinctive stop motion technique, this one features traditional animation.
With a story reminiscent of The Velveteen Rabbit, we discover how the Easter Bunny came to be. The original Easter Bunny starts as a much-loved stuffed bunny owned by a little girl. Like in The Velveteen Rabbit, the girl comes down with scarlet fever and all her possessions must be burned. Deviating from the original story though, the bunny is saved by a fairy. The fairy brings the stuffed rabbit to life to serve as the first Easter Bunny. When Easter is threatened by the dastardly villain Zero, Santa joins the bunny to save the day.
Although I am not quite sure this one is up to the quality of the other Rankin Bass productions, my kids still enjoy it and we watch it every year. I am glad we added it to our collection.
So tell me… Which of these Easter Bunny movies is your favorite? Do you have any others I should add to the list?