With Christmas being only 7 weeks away (yikes!), I thought I could write a few lines on Prep & Landing, as a recommendation to get everyone into the Christmas spirit. But on that note I would also like to refer back to my post about Robbie the Reindeer.
The original 2009 Prep & Landing is a 22-minute Disney short film that is well known to many in the US (where it airs as a television special), but which seems virtually unknown in many other places.
“Prep and Landing” is the name of one of Santa’s most important departments. Two-elf teams swarm out on Christmas Eve and prepare houses, roofs and chimneys everywhere for Santa’s arrival. This is the only way to make sure things go smoothly and progress at the necessary speed.
But a problem arises when one of the elves, after 227 years on the job, begins to have problems with job satisfaction and motivation. As a result, Christmas is going to be at risk for one little boy.
The story is nice – modern yet christmassy. The animation is well-done and the jokes are flying quick – the pace of the story and the visual gags have a certain Penguins of Madagascar vibe to them.
For 2010, Disney made a sort-of-sequel which is called Operation: Secret Santa. In addition to the characters from Prep & Landing, Mrs Claus has been added (voiced by Betty White). Mrs Claus is the instigator of the story, as she sends the elves on a special mission. This short has the same kind of humour and style as the original, but as it is under 7 minutes long there is not much of a story arc or character development (unlike in the original). Still, it is a very nice and fitting addition to the franchise.
In 2011, Disney presented another sequel, called Naughty vs. Nice. This one is back to the 22-minute format (which, as a TV special in the US translates into a half-hour show including commercial breaks).
I have not seen Naughty vs. Nice yet, so can’t tell you anything about its plot or tone.
I assume that there are newer DVD-sets out there that combine all these short films. There is also a plethora of ultra-short bonus material available. As for the original Prep & Landing, I am not sure how many different releases are out there, but apart from the US-versions there are definitely also Region-2 DVDs available for Europe. In theory, this short should be available in variations that include English, French, Dutch, Italian, German, Polish, and Russian audio – although there is no telling under what titles these different versions may have been sold if any of these releases was marketed country-specific.
Prep & Landing can be recommended for all ages (age 7 and up, to be precise), and is particularly suitable for family viewing.