The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze is a 2001 direct-to-video animated adventure musical film and the eighth film in The Land Before Time series.
The plot focuses on what happens when winter strikes the Great Valley. A subplot revolves around the character Ducky feeling upset with her brother Spike, and the events which occur after Spike befriends a boy from a wandering Spiketail herd, while another subplot focuses on Littlefoot's attempts to understand their teacher, Mr. Thicknose.
Although with limited merchandise, The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze proved to be much more of a critical success than had most of the prior straight-to-video sequels to the original The Land Before Time, and received many positive reviews, plus several award nominations.
- Thomas Dekker as Littlefoot
- Anndi McAfee as Cera
- Aria Curzon as Ducky
- Jeff Bennett as Petrie / Corythosaurus
- Rob Paulsen as Spike / Leading Stegosaurus
- Tress MacNeille as Ducky's Mom / Petrie's Mom
- Susan Krebs as Tippy's Mom / Ankylosaurus
- Jeremy Suarez as Tippy
- Robert Guillaume as Mr. Thicknose
- Kenneth Mars as Grandpa Longneck
- Miriam Flynn as Grandma Longneck
- John Ingle as Narrator / Topsy
Ducky is upset with her brother Spike, for keeping her awake at night with his snoring (called "sleep rumbling" by the characters), and for eating her treestars. She tells Cera about her feelings, and confides that she does not know how to express them, to which Cera agrees to teach her. At the same time, the children are attending a school of sorts, in which they are taught by an old Pachyrhinosaurus named Mr. Thicknose, who professes to have been everywhere and seen everything. Littlefoot is eagerly questioning all the topics they cover, to the old dinosaur's irritation, and blows the top when he startles Mr. Thicknose into running into a tree, upon which a watermelon falls on his head. Mr. Thicknose complains to Grandpa Longneck about Littlefoot's behaviour, and Grandpa Longneck, knowing Littlefoot meant no harm, gently explains to him why he must be more respectful to Mr. Thicknose.
Meanwhile, as Ducky gives Spike the cold shoulder, Spike meets and befriends Tippy, a boy from a wandering Spiketail herd, who have recently arrived in the Great Valley. Ducky begins to miss Spike, as she watches him spend more and more time with this herd of his own species. One day, however, the entire Valley is surprised by an overnight snowfall (which the characters refer to as either "white sky sparkles" or "white ground sparkles"). While the children together have fun frolicking in the snow, the adults complain that Mr. Thicknose did not warn them about this sort of thing happening in the Valley, and suspect that he does not know as much as he claims.
As time wears on, the dinosaurs begin to notice the more horrific side to snowfall; the freezing temperatures and the lack of food growth. The spiketail herd offers to leave, as they consume more food than most species. The motherof Spike's new friend, Tippy, asks Mama Swimmer if she can take Spike along during the cold time, and Mama Swimmer decides that Spike should choose between staying in the valley, or leaving with them. Spike is unsure, so Ducky frustratedly tells him to go off. As he leaves, she immediately regrets her actions, and later sneaks away to follow the spiketail herd. When her friends find this out, they head off into the Mysterious Beyond to find her, but are interrupted by Mr. Thicknose, who tells them he will not let them go off there by themselves, and leaves with them. After several rough scrapes, including a chase from a sharptooth, and successfully finding Ducky, they come across a frozen pool of water, which they break by accident. Underneath the ice is warm water, and they notice that there is lush food nearby. While they relax in the water and feed, Mr. Thicknose confesses that most of his knowledge comes from secondary sources; he listened to the stories of the grownup travelers when he was a child, and in his adult years, he told those stories to the children in the valley.
Later, the group tries to contact the residents of the valley, to let them know about the safe haven they have found, but find that a snowfall has blocked them off from the valley. Ducky, remembering what Cera taught her, suggests that Cera get angry and riled up at the ground sparkles. Cera does so, and her enraged screaming causes the wall of snow to fall down, enabling the rest of the Great Valley herd to pass through.
Meanwhile, the Spiketail herd is starving, until Spike picks up the scent of the location the valley residents are in. He leads the spiketails there, and reunites with Ducky. However, after a few minutes, he falls into a deep part of the water, and as he is unable to swim, Mama Swimmer jumps in to save him. When she places him on dry ground again, Tippy's mother says that Spike should stay with his family, rather than her herd. Ducky promises to Spike that she will not get angry at him whenever he snores, ever again.
By June 2000, Universal had begun working on the film.
Home video release historyEdit
- December 4, 2001 (VHS and DVD)
- December 2, 2003 (VHS and DVD - 4 Movie Dino Pack (Volume 2) and 9 Movie Dino Pack)
- February 7, 2006 (DVD - 2 Dino-Riffic Adventures)
- August 5, 2008 (Carrying Case DVD with Fun Activity Book - 2 Dino-Riffic Adventures - Universal Watch on the Go)
The songs are written by Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom.
- "The Mad Song" - Cera and Ducky (Anndi McAfee and Aria Noelle Curzon)
- "Family" - Ducky, Ducky's Mother, Littlefoot, Cera and Petrie (Aria Noelle Curzon, Tress MacNeille, Thomas Dekker, Anndi McAfee and Jeff Bennett)
- "The Lesson" - Mr. Thicknose, Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky and Petrie (Robert Guillaume, Thomas Dekker, Anndi McAfee, Aria Noelle Curzon and Jeff Bennett)
- Robert Guillaume, who voices Mr. Thicknose in this film, is famous for his role as Rafiki in the Disney film The Lion King, and Eli Vance from the 2004 popular video game, Half-Life 2.
- This was the second time Spike has ever spoken; he shouts "Mama!" when he falls into the water.
- This was the first Land Before Time movie in which the closed captioning performer is the WGBH Media Access Group. This group was in the VHS version, but the DVD version used the same SDH captions as the previous sequels; this film was released before the first five sequels were released on DVD.
- This is the first film in the series which did not feature a Roman Numeral to state the number of the sequel, on the film's cover art for VHS and DVD, as the design of the front covers for the videos was changed. For later DVD releases the cover art design was changed to match.
- This was the first in the series to have shading digitally mapped onto the characters, as the result of a more advanced digital ink and paint system.
- This is one of only a few sequels in which the animators follow the classic sharptooth design from the original movie.
- The Big Freeze was the first Land Before Time film to have been released 3 months after the 9/11 attacks, having been released in December of 2001.
- In Mr.Thicknose's flashback, once of the children he is talking to is a Triceratops with a color scheme almost identical to Tria's. It could be possible that Mr. Thicknose also taught Tria when she was younger.
- This is the fourth film in which Ducky cries.
- When the Sharptooth is chasing Littlefoot and Cera up the snowy slope, it looks very similar to the Great Earthshake sequence from the first film; when the original Sharptooth is trying to get at the two as they are slipping into a chasm.
In September 2001, the film was nominated by the Video Premieres Academy for two awards: "Best Animated Video Premiere Movie" and "Best Animated Character Performance" (Mr. Thicknose).
Although Steve Rhodes of Rotten Tomatoes and the Internet Movie Database, who is a frequent critic of the The Land Before Time installments, has generally given low reviews on the films, he had more positive comments to give on this one. For The Big Freeze, he said that Mr. Thicknose was a likeable character, and that the song "Family" had an undeniable charm, although he again expressed disdain that the plot and script weren't sharper. Aaron Beierle of CurrentFilm.com said that The Land Before Time series is one of the few children's series still worth watching, and that this film was one of the better installments in the series. Jeremy Frost on UpcomingDiscs.com said that the film was leisurely, but with enough action to keep young audiences focused on the story.
Dale Dobson, on DigitallyOBSESSED.com, criticized Robert Guillaume's singing voice during "The Lesson", and also criticized the "awkward timing" in the animation, which he said is a problem with most television animation. He also said that The Big Freeze could teach some good lessons to children, and also provides characters and situations most children can probably relate to. In The Big Freeze's review on DVD Authority.com, it was said that the film would need a better voice cast, writers and animators.
Brian Webster, of Apollo Guide, said that The Big Freeze was essentially the same as the rest of the films in the series, but was pleased that it didn't go into depth with the issue of whether or not Spike's "real family" was the herd of Spiketails he had befriended, or the Parasaurolophus family (Ducky's family) who had raised him all his life. Mary Kalin-Casey, on Reel.com. objected to "The Mad Song"; saying that it's one thing to bottle up one's feelings when one is angry, but teaching children to pro-actively dispense their anger is another. She also describes the bonus features in the DVD as "repetitious", as several reuse the same music. DVD Verdict.com's review stated that the movie was better than The Stone of Cold Fire had been, and was worth looking into as a movie for entertaining children.
Parent Previews had good reviews on The Big Freeze; saying that while it still focused on teaching important life lessons to children, as a movie it managed to pack in more plot than the previous The Land Before Time movies did. In contrast, Ben Pollock on DVD.Net described it as "Heartwarming is one way to describe it, but most older viewers will find it boring and cheap."
British journalist M.J. Simpson, who's only other review relating to The Land Before Time is for The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure, stated that he preferred the eighth film over the second, as it had nicer songs, and a good plot centralizing the social behaviour of the adults. He expressed dislike to what he saw as an implication, due to the smallness of the warm pool in the Mysterious Beyond, and the seemingly fewer population of dinosaurs seen in the film, that the Great Valley's ecosystem was beginning to collapse; despite there already being many more sequels after The Big Freeze when he wrote his review, in May 2006. As a footnote, he commented that he did not feel it right to have the character Cera featured with the other main characters on the DVD cover for the film, while on the video cover she is replaced with guest-character Tippy. He quoted, "This installment in the saga is much more about Duckie and Spike than Littlefoot and Cera, although Cera does get to sing a song and ultimately saves the day by yelling loud enough to cause a snowfall, so it’s a bit rotten that she has been cut from the most commonly used video sleeve. She needs a better agent."
The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze has a current rating of five stars out of ten on IMDB.com; based on 340 votes from the users.
For his role as Mr. Thicknose, Robert Guillaume received a DVD Exclusive Awards nomination for Best Animated Character Performance in 2000 (which was shared with Zeon Davush, the overseas supervising director, and Bunis Yang, the animation director in the overseas studio), although their nomination lost out to voice actor Scott Wolfe and supervising animator Andrew Collins, for Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (Wolfe provided the speaking voice for Scamp). Charles Grosvenor received a separate nomination that same year for Best Animated Video Premiere Movie. However, his nomination lost to Jesyca C. Durchin and Jennifer Twiner McCarron, for Barbie in the Nutcracker.
In 2002, Aria Curzon won a Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Voice-Over in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze, as well as for the earlier films The Land Before Time V: The Mysterious Island, The Land Before Time VI: The Secret of Saurus Rock, and The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire (In her role as Ducky). Gregory Cathcart, the music editor for The Big Freeze, received a Golden Reel nomination from the Motion Picture Sound Editors organization of the USA, for Best Sound Editing in Television - Music, Movies and Specials in 2002. The award ended up going to music editor David Bondelevitch, for Ruby's Bucket of Blood.
The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze was originally released to VHS and DVD on December 4, 2001. It was re-released in the "4 Movie Dino Pack, Volume 2" and the "9 Movie Dino Pack" on December 2nd, 2003. It's most current release was on February 7th, 2006, on DVD ("2 Dino-riffic Adventures"). In 2002, Universal Studios published a book-version of the story, simply titled Land Before Time 8 - Big Freeze.