Plot: It’s a terrible day for toys when Andy’s mom announces a yard sale. In an effort to save a beloved old squeaky penguin named Wheezy from being sold, Woody finds himself getting stolen in the yard sale instead.
The thief is the owner of Al’s Toy Barn, an avid toy collector, and he finds himself among a collection of toys based on the show Woody’s Roundup. He’s treated like a hero to the other toys; Jessie the cowgirl, Bullseye the horse and the prospector, but he’s still desperate to get back to Andy. Buzz and the other toys from Andy’s room travel to find Woody and bring him home, but the other Woody’s Roundup toys are convincing him that it’s better to stay in a toy museum instead of going back home where Andy will eventually grow up and forget about him.
Breakdown: Pixar’s first sequel and Pixar’s first relative ‘meh’ movie supposedly. I’ve never heard anyone say this is a downright bad movie, but most people agree that it’s not really fantastic either. I think people just fell under the impression that Pixar could do no wrong and finding that a movie wasn’t up to their high standards left it with a bigger dent.
Does it really deserve any flak though?
In my opinion? No. I really like this movie. It’s the weakest of the trilogy in my opinion, but that doesn’t make it a bad, meh or even weak film.
The storyline isn’t a rehash of the first film like a lot of sequels, and it touches upon the topic of the toys’ owners growing up and leaving them behind. They won’t really take this plot line and shove your heart into a paper shredder like the third movie, but still. And it also reminded me that, not only does that suck, but toys can be immortal to a degree. They can definitely live throughout a few generations at least if they’re taken care of, so it’s not only sad to think that the toys might be thrown out or spend their time rotting somewhere, but they could also see owner after owner ‘outgrow’ their use and be abandoned.
There are new characters added, and the background of Woody is explored, though I don’t quite get stuff like this. I don’t really understand why Woody doesn’t realize that he’s this famous. If he is an original, that must mean he’s over 50 years old, yet he doesn’t seem to act like he’s had previous owners and has completely forgotten his origins. I have to wonder why some toys realize what they are immediately yet toys like Buzz, Woody and the Aliens are under some delusion about it once they awaken.
Jessie’s pretty grating when you first meet her, but she grows on you and she is the poster child for the topic of the movie as she had an owner who grew up and ended up abandoning her. I’m still left wondering why she remembers that considering, from all I can tell from this girl’s room, this happened around the 60s or 70s, yet Woody can’t seem to remember anything pre-Andy days.
Bullseye’s a cute little character that can be a good addition to the group, but it seems weird that a toy like that is introduced when it’s been established that Woody and the others get along fine with Buster.
The storyline with Buzz, Delusional Buzz and Zurg felt forced. The opener is enough to attest for that because it felt like it was too long. Some of the interactions with Delusional Buzz were funny, especially the first scene, but after that it just felt like it was shoehorned in and a bit annoying. It’s almost like they weren’t quite sure what to do with Buzz to give him enough screentime. Plus, there’s the irritating nagging in my head that there was a Buzz Lightyear cartoon including Zurg and maybe this could’ve just been a big plug for that.
They also rehashed a few too many jokes from the original movie, but it’s not constant.
I think that this movie is actually better now that I’ve seen Toy Story 3. It’s acts as a great mediator between 1 and 3.
The first movie is about being there for Andy, no matter who he may seem to give more attention to and knowing that Andy loves to play with all of his toys.
The second is about dealing with the fact that, despite this, there will be a time when Andy becomes too old to play with his toys, but until that time comes they’ll be there to play with him no matter what.
And the third is finally dealing with what happens when Andy grows up and stops playing with his toys as well as addressing the various futures of toys when their owners grow up.
While it is a bit OOC for Woody to ditch Andy to be in a museum, it’s understandable that he’d feel that way. After hearing Jessie’s story and being shelved, as well as seeing what could’ve been the fate of Wheezy, it’s perfectly reasonable that he’d be scared and, in a way, its a story of mortality. You either live a true and happy life that eventually ends or throw it away to chase immortality.
Also, it reminds me that in Toy Story 3 Jessie’s situation and feelings should be much worse considering she was already dumped once before.
I think Woody singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” on Woody’s Roundup was probably one of the best ways to handle Woody’s revelation that he needed to go back to Andy. It really was an incredibly touching scene…..Though I think the little boy on the show was a little on the creepy side.
The reprise at the end I could’ve done without, though, even if it is performed by Robert Goulet. Especially given that Wheezy skips some lines during it.
Bottomline: It’s a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Not as good as the original, no, and there are some annoying and seemingly pointless things in there, but most of the jokes are really funny, the plot’s interesting and like I said it’s a great bridge between movie 1 and 3. I can see how some people may be disappointed with it, but I’d still gladly rewatch it several times.
Recommended Audience: There is very very slight innuendo that I doubt any kid would get, but otherwise nothing objectionable. E for everyone!
Plot: The egg of an iguanodon is separated from its parents and ends up traveling far away from any dinosaurs on an island where he’s found and cared by a family of lemurs who name him Aladar. Despite being vastly different from anyone on the island, he lives a very happy life with his family. One day, a horrible meteor shower wipes out their home and most of the animals that they knew. While escaping the aftermath, Aladar and his family, his mother, grandfather, sister and uncle, run into a herd of many dinosaurs trying to make it back to their nesting grounds since they believe it may be a safe haven from this catastrophe. Lead by Cron, a cruel iguanodon who believes in survival of the fittest, the herd tries to make it to their nesting grounds alive, but Aladar doesn’t agree with Cron’s methods and wishes to get everyone, the old, young, sick and injured there alive no matter what.
Breakdown: I remember seeing this a while back and not getting a huge impression about it. It’s not bad, there are many good points, but there’s nothing very fantastic about it. The visuals, especially during the meteor shower and Aladar’s egg traveling to the island are wonderful, but unlike what I first thought, the backgrounds are almost always actual footage of real locations with only the animals and the effects CGI. The visuals are still great, though, and the CGI meshes well with the environment.
The story’s somewhat predictable, though the meteor shower comes right out of nowhere. There’s still several parts that are heartwarming, tragic and impacting, especially when Eema, one of the elderly dinosaurs, starts to deteriorate.
The romance is predictable as well. Only female iguanodon tail meet only other iguanodon around that isn’t your brother or a dick (Cron being both)
The characters are where it loses me a bit. We have Zini who is Aladar’s lemur uncle. He’s obnoxious and that’s all there is to it. We’re supposed to feel bad for him because he can’t find a mate, but if you watched him for five minutes you’d know why he can’t find one. And of course he’s a total playboy by the end for no reason. His character does nothing in the slightest. His little sister, Suri, does way more than Zini does.
The lemurs on their own don’t do much anyway. They ride the backs of the dinosaurs and make comments about what’s happening around them. That’s about it. The mom does some stuff, as does Suri, but after the opening scene they’re just kinda there.
Then we have I guess his name is Url. He’s a ankylosaurus that acts like a dog for reasons beyond my understanding. I don’t know why some of these dinosaurs are smart and can speak but then we have dog-like dinosaurs like Url and carnosaurus who are nothing but hungry beasts incapable of rational thought.
Cron’s a pretty decent bad guy, but you can’t sympathize with him very much. I know that in dire circumstances sometimes you need to do harsh things in order to ensure that even some survive instead of none, but by the end it really seems like he didn’t give a crap about any of the herd and that if any of them didn’t make it they didn’t deserve to make it. In some circumstances he was nearly causing their death by his blowhard plans.
That’s supposed to make Aladar look like a real hero by contrast, which it does, but they clearly want you to have some sort of connection to him since he’s noted as being Neera’s (female iguanodon) brother.
Bottomline: This isn’t a fantastic movie, but it’s still a very enjoyable film with plenty of suspense, action, some romance, and likable characters especially in Eema and Baylene. The story is predictable, but it’s not horribly cliché. The art and animation along with the music are fantastic, with maybe the lemurs looking the worst. You may get annoyed by Zini, but he gets hardly any screentime so I wouldn’t worry about it. I’d still watch it if it was randomly airing on TV.
Recommended Audience: This is a Disney production, so it’s not too bad in the content department, but you do have sudden apocalyptic conditions, corpses, some dinosaurs die on screen, some dinosaur corpses are eaten by raptors and carnosaurs, non-graphically for the most part, and a good chunk of it takes place off camera, there’s some blood….eh 10+.
Plot: A colony of ants has been essentially been enslaved by a group of grasshoppers lead by the cruel…well, Hopper. They’re tasked year after year with gathering a food offering for the grasshoppers in addition to the amount of food that they need for themselves before the rainy season comes. An ant named Flik who tends to cause trouble all the time with his gadgets and inventions accidentally knocks the annual food offering in the waters surrounding their home. As punishment for their lack of offering, Hopper demands a double offering after summer and fall have ended when the final leaf on the tree above the ant hill falls. Flik gets an idea to find help outside of the colony by bigger and tougher bugs and the colony’s princess and soon-to-be queen, Atta, agrees in order to keep him out of trouble while the rest of the ants gather food.
Flik eventually finds a circus troupe whom he believes are actually warrior bugs. Likewise, the troupe believes him to be a talent scout with his story of the grasshoppers being the story of the show and agree to help him. However, everything falls apart when the truth is revealed and the last few leaves begin to fall from the tree.
Breakdown: I’ve already reviewed Antz and explained the little ‘who ripped off who’ war with Dreamworks. I also noted how it’s somewhat unfair to compare these two movies in terms of being ‘rip-offs’, whichever one you may believe is the rip-off, because they are two fairly distinct movies with seemingly different target audiences, plot points, characters, art styles and side characters.
So since it wouldn’t be entirely fair to compare these two side by side, let’s do it anyway!
Let’s tackle the art and animation first, shall we? The art is set more towards being cartoon-y with huge eyes and blue colored ants. I mentioned in the Antz review that the blue thing bothered me because ants aren’t blue and at least Antz was more realistic with having brown ants. I did find something called a blue ant, but it’s not blue (if anything it’s black with a metallic-like coating and red legs) and it’s more of a wasp than an ant. Then again, it seems like Antz was going more towards an older demographic that would probably want realism over cartoon style whereas A Bug’s Life is clearly aimed more for a younger audience. I can’t say either of them is really better in the art department. A Bug’s Life is definitely more visually appealing, but Antz was more of a stickler for details.
Animation-wise, though, there’s no denying that Pixar’s is a lot smoother.
In terms of characters, our main lead, Flik, is more relatable and likable than Z, end of story. Z, while meaning well, was a big whiner who was constantly complaining about how the conformity within the colony was stifling. While he had a point, that doesn’t mean I liked to hear his constant complaining.
Flik, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to help the colony do bigger and better things. He makes inventions and has ideas that sometimes end up screwing up and ruining everything, but he only wants to make things better and easier for the colony as a whole. He does mope for a bit, but it’s relatable moping of feeling like you’re a big screw up no matter how good your intentions are. In addition, he only does it a couple of times. He doesn’t spend half the movie doing it like Z. Dave Foley is also much easier to listen to than Woody Allen.
Princess Atta is much different than Bala. Bala wanted nothing more than to shed her royal duties and just relax every now and then with the commonfolk, which is pretty much a common princess plotline. Atta is the complete opposite as she wants nothing more than to do a good job as a princess and later on as a queen. She’s obsessed and a bit of a worry-wart about running everything and doing everything right. Therein lies her connection with Flik. Despite their drastically different stances in life, they both feel like they’re big screw ups.
Atta is definitely the more fleshed out and unique character, plus she actually evolves through the movie. Bala is pretty forgettable and has a cliché princess personality. She doesn’t change much throughout the movie.
The big conflict in A Bug’s Life is the fact that a group of grasshoppers, lead by the most originally named grasshopper ever, Hopper, have been terrorizing a colony of ants for a long time under the excuse that they protect them from harm, even though they live about a day away from them and would never be able to prevent trouble in time. Every year, the ants are forced to gather food for the grasshoppers in addition to themselves. The major issue is that they live on a very small island that has a limited supply of food. When Flik accidentally knocks the food offering into the water, which they can’t retrieve because they can’t swim, Hopper and his gang get pissed and demand that they offer twice as much food before the final leaf on the one tree of their island falls.
So they have to not only collect the double offering, but they also have to collect food for themselves, which will be difficult, if not impossible, under the circumstances as they barely manage to make their singular offering in time.
The conflict in Antz really doesn’t come to light until later, but the major issues are that the ants are a bunch of mindless conformists who only do what they’re told and nothing else. One of the soldier ants creates a Nazi-esque plan behind the scenes to wipe out all of the worker ants so only the princess and the more deserving soldier ants will live.
Two very different stories, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I thought A Bug’s Life’s was more interesting and could hold a longer run time. That is one of my main issues with Antz. To me, it was good, but forgettable. There are problems with A Bug’s Life that are glaring and will be addressed in a minute, but at the end of the day, despite those problems, A Bug’s Life was just more entertaining and enjoyable to me whereas Antz I could really give or take.
Finally, the message of A Bug’s Life was a combination of strength in numbers, the ‘power of one’ to unite them all, and standing up to bullies, as well as maybe being proud of the fact that you’re different no matter how much you may screw up because of it.
Antz’s message was a little confusing. It seemed to be that conforming, especially to the point of basically being robots, and living for nothing but work was bad, but then you have the fact that the ants were mindless drones no matter what they were told. They did shake off their blind obedience when Z showed them the error of their ways, but then they showed that non-conformity lead to complete and utter laziness and uncaring for your community. Then when they started to question Z in the slightest, they revolted against him in an instant as well. Perhaps the message is that conformity and living for work are wrong, but going too far in the other direction is just as wrong. Living a life in balance is a good lesson, but if that is the main message, they muddled it up horribly.
I should also mention that the little kids didn’t annoy me as much as I remember them doing. Those two little snots who tease Dot are still brats though.
Well, let’s stop with the comparison and get to what’s wrong with A Bug’s Life as a movie, in terms of story anyway. Three things, really.
First, this movie eventually gets to a point where it relies on the “main character lies to his friends and eventually gets found out” trope. Flik enlists the help of a circus troupe made of a (male) ladybug named Francis, a praying mantis named Manny, a black widow spider named Rosie, a dung beetle named Dim, a walking stick named Slim, a pair of pill bugs named Tuck and Roll, and a gypsy moth named….Gypsy. Besides the issue of ‘I hate this trope and it only makes for that incredibly awkward ‘reveal”, it also raises another issue. Flik never lied to begin with. At all. He told his story straight out to the troupe and even a second time to the pill bugs who don’t speak English and speak some kind of made-up language, but he wasn’t aware of that.
If anything, the troupe was at fault for making the totally unprompted assumption that he was a talent scout just really invested in this grasshopper story. They even fully believe it when they arrive at the colony and everyone’s cheering their heads off for the arrival of ‘the warriors’. It’s only until after a welcome dinner that the troupe figures it out and gets mad at Flik for lying to them even though he never ever did.
Hell, in addition to getting pissed and insulting him, the pill bugs slap him! FOR THEIR MISTAKE. Granted, once Flik finds out the truth, he eventually decides to actually lie to the colony about the troupe, which leads to the predictable awkward reveal, but the fact is that the troupe should have been the ones who looked like they were lying or at the very least made a grave error, not Flik.
Second, one other thing I will say in favor of Antz was the fact that they highlighted a big problem with A Bug’s Life. In Antz, the ants were divided up into workers and soldiers at birth and they remained widely segregated in their regular day to day lives.
In A Bug’s Life, there’s a noticeable lack of soldiers. They’re all workers. They have to be in order to be so firmly under Hopper’s thumb. That creates a problem and dare I say plot hole that could’ve just been patched up by saying that the soldiers all got overpowered by the grasshoppers or were killed or abandoned them or something. I’m not an entomologist, so I don’t know how likely it is that this species or specific colony of ants would just straight up have no soldiers, but it’s a noticeable issue to me.
Finally, the climax has a pretty big problem to it. All of the bugs, understandably, have a huge fear of birds. Hopper especially has a fear of birds since it’s implied that he got the big scar on his face and lost sight in his right eye because of a bird attack and is traumatized because of it. Flik, who is already in the trenches of his deception, decides to just screw the whole idea of the warriors in lieu of a new idea – making a mechanical bird made of sticks and leaves that will scare Hopper and the others away.
They complete the bird and are really optimistic about their chances. However, the colony finds out that the ‘warriors’ are really circus bugs and that Flik lied to them. Flik is then banished from the colony and goes off to join the circus troupe in shame while the colony panics because they spent all summer and fall mostly making the bird and hanging out with the warriors instead of gathering Hopper’s food because they no longer intended on paying him his tribute.
They scramble to gather food, which ends up not being nearly enough to offer to Hopper without leaving themselves to starve to death otherwise and completely lose hope.
The problem I have with this is…what the hell happened to the bird? Why is the bird thing no longer a feasible idea? I know it was Flik’s idea and he lied to them thus they might have lost some faith in the bird. Hell, Flik even loses faith in the bird as he’s riding with the troupe. But you have to remember something – the idea of the bird was presented to the circus troupe, who thought it was a great idea. The idea was then presented to the queen, Princess Atta and the royal council, who also thought it was brilliant. The idea was then shown to the entire colony who also had so much faith in it that they were cheering at the presentation. Why did they suddenly lose faith in the bird idea?
It can be argued that the stuff with the ‘warriors’ was moot by the time the bird was done, and the reveal was actually at a celebration party for the completion of the bird! In fact, Flik was figuring out a way for the troupe to escape without being noticed at the party so they could leave before the grasshoppers came. The troupe stayed of their own accord because they liked the colony and had recently lost their jobs anyway.
The bird was completely unrelated, so there’s no reason why they couldn’t have stuck with that plan in the end despite Flik’s deception and banishment. Did they really think they had more of a chance of gathering a double offering in a matter of days? It’s not like they couldn’t have done it since Flik comes back and actually pilots the bird just fine with only a girl scout troupe to help him operate it.
Bottomline: Despite those plot issues, I have to stick by my stance and just say it’s a more enjoyable, memorable and funnier movie than Antz. I commend Antz for trying to be more realistic in their designs and I still enjoyed the movie just fine, but in the end the one who will always win out for me is A Bug’s Life. I’ve gained much more appreciation of Dreamworks productions in recent time, despite the fact I haven’t gotten to their later work, but I still remain as a loyal soldier in Pixar’s colony……Oh wait. Damn you, ant puns!
Recommended Audience: There’s some drawings of bug gore by the little kids (their teacher actually told them to draw one of the good guys as dead to make it more dramatic. The amount of flying that wouldn’t do in an actual school setting is amazing.) no swearing, no innuendos that I remember. Some minor violence, some grasshoppers get killed although not graphically. It’s fine for all ages.
Plot: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was an adult on Christmas Eve.
What the hell’s with these sequels?
They don’t get continuity.
I guess I can justify it,
Young Rudolph sells more toys.
Parents, go out and buy one
for all your little girls and boys.
Rudolph needs more stuff to do, so he’s going after New Years now.
Franchises aren’t a brand new thing – this is a 60’s 70s cash cow.
Maybe I’m exaggerating – they probably didn’t know.
That in 40 years Rudolph would become,
a retail nostalgia ho!
Breakdown: We haven’t done enough Rudolph this year, right? Plus, this is pretty much one of the only New Years animated specials in existence. As many times as I’ve watched Rudolph, I don’t give as much attention to Shiny New Year. I still watch it fairly regularly on the holidays, but, truth be told, I usually forget to watch it before the holidays are over. I usually have to catch it in passing on ABC Fam…Freeform or ABC or something.
Twelve years after the release of the first movie, Rudolph, who has undergone de-aging surgery between when he left to deliver presents with Santa and when he came back home, is tasked with finding Happy, the baby new year. He’s gone missing, and without him the new year will never come. It will just be December 31st forever.
I want to question so much about what that really means. Will the earth halt in its orbit? Will calendars be unable to show future days? Will all of the pre-printed calendars for next year vanish? Will the day just repeat itself, like Groundhogs Day? Will time and space warp around us? Isn’t everything fine as long as Happy is alive? Shouldn’t Happy be born on January 1st? When was Happy born if not the start of the next year? Is there really a press of time if December 31st will keep happening until Happy is found? Pretty sure we can survive a few December 31sts.
The only person who can go out and look for Happy is Rudolph because the storm from Christmas is still going on. Why Rudolph has to go by himself without Santa or anyone else is beyond me. Seems really irresponsible considering Rudolph’s basically a fawn again.
While he goes out by himself, he’s eventually joined by General Ticker – a character that literally comes out of nowhere. He suddenly appears by Rudolph’s side when Father Time (Who strangely carries around a scythe for no reason. Is he standing in for death?) narrates that he was soon joined by him. This movie will be less than ten minutes long if you just keep narrating things into existence.
Here’s something to rejoice about, though – Rudolph’s nose no longer makes that horrible noise! YAY!
When they reach the desert, they’re met by Quarter Past Five, a camel with a clock shoved in its back…..I don’t understand this character’s concept, but whatever.
The big bad in this movie is Aeon the Terrible – basically a giant vulture. He’s not nearly as terrifying as Bumble, but he does the job.
Aeon’s on the hunt for Happy because he’s a creature that only lives for one eon. After that eon, he turns to ice and snow. His eon just happens to be up at the end of this year, so he’s searching for Happy to ensure that the next year never comes.
Through a nice but rather forgettable song break by Father Time, we learn that the baby New Year is actually Father Time. It starts out every year as a baby and grows throughout the year until it’s reached old age in December, where another baby New Year is born and starts the process over again.
I really like this explanation of Father Time and the baby New Year. With the confusion from earlier, it’s nice to see something like this that makes a lot of sense. I was worried the baby New Year was just a novelty to herald in the new year. Speaking of which, they make a nice workaround to mentioning the ball drop in Time’s Square by saying there’s an identical event just with the ball called ‘the magical diamond’.
Now let’s get back to things about this story that don’t make sense to me. Father Time explains that Happy ran away after some people in the castle laughed at him for his big ears.
While it’s obvious that the baby New Year ages much faster than a normal child, are you seriously telling me this baby, who should be essentially new born age, has the cognitive capacity to understand that people are laughing at and mocking his ears? And that he understood this to a point where he rationalized his only option as running away?….And that he was able to run away as a new born baby? In a massive dessert? And not die? How poorly are you watching this incredibly important infant anyway?
Rudolph asks where he might go and Father Time says Nanny Nine O’Clock mentioned that he always wanted to go to the archipelago of last years—alright now you’re just making stuff up. This baby not only knew what an archipelago was, knew there was one for the previous years, and had a wish to see it too?….and shared it with others? When he can’t talk?
The islands are the homes of all the previous Father Times from the years that has passed. Each island stays frozen in time for the year that the specific Father Time reigned. When their last day of the year comes up, they retire to that island.
He sends Rudolph off, again, by himself. I can understand why Quart isn’t going, he’s too big, but why isn’t Ticker coming?
He’s directed to the islands through what is probably the stupidest method of directing someone I’ve ever seen. There’s a sundial on a beach with a hand pointing out into the ocean, and that’s the way he’s meant to go…..NOOOOOOOOOOO. Really?! He’s meant to find these ISLANDS out in the OCEAN? I thought they’d be underground. It’d be different if you could take the sundial and it directed you as you traveled, but it just stays on the beach.
Not only that, but how is he supposed to ensure that he stays straight ahead in the boat? Especially when the designs are so wonky that it looks like Rudolph has no other view besides the back of the sail during the whole trip. On the calmest ocean ever.
Rudolph gets attacked by Aeon and gives off the angriest look I’ve ever seen a reindeer give.
He’s saved by Big Ben, a whale with a clock on its tail. Okay, you’re really just shoving clocks onto animals and calling it a day, aren’t you Father Time? Rudolph hitches a ride on the whale, and no, they never explain why Rudolph can’t just fly everywhere. He just flew around the world in a night, but he has one week to find this baby who might be in mortal danger and he’s literally hoofing it everywhere.
To be completely honest, the next ten minutes is just padding. Rudolph, Big Ben, OM (One Million – the first Father Time), and Sir 1023 (A knight, the Father Time from 1023, which is apparently when every fairy tale ever told took place) just search through the various years for Happy with little actually happening. They even take a detour for them to reenact, beat by beat, the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, just with Happy taking the role of Goldilocks.
The central theme of each place they visit is that Happy makes friends with the people there and then they see his giant ears, laugh and he leaves again.
Aeon grabs him, and Rudolph and the others quickly run after him and knock Happy from his clutches. He saves himself in the fall with his hat as a parachute, only to lose him again in a freak gust of wind that carries him off.
Happy meets another Father Time, this time a Benjamin Franklin look-alike called 1776 or Sev for short. In the island of 1776, every day is the Fourth of July. Don’t question it – just accept it.
Also, if there’s one thing I want to listen to in a New Year’s special or a subset of a holiday special, it’s song about the Fourth of July. Save it for Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, please.
At this point, I’m really having a hard time believing that this baby who can’t even walk keeps outrunning Rudolph and the gang. Again, would be really useful for you to fly, buddy.
He’s kidnapped by Aeon again. Rudolph and the Father Times can follow him at night because Rudolph’s nose glows. Gotta keep giving that thing purpose. It’s a glorified tiny flashlight that would actually be insanely difficult to deal with in real life due to the red color, but it’s his schtick.
Aeon has taken Happy to his nest on the frigid Island with No Name. As Rudolph and the others climb the mountain to get to the nest, Aeon shrieks and causes an avalanche, encasing them all in balls of snow.
Rudolph is able to break free because of the heat from his nose—oh come on! You can’t add powers to this thing. Even if his nose did emit heat under the logic that the energy used to make the light also creates heat, it’s about the size of a grape. He’d have to have a laser nose for that to even begin to work.
With Aeon fast asleep, Rudolph climbs the mountain to get to Hap—uh, Rudy, aren’t you forgetting something?…..Freeing the other Father Times?…..Let them freeze to death? Okay….Wait, what happens a Father Time dies? Are we putting the space/time continuum at jeopardy here?
He tries to connect with Happy by showing him his nose and saying he used to be made fun of for it too, but now it doesn’t bother him. The current Father Time explains that Rudolph was too modest to tell his own story so the wind, trees and mountains helped him out by singing his song. I’ll only forgive this weirdness because it’s accompanied by a rather cute, but crude, traditionally animated version of Rudolph’s story….though that also begs the question of why is this part in traditional animation?
I’m redacting some of my forgiveness because holy hell, they made Santa look horrifying.
Rudolph tries really hard to not make it sound like ‘I gained social acceptance because my deformity proved to be useful’ and gives Happy a pretty cute wink.
I can’t really avoid the message of the movie anymore, so here goes. Rudolph laughs at Happy’s ears when he shows them but then explains that he wasn’t trying to be cruel – he was just filled with so much happiness when he saw them that he couldn’t contain it anymore. No one that he had met with was being cruel either – they felt the same way.
Obviously, this movie was making another go at the message of accepting your differences and those of others and celebrating what makes you special, but this just seems weird to me. Are you seriously trying to tell people who have been laughed at for their differences that the people weren’t being mean, they were just really happy? Hey, Rudolph, remember when you were laughed at all the time for your nose? Do you reckon those people were really happy or just dicks? Because I remember a whole lot of dickery.
I’m just…kinda confused on how to take this. On one hand, I can sorta see how telling a kid this would be a good coping mechanism for when they get laughed at. On the other hand, you’re condoning mocking by excusing it as pure happiness. Most people who laugh at others for their differences aren’t laughing because they’re filled with happiness – like I said, it’s likely because they’re showing their dickish side. They may not mean to hurt the other person’s feelings, but the fact of the matter is that the source of the humor is coming from the oddity. Even people who can laugh at themselves for their differences can still feel a pang of hurt when someone else laughs at them for it.
Aeon wakes up, and Rudolph tells Happy to take off his hat. When Aeon sees his ears, he breaks down in laughter.
Father Time: “Well, it’s the first time that monstrosity ever laughed in his life. He laughed so hard that he laughed himself right out of his nest. He laughed right down the side of that mountain….”
And broke his spine in several places on all of those jagged rocks he is clearly hitting his back on.
Rudolph: “Old Aeon won’t give us any trouble now. He’s cured for good. Heck, nobody can turn to snow and ice when he’s all warmed up inside with laughing.”
How do you know that he’s cured? How do you know he won’t turn around and peck your nose off? It’s not THAT funny – he’ll stop eventually. Are you for real about that warmth from laughing thing? Because my bullshit meter’s having a fit. They’re seriously saying this creature who’s been reigning terror on the sands of time and the archipelago of last years since the beginning of an eon suddenly was filled with happiness and will never be bad again because he laughed a baby’s big ears? What?
Midnight strikes and they panic because Happy’s not back with Father Time. Rudolph wonders how they’ll manage to get Happy back before the twelfth bong of the clock when Santa suddenly shows up with his magic sleigh and flying reindeer and a slue of shit that would’ve been extremely helpful FIVE DAYS AGO.
He offers them all a ride, and I’m still calling foul because by the time they all got in that sleigh that clock would’ve definitely hit it’s final bong. Someone get the TARDIS. Actually, you really do need the TARDIS because midnight doesn’t start on the final bong of a clock – it starts when the clock hits midnight, which is when the bongs start. The bongs aren’t a countdown to midnight. You’re going to get there right before 12:01.
Santa does justify his ability to get there in time by saying he travels the world in one night so this isn’t a problem, but we’re watching in real time – the disbelief has to be sent into orbit. Also, again, that ability really would’ve been helpful for the past FIVE DAYS. Is saving the world from eternal December 31st not important enough to get you off your ass until you’ve had nearly a week’s worth of naps and cookies or something?
Happy rings in the new year. Rankin/Bass do their damnedest to make this timeless by saying his year is 19-wonderful, but, sorry fellas, we’re in 20-eh-well-we’re-getting-by-it’s-alright-sometimes.
As the movie concludes, we’re played out by the only fairly memorable song of the movie – Happy New Year.
Forgive me if this review seemed a tad harsher than it needed to be. I’m always a bit of a grump on New Years. At this point in the year, I’m still bitter that the Christmas season is over and I never really look forward to the new year.
My sour grapes aside, this isn’t a bad special – it’s just not that good. It definitely has its interesting concepts in regards to the Father Times and baby new years and even the archipelago of last years. However, it doesn’t really have nearly as much charm as the Rudolph special and a lot of it seems like padding. Some of the new characters were nice, like Big Ben, but the other Father Times had absolutely no purpose besides a duty to find the baby new year. They contributed nothing. Big Ben was basically just the movie’s Lapras, Quart was also only useful as transportation. Everyone else was just there.
Plus, even for a movie set in this universe, there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make any sense. A lot of the nonsensical decisions seem like they were made purely for plot convenience as well.
The music was fine. None of it was bad, but the only song I ever bothered to remember over the years was ‘Happy New Year’.
The moral of the movie is either terrible or insanely confusing. Were wires crossed or is this just a bad message to give kids? Notice how no one laughed at Happy in the very end. Shouldn’t apologies have been made? Shouldn’t Happy have been shown happily sharing the happiness with his huge ears and the happy laughter of non-dickishness that everyone would’ve been sure to give?
I do like how previous years and snippets of time were shown to give nods to how each new year is different and brings about major changes in the world, but they didn’t seem like they knew the asset they had with this because they don’t take the time to properly appreciate each time period. One Million years ago is just one big unrelated song number. 1023 is skimmed over for the sake of exaggerated olde English and exploring a lot of fairy tales. 1776 is literally one big Fourth of July party, which takes away from the immersion significantly.
I really like what they were trying to do with this movie, especially since most New Years specials, the few there are, typically focus on that tradition of kissing someone when the ball drops. Having a special that aims to do something creative for the holiday is a much needed breath of fresh air. I’m very uncertain over whether Rudolph was necessary here. It seems like they were jumping through hoops to justify why he and he alone needed to find Happy. However, I do love Rudolph and it’s nice to see him on screen, so I can’t complain too much.
Lastly, despite having no lines besides saying ‘Happy’ at the end, Happy is a very adorable little baby. I wouldn’t have laughed at his ears. They make him even cuter.
This is definitely something nice to show the kids around new years, especially since, if they’re anything like my parents were, they won’t be allowed to stay up until midnight so practically every new years celebration is barred from them until their teens or so. It’s a nice bit of nostalgia for adults, and it can be a fun ride sometimes, but it just doesn’t have a lot of substance.
And with that I close out this year’s A Very Animated Holiday Special. I hope everyone enjoyed the entries this year, had a happy holiday season and will have a great new year. 🙂
Plot: After enjoying another awesome Christmas, Timmy wishes it could be Christmas every day. His fairy godparents grant him his wish, and he enjoys toys and time with his family for weeks to come. Too much of a good thing is never a bad thing……right?
Breakdown: There aren’t many Christmas specials that I would say are better enjoyed after Christmas is already over, but if there’s one that makes that list, it’s this episode.
So many Christmas specials leave you wishing that Christmas came every day, but it’s really not a great idea. Eventually, you will get sick of it because one of the reasons amazing things like Christmas are so special is because they only come once a year. If you had it all year round, you wouldn’t appreciate it anymore.
I mentioned this episode in the Stuck on Christmas segment in my Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas review. In that segment, the only ones aware that Christmas was repeating itself were Huey, Dewey and Louie. Donald, Daisy, Gertie and Scrooge were none the wiser, making it have a Groundhog’s Day effect. In that version, it would be damn near hell because you’d be hearing the exact same words and experiencing the exact same events over and over and over.
I find this version of the setup to be more interesting because everyone’s cognizant of what’s happening. It’s not a matter of reliving the same day – it’s reliving the same holiday, which I find to be more complex and open to a wider range of possibilities.
I also find Timmy’s reasons for wishing such a thing to be better than Huey, Dewey and Louie’s. While Timmy obviously wants to bathe in gifts day after day, the main reason he wants it to be Christmas every day is because his parents stay at home with him instead of being away at work. For the three ducks, all they wants are gifts and Christmas dinner.
But away from the comparisons, we still have a very original and interesting interpretation of what would happen when wishing such a thing in this universe. After a while, everyone starts to get sick of the carols, dinners and basically everything Christmasy. They get so sick of Christmas every day that when they spot Santa in the sky, they try to shoot down his sleigh.
Businesses and schools remain closed, meaning people can’t buy anything or get anything done. (Plus, I assume, people would eventually lose their jobs and society would collapse…)
Not even the kids make off well for long since everyone starts getting fewer and fewer gifts each day.
After a while, Timmy finally realizes that Christmas every day wasn’t a good idea afterall and that everyone’s had enough, so he wishes for Christmas to be over. However, as we’ve learned is common whenever Timmy makes a bad wish, Cosmo and Wanda can’t reverse it. This time, they simply don’t have the magic for such a thing.
Every year on Christmas, the fairies all lend their magic to Santa so he can be the one to grant the various wishes of the children on Christmas. They get their magic back the day after Christmas, which creates the obvious problem. They can still do minor things like disguise themselves and poof places, but they’re ultimately powerless to make such a big wish.
However, I don’t quite get this. Timmy made this wish on Christmas night – meaning Cosmo and Wanda shouldn’t have had the magic to make the wish come true in the first place.
Another interesting repercussion of Christmas happening every day is that the other holidays can’t occur – meaning the representatives of those holidays are extremely angry. Not only do they already feel inferior to Christmas and Santa, but now Christmas has stolen whatever enjoyment they got from people celebrating their holidays.
They want to take Santa down by transferring his powers to them with the unwilling help of Cosmo and Wanda. After they do so, they plan on sending Santa to the imaginary date of February 33rd.
Meanwhile, Timmy snowmobiles to the north pole with the help of every Christmas celebrating kid with Internet access across the globe. When he arrives, the kids all follow to help save Santa.
Santa is extremely overworked and running out of presents to give the kids since he can’t make enough toys every single day to meet demand. Even with magic, he won’t be able to do anything if this continues.
The main confrontation is really my only major negative point about this episode. The other holidays very nearly succeed in taking over and banishing Santa, but Timmy tries to talk some reason into them. When the army of every web-enabled Christmas celebrating kid in the world comes, the other holidays can’t find it in them to fight off kids since their main intentions in the first place was to bring their own brand of holiday joy to the kids of the world and be loved.
Timmy says they are loved, just not as much as Santa. He brings them toys, and Christmas brings their families together. The holidays realize he’s right. They all then lament that their holidays are all kinda lame like Easter with eggs that go bad if you don’t find them, April Fools day with making kids play mean pranks on each other and Cupid saying Valentines Day makes kids fall in love, which he only realizes is a bad thing when the kids all express disgust.
Understanding that Christmas is just a better holiday and that Santa will always be loved more than them, they decide to let Santa go and reverse everything.
I know the important thing is that they know they’re loved either way, but the fact remains that this started with the other holidays being upset that they were being massively eclipsed by Christmas and Santa. Resolving this plotline by saying ‘well, yeah, that’s because he’s better than you guys.’ ‘Oh, yeah, you’re right. Guess we better fix everything.’ END. Just seems nonsensical and lazy.
A better option would’ve been to explain the reasons why those holidays are special to the kids too in their own ways. Like Easter is fun for egg hunts and candy, April Fools day is great to make up creative pranks for everyone to get a laugh, and Valentines day, as much as it makes some kids gag, gives them a bit of courage and hope to make a special connection with someone they like. Maybe say that Christmas may get the most attention, but all holidays have a special place in the hearts of children.
Everything gets changed back to normal, a new rule is made in Da Rules to never allow another kid to wish it were Christmas every day, and, to make it up to Santa, the holidays and Timmy take over delivering presents for next year’s Christmas.
All in all, I still love this Christmas special, even if the climax is a bit poorly written in my opinion. It’s a great way to ease out of Christmas highs as well. I’m sure many people have that same wish when December 26th rolls around, and this is a pretty good way to remind us that special rare events such as Christmas lose their magic and wonder if we live it every single day.
The song in this special is also one of the best Christmas special songs to debut in recent years. I Wish Every Day Could Be Christmas is catchy, Christmasy, funny and sweet. I listen to it on a fairly regular basis, and I sing it in the off-season.
Plot: The adults are snowed in at a 19th century cabin. The babies are battling in The Nutcracker and trying desperately to make Dil’s first Christmas a good one so he’ll have more Christmases in the future. Angelica is hellbent on getting Santa’s toys all for herself. Is anyone going to have a good Christmas?
Breakdown: This review didn’t need to be two parts, but if they’re going to stretch out the special and yuk out some bonus points, I’m gonna.
This episode starts with five minutes worth of two things – Angelica being a thieving bratty bitch and the babies taking part in a mechanical representation of The Nutcracker.
Angelica grabs an armful of cookies that were meant to be taken one by one by the children listening to the carolers and they don’t do a damn thing about it. She took all of them yet no one even calls out to her to stop. Someone loses their snow hat in front of her so she just decides it’s hers now, even though that hat shouldn’t really fit her. Then she jumps into a group of carolers singing her rendition of ‘Joy to the World’ where she inserts herself as the main focus of the song. Yes, Angelica is now literally comparing herself to Jesus. Maybe not intentionally, but it’s there.
I don’t understand why she’s screwing around so much. The only reason I can figure is that they want to keep showing Angelica being a witch so we’ll better understand why she’s supposedly not on Santa’s nice list…………………………….but……come on. Even people who have never seen a frame of Rugrats know that Angelica’s one of the most notoriously bratty bully characters to ever be shown in any form of media. She has her moments where she thaws her heart, but there is never any question that she is mostly a terrible and selfish person.
Even so, couldn’t they have put this in the first episode? She sent the babies off on a wild goose chase so she could find Santa’s toys first, yet she’s not even actively looking for them until she runs into the babies again.
Speaking of the babies, there’s not much to say about them for a while. Like I said, they accidentally partake in a mechanical rendition of The Nutcracker and all sorts of shenanigans happen. Some of it’s a little funny, but it’s still mostly padding. There’s also one aspect I don’t understand about it.
They’re first being ‘attacked’ by the Nutcracker and are saved by the Mouse King and his soldiers, but when Kimi decides they should fight too, she immediately decides to kick the crap out of one of the mice soldiers. I know they’re animatronics who aren’t taking sides, but from their perspective, Kimi is beating up someone who just saved them.
Then it turns around and the Mouse King is attacking them, but the Nutcracker saves them and winks at them. I don’t understand.
Once we get to the actual plot, Angelica has an acid trip after she breaks into a fake Santa’s Workshop. Nothing says ‘I deserve presents’ like breaking and entering. She imagines the workshop is real, along with the toy reindeer Santa handed her, named Prancey, and the employee elf from earlier, Hermie, being a real elf. He breaks the news to her that she’s not getting any presents since she’s not on the nice list and even Prancey abandons her after she called him a dumb toy.
We get an alright, but incredibly forgettable song called “Treat Each Day Like Christmas (And Your World’s a Holiday)” where Angelica learns to not be a bitch, I guess. The problem I have with this song is that it’s not really treating Angelica to be a better person on the grounds of just being a better person – it’s basically telling her to be a better person or you end up with no presents. Which is already pretty pointless because she already did get a present – the aforementioned reindeer doll Prancey. She didn’t like it at first, but obviously grew to like it. So, yes, if you’re a bratty little sack of reindeer crap, you do indeed get presents. Maybe not the one you wanted, but it’s far better than–
Hermie: “We give the good kids lots of toys and give the bad ones lice!”
Yeah, lice……Wait, what?
Plus, she’s guaranteed to get a bunch of stuff ‘from Santa’ from her parents.
Back with the adults, their plot literally resolves itself off-screen. They’re still trapped, but they learned to stop fighting, stop being angry about missing Christmas with the kids, stop worrying that they’re going to die from lack of oxygen, enjoy the rustic charm of the cabin, focus less on the Mega Corp stuff and commercialism of Christmas and have a nice Christmas together all doing various things like baking, making popcorn garland, decorating the tree and doing origami…..off-screen. Too bad every single scene in these two episodes has been everything but padding or else they could’ve had time to show all that.
They seem like they might get back to being Christmas grumps when Chaz accidentally sets off the sprinkler system and soaks everyone and everything, but, like before, when they return to the scene later, everything is mostly dry and they’re right back to singing carols and enjoying the holiday. They keep cutting out the most important parts of this subplot. It’s driving me nuts.
In the actual plot for the babies, they’re lead by a goat to a nativity scene, which in my opinion, is pretty much the only part of this special worth its salt. The babies all feel bad for the baby Jesus because he looks cold and itchy, barely clothed in a bed of hay. Though I don’t know why they’re not questioning why this baby is sleeping with his eyes wide open and isn’t moving at all.
They believe Mary, Joseph and the wise men are all hoping the baby has a good first Christmas or else he won’t get any others, like Dil. In an effort to give him some semblance of a good first Christmas, they give the baby Jesus the special Christmas gifts they got from the Nutcracker battle. As soon as I saw they kept those things, I knew they’d reincorporate them, but the way they went about getting them and the fact that the items are totally random pieces of trash makes it seem like this was thrown together sloppily.
Lil gives her ribbon that she got from a ballerina robot, Phil gives a shoe that he took from that same robot, Chuckie gives the big walnut he got from the Nutcracker, Kimi gives a bell she got from the Mouse King and even Dil gives the hat that he got when it flew off of Angelica’s head (the same one she essentially stole).
Then the Jesus doll smiles.
……This is meant to be really cute and endearing and everything….but this is kinda creepy. Rugrats is known for the babies taking normal things and perceiving them as living or something else because they have such an active imagination. The Nutcracker battle, for example, kept switching back and forth between watching the robots fight to watching a real battle between mice and nutcrackers.
They’re doing this with the Jesus doll…..but I just can’t shake off the creepy feeling. It’s not like they’re imagining the baby Jesus as a living, breathing baby now, fussing around like Dil does – they’re imagining the same doll just with a smile now. The smiling doll is cute, but the shift is what makes it creepy. It doesn’t even make sense with the way their imaginations work.
I will give this scene major props, though. They manage to make a mostly endearing and adorable scene of pure good will, kindness and charity, involving a nativity scene, and not shoving anything overtly Christmas-y or even religious down our throats – and this is coming from a Christian who loves having schmaltzy Christmas-y messages shoved down my throat.
With Lou, he takes up the Santa role since the last one quit, and pathetically dresses up for the job with nothing but his regular attire plus a Santa hat and a beard that is way too loose-fitting. It’s hanging so low on his face, it would never fool even the youngest child. He is being a good Santa, though, so I’ll give him that. He hears that six babies are riding a goat to the nativity scene so he rushes out on a sleigh and retrieves them.
Close by, he spots the cabin the others are trapped in and I almost facepalmed when I saw it from the outside.
The snow is somehow only piled up around the cabin despite the snow machines being a fair distance away from it and the snow being spread out in a circular pattern. The only way to achieve this effect would be if there was only one snow machine and it was on the roof of the cabin.
They also don’t bother trying to open the window to climb out despite the fact that the snow barely reaches halfway up the window.
In the end, Chuckie says Dil had a pretty good Christmas with or without presents because they had a lot of fun together. Angelica shows back up and somehow has a sack of gifts despite not being given one at the end of the ‘it totally happened’ acid trip. She kept the elf hat, but there was no sack of gifts. Angelica happily gives the babies their gifts. Chuckie gets a new snowsuit, complete with his trademark Saturn design, because his old one ripped during the Nutcracker battle. Kimi gets a glockenspiel….and she somehow calls it that instead of a xylophone, which is weird.
Yeah, they’re different, but most kids wouldn’t know the difference and much more commonly know the xylophone. How they mutter mispronounced words all the time but she manages to say ‘glockenspiel’ nearly perfectly is almost comical. Phil gets a new pair of snow boots. Lil gets a magic princess wand.
Tommy doesn’t want to open his gift until Dil does (Tommy, you really are the best big brother) However, there’s, for some reason, nothing for Dil. I’m confused. If this bag is from Santa, there’s no reason why Dil wouldn’t get a gift. His name is even confirmed to be on the list from Angelica’s acid trip. If the bag is just something she put together herself, she wouldn’t say it’s from Santa and would’ve remembered Dil. Unless Santa wanted Angelica to give up her reindeer doll to make her story arc come to a head, I dunno.
Angelica tearfully yet happily gives Dil the doll and then prompts Tommy to open his gift. He says he already got his gift since all he wanted was for Dil to have a good Christmas. Then he offers his gift to Angelica since she doesn’t have a gift (you’re killing me, Tommy.) Angelica rejects it and tells him to open it. It’s a new camera, which may or may not be an intentional nudge at his future film career in All Grown Up. It’s a regular photo camera, not a video camera, so I can’t be certain.
The kids are reunited with the parents and they spend the rest of Christmas eve hanging out in the cabin.
This special really didn’t need to be two parts, but at least most of part two was pretty good. Most of the plot with the adults didn’t have enough development on screen to have a strong impact, but it got the message across effectively enough.
The storyline with Angelica was poorly handled. Not only does she pull a complete 180 just because a song basically told her to be nice, but she magically gains a sack of toys from nowhere so we can wrap up the plot better. It is implied that the acid trip dream was real since she still had the elf hat and Santa does his tropey fly overhead in the last shot of the episode, but how and why did the warehouse instantly change back and forth to the mechanical representation? Please don’t say ‘magic’.
Like I mentioned, there was never any part where Angelica is handed a sack of toys and told to go deliver them for Santa or even saying ‘you’ll know what to do’. She just gets a sack of toys from nowhere and claims it’s from Santa.
Angelica was being a selfless girl at the end, especially giving up her reindeer for Dil and refusing to accept Tommy’s present as her own, but it loses a bit of its impact when you remember her parents will just shower her with everything she ever dreamed of at home. She doesn’t know that, so maybe it redeems her, but it was still a bit of a sloppy way of quickly changing her ways, which won’t even matter because Angelica is still a huge bitch after this even in All Grown Up.
The plotline with the babies was a good deal of padding, but for the most part the threads of it held together pretty well, even if I think it was also handled a tad sloppily. I did really enjoy the nativity scene…scene. It was definitely the best part of the episode, particularly with how unique it is. I can’t think of any Christmas special that has a scene even remotely similar to that. It was a very sweet and cute segment that didn’t seem forced or preachy. They weren’t even really giving their stuff over because it was Christmas, they legitimately felt bad for the baby.
All in all, this was an enjoyable Christmas special, but nothing fantastic. It had its funny lines and moments, but not enough to truly make the episode a must watch on Chrsitmas. It also had its touching moments, but only in part two. Tommy in particular is being a big sweetheart.
In all honestly, part two can be watched almost entirely on its own and it’s instantly made into a much better special. You could easily cut some fat from this and insert some exposition from part one to clean this up. The special is certainly worth watching, but it’s so hard to justify the 44 minute long cumulative runtime.
Plot: Charlotte has become the new CEO of Megacorp, and Stu has been contracted out to design and build a massive mechanical Christmas wonderland. Everyone is invited to come down on Christmas and enjoy the attractions in a private gathering before the kids are able to meet Santa. However, Angelica’s on a Christmas warpath to meet Santa first and demand all of the good presents before anyone else can get one. Tommy’s more preoccupied with making Dil’s first Christmas a great one, but Angelica tricks them into believing that Dil will never have another good Christmas if he doesn’t get a good present from Santa in his first year. They’re not that worried until Angelica drives Santa into quitting. Is Christmas ruined for everyone?
Breakdown: Babies in Toyland was a special I watched but wasn’t all that interested in. Despite being a Rugrats nut for most of my childhood, I admit, I never got too into the later seasons. Right about when they got a new theme song was when I started to fade out. I believe that was when I started getting more interested in Pokemon and anime as a whole.
Plus, it was getting that ‘we’re clearly running on fumes’ stink. That smell usually comes from the inclusion of many new characters. Dil was an alright addition and gave more depth to Tommy’s character. Kimi was also alright, but really seemed like a female Tommy. They didn’t really utilize her much as a new layer to Chuckie’s character in making him a brother. Kira never added anything to show besides making Chuckie’s life a little less sad, neither did Spike and Fifi’s puppies or Lulu. Before I rewatched this special, I legit forgot that Lulu even existed.
For some reason, Babies in Toyland is a two-parter Rugrats special, which I can’t make sense of. Rugrats has a decent library of holiday specials, all of which are better than this episode and all of which are merely one episode (technically two since Rugrats was usually split up into eleven minute segments. Meaning this special is actually taking up four ‘episodes’.) Considering this was right when Rugrats was starting to teeter off in popularity, I have to wonder why they’d give them a two-part Christmas special.
The only way I can figure it is that they knew the holiday specials were some of the most well-received episodes of Rugrats. In an effort to get more steam out of them, they stretched what would’ve easily been a singular episode special into two parts.
Let me highlight one of the biggest reasons why this doesn’t work as a two-parter. The to-be-continued cliffhanger is the babies approaching a giant nutcracker……..that’s it. They closeup on the nutcracker’s face, it’s not moving or doing anything…..and bam ‘to be continued’
The setup here is a bit interesting because it’s almost like they’re about to make this one of Stu’s big screwups on steroids. They’re surrounded by things he’s invented and, if you know Rugrats, you know it basically means they’re in a death trap. How the hell a multi-billion dollar corporation like Mega Corp hired a man like Stu in the first place is beyond me. They show that he literally holds parts of his machine together with paper clips, and should even one of said paper clips fail, the control panel bursts into sparks and causes a blizzard that could kill the people in Christmas Land in a matter of moments.
This wouldn’t be a big issue since most adults would just leave, but remember, this is Rugrats, meaning these dumbass idiots are always letting their babies run loose or leaving them with Grandpa Lou, who I’m starting to believe has baby-induced narcolepsy at this point. He obviously falls asleep, allowing the babies to escape, and when he wakes up he believes Lulu (his new wife) took the kids and left him hot cocoa, despite the fact that she went on the train with the others, no one else is seen returning, she didn’t leave a note or anything. The babies could be kidnapped and he’d be none the wiser.
Angelica is notorious for being one of the biggest animated bitches this side of media, but she seems like she’s turning up the obnoxious evil bitchery up in this episode. Being all pushy about seeing Santa and hilariously acting like she deserves all the best presents because she’s ‘worked so hard at being good this year’ is one thing, but lying like that to Tommy and the others about Dil was just evil for no reason. Angelica usually lied to the babies because it would benefit her in some way. Sometimes she was a bitch for the sake of being a bitch, but she mostly used her lies to manipulate the babies into either doing her bidding or getting her something.
I do find it funny that Angelica’s such an irritating slab of brat that she makes Santa of all people quit, but I think it would’ve been much funnier if the Santa was real. That doesn’t really mesh with the Rugrats universe, but it definitely would’ve been funnier. Plus, when they’re adding, in canon, a giant robot dinosaur being piloted by babies, having a battle in France against a giant robot snail being piloted by a Frenchman, I think we can justify squeezing real Santa in there.
There’s a subplot with the other adults that I don’t really care about. They visit some historically accurate cabin with animatronics (Yeah, that doesn’t make sense) and get snowed in by a blizzard caused by Stu and his dumb paper clips. The snow reaches six feet deep in about an hour, meaning if the babies were in the area they’d be long since dead by now. Good job, guys.
Lulu loves the cabin, but everyone else is bored or bickering.
In the end, the babies and Angelica, devastated that Santa quit, decide to look for the stash of Santa’s toys so Angelica can bathe in things she doesn’t deserve and Tommy can get Dil a good present for his first Christmas.
Despite not being terribly funny or even all that interesting, and clearly being stretched into a two-parter, there were some highlights. I love Tommy in this because he’s such a great big brother. He doesn’t care at all that he won’t get presents this year – he just wants a present for Dil to ensure all of his future Christmases are good. I liked that Chuckie offered to give Dil his blocks and pretend they were from Santa. That just shows what an awesome friend and person Chuckie is. I also liked one line from Phil where he suggests bringing Angelica back a witch’s broom as a present.
May I ask one final question before we get to the second part? The babies have now been through several holiday specials…….how old are they now? Tommy should be at least three by now, same with Phil and Lil, Chuckie should be like five, Angelica should be six and Dil should be less annoying….Seriously, why is Dil not at least conversing with the other babies by now? At any rate, they should definitely be older than they are now.
Plot: Rudolph the red-nosed—oops, sorry. Felt like I was stuck in a loop there for a minute. Santa, feeling like the Christmas cheer and good will no longer exists, decides to spend this Christmas nursing his aching body and resting rather than going to deliver presents. Will a Christmas without Santa be no Christmas at all?
After trudging through those two GoodTimes Rudolph specials, I felt we needed a return to form. A nice review of a good Rankin/Bass Christmas special is what we need to get our Christmas spirit back.
The Year Without a Santa Claus is a special I usually watch every year, at least when I see it on, but it’s not on my absolutely must-watch list. Still, I’ve watched it since I was young and have a nostalgic love for it.
Well, it’s been a couple of years since my last viewing, and, for some reason, this was one of those moments where I rewatch a special with a critical eye and end up not being sure of where I stand with it anymore.
The plot is solid enough, though questionable. Santa feels like no one appreciates Christmas or him anymore so he feels fully justified in taking the year off to nurse a cold he’s having. Sick Santa I can deal with, but the only reason he really feels like no one appreciates him or Christmas anymore is because some grumpy doctor started an impromptu rant session about how Christmas sucks, and Santa was surprisingly swayed by this argument.
The only reason I have an issue with this is because it seems out of left field without some event providing support for Santa changing his mind about this outside of ‘yeah, he’s right.’ Maybe preface the movie with last year and how the letters were more selfish or demanding or picky. Have him seeing more bad behavior and whatnot over the course of the year. Don’t just suddenly flip a ‘yeah, kids are little brats’ switch, especially from a character who never appears again.
What’s weird is how the people react to this. First of all, they somehow caught wind of the story that Santa’s taking the year off almost immediately after he makes the decision. This means that, not only do the people supposedly have proof that Santa’s real, but they also have a person on the inside feeding them gossip.
Second, despite part of a following song showing the kids deeply saddened by this news and even believing Santa to be dead, soon after the end of the song, we see a group of kids who all collectively give zero shits that Santa’s not coming for Christmas AND…..we learn that they don’t believe in Santa.
Uh….what? How do you go from stopping two people talking about Santa by saying Santa’s taking the year off to saying you don’t believe in him? How do you mourn the loss of Santa and then not believe in him? How do you have newspaper headlines about Santa with PHOTOS OF SANTA AND MRS. CLAUS and then not believe in Santa?
It’s really surprising that people really don’t seem to care that Santa’s not coming. Even if people have lost their Christmas cheer and good will, surely they’d be sad or angry about missing out on presents.
Another odd thing about the story is that it seems slightly disjointed. At the beginning, you’re kinda tricked into believing that Mrs. Claus might go out and do Santa’s job behind his back, which is actually a very interesting idea considering Mrs. Claus hardly ever gets to do anything outside of cater to Santa’s every whim. But then they scrap the idea after a musical number.
It’s also a bit weird that the song Mrs. Claus sings about being Santa includes lines like ‘anyone can be Santa’. The guy feels like no one appreciates him so straight out say that he’s easily replaceable.
Mrs. Claus sends out two elves, Jingle and Jangle, along with the most adorable reindeer ever, baby Vixen, down to earth to see if they can get some proof that Christmas cheer and good will is still alive and well in the hearts of the people.
Vixen, who has been dressed up as a dog (adorable!) gets sick from the hot weather in Southtown and is caught by a dog catcher. They try to free Vixen by talking to the Mayor, only to get shot down. The only way he’ll free Vixen is if they prove their Santa story by making it snow in Southtown, where it never snows.
They recruit Mrs. Claus and a kid they met, Iggy, to help them by talking to Snowmeiser, the creator of ice and snow and master of the north. They have to deal with the bickering of Snowmeiser and Heatmeiser in order to get it to snow in Southtown, so they decide to go to their mother, Mother Nature, to sort everything out. Snowmeiser makes it snow in Southtown while Heatmeiser agrees to not melt the snow and gets to bring summer time weather to the north pole – successfully confirming global warming and drowning Florida.
Might I add that I love how Mrs. Claus and the others patiently wait as Snow and Heatmeiser finish their unprompted song numbers about themselves?
Meanwhile, Santa heads down to earth after figuring out what Jingle and Jangle were up to and meets Iggy, who was one of the kids who lost his faith in Santa and didn’t care that he was taking a vacation. Santa and his parents convince him otherwise with a very touching song and Santa goes off to free Vixen so he can take her back to the north pole, which he does, without the knowledge of Jingle, Jangle, Iggy or Mrs. Claus.
Despite the snow now being unnecessary for Vixen’s release, there was another condition of the agreement – giving Santa an official holiday so he can have a vacation. Just to keep score, Santa now has two official holidays. Most presidents don’t even get that.
Santa is happy that he gets to rest and relax on Christmas, but after a couple of days of rest, he realizes he’s making a big mistake. He gets sent a bunch of presents from the kids on Christmas eve, and he gets letters that show him how much he’ll be missed on Christmas day.
Guilt-ridden, Santa decides to make the flight and even publicly flies around greeting the townsfolk. Christmas is saved, hooray!
While Rankin/Bass specials are no stranger to odd additions to their films, the side-plot with Snowmeiser and Heatmeiser seems so out of place that it feels like it belongs in another movie.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like Snow and Heatmeiser (Snow’s better, but maybe I’m biased, being from the north), they have some funny interactions, very catchy songs and good dialogue, but I can’t help feeling like the plot of the snow could’ve been done better without them.
I actually wish this movie had been more down to earth. Maybe had Santa have a bad couple of years or something and send him down to earth on the off-season to see how much Christmas spirit is truly alive in the hearts of the people himself instead of sending Jingle and Jangle off to do it. That song that Santa sings really seems like it belongs in the third act of such a movie instead of the second act of this one.
And, really, what did Jingle and Jangle do that helped Santa recognize the Christmas spirit in others? They, or mostly Mrs. Claus, got snow in Southtown, but it’s not like the rest of the residents knew that was a sign of Santa….in fact, it really wasn’t, because he didn’t make it snow – the meiser brothers did.
It appears as though Iggy changing his mind about it prompted everyone else to start doing the same, even if he never shared these opinions with anyone else outside of his parents.
I will admit, the kids making presents for Santa on Christmas was really sweet. You never think of giving Santa anything but milk, cookies, and a higher risk of diabetes. However, it’s still bugging me that Christmas spirit is waning when they have solid proof that he exists, no matter how many aliases him and his associates use (such as the ever clever “Mr. Claus” (Pronounced “kl-ow-s.”). The fact that he feels free to fly around town, even landing and walking around to talk to people and wave to them, is also very strange. Santa could’ve solved all of his problems if he just did that to begin with if Christmas spirit works that way.
The wonder and magic of Christmas where Santa is involved is in the belief that he exists. Hearing reindeer hooves on the roof, seeing a puff of soot fall from the chimney in the dead of night, seeing the empty plate of cookies and glass of milk etc. I’m almost jealous of kids who still believe in Santa because I never really got to experience that level of belief in something so magical. I don’t really know why – I just never believed in him.
It’s all the more confusing when ‘Santa Claus Comes Tonight’ plays and you see Iggy hiding under his covers to not see Santa….spliced in with Santa flying around town, waving to people like he’s in a parade.
Another thing I have to point out about this movie is the animation. I already addressed the ‘stop motion is creepy, and Rankin/Bass productions are no exception’ thing, but I have never been more aware that I’m watching animated dolls while watching one of these movies. I don’t know if it’s the lighting or the fact that this special is so much more focused on human characters, but every scene screams ‘dolls’ and ‘stop motion’, which is indeed very weird of me to note considering this is stop motion with dolls, but let me explain.
When Rankin/Bass does specials with non-human characters, it’s much easier to get immersed in the environment and forget that these are models, puppets and dolls being animated, no matter how creepy or obvious the animation is. When you have nearly everyone in the special being human, it somehow breaks the immersion much more and makes the animation quirks even more apparent. It’s not necessarily bad, it just takes you out of the full experience a bit.
Where does that leave this special as a whole, though? Well, it has some very great and memorable songs that I would say are even better than the songs in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That song about Santa is heartstring tugger all the way. I like the idea of the plot, Mrs. Claus, the meiser brothers and the adorable little baby Vixen, but I really feel like the execution could’ve been better. The set up is also pretty flimsy without stronger support as to why Santa suddenly feels this way.
Do I even need to bring up one of the most common criticisms of Santa? Dude, you work one day a year, but you need a damn vacation? I’m aware that he still has a cold and doesn’t do this for any compensation, but it’s still just one day a year.
Do his elves get any days off? I doubt it. They work their asses off all year trying to make toys for millions of kids, probably even through illness, yet they get no respect from the children of the world and no compensation to speak of outside of maybe a place to live. I can even bet they’re back to work on Christmas day to get the jump on next year.
All in all, I still very much enjoyed this special no matter the qualms I have with it. It’s sweet, humorous and definitely has its heart in the right place. I’m still not sure this is an unmissable Christmas tradition, but I would understand if it was or became as such. Like many of Rankin/Bass’s works, it just has a certain charm and warmth about it that you just don’t get today.
Plot: Rudolph the plot you already know. I know that you’ve heard the song. And if you haven’t by now, I’m gonna break your knees with tongs. All of the other reviews have this same redundant joke. I can’t think of anything clever, so sit back and drink a coke!
Breakdown: Hey, 2001! You’re looking awful down in the dumps.
2001: “Well….yeah, it’s…been a rough year.”
That’s a shame. Hey! I know what you need! Some Christmas cheer!
2001: “That might help, actually.”
A day before Halloween!
You relax, and I’ll whip up a nice movie. Hey, do you remember Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
2001: “Yeah, of course! That’s a Christmas classic!”
Good! You sit tight and I’ll whip a sequel!
2001: “That grea—what?”
2001: “A sequel to a stop-motion Christmas special made in 1964?”
2001: “Wait, are you sure you’re not confusing this as a sequel of the 1998 movie?”
Nope. Same company – different continuity!
2001: “How does that even happen?”
Don’t worry. We’ll make it in some of the worst CGI we can create, rip off the character designs just to hook in nostalgia whores and fill it with B-list celebrities!
2001: “What the—that sounds terrible…..Wait. I know you! 1998 warned me about you!”
And you wanna know something else?
2001: “He said something about a poorly animated retelling of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and saying I’d have it worse.”
Rick Moranis, who himself proclaimed he was not retired but was ‘picky’ about what movies he’d be in, chose this as his first movie to perform in after his hiatus in 1997.
2001: “Is that good?”
Not really! 😀
2001: “That poor man.”
2001: “What—you made the movie already?”
I’m a demon from the future!
2001: “I actually believe you….”
2001: “Not partic–”
It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys!
We start off with the song because of course we are, but, interestingly, the elves are ‘singing’ it (A unlisted singer is actually singing it, but in the scene the elves are meant to be singing it)…right in front of the other reindeer…and Rudolph. Just seems a bit awkward to go ‘You know Dasher and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?’ as we pan over all of the reindeer.
Like, yeah, thanks for reminding us that we’re not as special as Rudolph. And why do you not question if everyone knows us but you question if they recall the most famous reindeer of all? Do you not know what famous means? At least one of us always gets forgotten when most people recite the song. You don’t see people going ‘Uh, is it Ralph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?’
What’s even weirder is that the animators remembered to put Comet in his signature coaching hat, but forgot to color or design Donner any differently than the other reindeer. I know I don’t like Rankin/Bass Donner, but he’s Rudolph’s dad, at least change his coloring a bit.
Then you include the guilt-trip part of the song ‘All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.’
And I don’t know about anyone else, but wouldn’t you feel awkward if you were Rudolph? I don’t like being sung to as it is, but if someone’s literally singing my praises, especially above others, I think I’d feel really embarrassed.
This rendition of the song, by the way, is one of the most boring renditions of it I’ve ever heard. Like a good chunk of the music in the movie, the melody sounds like it’s being done on an old Casio, and like they’re actively trying not to make it sound fun.
They light the Christmas tree, but it trips the breaker. Santa uses Rudolph’s nose to light the way to the basement so he can reset the breaker and start the lights back up. That scene literally had no other purpose whatsoever other than to remind us that Rudolph’s nose can be useful. No flashlights anywhere, Santa? Not even a lantern?
The movie, like the original, is being narrated to us by a snowman. But instead of Sam the Snowman, voiced by the late Burl Ives, we’ve got Scoop T. Snowman, voiced by Richard Dreyfuss. His design is nightmare inducing, and he spoils the movie at the very start by telling us that he’ll tell us the story of how Rudolph and his friends defeated the evil Toy Taker and saved Christmas.
But forget nightmare snowman – we’ve still got Bumble around! And boy howdy this CGI is not doing his character design any favors. Have you ever seen those production error versions of Sully from Monsters Inc.? They seem to have kidnapped that for this design. Seriously, guys, if you can’t do long fur, don’t try. It’s like he’s been stabbed with a million white wires.
At least his deafening screech is gone – replaced by what I can only so lovingly refer to as a complete moron voice. Lots of ‘Duhh’s and ‘Gaah’s and whatnot.
Yukon is also here, sticking his dirty pikaxe in the eggnog and licking it. Mmm sanitary.
Something you’ll notice about Rudolph almost immediately is that he no longer has proper adult antlers. He has very small antlers like a spike now. I have no clue why. This movie is supposed to be a direct sequel to the Rankin/Bass special, meaning he should still be an adult. If we want to apply real reindeer logic to this, reindeer do shed their antlers and regrow them, but male reindeer do this in winter or spring, meaning Rudolph’s head should either be bare (winter) or be fully back by now (spring).
Then again, if we’re applying real reindeer logic here, Clarice should also have antlers since most female reindeer have antlers. In fact, there’s a theory that Santa’s reindeer are actually females because female shed their antlers in summer and have them fully grown back by winter, which is when most males lose their antlers…….So I’m stalling. Sue me. The next scene has a song break, have some mercy.
The song break in question is a brief love song for Rudolph and Clarice called Beyond the Stars. It is probably one of the most generic love songs I’ve ever heard – loaded with every love song buzzword you can think of. And what better way to end the segment than cutting to another scene while the song is still going and said scene including a nightmare fuel kite with a face?
Rudolph is feeling sad because now he’s sick of the attention he’s been getting – mostly because now everyone’s focusing on his ‘heroics’ instead of letting him be a normal reindeer like he wanted in the first place. They even make him do tricks with his nose, like shining his light on the disco ball. Also, apparently now Rudolph’s nose can be focused beams of differing size. Earlier, it was like a flashlight and now it’s like a laser beam.
So now Rudolph’s back to calling himself a misfit and whining for a normal nose. Congratulations! You’ve now nullified the message of the previous movie! WHOO!
But don’t worry – over the course of a song break, We’re Perfectly Fine, Rudolph’s happy again. The song’s chorus melody is catchy, but the rest of it is just difficult to listen to. Rudolph and Hermey keep singing over each other and the melody gets too muddled.
Also, the ending is incredibly jarring. One second they’re on an iceberg nowhere near the toothmobile, the next millisecond after the last note of the song and we see them closeup having a conversation in the toothmobile.
Hermey and Rudolph were alerted by a kite that King Moonracer is in desperate need of a dentist, so they’re traveling to the island of misfit toys to treat him.
We get another song break, because it’s been all of a minute and half since the last one, explaining the island of misfit toys, which is pointless because we should already know that and the previous movie had a song about it. For anyone about to bring up the time gap between the release date of the first movie and this one, remember, the writers expect you to not ask who the burly mountaineer who licks his pikaxe and the yeti with no teeth are.
This song, The Island of Misfit Toys, is just terrible. It’s infuriatingly annoying, especially the chorus. If it went on for any longer, I was going to start chewing on my computer screen.
Also, there’s ANOTHER Jack in the box who’s not named Jack and ANOTHER train with square wheels. If I’m not going to bring up the continuity thing, I’ll just have to chalk this up to pure laziness.
We get a joke that actually works pretty well when we see one of the misfit toys is a depressed phone who keeps getting people calling only to have them hang up. Kite says ‘he’s a telephone with hangups’ I almost legit cracked a smile at that one.
Despite the song explaining what’s wrong with these toys, we then get a scene with the toys explaining what’s wrong with them. I will give this movie one thing, though. These misfit toys have far more significant problems than the toys from the last movie. A piggy bank with no coin slot, a kite that’s afraid of heights, a phone that keeps dropping calls, a boomerang that won’t come back, binoculars that can’t see well, a bouncy ball that doesn’t bounce (though I’m convinced they just didn’t want to go to the trouble of making a decent bouncing animation) and a plane that keeps nosediving. It’s way worse than a doll with no issues, a polka dotted elephant and a cowboy on an ostrich.
Oh my god, Moonracer, what did they do to your voice and character? You went from majestic and powerful to whiny little bitch boy. GoodTimes Entertainment, thou hast sinned a mighty sin!
Hermey doesn’t seem to have gotten any better at dentistry because he’s using the same dental practices he used on the doll in the last movie – IE, hit their teeth with something – that’ll help. Moonracer needs a root canal, and if you’re worried about your kids being scared of the dentist, just show them Hermey with a drill twice as big as he is, shaking around like crazy as an auto-mechanic’s air compressor drill sound effect plays.
Back at Santa’s workshop, knowing the Toy Taker is wreaking havoc, Santa locks up the toy warehouse good and tight and puts his toy soldiers on high alert. But before they even get done with a quarter of the scene, you realize they’re just going to come in that giant unnecessary glass ceiling they have. And they do……but not by breaking it. There’s a door on the damn glass ceiling that seems to open automatically when something’s close to it.
But enough of Santa’s toys getting stolen, let’s have Hermey have a flashback to something that makes no goddamn sense whatsoever. As Hermey chats up Rudolph about him and Clarice, he decides to share a tale of love from his past. He talks about graduating from the Elf Academy of Dental Arts.
…..Yup…..The ELF ACADEMY OF DENTAL ARTS…….Did they not see the last movie? Hermey was a misfit because he was an elf who wanted to be a dentist, and that seemed ridiculous to everyone because elves are damned to be toymakers and dentists aren’t a thing there. I get that his desires were accepted by the end of the movie, but it hasn’t even been a full year since the last movie. You’re telling me, in that time, not only was there an Elf Academy for the Dental Arts created, built and fully established, but that there was actually enough interest in the elf community to warrant such a thing? The graduating class is pretty sizable, too. Who’s even teaching there?
….And what the hell are ‘dental arts’? That sounds horrifying!
Anyway, Hermey was handed his diploma by the tooth fairy, which makes a lot of sense, actually, and he fainted. End of flashback, no not kidding. The scene literally lasts 25 seconds.
I would say the tooth fairy’s the only teacher, but it seems like that’s the first time he’s ever seen her.
Hermey and Rudolph are now caught in a terrible storm. They hit an iceberg, causing it to crumble, and supposedly sinking the truck/boat thing. The animation on the iceberg falling apart is not just terrible, horrible or disgusting. It’s terrihorgusting. I had to pause the video because I was so baffled by how horribly animated it was. They weren’t even trying.
They’re alright, however, because flying reindeer. This triumphant moment is accompanied by one of the most awkward synthesized trumpet ‘renditions’ of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to ever be conceived.
They land on Castaway Cove, which is guarded by gingerbread men dressed as toy soldiers……Okay.
The soldier brings the boys into a giant elegant castle filled with living gingerbreadmen (and women) to meet Queen Camilla – a flying hippo wearing a feather boa. I feel I should question this more, but we also have an island ruled by a flying lion, inhabited by factory reject toys.
She won’t listen to what they have to say and believes they’re there to steal her toys.
Queen Camilla: “Quiet, before I mount you over that mantle!” Ya know, between us not knowing what kind of toys she’s talking about and that line, I feel like I should be more concerned.
She wants them sent to the dungeons for 300 years.
Rudolph: “But he’s a dentist!”
Hermey: “And he’s a beloved holiday icon!”
Two jokes that work! Good job!
The guards try to wrangle the boys, and it’s taking them way too long to combat gingerbread cookies. I don’t want to be morbid, but Rudolph, have a snack.
They all stop when Rudolph’s nose starts shining, making them realize he’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer….Uh….you couldn’t tell from the fact that he’s a reindeer with a red freakin’ nose? Even if it’s not lit, it’s still a red nose.
Camilla says Castaway Cove is a place for broken, discarded toys to come for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. Basically just a slightly reworked version of the island of misfit toys. Actually, scratch that, this place is better than the island of misfit toys. These toys live in the lap of luxury. Last we saw, the toys on the island were little more than homeless. They’re almost always outside and we’ve only ever seen one house there besides the castle. Plus, one of the last scenes of the original movie had the toys huddling around a fire trying to stay warm during the storm.
This information is being given to us in a lounge act type song sung by Camilla, complete with an embarrassingly horrible reflection animation in the mirror. It’s not like the scene focuses on it, but the reflection starts late and stops early then freezes and the light source changes over it for no reason. It honestly would’ve been better if they just neglected to put the reflection in. It’s at such an angle that no one would really question why it wasn’t showing up anyway.
This song doesn’t make any sense. Camilla is very body image positive, saying that even broken toys and everything are beautiful, but immediately after she says they’re beautiful, she says she makes them beautiful again by fixing them up and basically giving them makeovers. The line literally goes ‘Everything is beautiful, so beautiful, I make them beautiful’ Which is it? Are they beautiful, or are you going to make them beautiful? Because those are two very conflicting statements.
The toys have nowhere to go once Camilla fixes them, so Rudolph suggests that he get Santa to find them homes like he does for the misfit toys on the island. Camilla agrees and offers to grant them their fondest desires as payment. Rudolph wants a nose job and Hermey wants a date with the tooth fairy. By the way, the nose job crack wasn’t my joke. Camilla literally says she can give him a nose job.
Rudolph happily accepts, but Hermey urges him to think about it since a nose job is permanent. He asks what Santa will do if there’s another foggy Christmas eve.
Camilla: “Santa can’t afford headlights, darling?” Hey, stop poking holes in things I’ve already poked holes in! Also, when the characters in the actual continuity bring this up, it really brings to light (no pun intended) that Rudolph was really in no way necessary to save Christmas.
Hermey asks what he’ll do if Clarice doesn’t like it and Rudolph immediately turns and tells Camilla he’ll have to think about it.
“What if Christmas is in danger again?”
“What if you lose your sex ticket?”
“OH GOD, I HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THIS!”
The gingerbreadmen fix up the toothmobile and Rudolph makes it home in time for his flying lesson with Clarice, which is another interesting aspect I like. Every adaptation makes it seem like the females either aren’t allowed to fly or can’t. It’s nice to know they can, but why don’t they get invited to the reindeer games?
Clarice isn’t good at it, which depresses her because she wanted to impress Rudolph. Surprisingly, she feels a bit down on herself since she’s so ordinary and he’s so famous. Rudolph admits that he loves her, and Clarice starts joyously running around yelling that he loves her. This is pretty adorable, especially when Rudolph shoves his head in a snowbanking out of embarrassment and Clarice starts flying around very well because she’s so happy. The Clarice part is especially nice because it’s a bit of a throwback to the original movie where Rudolph starts his impressive flight because Clarice said he was cute.
Comet comes to get them stating that the warehouse was robbed. As everyone discusses it, we learn the toy taker even took the toy soldiers guarding the place…..It never even occurred to me how doubly stupid it is to guard a toy warehouse with toy soldiers from someone named the TOY TAKER.
Hank the elf suddenly says he saw a giant flying football outside the night of the robbery, and Clarice says it must’ve been a blimp. I’m sorry, how does Hank the bookworm elf not know what a blimp is? It’s 196..5? Rudolph comes up with the grand idea to investigate the scene of the crime and catch the Toy Taker so they can get the toys back by Christmas.
As they’re investigating the warehouse, Hermey’s old boss shows up.
Boss: “YOU AGAIN!”
Hermey: “Actually, I’m a dentist now.”
Uhh….were your script pages stuck together? Because that line doesn’t follow properly.
His boss complains that Hermey left his crew one elf short…..again, have they not seen the original movie? His boss gave him the okay to go off and be a dentist at the end.
Hermey: “You’d better be nice. One of these days, you’ll need a dentist. And I’m the only one around.”
Boss: “I wouldn’t let you touch my chompers with a ten foot pole, you tooth maniac!”
What the? First of all, is Hermey threatening his boss here? Because nothing sounds quite as horrific as a dentist with a vendetta.
Second, the only dentist around? What about all those other elves who graduated from the Elf Academy for the Dental Arts? Where the hell did they all go?
Third, uh Boss man? You already have let him near your chompers. At the end of the last movie, remember? You even set up an appointment for more dental work.
Clarice finds a clue, which is stuffing for stuffed animals. Santa sniffs and licks it—okay, new rule. No more licking stuff in these movies. Thank you.
Santa says the stuffing is a type he hasn’t used in years. How he knows that by sniffing and licking it, I don’t know. Rudolph and his friends make a map of the Toy Taker’s hit locations and try to figure out his next destination. They realize he’s likely heading for either the island of misfit toys or Castaway Island and head out. Along the way, they recruit Yukon. They redo the gag of Yukon pulling the sled with the dogs on it, which is cute. This time it’s including Bumble, but bullshit he’s pulling Bumble.
Cut to the Toy Taker, who, by the way, looks like a giant Vivi. We learn of the Toy Taker’s intentions, which are to save toys from children. He says the happy times with a child are fleeting and that they’ll easily throw away toys when they’re bored of them. Old toys from the island of misfit toys, such as Charlie in a box, the doll and the elephant try to argue that their children love and need them, but the Toy Taker convinces them that, no matter how much they may love and enjoy the toys now, they’ll tire of them soon enough and throw them away. He also pointlessly picks up a duck toy for a few seconds without dialogue then puts it down. *shrug*
Charlie: “Wait a minute! I read about you in the papers! You’re a crook!”
Nooooo! What gave it away? The fact that he stole you? Keep up, Charlie.
The Toy Taker wins them over even more with a villain song. It has its moments, but like most of the songs in this movie, the melody is screwed up. You can’t catch the beat at all and it’s hard to follow.
Also, he rhymes ‘modus operandi’ with ‘Ghandi’ by pronouncing Ghandi’s name wrong.
Scoop: “Maybe, just maybe, they had a chance to catch the Toy Taker at his own game.” BEAT him at his own game. What you said makes no grammatical sense.
Castaway Island has already been hit, so Rudolph and the others meet with King Moonracer and devise a plan.
Sure enough, the Toy Taker’s next target is indeed the island of misfit toys. Rudolph, Clarice and Hermey dress up as toys to fool the Toy Taker and find out where he’s taking them. Hermey is dressed up as a molar……Hermey, we need to have a talk. You’re getting a little too obsessed with teeth. I know I made that serial killer joke in the original movie review, but I’m starting to believe there’s more merit to that claim than I thought. Please seek help. Is there an elf being chastised for wanting to be a psychiatrist, perhaps?
Also, Yukon’s dressed as a ballerina. No, I didn’t ever need to envision that either. But since I had to see it.
Bumble’s dressed as a bunny, and this movie continues to impress me with how they can continuously make this monster who used to legit give me nightmares even creepier. The Toy Taker can’t take Bumble with him because he’s too big. No, I didn’t ever want to envision Bumble having an emotional breakdown in a bunny suit either. But you must share my torment.
No worries, though, because Bumble follows them.
The toys are entranced by the song of the Toy Taker’s flute, and when they realize Rudolph and the others aren’t toys, they alert the Toy Taker, who drops them from the blimp. You were nearing sympathetic until the whole attempted murder thing.
Also, Clarice saves a knocked out Rudolph from falling, so she’s a legit flying reindeer now. Hooray!
They fly up and confront the Toy Taker, who escapes. Yukon tries to follow, but his cleats start destroying the blimp. Yukon falls from the blimp and–
Scoop: “Looks like our friend, Cornelius, is done for. Or is he?”
Looks like that was a pointless and intruding interlude. Or was it?
Bumble catches Yukon. Hey, have you ever wanted to see Bumble in a bunny outfit tickling Yukon while he wearing a ballerina outfit?
2001: “Who would even conceive such a–No!”
Neither have I! But I have now! And now so have you!
2001: “My soul is hurting.”
Rudolph and Clarice go to combat the Toy Taker….not knowing that Yukon was caught by Bumble, meaning they just left their friend to die. Nice. The Toy Taker, afraid of Rudolph’s light, jumps from the blimp. Spoiler alert – there’s no reason why the Toy Taker is afraid of Rudolph’s light. They just needed to make it useful. He lands insanely conveniently right outside of Yukon’s peppermint mine. Enter mine cart chase!
Meanwhile, Hermey’s trying to control the crashing blimp and is caught by Bumble. Can we please get some consistency on Bumble’s size? One minute, he’s about the size of a bear the next he’s big enough to catch a blimp.
Back with Rudolph and Clarice, we finally get a shot that seems interesting and fun with a first person view of them riding the mine cart like a roller coaster, but it’s 95% ruined by the ugly intrusion of the red light from Rudolph’s nose. No hate, man – the light is just not conducive to this shot.
Again, the Toy Taker tried to legit murder them by throwing lanterns at them, which promptly explode on the tracks below them. They don’t damage the tracks, however, because that would be too much work to animate.
The Toy Taker changes the track direction on them, but it’s pointless because the tracks then intersect back together a short while later….*shrug* Also, who knows their ‘chase on something on tracks’ tropes?
2001: “The tracks are unfinished?”
2001: “How did Yukon work like that?”
Dunno, and the creators won’t care enough to address it. They both make the jump, though, so it was entirely pointless.
The tracks are unfinished again, this time it crashes, but they’re flying reindeer, so it was, again, entirely pointless.
Rudolph saves the Toy Taker from falling and corners him.
Rudolph: “Surrender, Toy Taker!”
Toy Taker: “Surrender? I don’t know the meaning of the word!”
Clarice: “It means you give up!”
It’s called ‘sarcasm’, Clarice. Jesus Christ.
They let the Toy Taker get away insanely easily just because they hear their friends coming. Good job.
Don’t worry, they capture him less than a minute later. Hooray for pointlessness!
They uncloak him to reveal that he’s actually a teddy bear.
Toy Taker: “Pay no attention to the teddy bear behind the cloak. I am the Toy Taker! Fear me! RRRAAGGGGHHH! BLAHHH!!”
That was probably the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen put to film in years. Congrats, Toy Taker.
He’s an old teddy bear with stuffing falling out of him, connecting the stuffing from the warehouse to him…..which means, technically, Santa licked the fallen entrails of the Toy Taker…..Ughghhghghg.
The bear, named Mr. Cuddles, gives us his backstory in song. The song itself isn’t that bad, it’s the vocals that kill it. His voice cracks on every other word. I don’t know if teddy bears go through puberty, but he desperately needs to do so right now…..Oh by the way, Rick Moranis is the Toy Taker/Mr. Cuddles…..Sorry. Love him in practically anything else, but he really is terrible here.
Mr. Cuddles used to belong to a boy named Steven, who loved him and played with him all the time-You know what, just watch that scene from Toy Story 2 where Jessie explains her backstory. They’re nearly identical and the song is much better.
Also, you might want to pay attention to your timelines, GoodTimes. From everything we can gather, it’s supposed to be 1965 right now. And Mr. Cuddles is supposed to be old – at least a few decades or so. Yet his Steven is playing a video game that looks like it’s from the NES or Sega Genesis era.
Santa: “I happen to know that your boy’s been looking for you. I’ll gladly take you home to him.”
What the hell is this? Mr. Cuddles is very old, meaning Steven must be fairly old by now. At least in his twenties or thirties or something. I seriously doubt he’s looking everywhere for his teddy bear.
If he means so much to him anyway, why did he ignore him, let him get all tattered, throw him in a cardboard box and then throw him away?
This is the worst possible way to address this plot point – mostly because they’re not really addressing it. Let’s be unrealistically optimistic. Steven didn’t mean to throw Mr. Cuddles away and feels remorseful for letting him get all crappy. Even if he’s an adult now, Steven still wants his bear. That doesn’t mean that Mr. Cuddles’ worries are invalid.
One day, whether through being bored of him or after Steven dies, Mr. Cuddles will probably be back in a dump. Most toys do end up with the fate of their children outgrowing them and throwing them away – Even the ones he stole. Either that or they end up in cardboard box purgatory for decades.
What are you going to tell the toys in Cuddles’ hideout after they’ve been convinced by Cuddles’ speech?
“We’re returning you home!”
“That’s great, but what about our owners someday growing up and throwing us away?”
“Don’t worry. They’ll love and keep you forever!”
“That seems very unlikely. Also, we may be near immortal, but people age and die.”
“No they don’t!”
“What? Of course they d—”
“Shut up and get in the sleigh.”
Let’s go back to Toy Story 2 and even 3. They didn’t fix Jessie’s problems by trying to find her old owner because they knew she had outgrown her and didn’t care about her anymore. They knew the solution was finding her a new owner who was young and would actually play with her and care for her.
In Toy Story 3, they all faced this fate because Andy and Molly had both grown up and outgrew toys. They were eventually given to another child to keep the cycle going. Even very old toys can find love and adoration if you find them the right owner. Usually it’s another small child, but you can also find (not crazy) collectors and enthusiasts who enjoy the history and designs of these toys.
Also, you might be able to forgive his thievery, but he tried to kill Rudolph, Clarice, Hermey and Yukon at least twice. Put that bear in toy jail.
Camilla fixes Cuddles and asks if Rudolph’s made up his mind about the nose job. He remembers that having a light affixed to his body that doesn’t require batteries is kinda convenient, so he declines.
……Again, that doesn’t solve Rudolph’s actual problem. He didn’t really hate his nose – he hated that it was basically a novelty now that he was famous. He didn’t learn to deal with the annoying aspects of being famous or being treated like a side-show act. He just learned to accept his nose….which he already learned how to do in the first movie.
There’s a final song, it’s awful.
Wrap up: Bumble gets dentures, which defeats the purpose of ripping his teeth out in the first place, and Hermey gets some sweet tooth fairy tail.
2001: “I completely forgot about that.”
So did everyone else. God forbid she get some characterization outside of that one line from earlier. She’s now literally a prize for Hermey.
Santa arrives at the now adult Steven’s house. According to him, he never meant to throw Cuddles away. He was saving him to be a family heirloom……Bullshit. He was ignored and left to get all ratty for years, thrown in a closet, thrown in a box and then thrown away without anyone even looking in the box, but he was meant to be an heirloom? What kid or teenager is saving heirlooms at that age – especially a rather plain teddy bear? And if he was, why didn’t he fix him up? Leaving a ratty toy in the closet just makes their existing problems worse and harder to fix. And, again, that doesn’t really solve the problem at hand for any other toy.
I’m sorry if I’m sounding like a cynical butthole, but it’s the truth.
Bottomline: This movie was unnecessary, poorly written and was purely banking on the nostalgia factor of people who loved the old Rankin/Bass special. They also probably wanted to try and squeeze out some profit after the abysmal box office numbers for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie.
The plot is flimsy, but would have been something on the ‘suitable for a direct to video crap sequel you put in dentist offices and hair salons’ shelf if not for the terrible resolution that doesn’t solve any of the legitimate problems Cuddles brings up. They could have easily solved the issue in the manner I suggested, but they just decided to lazily say ‘oh, Steven never meant to throw you away and has been longing to see you for years!’
In the aspect of being a sequel, it’s baffling how many little details they remember about the last movie while completely ignoring major aspects of it.
Rudolph’s plot is basically a non-plot that is rehashing the problem he had from the last movie just in the opposite direction. Instead of hating his nose for all the negative attention it’s getting him, now he’s hating it for the positive attention. There’s no question if Rudolph will get a nose job at the end, and boy do I feel like an idiot saying the words ‘Rudolph will get a nose job’….If he got a nose job, not only would it completely destroy the message from the last movie, but then he’d no longer be the titular ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’. No one wants to sing ‘Rudolph the Reindeer. Had perfectly normal features. And he lived a normal life. That’s about it I guess.’
I have to call out the title too. Barely any of this movie takes place on or has to do with the island of misfit toys. I’d have to go back and clock it, but I think they spend more time at Castaway Cove. A more fitting title would be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Wrath of the Toy Taker or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the CGI that Nearly Ruined Christmas.
A few good things I’ll give this – I definitely enjoyed the interactions between Rudolph and Clarice and it had a few humorous moments. They didn’t destroy many characters from the original movie. They backtracked the character development of Hermey’s boss and completely destroyed Moonracer, but that’s about it. For the most part, they’re just not really as endearing anymore. Bumble’s nicer, but indefinitely creepier, and Hermey’s a little closer to being a serial killer. Oh and also they completely deleted Donner and Mrs. Donner. They bring back Hermey’s boss for a few minutes, but completely forget Rudolph’s parents?
The most I can give the plot is that it’s not a flat-out retelling of the original movie’s plot. It is an original story – it’s just not a good one.
I’d like to conclude this by giving a bit of a warning. Some people on IMDB have been saying that someone’s been falsely jacking up the rating on this movie and the 1998 Rudolph movie on review websites by making fake accounts and giving it damn near perfect scores. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. This movie’s not an unholy abomination upon God, but it certainly doesn’t deserve a 5.5 on IMDB or even a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. I can believe some people find this movie to be an alright little kiddie movie to play to shut the younglings up, I can even believe some people like it because of the nostalgia, but I’ve legit seen people in reviews call this one of their favorite movies.
To each his own, really. I respect people’s opinions, but the only way I’d believe this is anyone’s favorite movie is if this is the only movie they’ve ever seen…..and even that’s a stretch.
Voice Acting: The voice actors are absolutely wasted on this project – and I can bet most of the budget went towards getting their names on the movie. No one was particularly bad. Jamie Lee Curtis as Camilla was particularly good because I could barely recognize her. Scott McNeil (Yes, famed anime voice actor, Scott McNeil) as Hermey, Yukon and Comet was also surprisingly good. His impressions were….impressive. Kathleen Barr, who voiced Rudolph in the other GoodTimes movie, does a fairly good impression of Rankin/Bass Rudolph as well. Rick Moranis…..Oh boy. I’m just going to assume you were directed to act like a prepubescent boy pretending to be a teddy bear.
Art and Animation:
This is some of the worst art and animation I’ve ever seen. It’s borderline Ratatoing or Food Fight levels of bad. The textures are nonexistent, there are animation errors and polygons everywhere, nobody moves in the least bit naturally, some of the models look so horrible that you really think they’re not finished such as Scoop, Bumble and Yukon, everyone is dead-eyed and creepy, especially the kite, gingerbreadmen and the reindeer themselves, there’s weird and ugly lighting, and nothing feels like it’s there.
When you’re being beat out by a mile in realistic animation, designs and feelings by a cheap 1960’s stop-motion movie that many people describe as having creepy animation, you have major problems. I’m not expecting CGI miracles in 2001, but if you’re going backwards in your graphics quality after nearly FORTY YEARS OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT maybe, just maybe, you might want consider other avenues of animation.
Music: Mediocre at best and terrible at worst. Each song seems like it suffers from the same problem – remnants of a catchy chorus that is ultimately ruined by something annoying followed by a terrible out of whack verse and bridge.
What do you think, 2001?
2001: “I think a bad year was just made exponentially worse.”
Sorry about that.
2001: “No you’re not.”
Hey, look at the bright side. You’re in the peak time for boy bands!
I’m gonna make Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer into a movie!
1998: “Uhhh, isn’t that already a thing?”
Yeah, but that was made in 1964. People who were kids in that year are old people now. We need to jazz things up a bit for the 90s. Say, did your precious 60s version have the northern lights depicted as fairies in silk robes?
Did it have an ice queen named Stormella?
1998: “Alright, that name’s just lazy.”
Did it have a polar bear named Leonard?
1998: “How is that relevant?”
Here, let’s talk about it in excruciatingly unnecessary detail.
1998: “I would, but I have to catch up on Pokemon. I might miss out on all of Ash’s character development.”
…..Trust me, sweetie, you won’t be missing anything for about a decade – and then they just reboot the franchise.
Welcome everyone to that other Rudolph movie that no one asked for and really no one ever wanted ever.
And a fond welcome to GoodTimes Entertainment – the animated Asylum of the 90’s. Alright, maybe that’s a bit harsh. The production values on GoodTimes movies never seemed to get Asylum bad (Dangerously close once, but we’ll address that another time), but the same skeevy production practices were similar. Namely in that GoodTimes had a habit of releasing movies that were based on stories that anyone could easily base a movie off of BUT that already had a major motion picture made of it (usually by Disney) so it would trick consumers (IE grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles who don’t know any better) into buying it, believing it to be the blockbuster hits. For instance, some of GoodTimes more notable works were Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Thumbelina, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Sinbad and, well, *pokes title*
They not only had the same titles, but they also intentionally made their VHS covers to emulate the Disney movie covers. Their similarities were so stark that Disney filed a lawsuit against them and won. They now had to clearly print ‘GoodTimes Entertainment’ and their logo on the boxes to differentiate themselves more clearly, but the damage had been done.
GoodTimes was now largely known as a knockoff company, but that didn’t stop them from producing these kinds of movies since public domain is free game for anyone, no matter how massively successful some movies based on public domain works are.
In comes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie. A film with a mouthful of a title made by GoodTimes in conjunction with Golden Books Family Entertainment. Yup. Those Golden Books. The gold leaf spined books from your childhood that are still going strong today – including adaptations of two Star Wars movies. *shrug*
But let’s wait. Reserve judgment. I am a fair person. Let’s go over this movie and see how it stands up, objectively.
The northern lights, portrayed as the aforementioned fairies, visit Blitzen and his wife, Mitzi, as they welcome their son, Rudolph, into the world. I have to ask, does Rudolph have a canon father? Because in the 60s version, Donner was his father.
We then get some of the most boring opening credits I’ve ever seen as we just watch snow fall on a faraway shot of some house while Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer plays.
And nothing gears you up for a movie more than hearing Richard Simmons is doing voice work for it.
Hey, who wants to hear the northern lights sing their introductions?!
1998: “Not me.”
I knew you did! This 15 second song break explains that the pink fairy is Aurora, the blue one is Sparkle, the yellow one is Twinkle and the pink one is Glitter. It never matters, so don’t bother remembering it.
I actually wouldn’t mind this as much if not for the fact that this did not, in any way, need to be a song break, and if the song didn’t end abruptly on a note that doesn’t sound the least bit like a finale note.
As Blitzen and Mitzi show Rudolph around Christmas Town and introduce him to snow, we get his ear-piercing, high-pitched shrill of a voice. You know when a kid is having a temper tantrum and they let out this scream from the pits of hell they keep locked in the back of their throat? Imagine that scream in a happy context and that’s Rudolph’s speaking voice. I was going to give this movie points for at least not having that terrible screeching noise that Rankin/Bass Rudolph had when his nose glowed, but if you’re just going to shift that sound to his speaking voice, why bother?
Blitzen starts having concerns over Rudolph’s glowing nose when his other reindeer buddies show up, Comet, Cupid and Dasher. Cupid has a heart on his forehead, by the way. I would complain more, but I actually like that there are different markings and colors for each reindeer. It’s easier to tell them apart. Blitzen, for example, has lightning bolts under his eyes like Ash Ketchum.
Blitzen tries to hide Rudolph, and I feel like this movie is shaming Rankin/Bass Donner a bit by having Mitzi chastise Blitzen for seemingly being ashamed of his son.
Despite a crowd gathering, no one actually makes fun of Rudolph’s nose and Rudolph doesn’t seem bothered by it. When you think Blitzen is taking them home because he’s embarrassed by Rudolph, he actually says he’ll fight the next person who makes fun of his nose. But no one did. It’s only natural for people to at least want to look at a reindeer with a 30 watt nose.
I like that they’re making out Blitzen to be much more understanding and loving of Rudolph, worried that Rudolph will be mocked as he grows up and not being a shameful ass like Rankin/Bass Donner was. They even have a song break about how great they think Rudolph (nicknamed Rudy….not sure how I feel about that) is, which is where we finally get at least a bit of actual mocking towards Rudolph. They don’t particularly say anything worse than ‘put a lampshade on it’ but just having an entire town sing about your nose would be traumatizing to the poor kid.
Two elves named Boone (voiced by Richard Simmons) and Doggle pick up Santa’s mail. They get all excited over a possible promotion to the factory floor….wait, not all elves are toy-making slaves? And being a toy-making slave in a factory is something you get PROMOTED to? Wow. Being an elf sucks.
They crash into Stormella’s (Voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) ice garden and flee the scene.
Blitzen and Mitzi bring Rudolph to the factory where we get another song break about the elves making toys for Christmas. It’s not terrible, but it’s about as memorable as that thing you forgot at the store earlier.
Stormella bursts in and starts icing the joint, furious that an elf destroyed her garden. In order to quell the attack, Santa (Voiced by John Goodman – Mrs. Claus is voiced by Debbie Reynolds, by the way. It’s not that important, but I really miss her) intervenes and asks the elf responsible to come forward. Boone and Doggle come forward, and Stormella demands to take them to her ice castle or else she’ll close off her ice bridge to the public.
Santa says ‘pfft, who cares? I have flying reindeer.’ and Stormella leaves in a huff—oh sorry, that’s the scene that makes sense. Santa still vehemently refuses, despite that being the only way across the Grand Chasm. Stormella says if anyone crosses the bridge, she’ll bring the worst storm ever to the village, destroying everything and ruining Christmas for good.
Later, when she’s alone, she says she looks forward to someone trying to cross the bridge so she can start the storm and shut down Santa forever…..Uh….lady…if you want Santa gone so badly, why can’t you start the storm now? Who cares if there was a condition to starting the storm? If you’re so powerful and evil, start the storm anyway if that’s what you really want. Villains with integrity rarely ever win.
The northern lights give another micro-song, this time just to tell us that a year has passed. Thanks, you utterly useless wastes of 1950’s fashion.
Mrs. Prancer starts…reindeer class? They explain that Santa picks his ‘flyers’ by holding a junior reindeer competition every year. Whomever ‘shines’ the best will be considered for a position on Santa’s team.
Rudolph proves to be loud and obnoxiously voiced even with a new voice actor for his older version. Like you’d expect, he’s made fun of for his nose. And, like in the other movie, it makes no sense to me that they’re saying he can’t be a flyer because his nose is red and glows. They are laughing WAY too much. It’s been a year since everyone’s found out about Rudolph’s nose – the ‘joke’ of its mere existence gets a bit old, guys.
Rudolph wants a normal nose, so he hides it in the snow and says he’ll stay like that forever. Yeah, no one will ever make fun of a reindeer with his face jammed in a snowbanking.
Santa: *looking at Rudolph’s glowing red nose* “You must be Rudolph!”
Rudolph: *completely seriously* “How’d you guess?”
Rudolph, please stop being stupid. At this rate, I’m going to have to make another Ash Ketchum reference and I’m only allowed three per review.
Santa gives Rudolph a nice scarf and tells him he likes his nose. +1 over Rankin/Bass Santa. Rudolph tells him about everyone mocking him.
Rudolph: “It hurts, your honor.” Your honor? The hell? He’s not a judge. That sounds so weird.
He believes he can’t be a flyer because of his nose, but Santa tells him everyone’s different and that he has a big heart. Song break time as Santa tells Rudolph that everyone’s important in Santa’s family, and Rudolph’s a part of that family. John Goodman’s singing this, so it’s alright, but the song is mediocre to say the least. Also, I’ll be addressing the animation later, but they very clearly show Santa talking/singing for about three seconds in the sleigh with no singing or talking actually happening.
This is nice and all, but that just begs the question, if Santa likes Rudolph in this version and everyone highly respects him (to the point where he’s called ‘your honor’) why can’t Santa just tell everyone to stop mocking Rudolph? They would most likely listen. I know Santa just met Rudolph, which is odd considering he’s a fawn of one of his flyers, but he must’ve heard about him and known everyone makes fun of him. And why are the elves, who have also been making fun of Rudolph, now singing along in this song of acceptance to him?
Another pointless and, at this point, friggin’ annoying micro song break by the northern lights to alert us that it’s now Christmas Eve and Santa’s heading out. Thanks. As Rudolph tries to get a better view of them heading off, we get understanding of where a good chunk of the budget probably went – Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime.
As they fly away, Rudolph starts talking to himself, imagining being the new reindeer on Santa’s team and making an acceptance speech about it. Really not making him anymore likable. If he’s not being annoying or stupid, he’s being embarrassingly awkward. He thanks his crush, a doe we barely know named Zoey. Even though the rest of the voice acting hasn’t been spectacular, Zoey’s is about as awkward as Rudolph’s imaginary speech. She doesn’t sound like she’s in the scene at all – she just seems like she’s whizzing through her lines without paying attention.
She accepts Rudolph for who he is and doesn’t care about his nose. They’re about to kiss under the mistletoe when Arrow, one of their classmates and son of Cupid, shows up. (Get it? Cupid’s arrow?) It should be noted that there’s someone else in Rudolph’s class with a heart shaped mark on their forehead, but Arrow has no mark yet is actually Cupid’s kid. I guess he could be his brother, but I feel like there was a miscommunication in the art department.
Arrow’s basically Ronno from Bambi, which is strange because his father’s namesake is the god of love. He makes fun of Rudolph and is trying to get in Zoey’s metaphoric pants. Here’s the thing, despite standing up for Rudolph and coaxing him into kissing her, Zoey says they’re only friends and even follows Arrow when he tells her to, even though there seems to be no reason for it. Give Faline some credit – when she went with Ronno, it was because he was obviously forcing her to go. Here, it just seems like Zoey really doesn’t want to be seen with Rudolph or is, for some reason, obligated to go with Arrow.
Rudolph gets all excited when Zoey looks back at him and yells out that she likes him, but again, dude, she just totally ditched you to walk home with Arrow. You might be able to argue that she left so Arrow would leave Rudolph alone, but leaving with him just gives him all the power in that situation. He got the last word, the last laugh and the girl.
The northern lights show up again to tell us yet another year has passed and Rudolph has been training the whole year for the junior reindeer games. Thanks for continuously breaking the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule of filmmaking in such a terrible and sloppy manner, you animated canker sores.
Zoey gives Rudolph her heart pendant for luck, and they all start the games, which begin with a race.
Arrow’s purposely crashing people but Rudolph manages to keep up with him. Arrow pisses him off by telling him Zoey’s only nice to him because she feels sorry for him, prompting Rudolph to shine his nose and temporarily blind Arrow, sending him crashing. Rudolph wins, but is disqualified for illegal use of a glowing red nose (that’s actually a rule?) and is banned from the rest of the games.
And, of course, Arrow wins by default.
Oh boy! I get to rant! Whee!
First of all, this is one of those irritating as hell times where an antagonist is clearly cheating, tons of people witness it, yet no one cares. Rudolph and Doggle even point out that he’s cheating, but don’t say a thing as Arrow’s crowned winner. He’s purposely crashing people – you can tell without so much as a question. Did Rudolph technically win illegally too? Yeah. And he shouldn’t win the race like that, but disqualifying him and not Arrow is ridiculously stupid and unfair.
Second, Santa and Mrs. Claus also agree that this isn’t fair yet Santa says the judge has the final say in this, not them. Uh, no. You’re Santa Goddamn Claus. You have the final say in everything. Even if you were just a spectator, if you feel something’s been done unfairly, you have a responsibility to speak up and ensure fairness in the competition.
Third, why the hell does Arrow win by default? If the first place winner is disqualified, the honor usually goes to the second place winner, who was Zoey. Arrow didn’t even cross the finish line from what we saw. It went number five, who was Rudolph, seven, who was Zoey, and four who was some other reindeer. Arrow was one and he never crossed.
Are you telling me he won because he was neck and neck with Rudolph before his nose glowed? That’s not how races work.
Zoey angrily tells off Arrow, saying he’s a cheater. So you know he cheated too…..TELL SOMEONE. There are several officials around you – say something!
Arrow doesn’t care, and Zoey says he doesn’t deserve to be a flyer because true flyers are brave, have character and true hearts, like Rudolph. To which Arrow responds.
Arrow: “Tch, but he has a red nose.”
Air tight logic, there.
It occurs to me that one of the more common design elements of Santa himself is a big red nose. It doesn’t glow and it’s probably due to cold, but it’s true.
Zoey: “I don’t want to be your doefriend anymore.” Wait, what the hell? She really was dating Arrow this whole time?…..Two-timing whore! Why would she be with him anyway? For over a year! She doesn’t even seem to like him. What is with this girl?
Rudolph, hearing his father refer to his nose as an ‘accident’, runs away, even though his father was actually trying to defend him.
We get another song break, Show Me the Light, which is a duet between Rudolph and Zoey. It’s alright, but fairly short and pointless. He’s lead to a frozen lake that seems to be bathed in rainbow light. Just when you think the northern lights might actually be useful to the plot, he turns away from it. ‘Show me the light….so that I can walk away from it.’ The northern lights actually do show up and light up a cave….that is literally ten feet away from him. Good job.
He tries to lie down for the night when he meets Slyly the fox – one of those characters who acts like a tough guy and picks fights, but is really an idiot a coward. To make things worse, he has a mobster accent.
One of the most pointless and annoying song breaks ever comes up next. It’s just Slyly trying to cheer up Rudolph by saying it could always be worse, and 95% of the song is just him and his creepy background singers saying ‘Remember, it could always be worse.’
Rudolph reveals his nose to Slyly and has a ball, completely unprompted, making fun of himself before he believes Slyly will. Whatever develops your characters.
Blitzen and Mitzi go to ask Santa to help them search for Rudolph. He thinks about it for a while when Zoey’s parents burst in asking Santa to help them find Zoey since she went off to find Rudolph. Santa immediately pops up and says he’ll send a search party out as soon as possible. Guess he didn’t like Rudolph as much as he let on.
Zoey tries to cross Stormella’s bridge to find Rudolph. Zoey, sweetie, please use your brain. If the only way over this chasm is over this bridge and Stormella hasn’t opened a meteorological can of whup-ass on the village, then Rudolph probably went a different way.
Stormella catches her and relishes the fact that she can now set that terrible storm that she could’ve created at any time without conditions on the village.
Did I say ‘damsel in distress plot’? Mmm that’s some grade A trope right there.
Rudolph and Slyly are ousted from their cave by an avalanche that was caused by ‘the plot said so’ and they travel to another cave owned by Leonard the polar bear – another one of those characters who sounds like a complete dumbass because they have to preface nearly everything with ‘duuhhhhh’. They trick him out, they make friends – it really doesn’t matter.
The northern lights finally make themselves useful as plot advancers and tell Rudolph that Zoey’s been kidnapped by Stormella. Rudolph’s the only one who can save her for some reason, because….his nose light….is full of love and….stuff?
Rudolph and Leonard cross the bridge and head towards the ice catacombs of the ice fortress without Slyly because he’s too scared. Gee, I wonder if this is the last we’ll see of him. I sure hope he shows up in a pinch moment to save the day out of nowhere because that would be unexpected. But what are the odds of that?
Stormella can’t see who’s crossing the bridge through her crystal ball thing because the light is blinding her view, and she just thinks the alarm is malfunctioning…..you’re telling me people could’ve easily crossed the bridge as long as they had a relatively strong light with them? You’re a horrible villain. And why is a polar bear wearing a snow hat?
Sorry. It was bugging me.
Zoey starts a reprise of ‘Show Me the Light.’ The song actually has a point this time because they follow her voice to find her through the maze, which wouldn’t actually work in real life, right? Don’t echoes within areas like that make finding people through sound near impossible?
They’re lucky Stormella’s too stupid to have guards set up in the prison, but they get caught by Stormella anyway. How she knew they were in there, I have no clue. The point is, now Rudolph and Leonard are imprisoned too.
Stormella: “That doe crossed my forbidden bridge, and now I’m throwing the storm of the century.”
Zoey: “But…but it’s almost Christmas! A storm will ruin everything!”
Stormella: “Hit it, Ridley.”
*Ridley appears on a turnstile piano behind the wall and starts playing the next musical number.*
*Stormella uses her magic to put on a different gown, change her hair, make a microphone and put a spotlight on her*
Stormella: “I get a certain thrill from every fallen snowflake.”
Nope, nope. Stop. Stop! Too many questions! Let me catch up!
First, how does ‘You’ll ruin everything’ instantly translate to a song cue?
Second, how long was Ridley waiting behind that wall? Did they rehearse this? Did she wake him up just to say ‘Hey, we have a musical number coming up’?
Third, why is there is a grand piano on a turnstile behind the wall of this dungeon? Does Stormella really like entertaining her prisoners?
Fourth, why are they taking the time out to sing a song right now if she’s so antsy to get her storm brewing? This is worse than monologuing.
Fifth, is there a ladder in her hair? That definitely looks like a ladder.
Addressing the song as a whole, it’s terrible and only serves the purpose of explaining two things – she loves storms and hates Santa. For no reason. None whatsoever. She just hates him. The song is literally titled ‘I Hate Santa Claus’, but she gives absolutely no reason why. Character motivations sure are hard to write.
Zoey: “Rudolph, you mean everything to me.” That’s why I was banging that complete jackass behind your back for over a year. Love youuuu!
Stormella starts her storm, and guess who shows up? Plot conven—Slyly! He gets the key from a sleeping Storme—sleeping Stormella? Literally ten seconds ago she was making her huge Santa-ruining storm and now she’s sound asleep in her bed? Who is editing this? And why would she fall asleep now? Wouldn’t she stay awake to watch her plan unfold?
They start to escape but Stormella wakes up and corners them. In an effort to save Zoey from her wrath, Rudolph shines his nose so bright that it temporarily blinds Stormella and knocks her off a cliff. As she hangs from the cliffside, she begs for help and Rudolph goes to save her. She’s a witch who can create storms, ice formations and evening wear with a flick of the wrist, but she can’t fly or use magic to help herself up?
Rudolph and everyone else, including Stormella’s wolves, pull her up. She’s very thankful and even lets them go, but Slyly says that since Rudolph saved her life, she owes Rudolph one wish – such are the rules of the north pole…..those rules would only apply to magical beings who can grant wishes….did they make this weird rule purely for Stormella and maybe Santa? That’s stupid.
He wishes for Stormella to be nice, and I’ll admit him responding to her resistances to his wish by just repeating ‘I want you to be nice’ over and over is a bit humorous. It works, but she can’t stop the storm.
They leave, but can’t navigate in the storm. Rudolph lights up his nose, but even though it lights the way, they still say they won’t make it home in the bad weather—wow, that kinda pokes a hole in the finale of the song, doesn’t it?
Never the mind because Boone and Doggle, who have been miraculously following them despite having no clues (yeah, they found Rudolph’s stuff in the cave, but how’d they find the cave? And how’d it lead them to the fortress?)
The ever-annoying fairies pop up again for another micro-song interlude just to say it’s storming and Santa’s holding a meeting. Thank you. Please shut the hell up.
Santa cancels the trip because of the storm, and Rudolph and the others show up. Apparently, Boone and Doggle’s snowmobile doesn’t have headlights (seriously, it’s the late 90s now. There’s no excuse for lack of headlights on vehicles.) and despite the fact that they were navigating the storm perfectly fine without them, they use Rudolph’s nose light to guide their way back home.
Blah blah, guide my sleigh tonight.
Zoey gives Rudolph a kiss before he leaves, just to solidify that they’re a thing now….I still think she’s a two-timing whore.
Can I ask a question? From all we’ve seen of Rudolph so far, he can’t fly. Afterall, if he could, he wouldn’t worry about falling from the cliff on two separate occasions at the ice fortress. Does the medal give him the ability to fly or is this something we’re just ignoring?
…..Something we’re just ignoring. Okay.
As Rudolph and the others make it through the storm, we get our last song, which is alright but….this is weird. I feel like the song is dated. The vocals, the music – it all sounds like a forgotten pop song from the Beetles era.
The next morning, everyone gets their gifts, including Stormella who didn’t deserve one. She’s been evil her whole life by choice and only became good by magic brain washing. Plus, she’s been nice all of 12 hours.
They return and the northern lights start singing the titular song. I don’t care what they’re singing – just make them go away. Also, it’s very weird that everyone knows the words to this completely new song. Did they rehearse this while they were away? Does this place have a popular theater department?
Bottomline: This movie was bad, but not as horrible as it could’ve been. Comparing it to the Rankin/Bass movie, I like Donner/Blitzen and Santa better, but that’s about it. Taking RB out of the equation, Rudolph’s annoying, the love triangle shouldn’t have been a thing, Zoey’s a two-timing whore who is literally only there to be a damsel in distress love interest, Stormella’s such a pathetic villain she might as well not even be one, and there were way too many useless characters.
The northern lights had no purpose besides being a one-time plot device and providing us with pointless annoying as hell song interludes.
Slyly’s only purpose was freeing them from the dungeon, which was predictable and could’ve been done in a much more clever way without his help.
Leonard’s only purpose was…..he………Leonard didn’t do a damn thing, did he? He was legitimately entirely pointless. Wow.
Boone and Doggle were completely useless outside of causing the event that made Stormella close the bridge and make the storm condition, but I already explained how pointless that was. They came for Rudolph and the others in the end, but that could’ve easily been written as Rudolph and the others merely walking home. It would’ve been a nice use of his abilities before he went off with Santa. They didn’t even get a promotion in the end, and they barely talk at all in the second half. Santa just says they did a good job in one line and we hardly even see them again.
Arrow was completely dropped as a character after the reindeer games. He never appears again. He gets no comeuppance, he never gets ousted as a cheater, he never makes amends with Rudolph or anything – they just forget he existed.
The conflict was such a non-conflict that they had to force conditional conflicts on it in order to make it a conflict…..that makes sense, right? Not to mention that the plot was resolved in a completely lazy manner. They literally wished the problem away.
Plus, remember that thing I noted in the Rankin/Bass Rudolph review? About how it kinda fixed the problem with the moral that the song had by having everyone change their ways and apologize to Rudolph for how they acted before he saved Christmas instead of making it seem like he only gained respect and adoration because his nose finally proved useful to society?
This movie keeps that problem.
No one apologizes to Rudolph when he returns or says they were wrong for how they treated him. No one really shows respect for him until Santa asks Rudolph to light the way on his sleigh.
You could argue that they changed their minds about Rudolph before then by him defeating Stormella, but there are a few of problems with that.
First, he didn’t so much defeat Stormella as he just magically wished her evil away.
Second, the storm is still occurring either way, so ‘defeating’ her ultimately did little to nothing.
Third, Zoey stepped on the bridge and caused the storm to begin with. And why did she step on the bridge? Because she was looking for….
RUDOLPH! Meaning he, by proxy, sorta caused the problem in the first place.
There are definitely worse things to watch, and it’s not like the movie is really pushing bad messages, but it’s very lazily written, isn’t that Christmas-y and there are much better things you could be spending your time or money on.
Voice acting: Slyly and Leonard were annoyingly voiced, Rudolph’s child voice was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard, and Zoey always sounds like she’s just reading from a script and is never really acting. Blitzen sounds awkward numerous times, but other than that, everyone’s just mediocre. The best actors here are John Goodman, Debbie Reynolds and Whoppi Goldberg, who at least sound like they’re trying a little bit.
Art and Animation: Both the art and animation are pretty bad. Some of the background art and landscapes are alright, but otherwise it’s just a lot of very simple designs that barely stay consistent when moving. The animation is obviously very cheap. It juts, the cycles are very obvious, instances of cross eyes happen constantly, and there is even one occasion during Santa’s first run where you can actually see the frames overlap. It really just makes you wonder what the hell they did with the $10 million budget they had. Oh yeah, getting big name celebrities just to sell the movie.
Not like that helped because the movie only got $113k at the box office…..Wow.
Music: The background music is horrible. There are a lot of cartoony trumpet noises and doofy music when the scene doesn’t call for it. Plus, the sound effects are sometimes odd or just non-existent. The lyrical songs range from alright to terrible. Show me the Light is the best one, but that’s not saying much. The inclusion of Wonderful Christmastime brings a bit more Christmas feeling to the movie, but it feels really out of place when there are no other songs like that on the soundtrack. The rest are original songs meant for the movie, outside of the obvious.
So 1998, what do you think?
1998: “I think I just wasted an hour and 17 minutes of my life.”
What does time matter to a year?
1998: “Don’t get philosophical on me after that.”
The good news is, you didn’t get the worst of it!
1998: “What? Really?”
Yup! Farewell, 1998! I’m off to 2001!
1998: “I better warn 2001…..Wait, where’d she get a TARDIS?”