AVAHS – Family Guy: Road to the North Pole Review

Plot: Stewie and Brian head off to the North Pole so Stewie can kill Santa for not allowing him to see him at the mall. When they finally reach the North Pole and meet Santa, they find that it’s not the land of magic and wonder it once was – it’s a toxic, bloody and demented factory all caused by the ever-increasing greed of people around the world.

Breakdown: Wow. I’ve managed to go up until this very moment without ever reviewing any episode of Family Guy. It’s hard to ever want to review Family Guy because it’s so inconsistent in its quality. Some episodes are abhorrent, some are alright and some are pretty good. As a whole, though, if you don’t like Family Guy or lost your taste for the ever-devolving humor, it’s hard to want to sit through it for review purposes.

I don’t watch Family Guy anymore because, from all I know and have seen of its most recent years, it’s been a steady downward spiral, but a handful of years ago I used to watch it fairly regularly and enjoyed it just fine. They definitely have gone overboard with the cutaways, they have a lot of difficulty knowing when to stop a joke (this episode is no exception) and sometimes they’re just overly dark and terrible for no reason.

I think most people will agree that the show is at its strongest when it’s focusing on one of Brian and Stewie’s adventures, and giving them an “hour” long (read: 42 minute long) Christmas special seems right up their alley.

I vaguely remember watching this special once and the only reason I remembered that I watched it was because of a scene where they have David Boreanaz (in live-action) playing the aurora borealis (Or Aurora Boreanaz because that’s the joke.) and it reminded me that Bones once had an episode where Booth hallucinated Stewie (fully animated and integrated into the live-action) throughout the runtime, and Stewie was pestering him about getting Brennan pregnant the more ‘direct’ way because she had asked Booth to donate his sperm for her to have a kid and he was having an inner conflict about it, and his hallucinations were caused by a brain tumor………Weird-ass fuckin’ episode. Love ya, Bones, but that broke the weird meter.

Anyway, the special itself is pretty alright. Most of the jokes land just fine and some even had me smiling. Obviously, though, this being Family Guy, they have to add a pretty dark and gloomy slant to this special.

You can REALLY tell the contrast between seasons here. In the first Christmas special they ever did, the worst that happened was Lois went on a stress-induced rampage and needed to be tranquilized. Here, so many terrible things happen. The elves are inbred, practically brain-dead and suicidal, the reindeer are mutated and have a hunger for elf flesh, they cut the arm off of a living elf because he was so brain damaged that he just didn’t notice and they needed his arm to coax the reindeer to fly, and Santa is so overworked in a toxic waste environment he was forced to create that he’s dying and longs for death. And lest we forget the very long sequence in which Brian and Stewie perform a home invasion, nearly (or actually?) beat a couple to death in front of their young daughter…..

Then there are contradictions in the writing. Some of which I can overlook like Santa saying they might not think he looks too bad but he’s actually 28….when he just got done explaining that, back in the day, people just wanted dollies and wooden choo-choo trains – pretty sure that era was more than 28 years ago.

Also, the first Family Guy Christmas special shows that everyone buys presents on Christmas, so why is everyone left gift-less without Santa now?

But then there are some instances where the confusion makes the entire joke not work. The aforementioned home invasion is topped off by Brian and Stewie learning that they’re not even in the right house for what they were delivering….but….the sleigh is just outside and these people are obviously good and celebrate Christmas….so….just go back out and get the right presents. Why is that the tipping point of that overly long and brutal scene?

But that out of the way, this is actually a pretty decent Christmas special, especially in regards to the songs and the message.

If there’s one area Family Guy usually shines in even today, it’s musical numbers, and this is no exception. While there are only two songs in this special, they’re very catchy, kinda funny and memorable songs.

As for the message, it’s a less cheesy but tried-and-true ‘stop being so greedy’ message. It doesn’t go so far as to basically tell you you’re bad for wanting anything on Christmas, like many Christmas specials seem to imply, but moreso just chill out and roll back with the expectations and demands. Just ask for one thing. Don’t pile it on. And….yeah, that message works just fine with me.

As much as I prattle on about the true meaning of Christmas and making of it what you want it to be, like I am some sort of Christmas special protagonist, there’s no getting around the fact that presents are a big part of Christmas. Gift giving and receiving is common in many holidays and traditions, and that’s Santa’s whole shtick. There’s no shame in it. It’s just when we go overboard with it that it becomes a problem. So dialing the greed back a bit and being happy with what you get is a more suitable message in my opinion.

Throughout the special, there are live-action interludes and narration by Ron MacFarlane, Seth MacFarlane’s father, and he does a fine job making those traditional old narration interludes funny. They’re not terribly funny, but they get the job done and his voice is actually rather nice for general narration.

Overall, if you currently hate or never liked Family Guy or Seth MacFarlane (though he hasn’t written for the show in years), this special won’t sway you into enjoying it, but it is a solid Christmas special as long as you can stomach some crass humor and gore.


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AVAHS – He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special Review

Plot: Adam and Adora are finally able to celebrate their birthday together for the first time. As festivities get set up, Adam and Man-At-Arms launch a SkySpy drone airplane to keep an eye on Skeletor. Orko accidentally hitches a ride on the plane and ends up on earth where he meets two children who teach him about Christmas. When Man-At-Arms teleports Orko back to Eternia, the kids get brought back with him and they teach everyone about the magic of Christmas.

Meanwhile, Skeletor, Hordak and Horde Prime aim to kidnap the kids to bring a stop the goodness and love of Christmas.

Breakdown: I never watched much He-Man when I was a kid. It came on right around when GI Joe did (a little before it, I think) but I only watched it here and there. I never really got into it.

I never watched a single episode of She-Ra because I don’t think they ever aired it on any channel I regularly watched. If they did, I just never noticed or watched.

Both are on my to-watch list of old shows that bring shame to my cartoon reviewer name for having not watched alongside Transformers and Thundercats.

Although, from what little I caught, I did immediately love Skeletor. There’s just something about that bonehead that I get endless joy from.

Speaking of joy, I do remember catching this Christmas special back in the day on Cartoon Network for whatever reason. And even though I didn’t think much of it back then, I got a strange amount of enjoyment from it this time around. Maybe I’m in great need of some cheesy-ass 80’s fun, maybe this is too goofy and nonsensical for me to care about nitpicking it to hell and back or maybe it’s legitimately good.

Who knows?

….No, seriously. Who knows? Because I’m getting so many mixed messages by the fans. Some are calling it one of the worst Christmas specials ever made, and as one reviewer put it, the second worst Christmas special behind the Star Wars Christmas Special (fucking ouch) and others just enjoy it as being some nostalgic cheesy fun. (Also, one reviewer on IMDB complained that the special, and I quote, “lacks the masculinity of the great show.” *snort*)

The Christmas parts are just as corny as you’d expect, and the action is pretty decent. However, the one thing I definitely remembered from watching this as a kid was Skeletor basically being forcibly taken over by the Christmas spirit, bonding with a robo-puppy and saving the kids from his boss. I got so giddy when that happened.

Is it objectively a mess? Yes. Was that song in the middle vomit-worthy? Oh yes. No doubt about that. Does that make it any less enjoyable? To me, no. I can see how some might be bothered enough to just switch it off, but I had legit fun with it. And this is coming from someone who nitpicks to a point of concern. Sometimes, things are just stupid enough to be so much fun that I don’t care, and bonus points come when it’s in a Christmas special. Maybe He-Man/She-Ra fans would argue, but eh.

……I did freak the hell out when I realized She-Ra’s horse could talk though. I dunno why I recoiled so much at that.


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AVAHS – Christmas in Tattertown (1988) Review

Plot: Debbie loved playing with her stuffed dog, Dog, and her doll Miss Muffet. One day, Dog, Muffet and Debbie were sucked through a mysterious book into a strange place called Tattertown where ‘junk’ comes to life. This place has never known Christmas, so Debbie decides to bring the magic of Christmas to them. Muffet, however, is taking advantage of her newfound life to be evil and wreck everything good.

Breakdown: Ah Ralph Bakshi. The guy definitely has his own flair and was basically the father of adult animation, but I really never enjoyed much for his work outside of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. Respect the hell out of him, but I don’t vibe much with his work usually. I don’t really care for his casual affiliation with John K much either, but I’m not sure of his current status with him, so I’ll leave that irk on the backburner.

Christmas in Tattertown was a pitch pilot for Nickelodeon back in 1988 for a series that would have been called Tattertown, but the series wasn’t picked up.

…..I can kinda see why.

(Although, let me be transparent here. According to the Wiki, the real reason Tattertown didn’t get picked up was supposedly because of the heat he got for the infamous ‘cocaine’ scene in Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures which aired when Tattertown was on the table. Considering the tone and more adult-ish style of this short, I can imagine they were worried he’d do something similar in the future of that show, even though Bakshi vehemently denied that that was the intention of the shot, even citing concerns for his own young daughter and his strong disdain for drugs.)

The animation is great for a late 80’s production, especially for a pitch pilot where poor animation is entirely reasonable and understandable. It’s very bouncy, particularly the ones based on older cartoons, and pretty fluid, even if some of the lines vanish and the frames jut around every now and then. In typical Bakshi fashion, the art ranges from perfectly fine to weird to what the hell is this even?

The sound design is….to be expected. The voice acting is passable at best and “must’ve accidentally replaced my ear buds with power drills again” at worst. The lip syncing is also quite rough, but I guess I’ll blame the pilot-ness there. The sound effects are basically passable, but the special is kinda quiet – again, understandable with a pilot.

As for the story, though….ech. Can you even say there’s a story here? Debbie finds out no one in Tattertown has never heard of Christmas, even though, as Debbie herself points out, with all the junk in town it’s unlikely that they’ve never learned what Christmas is until now. A bunch of this stuff would have to come from Christmas or be Christmas themed.

Actually, this special reminds me a lot of Spongebob’s first Christmas special, Christmas Who? though it’s more understandable that a bunch of undersea creatures don’t know of Christmas. And in both specials, Santa randomly appears at the end, meaning he visits the place but has never brought presents there until they randomly learned of the holiday. Pretty shitty practice, Santa.

After that, Debbie just tries to make Christmas for the Tattertown residents and keeps complaining that they’re not doing it right. She comes off as bratty fairly often, which, I guess she’s supposed to anyway for reasons I’ll get to in a second. Even when they are trying to do things right, like cutting down a Christmas tree, she complains. A little lumberjack toy was trying to chop down their sentient Christmas tree (who is also Jewish. I found that kinda funny.) and while it’s fine for her to stop him from doing that, of course, she tells him that Christmas isn’t about chopping down trees or presents, it’s about being kind and putting an end to strife for just one day. Everyone tears up at her speech, and then the lumberjack tries to chop down the tree anyway and Debbie smashes him….killing him? He’s never seen again.

Merry Christmas?

Kinda ruins your kindness and joy sentiment when you immediately murder someone. I get that that was the point, maybe a dark joke, but that adds to the confusion of the narrative here. Is this meant to be a real Christmas special or is it meant to be a skewed take on Christmas specials?

No one gets the true meaning of Christmas until Debbie plays a record of “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby. Everyone suddenly gets it and becomes immersed in the holiday somehow. Either his dulcet tones are magical or this is a lazy resolution. Seriously, Debbie’s big speech about kindness and good will doesn’t click with them but a song about how nice it is to have snow on Christmas does? Actually, it’s not even about the snow, really – it’s about nostalgia for childhood Christmases when you’d go out and have fun in the snow. Do they even get snow in Tattertown?

Meanwhile, Muffet, who has become evil 11 seconds after becoming sentient because Debbie was basically Elmyra if she was more into dolls than animals, is plotting to ruin Christmas.

She’s basically just an annoyance. She’s kinda funny when dealing with her minions, but her voice is awful. I also don’t understand a single molecule that is the scene where she desperately wants to eat the final slice of ‘tobacco pie’ which is literally a pie made out of tobacco with cigarettes and a cigar sticking out. I wanted to puke just seeing that thing.

And then a stove eats it instead and shits out ashes……Or maybe peed them out, because they came out the front….

She rallies an army and tries to take down everyone celebrating Christmas, but it literally backfires. One part I laughed out loud at was when her fighter planes thought Muffet was telling them to attack each other. It’s said in a Goofy-esque voice and the other guy praises her idea and they just start kamikaze-ing each other. It’s pretty funny.

In the end, Muffet is thrown in jail, gets a bunch of presents, but Debbie finds her and reclaims her as her precious doll, which is basically hell for Muffet.

Overall, this short is okay. It garnered a few yucks (and a couple actual yucks) and the loudness and chaos is tolerable, sometimes legitimately funny. As a Christmas special, it kinda sucks. They do aim for the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ and everything, and I do love how Harvey, the little old-fashioned style puppy dog, is so enamored with the idea, but it definitely doesn’t have much in the way of actual Christmas spirit. They pretty much just collect Christmas stuff, Debbie complains and then they mistake Muffet’s attack for a Christmas celebration, get all happy about it, but Debbie still complains because that’s not the ‘right’ way to celebrate Christmas, and then…Bing Crosby randomly saves the day.

Unless you’re a Bakshi fan in a Christmassy mood or a big fan of old animation, I don’t really see a reason to recommend this. There are better Bakshi works and better Christmas specials to check out.


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AVAHS – An All Dogs Christmas Carol Review

Plot: Charlie, Sasha and Itchy try to make a good Christmas for all the dogs and puppies in town. However, their holiday fun is ruined when Carface crashes the party. Using a mind-controlling dog whistle given to him by Annabelle’s evil witch cousin, Belladonna, Carface hypnotizes the dogs into giving him all of their bones. As he leaves, he also takes all of the presents, food and the money being raised for little Timmy’s life-saving operation. Belladonna’s true plan is much more sinister than just ruining a Christmas party. She wants to control all of the dogs in San Francisco to steal their master’s presents and ruin Christmas.

Charlie, Itchy and Sasha use a miracle tag granted to them by Annabelle to make Carface the hero they need to stop Belladonna by putting him through a familiar Dickens story.

Breakdown: It wouldn’t be AVAHS without at least one two animated version(s) of A Christmas Carol.

I have a bit of a strange relationship with the All Dogs Go To Heaven franchise. I did watch all of the movie entries numerous times when I was a kid, and I definitely remember today’s topic of focus as well. I liked it quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say I was ever a massive fan or anything.

Nowadays, I don’t have much interest in ever returning it, mostly because, as you might now, I have a bit of an issue with any feature involving animals being abused or dying, especially pets – particularly dogs.

Gonna get a bit personal here, so skip down to the part where you see a Spongebob time card to just get to the movie review.

When I was a kid, I hadn’t really processed death much. I had lost one cat, Mowgli, whom I was too young to really remember that well, and when I was about eight I lost my dog, Ginger, whom I do remember and loved. However, I don’t really remember being able to properly understand what was actually happening at the time. I don’t remember crying. I don’t remember being scared. Unless I blocked all of that out, I just don’t think I actually grasped the gravity of concept of death at that age.

I’ve never lived a day of my life without having at least one dog in the house. As of this writing, I am 31 years old and have lost six dogs over my life – the most recent one being the most devastating to me (no disrespect or any less love to my other dogs, of course) because I had her for 15 years, half my life, and I spent the last few years giving her near round-the-clock care, so I bonded with her a lot.

I had watched All Dogs Go To Heaven 1 and 2 before I ever lost my first dog, and I probably watched An All Dogs Christmas Carol before I lost my second dog. But as the years went on, I just didn’t want to return to the All Dogs Go To Heaven movies anymore even if they would probably be positive reinforcements on helping me deal with my grief, at least a little. After all, it’s literally saying ‘all dogs go to heaven.’ However, I don’t process emotions in a very healthy manner – neither good nor bad – but I’ll spare you from that mess and just say that certain topics, like animals dying, cut deep with me.

I know some people don’t value animals very much nor have they had pets and, as a result, have never had to deal with losing a pet, but animals are special to me and my pets have always been my very best friends. Seldom do times feel worse than when you lose a pet.

While the overall hot-button topic of dogs dying is most definitely the main problem with me here, I can’t help but also believe that a part of my issue in going back to All Dogs Go To Heaven is the fact that I’ve grown up around some ignoramuses who think it’s a good idea to tell a kid that, no, their dog probably isn’t in Heaven because only humans go to Heaven. That’s almost as bad as telling a kid that their very recently deceased grandfather probably isn’t in Heaven either because he wasn’t a Christian. 😐

But I digress, kinda, I guess.

Surely this movie will be fine, right? I mean, it’s a Christmas movie and it’s just another retelling of A Christmas Carol. What could they possibly do that would be depressing?

*presses play*

*presses pause*

…….There are….angel puppies……We’re starting the movie WITH DEAD PUPPIES?!

What the hell, movie?! I mean, granted, I’m not sure most kids would connect the implications, but holy hell.

Annabelle starts telling the angel puppies a story about how Charlie and Itchy saved Christmas from her evil witch cousin, Belladonna. Flashing back, we get a pretty decent Christmas song as Charlie, Itchy and Sasha do some Christmas decorating with the local puppies.

One of the puppies is our Tiny Tim for the movie, Timmy. He has a bum leg and they’re trying to raise enough money for an operation to help save his life.

Carface and Killer come in to collect the debts of everyone there, but they don’t have the bones to pay up, especially since Carface has added in a lot of interest. Using some strange whistle to hypnotize everyone, Carface and Killer steal every single bone they have, all of the food, all of the presents for the puppies and even the handful of cents Sasha and Charlie were able to raise for Timmy’s surgery.

Before I go any further, yes, Carface is our Scrooge. The guy who extorts, kidnaps, steals, manipulates and viciously assaults others as regularly as he probably craps over the course of a day. One of the only dogs to ever wind up in Hell. And, oh yeah, the guy who MURDERED CHARLIE is going to be given a redemption arc a la A Christmas Carol. I do not agree with this choice.

Scrooge was a cold-hearted ass, but even he wasn’t nearly as bad as Carface. Scrooge was flippant and didn’t care. He was blunt and angry, but he didn’t really actively do much that was bad to other people besides be a really strict boss. Carface is actively a pile of garbage. He is evil. Whereas Scrooge refused to give money to a charity for the poor, Carface stole from a charity for a dying disabled puppy. Whereas Scrooge didn’t have sympathy for the children, Carface kidnapped and nearly killed a little orphan girl (And, later, did the same thing with a little boy). Whereas Scrooge didn’t celebrate Christmas in the slightest, Carface stole Christmas presents and holiday food from a group of dogs and puppies who were trying to celebrate the holiday.

Hell, as much as Scrooge hated Christmas, in most iterations of the story, he begrudgingly allows Bob Cratchit the day off(ish). Carface would probably beat or kill him for asking.

The original movie is also a redemption story of a slimy person/dog eventually realizing the error of his ways and bettering himself, but Charlie’s worst crimes were mostly stealing, gambling and cheating – and he had to sacrifice his life and nearly damn himself to Hell for the sake of another person to redeem himself.

Carface? Well, let’s find out.

Charlie and Itchy confront Carface about the money. He reveals that he’s actually working for Belladonna, who gave him the magical dog whistle. They’re planning on using a giant version of the whistle to hypnotize every dog on the night of Christmas Eve so they’ll all steal their masters’ gifts and bring them to Carface.

They frame it like Belladonna is the big mastermind behind this whole plot, but she’s really not. Even Charlie points this out. He asks Belladonna what she gets out of this arrangement if Carface gets all of the gifts. Her response? She gets to ruin Christmas.

Yes. Carface gets hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts, and Belladonna gets to brag about ruining Christmas to….?

Also, literally the only reason we’re learning of this plot is because Charlie and Itchy have to know about it in order to stop it. It’s not even villain monologuing. Belladonna tells Killer to explain their evil plans to the boys for really no reason. They even show Charlie and Itchy a giant blueprint of the giant whistle for no other reason than to just give them an idea of what they need to look for. She could have kept the fact that there even was a second whistle a secret and let them believe the little whistle was what they were using so they could reveal the big whistle later, but nope. In fact, she melts the little whistle for no reason, despite the fact that Carface and Killer could still use it in the meantime to cause trouble.

Hey, why not use the little whistle on Charlie and Itchy so they’ll be hypnotized the whole time and not ruin your plans? No? Just gonna chase them away with fire imps so they can come back and save the day like this is a movie? Okay. Really not impressing as the main villain so far, Belladonna, not even as just a villain in this franchise.

Annabelle shows up and gives the duo a magical dog tag that, and I quote “won’t locate the whistle. It will, however, help you find a way to foil Belladonna’s plans.”

Yyeeaaahhhh………that’s dumb. That is a diamond of dumbness. With the amount of dumbness in that statement, if you managed to make a generator that ran on dumb, you could power the entire world until the day the sun burns out.

What the hell is this dog tag when its powers amount to ‘whatever you need it to do to stop Belladonna EXCEPT find the massive mind-controlling whistle, which, of course, would end this movie in a minute and a half.’?

I find it hard to believe that it’s so well-hidden anyway. The whistle is a giant object built from evil magic. Shouldn’t that thing be a beacon to the head angel dog, Annabelle? She actually has the nerve to say “There’s only so much I can do.” WHY?! Why is it you can give the boys an item that will surely give them the ability to defeat Belladonna, barring finding the whistle, but you can’t get your halo’d ass down here and actually help?

Gah, it’s Gaia and Planeteers all over again.

Believe it or not, Charlie’s first idea is to make Carface a good guy, which doesn’t make sense because they don’t even know if Carface knows where the whistle is. He was acting suspicious about knowing the location, but he could’ve just been screwing with them. (Hindsight alarm: I wrote this as I was watching the movie when I believed they wanted to turn him good to make him tell them where the whistle was so they could destroy it. Turns out, that’s not the intention. The intention is actually way stupider. Carry on.)

Actually, now that I think about it, why did Belladonna even involve Carface and Killer? Their only actual role throughout all of this is to get presents and lead the heroes into foiling her plot. She could’ve just blown the whistle in secret and gotten away with everything. Belladonna is a complete dumbass.

Itchy jokes that Carface is too much of a Scrooge to become a good guy, which also doesn’t make any sense because Scrooge DID become a good guy….

The mention of Scrooge gives Charlie an idea – they’ll use the tag’s magic to make Carface go through the motions of A Christmas Carol so they can turn him into a good guy so they can use him to stop Belladonna.

Yup. That’s the plan. Built entirely on the idea that every bad person has some sad backstory and that, with a little self-reflection, they’ll change their ways and become good, even if they’re a murderous scab.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to try this plan on Killer? He’s actually shown some semblance of goodness in the past when he helped save Anne-Marie in the first movie.

As Carface lies in bed watching TV, Charlie pops in on the screen to announce “It’s a Wonderful Carface” which is the wrong reference. I don’t know why they changed it because not only does it not fit, but it also would be better to say “A Carface Carol” or even “A Christmas Carface.”

Itchy takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and he takes Carface back to when he was a puppy. Surprisingly, they don’t make off like he was a good dog turned bad. Instead, he was a bit of a nightmare as a pup. He bullied his siblings and made trouble. However, he explains that, no matter how bad he was, his mom always loved him. That was the last holiday they spent together before he eventually was adopted by a nice family.

In his new house, Carface would be even more of a nightmare. He’d destroy everything – chew it up, tear it up, break it to pieces – as Carface put it, he could get away with murder in that house. He even destroyed the Christmas dinner and knocked over the Christmas tree. However, his owner, a boy named Bobby, would always stand up for him no matter what he did. As Carface explains in song, Bobby would always say Carface didn’t mean to do it, and he was always his buddy. Bobby, by the way, is a shitty owner. He completely ignored Carface as he did all of these things and never once thought to properly train him.

Speaking of training, Carface couldn’t help but pee on the rug after he had just gotten done demolishing the house, and apparently that one thing, that most puppies do, was the last straw – not the fact that he destroyed the place moments before. Carface expected Bobby to stick up for him, but he blamed the incident on Carface and his mother kicked him out of the house and into the cold winter night.

After that Carface decided to stop being a ‘good dog’ and became a bad dog, which is a weird thing to say because this entire story has proven that he’s been a little demon since day one. The gist is that Carface was always awful, but he had people there to enable him. The instant the enabling wasn’t there, he became even worse.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting the entire blame on Carface. Like I said, Bobby was a terrible owner. He never cared about what Carface was doing and never bothered to try and train him. Instead, he just made excuses and kept letting the bad behavior happen. He didn’t even properly house train Carface.

This kind of situation is all too familiar. Family adopts pet but because they either pawn off responsibility on their lazy-ass kid or they simply don’t realize that dogs, particularly puppies, need to be trained in order to not develop or exacerbate behavioral issues, and that requires, *gasp*, work, they instead blame the dog for not just being good and well-trained by default and abandon the poor thing without even making the effort to rehome it.

In that regard, Carface does get some sympathy points, but the fact that all of that was preceded by Carface just being a nightmare from day one really dulls that angle.

Compare that with Scrooge, where he was a good, but lonely, kid whose father hated him for reasons beyond his control. He loved his sister, Fan, but she ended up dying young while giving birth to her son, Fred. He had a good time under the tutelage of his boss, Mr. Fezziwig, but eventually lost his way in greed. He became obsessed with money, embittered and cold, which drove the people he loved, particularly his fiance, Belle, away and only made matters worse. He didn’t let go of the greed or the anger, even when plenty of people offered him a kind hand and a smile, friendship and understanding.

We can sympathize with Scrooge easily during this flashback period because we see that he was a good person who suffered from some terrible circumstances which certainly affected him, but ultimately he made the choice to become and stay a miserable old coot. This also gives us hope that Scrooge can change since he was, at one point, good.

This can’t be said of Carface. We can only barely sympathize with him here, and we’re left with little hope that he can actually change because he never was a good person in the past. His love of his mom or Bobby isn’t the same as Scrooge’s love of Fan. His sister loved him because Scrooge was a good person who was unjustly hated and treated like crap by his father. Scrooge loved her because she loved him and she was the only one who brought joy to his life. Carface’s mother loved him in spite of the fact that he was a troublemaker who treated his siblings badly, and Bobby just loved him because he was a little boy and Carface was a puppy – of course he’d love him. Carface loved the both of them because they loved him in spite of being a mini Tazmanian Devil.

Carface became an even worse dog after he was kicked out and loved every minute of it, but admits that he still sometimes yearned to be back with Bobby again.

Itchy returns to Charlie once the segment ends.

Itchy: “Carface is madder than ever. I mean, I didn’t know he had such a rough puppyhood.”

Charlie: “Well, a lot of us did, Itchy, but we didn’t all go turning nasty.” Mmm…I’m going to give the movie some props here for this line. They are acknowledging that his bad past isn’t an excuse to be evil, but they’re also ignoring that Carface was always a jerk, far before his owner betrayed him. He wasn’t always evil, but he clearly knew right from wrong and kept being bad while expecting people to just excuse him.

Also, he KILLED CHARLIE.

As Charlie and Itchy discuss how little time there is until Belladonna executes her plan, they see this and just ignore it.

GOLLY I WONDER WHERE THE GIANT WHISTLE IS. WHAT A BIG FUCKIN’ MYSTERY.

Sasha takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Present and shows Carface that Killer cares about him and is even preparing to give him a blow torch for Christmas. He secretly loves Christmas even though Carface hates it…..which just makes you wonder 1) why he’s agreeing to partake in a plot to ruin Christmas and 2) why he wasn’t the one Charlie and Itchy targeted for a redemption arc.

Killer even says during a song break that he regrets the bad things he’s done.

Carface realizes what a good guy Killer is………Didn’t you try to kill him too?

The aforementioned song break is a duet with Belladonna where she explains that she also loves Christmas….ruining it, anyway.

We then move to Timmy’s house. He’s owned by a fairly poor family. His owner is a young girl named Martha, who is kinda like Bobby in that she keeps ignoring this puppy doing clearly dangerous things. Timmy doesn’t have a collar, is sick and has a bum leg yet is allowed to roam the streets for hours on end. She also put a plate of cookies on the floor for some reason and allowed him to try to grab a stocking with a bone in it by stacking presents, balancing on top of them and grabbing it while she’s just sitting on the couch in the same room reading a magazine.

Carface likes Timmy because he reminds him of himself at that age, but he’s saddened when Sasha reminds him that he robbed Timmy of money he needed for an operation to help save his life.

Timmy falls from the stocking and lands on the plate that wasn’t under him before, but it was stupid for it to be on the floor anyway, so I’ll allow it. The plate breaks, and Martha’s mother rushes in.

Carface starts cringing because he believes Martha will rat out Timmy and he’ll be kicked out, but Martha actually takes the blame for what happened, much to Carface’s surprise. Timmy…’confesses’ that he was the one who actually broke the plate by carrying a plate piece over to Martha’s mother with his head down.

Martha’s Mother: “You mean….you broke the plate?”

*Timmy nods his head*

You mean….you’re intelligent enough to understand human speech, convey information and even respond to questions?

*Timmy nods his head*

Timmy is forgiven and praised for telling the truth and owning up to what he did. See, this kinda highlights that Carface wasn’t just a rowdy puppy that didn’t know any better – he did bad stuff on purpose. If Timmy knows right from wrong and knows when he should apologize, Carface should have as well. I imagine his brothers and sisters were held up to that same standard considering his mother seemed so loving, so there’s really no excuse.

Carface: “Someone should take care of him!”

Sasha: “Why?”

Carface: “Because….nobody ever did that for me!! *starts crying*” Oh shut up, you Charlie murderer. Plenty of people cared for you, but you took advantage of their kindness and never took responsibility for your actions.

Anyway,

Charlie takes over as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Everyone’s celebrating Carface’s untimely demise, and, while sporting a super not outdated reference to The Mask, Charlie sings about Carface needing to clean up his act.

Killer: “Make up for all those mutts you whacked!” ?!?!?! So they’re acknowledging that Carface is a murderer – not just of Charlie but of who knows how many dogs? And they’re saying he still has time to turn his life around and make up for that? Are you people mental?

Oh by the way, this isn’t clever wordplay – like they meant he literally ‘whacked’ some dogs. As he’s singing this part, Killer is giving Carface a shave. When he says ‘you whacked’ he slices Carface’s head off (non-graphically). There’s no other way to interpret that.

Throughout the song, they tell Carface that, if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll end up in Hell (without saying Hell because they’ve neutered this franchise…..no pun intended) which makes sense, but also doesn’t.

Carface killed Charlie and a bunch of other dogs (as well as did a lot of other evil things) and still ended up in Heaven in the first movie because…well….*pokes original movie’s title* Also, he sold his soul, which made him wind up in Hell in the second movie. How did he come back after that (Is it explained in the series? That was one part of this franchise that I never saw), and isn’t his soul still bound for Hell after he dies because of the contract? If the contract is null and void, doesn’t that mean he goes to Heaven by default anyway because….well….*pokes original movie’s title harder* You can’t keep changing the rules on where dogs end up after they die – especially when the rule is in the frickin’ title.

Moving on, Charlie shows him Timmy’s ‘future’ which isn’t him being dead because, like I said, they neutered this franchise (even though they still showed us angel puppies in the start, so *shrug*) Instead, Timmy’s under the influence of the whistle and steals his owner’s present to bring to Carfa—….Wait, a minute, I just realized that this whole story has no urgency because, if Carface is changed, it doesn’t matter whether or not Belladonna blows the whistle. Even if the dogs steal the presents, Carface can just return them.

Charlie: “Well, the miracle tags worn off. Guess our job is done.” You guys are the worst heroes. You can still TRY TO FIND THE DAMN WHISTLE BEFORE MIDNIGHT. My god….

After that, Charlie just up and decides that it’s an emergency to find the whistle now that it’s mere minutes away from midnight.

Belladonna: “And nobody suspects that’s right here – on Alcatraz Island!” THIS is Alcatraz Island?

O…..kay.

Belladonna has–Wait a minute. Wait a dog damn minute. They’re on Alcatraz Island…….Alcatraz Island……ALCATRAZ ISLAND.

They’re going to blow the whistle from Alcatraz Island…..

How are the dogs supposed to bring the presents from San Francisco to ALCATRAZ ISLAND – a place notoriously difficult to swim to and from – while enduring incredibly cold water temperatures, especially in winter, with presents in their mouths, no less; presents that will be destroyed in the water.

Although, I guess Belladonna would get what she wants anyway. Killing everyone’s dogs on the night before Christmas would pretty handily ruin Christmas.

Belladonna has a spell set up to have lightning strike the whistle’s steam generator at midnight, causing the whistle to blow.

Carface is having second thoughts, but Belladonna is set in her plans.

Meanwhile, after about two minutes of searching, Charlie and the others return home.

Sasha: “Oh you tried, Charlie. You did everything heavenly possible.” Yeah, he sure did. He wasted nearly all of their given time and all of the magic of a miracle tag just to bring his worst enemy and MURDERER through an A Christmas Carol adaptation in the hopes that he’d have such a massive redemption arc that he’d do all of their work for them instead of doing, mmm, literally anything else.

Also, he had absolutely no plan in case Belladonna decided to go through with her plot without Carface. Like I said, he’s completely superfluous. I don’t even know why she’s commanding them to pull the levers. Can’t her little fire imps do that?

Carface does end up pulling the lever, allowing the whistle to function and hypnotizing all of the dogs of San Francisco, but he has a change of heart and flips the switch back.

Under threat of Belladonna, however, he flips the switch back once more and she melts it so he can’t flip it again.

Carface is determined to stop this, however, so he jumps on the line feeding electricity to the machine and grabs the whistle, somehow blowing it up.

Now you’d think this’d be a death fake out – have Carface sacrifice himself for Timmy and whatnot…Nope. In fact, before we see what happened to Carface, we see Killer pointing and mocking him for getting shocked this time instead of him. Carface is perfectly fine. He doesn’t even have any burn marks.

Belladonna is pissed. Carface takes the rap for what happened, yay he finally grew as a person, but Belladonna doesn’t care who takes the rap, she’s going to kill both Carface and Killer now.

………….

Annabelle: “HALT! You will not harm these two!”

Annabelle….who didn’t know where either the whistle or Belladonna were….suddenly knows where both Belladonna and the whistle are….Now that everything’s over.

Oh but not only that;

Belladonna: “Annabelle! Get out of my line of fire!”

Annabelle: “Try it and I’ll clip your wings!” This implies she’s more powerful than Belladonna and could easily defeat her.

Belladonna: “This dog belongs to me.”

Annabelle: “No, cousin. People belong to themselves so they can choose between good and evil. And it’s my duty to protect that!”

Annabelle: “Your ways are big and fiery. So I’ll stop you with something cool.”

*Annabelle makes it snow*

The light snowfall is enough to defeat her fire imps, which is sad, but Belladonna laughs it off and transforms into some half-dragon version of herself…..that of which is easily defeated by Annabelle literally snapping her fingers and burying Belladonna in snow.

Annabelle: “Hah! Nobody messes with Heaven!”

We cut back to Charlie, Sasha and Itchy with the puppies…….sleeping…………They’re sleeping…..Christmas was about to ruined in front of their very eyes….and they all decided to go to bed…..

Charlie: “It means our plan worked! We convinced Carface to save Christmas!” Well, it’s nice that you straight out admit that your plan was to get someone else to do your dirty work. You’ve learned from Annabelle quite well, Charlie….

Itchy: “Actually, Charlie, the final decision belonged to Carface.”

Annabelle: “Yes, and he chose correctly.”

Charlie: “See? I told you all along we could trust him.” He fucking murdered you.

Anyway, it’s snowing, yay, Christmas is saved, yay, and Carface even arrives to return the presents and everything else he stole. He also added a bunch of new presents and filled up Timmy’s donation can with coins. Thank god complicated life-saving operations cost about $13.87.

Uegh, Sasha even gives him a kiss on the cheek. He murdered your boyfriend.

Oh and Carface says he’s not going to stay all sweet and kind since he still has to run his business. I’m assuming, since this is based off of the TV series, that they made him say that in case it continued so Carface could still be a villain, status quo and whatnot, but it didn’t continue since they mark this as being the series finale, so….sorta implied he’ll ruined his character development for no reason.

Once everyone is all happy, Carface leaves to go visit his mom…..Wait, his mom is still alive, and he knows where she is? Why hasn’t he ever visited her until now? Also, if he had a loving mother to return to, why didn’t he just do that when Bobby betrayed him? This story has more holes than a porcupine’s shirt.

After Timmy does the trademark “God bless us, everyone.” we cut back to Annabelle one more time as she finishes telling the angel puppies the story.

The End.

——————————————-

This movie is really stupid. Like, really, really stupid. The kind of stupid where I can feel my brain fighting off the stupid like it’s a virus. The set up is stupid, the villain is stupid, her motivations are even stupider, the concept is stupid, the resolution is stupid, the heroes are stupid – everything is stupid. Granted, the original movie isn’t really a masterpiece of storytelling, but how did we devolve from that to this?

It was definitely the worst adaptation of A Christmas Carol I’ve ever seen, and Annabelle can shove a harp right up her a–

I still can’t wrap my head around the decision to make Carface a good guy. Maybe he’s been drained of so much villainy in the series that this makes more sense, but….HE KILLED CHARLIE! The main character, the guy we’re most meant to connect with, the hero of the franchise – he murdered him and slues of other dogs. He also did so much other evil shit, to the point where he was sometimes designed to look like a devil in the original movie. He sold his soul and went to Hell in the second movie.

But oh yeah, he’s just got a chip on his shoulders from something that is mostly his fault and needed to connect with someone to become good.

And with the implication that he won’t stay good in the end….what did this movie even accomplish?

I can’t even enjoy our heroes being heroic, because they weren’t. Annabelle pawned off a mission that she could have easily taken care of herself on Charlie, Itchy and Sasha, who, in turn, created an insanely convoluted plan to pawn off the task on Carface and then they just went to bed hoping the dude who murdered Charlie would have a change of heart and save the day.

The art and animation are also clearly miles away from what they once were, although I guess it could’ve been a lot worse. For the most part, it’s passable, but there are numerous instances of very stiff animation and even some shots where it looks like in-betweens are missing.

That being said, this is tolerable. In fact, the ride itself is pretty okay. Some of the dialogue is funny, and I absolutely loved those dogs who kept trying to wait for their cue to pick the Christmas song back up. The message is also very good. People choose to be good or evil – you can’t force them. Their pasts may be sad, but they’re not excuses to be evil. They make those choices. The best you can do is try to help them get back on a better path, but the rest is up to them.

That is very much a theme in A Christmas Carol. Fan dying and Belle leaving him was sad, but they weren’t excuses for him to become so jaded and hateful, and he was showing signs of wantant greed and a lack of caring before then. The ghosts may have shown Scrooge everything he needed to see, but he, ultimately, had to make the decision whether to stay greedy and cold and accept his future or become good and use what time he had left to share warmth and happiness.

I still don’t think Carface did nearly enough to earn his redemption, but they gotta keep that G rating…..Wait, the original movie was rated G, too?! What the literal hell?! Guess ten years makes quite the difference……Don Bluth reportedly owns the only PG cut of the movie.

Carface has just done way too many terrible things to believably be redeemed because he got a cartoony electric shock to stop an evil plot that he was part of in the first place. Like I said, Charlie sacrificed his life for his redemption, and he did way less than Carface.

I guess the lesson there is that no one is really beyond redemption, but that is an insanely loaded debate even for adults, let alone kids.

The music was also a positive note. Almost all of the song breaks were memorable and snappy. I most remembered listening to ‘Clean Up Your Act’ and Carface’s sad song during the Past segment. They’re not amazing songs, but they’re pretty good. I’d listen to them over again no problem.

The voice acting was alright. I think they were definitely starting to phone it in at this point, though. Steven Weber does a pretty good job as Charlie, Ernest Borgnine was fairly decent as Carface, Sheena Easton did a great job with Sasha, and Dom Deluise does well enough as Itchy.

The movie is, ultimately, harmless and would probably be a fun casual Christmas watch……barring the implications of the angel puppies. As a nostalgic rewatch, it’d probably be fine if you turn your brain off, but I despise making that suggestion, especially when it comes to children’s media. Just being a good ride is fine, but I shouldn’t have to actively not think about anything as I’m watching something. As someone who overthinks to the point of stress, it’s also a difficult endeavor for me. Children’s media should never get a pass for being dumb just because it’s for kids. That’s so ass backwards.


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AVAHS – Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas

Rating: 6.5/10

Plot: A sequel to Once Upon a Christmas, this is basically the same premise just with different shorts and super duper early 2000s CGI.

Breakdown: Before we go any further, I want to address something that will bug the crap out of me if I don’t say anything. When I was looking for poster art to use on Once Upon a Christmas, I saw posters for Twice and the thumbnails constantly confused me because they all looked like they said ‘Twice a Christmas’ I thought maybe I was finding a screwed up poster or something, but then I watched the opening of the movie and saw this.

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For some stupid reason, they decided to make the word ‘upon’ really tiny and shove it in the line above everything else like it’s superscript. It’s like they had the template for the title card then realized the font wasn’t fitting in properly so they resized the words and forced it to fit.

Our first short is Belles on Ice, a Minnie and Daisy cartoon. You would never guess this is a Christmas short until the very end where they write ‘Peace on Earth’ in ribbon and wish each other a merry Christmas.

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Daisy and Minnie are in a figure skating competition, separately, and Daisy accidentally skates out when the announcer starts playing up the next competitor, which turns out to be Minnie. When everyone starts loving Minnie’s performance, Daisy gets very angry and decides to literally steal the show by skating out and being a showboat.

Understandably, Minnie starts to up her game even more to skew focus back on her. They keep going back and forth with this until Minnie suddenly wipes out. Daisy, seeing her friend fall, apologizes. Minnie apologizes too, even though she shouldn’t have to, and the two make a grand finale together.

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Realistically, there’s a bunch of issues with this short. First and foremost, it’s not Christmas-y. Like I already mentioned, outside of shoving two Christmas lines at the end, you’d never know this was a Christmas special.

Second, Minnie’s also made out to be in the wrong when she was just defending herself and trying to rightfully take back her performance.

Third, Daisy is incredibly petty and jealous here. She’s so intimidated by Minnie’s performance that she can’t even let her finish a full minute of it before she jumps out onto the ice and tries to steal her thunder.

If Daisy’s such an amazing skater to steal the show from Minnie, why didn’t she just wait until it was her own damn turn? The only reason I can think of is that she was pissed about being embarrassed for going out on the ice early, but Minnie didn’t do that – she was just assuming it was her turn based on how the announcer was building up the next performer. Surely they gave them a program that shows the order of participants so stuff like that doesn’t happen.

I didn’t like this segment very much. I liked the reactions of Donald and Mickey a bit and for some reason I was very entertained at the thought of Minnie’s background ice skaters being alligators, but Daisy’s being a bitch, we have two girls who are supposed to be friends being the petty vindictive stereotype that plagues so many girl friend characters and it has an ending that is unrealistic.

Daisy would be disqualified the instant she went out on the ice either for sabotage or trying to do her performance when it was someone else’s turn.

And I think they might both be disqualified at the end for having a duo performance when they didn’t enter as such.

The next short is a Huey, Dewey and Louie short called Christmas Impossible.

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The boys, Donald and Daisy are spending the holiday at Scrooge’s mansion. The boys have learned jack from last year’s Christmas because they’re back to being rude selfish brats. Scrooge tells the boys that he’s been selfish his whole life and never got on Santa’s nice list. The boys ask why that even matters since being selfish made him rich, but he says that being rich never got him what he really wanted. He tells the boys to not follow his example and to clean up their acts to make it on Santa’s nice list. However, it’s so close to Christmas that the boys conclude there’s no way for them to make up for all the crap they’ve done over the past year to be considered nice before Santa heads out to make his deliveries.

They decide to mail themselves to the north pole and write their names on Santa’s list themselves. By the way, Max, you could’ve saved yourself a lot of trouble with your Santa faith in the last movie if you just mailed yourself to the north pole. Apparently, they live in a world where you can mail yourself to the north pole and back within the time frame of a night on Christmas eve.

They’re still jackasses while traversing the workshop. They’re trying to get the key to Santa’s office so they can put their names on the list, but they end up destroying all of the wrapping on the gifts in order to find it. They don’t seem to care until they realize that their actions are going to ruin Christmas for everyone. They decide to fix their mistake and help the elves get everything back to normal, including a very distracting fast-motion scene that is ridiculous in CGI.

They finally get into Santa’s office and are about to write their names on the list when they decide to write Scrooge’s name instead. Why they didn’t write their names too, I don’t know. They never came to the realization that they didn’t deserve to be on the nice list, and there was plenty of room on that paper.

The next morning, they see Scrooge’s gift and it’s bagpipes…..I get that the message is that Scrooge wanted to be on the nice list and you can’t buy your way onto it, but the way it’s written, it was like he asked for something that money couldn’t buy and he never got it because he was never good enough to be on the nice list. Pretty sure you can buy bagpipes pretty easily.

Huey, Dewey and Louie are surprised to find that they also have a bunch of gifts from Santa, meaning they got on the nice list. A note from Santa states that there’s always room on the nice list for kids who put others before themselves and thanks them for helping out at the workshop.

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*sigh* First, the only reason they were even at the workshop to begin with was because they were putting themselves first. They wanted to fraudulently put themselves on a list they didn’t deserve to be on just to get toys.

Yes, they put Scrooge’s name on the list instead of their own, but that’s something else to ponder. If they had to write Scrooge’s name on the list, doesn’t that mean he didn’t deserve to be on the list either? Their hearts were in the right place when they did that, but they still technically tried to manipulate Santa for the sake of getting a naughty person a gift.

Second, they only helped clean up the mess they caused. It’s a good thing that they realized they should fix their mistake and help save Christmas, but they’re the reason it was ever in danger. It’s not like it was an accident either – they were purposely destroying everything to find the key to Santa’s office. It’s like thanking an arsonist for putting out their fire. And even after they did that, they were still planning on putting themselves on Santa’s list.

This short had its somewhat funny moments, but it’s a tad predictable and I can’t say I’m really understanding the full message here.

The next segment is a Goofy and Max short called Christmas Maximus, and I need a minute to understand the logistics of this one.

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I assumed that this movie was taking place only a year or two after the first one yet Huey, Dewey and Louie are still basically the same age, but Max is now in college. You can’t apply the excuse of the movies being shorts and not existing in the same timeline because the first movie ended with all of the characters meeting up to sing Christmas carols. The only logic I can apply to this is that dogs and ducks age differently? But if we’re taking that excuse, why isn’t Goofy in the least bit older looking?

Anyhoo, Max is coming home for Christmas with his girlfriend, Mona. He asks Goofy to be cool so he won’t embarrass him around his girl, but Goofy, being Goofy, can’t stop himself. Mona finds most of his shenanigans to be charming, but Max keeps getting irritated.

We suddenly get an original song break. The song is called ‘Make Me Look Good’ and it’s told by Max’s perspective. It’s basically what you’d think it is from the title. Max worrying internally about Goofy embarrassing him and telling him to make him look good. It’s not a musical number sung by Max – it’s just a background song that we’re meant to believe is being sung by someone who kinda sounds like Max.

I don’t get why this short and this situation is where we get a song break, which, by the way, is the only original lyrical song break of the movie. It’s not a Christmas-y song, and it’s hardly a song that works out of context. The song’s not even all that good. I suppose it’s catchy, but it’s a bit cluttered.

What’s even worse about this song break is that it’s the only thing moving the plot forward. It’s like this short is the song with the only dialogue being an intro to it, a minor interlude and a short finale. That’s the main reason it’s so cluttered. It’s trying to jam everything that would be in the short as regular scenes into short verses in a song.

Goofy does embarrassing things a few times, it’s obvious Mona’s charmed by it, but Max still gets pissed. He has the tiniest of blowups at Goofy, walks away about ten feet before realizing he’s been an ass and that Mona’s having a great time, then he returns and has a nice holiday with his dad and Mona. The clincher of her being ‘the one’ revealing that Mona has the same two lone teeth that the Goof’s have. Okay.

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I really think this short would’ve been a million times better if the song wasn’t there and they took the time to just run the segment like normal. It’s so rushed and awkward as a song. It’s a damn shame that this is so messy, because the Goofy short in the last movie was my favorite.

The next short is called Donald’s Gift.

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Donald wants nothing more than to go home and enjoy a nice mug of hot cocoa by the fire after a long day of shopping and people annoying him with Christmas stuff. Daisy, Huey, Dewey and Louie arrive, inviting Donald out to go to the mall. He says he doesn’t want to, but Daisy forces him to go. The boys want to see some spectacular display at Mousy’s, and while they’re waiting, Donald decides to get a hot cocoa. He’s bombarded with everything suddenly turning into sounds that play ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’, which leads him to accidentally destroying the Mousy display.

The boys and Daisy think he did it on purpose for some reason and leave him behind at the mall. Donald sulks around town for a while until he finds a bunch of carolers arguing over singing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ Donald, having learned the song inside and out by now, conducts for them. Their singing gathers a crowd, including Daisy and the boys who instantly forgive him and they all sing the finale of the song.

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This short was….confusing and hard to sympathize with. I didn’t dislike it, but I believe I would’ve liked it more if Donald actually deserved any of this crap. Was he a little bitchy about going to the mall? Sure. But what we saw of his day included a charity Santa literally grabbing him and holding him, singing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ until he donated some money, a barbershop quartet, singing the same song, cutting his hair into a powdered wig design for some reason as he ran by, and nearly getting run over by a bus which promptly burned his groceries to cinders. I don’t know if I’m just old, but I am very understanding of Donald’s desire to want to avoid Christmas stuff for a while and just sit home and relax if all that stuff happened to me, and I’m a Christmas junkie.

Daisy and the boys pestering him was also a bit hypocritical. Daisy’s telling him not to be selfish, but isn’t it selfish to force someone to do something they don’t want to do just because YOU want them to do it?

Donald wasn’t even ruining their outing at all. He went…to get….a drink. Something he could easily carry around with him while they did their mall stuff. Somehow, that means he’s being a selfish ass or something and deserves to have a ‘The Raven’ style torture of the aforementioned song haunting him until he accidentally causes the display to break because there was a ‘speed everything up to a point where everything spins out of control and breaks’ button right in plain sight.

And, again, for some reason, Daisy and the boys believe he’s that much of a vindictive ass that he would do that on purpose.

The final and longest short of the movie is Mickey’s Dog-gone Christmas – A Pluto short! HOORAY! I’m also happy to report this is the best short of either movie.

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Pluto is helping Mickey decorate for a big Christmas party he’s having, but Pluto accidentally breaks everything while trying to put up the star. Mickey yells at him for misbehaving, tells him he ruined Christmas and sends him out to his dog house while he goes out and buys more decorations.

Pluto is very guilty and depressed over what he did, and decides to ditch his collar and run away. He somehow ends up on a train to the north pole where he’s adopted by Donner, who is a much bigger sweetie than he is in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer….but also a lot stupider. He’s made a pseudo part of the reindeer team lead by Blitzen.

Pluto enjoys his time with the reindeer while Mickey fixes up the house. Once he’s gotten everything back to normal, he tries to make amends with Pluto and offers for him to put the star on top of the tree. He quickly realizes Pluto’s missing and drops everything to search all over town for him. He even goes to the mall Santa to wish for Pluto back.

Back at the north pole, Pluto is missing Mickey more and more, and it turns out that the mall Santa was the real Santa. He offers to take Pluto back home, and he happily agrees. He bids a fond farewell to Blitzen and Donner and reunites with Mickey, who proudly puts his collar back on and allows him to put the star on the tree.

The house is nearly demolished by a plow truck who has seemed to have it out for Mickey the whole short, but it’s revealed that Goofy was the one driving. He, Max, Scrooge, Donald, Daisy, the boys and Minnie have been driving all over town in the plow truck looking for Pluto. They enjoy the Christmas party and play us out with the same Christmas song mashup they had at the end of the first movie.

The end.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this short. It’s almost hard for me to believe it’s a part of the same movie as the others. Each short has a different set of writers, so maybe Colin Goldman and Matthew O’Callaghan just had a bit more Christmas spark than the others….including someone named, not kidding, Carole Holliday. It has some great comedy, nice character interactions with everyone, especially Blitzen and Donner, whom I really wish come back in some way in another Christmas special, and heartwarming moments. Plus, it’s a Pluto short – who can resist that?

It’s also, a bit sadly, relatable. I can’t count how many times I’ve lost my temper because my dogs have ruined something I worked hard for. If my dogs could understand human language, I can bet there’d be at least a couple times they would’ve felt like running away. But no, they have to make you feel like garbage by giving you the sad eyes, cowering over to you and asking for pets. Of course I forgive you, you furry source of utter destruction.

I do have a few questions, though, like why let Goofy drive? And why buy a whole plow truck company just because you need to use one plow truck? Why is Mickey suddenly very comfortable financially again? Also, since everyone’s back together again, it proves that Max grew up by about a decade yet Huey, Dewey and Louie didn’t grow at all.

This is a great short that would be an awesome standalone for Christmas, but the movie as a whole….

Well, I really enjoyed how the bookends are done in a narrated pop-up book style. I thought that was very clever and a great way to retain some of the traditional-style artwork. It was also a better way of bookending each story than the three random presents holding title cards from the first movie. The CGI had its moments of downright terribleness (I’m looking at you fast-forward scene) but it actually stands up very well for a fully CGI movie from 2004.

Most of the shorts are very weak, though the last one is worth the trouble. I didn’t necessarily hate or even seriously dislike any of the segments. It wasn’t a chore to sit through them, but most of them had glaring logic issues or vaguely bad or unclear messages, and they just weren’t very funny or heartwarming most of the time.

I would’ve been content if the whole movie was just the Pluto short, to be honest.

 

Christmas Special Review: Itsudatte My Santa! Review

Rating: 2/10

Plot: A boy is left all alone every single Christmas, which makes him hate the holiday and never believe in the magic of Santa. When a girl shows up proclaiming to be Santa Claus, she wishes for nothing more than to make him happy this Christmas.

Breakdown: Let it be known that I went into this wanting to review a good stand-alone Christmas special for the holidays. Anime doesn’t get a whole lot when it comes to Christmas specials, especially stand alone features. I’ve seen the Christmas specials for Cyborg 009, Azumanga Daioh, Ai Yori Aoshi and a few others, but I’ve never really seen a stand-alone anime based on Christmas.

In comes Itsudatte My Santa – an anime special made by the same person who made Love Hina, a harem anime I’ve never seen and have never really wanted to see either.

Reviews that I’ve read about this series are ultimately mixed, but siding on the negative. In fact, the only article-based review I’ve found was completely negative. I did find some pretty positive reviews on it, though. So it seems I’m left at a crossroads. I really want this OVA to be good since it may give me another Christmas special to watch as a holiday tradition.

I made a deal with myself before I wrote this review an even before I watched the anime that I would post it before Christmas if I enjoyed it enough, to give people an early Christmas gift, and I would post it between Christmas and New Years if I didn’t like it, to avoid putting a damper on the holiday.

So, yeah, you can not only tell my feelings based on the rating, but also when I released the review. Hooray!

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We start off with narration and a flashback from our main lead wondering when it is that people stop believing in Santa. The normal rate, he presumes, is when children enter elementary school and start understanding reality more clearly. Or it could be due to accidentally seeing presents hidden around the house before Christmas or catching their parents in the act etc. For him, however, he never believed in Santa. His parents were always away for Christmas, and all of his gifts were mailed to him.

He was always lonely on Christmas, even if he points out that his grandma was there and even baked a Christmas cake for him every year.

Not only did his parents ditch him every Christmas, but they told him that if he was a good boy, not only would Santa come, but THEY WOULD COME BACK HOME. What dicks.

“Oh sorry son, we still can’t make it back for Christmas. Guess you must’ve been a little asshole. Maybe next year.”

He states again that, no matter how good he was, he was still alone on Christmas, even though in this very shot we see him being held back by his Grandma and whom I assume is his Grandpa beside him. I understand missing his parents every Christmas, but you can try to enjoy the holiday with your Grandparents whom seem to care about you greatly.

Thus, he doesn’t believe Santa exists and hates Christmas.

Cut back to present (hehe, puns) day where the first line we hear is a girl asking if the main character wants to spend the night with her. Everyone around them hears her, because obviously the middle of Tokyo is just so quiet, especially in the midst of Christmas, and they start gawking and chattering about what she said. She sees the blush and look of shock on the boy’s face and instantly slaps him for thinking dirty thoughts.

If there’s one thing I do know about the creator of this show, Ken Akamatsu, is that slapstick (literally) is kinda his thing, especially when it comes to males being the abuse victims.

This is completely unwarranted. This strange girl randomly walks up and the first thing out of her mouth, and the second, no less, is ‘Do you want to spend the night with me?’ ANYONE’S first thought, as portrayed by the crowd, would be instantly jumping to sexual insinuations. The main character didn’t even say anything, he just sat there with a shocked face and blushed. Yet, nope, he deserves a huge slap in the face for taking that ridiculous line and thinking it’s something dirty. Bitch.

She proclaims she’s Santa Claus and gives dreams and hopes to children, thus it’s awful to think such a thing about her, even though it was such an easily misconstrued sentence that even the cops are quickly taking her away for prostitution.

Santa got arrested for prostitution……I don’t have a joke, I just wanted to say that.

As the main character is about to leave, the girl pops up out of nowhere sans police escort and says she can detect loneliness and sadness on Christmas with her….hair antennae….Because that’s something Santa has right? She detects this in our main character, and says that, because she’s ‘Santa’ and spreads hope and dreams to children, she wants to spend the night with him to make him happier with her Santa powers—okay, now you’re just trying to sound like bad Christmas themed porn.

He runs away only to be latched onto by ‘Santa’. He keeps proclaiming that he hates Christmas and doesn’t believe in Santa, so she should just leave. She doesn’t understand how such a person could exist, so she pesters him for the reason behind his hate.

Surprisingly, he doesn’t mention the stuff with his parents first. Instead he yells that he was born on Christmas Eve and that his parents named him……Santa.

His parents…..must hate him.

I can’t really give any other explanation. The whole thing about not being there for him on Christmas is dick-ish, but maybe understandable if they had to be away for some reason. Saying they’d come home for Christmas if he was good enough was just awful. Naming him Santa is a ticket to asskicking and mocking throughout his life, let alone Christmas. Ditching him around Christmas when it’s also his birthday on Christmas eve is just terrible. Naming him Santa with all of that crap piled on top is borderline evil.

And, really, his parents named him Santa because he was born on Christmas eve? People have named holiday themed names, sure. There are even people literally named ‘Christmas’ but out of all the names associated with Christmas, why choose one you really can’t recover from? One you can’t even really shoo aside with a nickname?

So….’Santa’ (the girl one) starts rolling around on the floor laughing her ass off that he’s a guy named Santa born on Christmas Eve. Yeah, you spread those hopes and dreams you bitch. And who are you to talk when you introduced yourself as freakin’ Santa Claus? Is it the whole ‘born on Christmas eve’ thing that pushed you over the edge into hilarity?

I guess we’re also supposed to take that everyone in the crowd’s laughing too since it sounds that way, but they’re not animated to be laughing.

He runs away, upset because that’s the very reaction that makes him hate Christmas—Dude, pick a lane. Do you hate Christmas and Santa because of your name and birthday or because of your insanely douchey parents?

However, girl Santa stops him, apologizes for laughing, says she’ll do anything to make him happy and begs to allow him to spend the night with her.

Seriously, you’re just doing that on purpose now.

He denies her, however, and runs away yet again.

Later, as he’s getting a drink, girl Santa arrives yet again to pester him and we get this line;

“I’ll bring you something tastier, Santa!”

She actually means, however, that she’ll dump pounds of saury on his head, because apparently another of her powers is to make things that start with ‘S’ appear from nowhere because Santa begins with S.

Airtight logic, that is.

He manages to get away again and we cut to a video arcade. Damn, I miss arcades. He’s playing a fighting game when, surprise, girl Santa pops up and says he should play a real version of that game. He gains the power of sambo, the martial art, because sambo also begins with S.

Later still, he’s gawking at a game world icon when girl Santa pops up saying a real world icon is better. She uses the power of her ‘Sample dressing room’–Okay now you’re just cheating. You can make anything a legit S word if you purposely put an S word in front of it.

“Oh gee, I’d sure love a bicycle for Christmas. But it doesn’t start with S. Hm. I know, I’d love a SUPER COOL bicycle for Christmas! *poof* Yay loopholes!”

She uses her ‘Sample’ dressing room to dress up in various outfits and tells Santa to take pictures of her. However, her outfits (and subsequent light fanservice) turns the pervy crowd’s attention to her instead of the game world icon and they start practically dogpiling on her. From how they’re bunching up on her and making grabby hands, I was expecting some huge grope fest.

They escape from the crowd only to bump into some gang leader, causing him to drop his cake. Santa offers to buy him a new one, but the gang guy says it was such a special cake that you need to order it three months in advance (?!) so he just starts beating the crap out of him.

Girl Santa won’t stand for this and kicks him in the head. She then says she and Pedro will take him on for getting in the way of her cheering up Santa. The gang believes she’s talking about Pedro San Jose, some giant guy I can’t find information on. But she’s actually talking about a small plush-toy-like Reindeer that sits on her shoulder.

Pedro the reindeer. South Park was right.

Pedro whips up a Three-Sectional Staff, because staff begins with S. I’m annoyed that they keep bringing up that these things are popping up because they start with S. We know our letters, anime. Thanks.

Isn’t this also cheating? I know S for staff, but technically the correct name for her weapon starts with T right?

She also brings up a whole bunch of other stuff that starts with S for really no reason whatsoever like a set square, a salamander, a seafood gourmet set and a samba festival.

The gang leader is sick of girl Santa’s games and starts fighting her again while Santa leaves. However, through the power of sloppy editing, he decides to also join in the fight.

He knocks out the gang leader, but the gang wants revenge. Pedro’s now powered up by the fact that Santa helped them fight, so they dump a truckload of saury on the gang, showing that his power is 30% increased.

They make their escape and we cut back to Santa’s house where girl Santa, now introduced as Mai (get it? Mai and Santa…..My Santa?) is taking a shower. Oh thank god. I was worried we wouldn’t see anyone shower in this Christmas special.

Mai says she’s A Santa Claus, implying there are several, and that she’s currently in training.

Mai tells him not to peek at her, but he says he wouldn’t anyway because of her ‘baby-ish figure’ (IE Small boobs) and that he likes women who are more filled out.

She gets insulted and points out the fact that she is more buxom when she’s transforms, but she can’t transform due to lack of power since fewer and fewer people are believing. Why…why do so many Christmas specials use the ‘Santa’s running out of power because fewer people are believing in him’ plot line? It is the plot of a bulk of Christmas specials involving Santa. It’s ridiculous.

Santa picks up Pedro, which apparently is a big nono since this prompts Mai to open the door to the shower and warn him about it, even if nothing happens. Then she throws everything she can at him for looking at her naked body when he said he wouldn’t. Another thing that is not his fault.

If someone suddenly opened the door while in the shower, it’s kinda hard not to look. But nope, he deserves to get all sorts of crap thrown at him and somehow what I think is a fridge crushing him.

See, even he points out that it’s her fault. Bitch.

Continued on Page 2