Cartoon Review: Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
I was told this was on CBS tonight, so maybe you want to see a review?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964 Videocraft Intl. Ltd. Dir. Larry Roemer)
Wait. Why in hell does a snow man at the North Pole need an umbrella? Is he affraid it’ll snow on him or something?
You know, I wonder if there was ever a child who looked at Sam the Snowman at the beginning of this and thought ‘Oh Burl Ives, I like him’ because I spent most my life not even knowing who he was. I suppose the adults knew him, which would give them something they could latch onto. And boy howdy does a rational being need something to latch onto with this production! I haven’t actually even watched this in a couple of years because it gives me such a headache trying to wrap my mind around not only the logical inconsistencies but the great injustices that go unpunished.
What a colorless world they live in. Even the food is pale gray. You’ll notice he has some red wine though.
The story starts with Sam the Snowman telling us about how a big snow storm a couple of years ago almost canceled Christmas. This is a reoccurring theme, they always seem to be on the verge of canceling Christmas in these shows. I’ve never understood how it was supposed to be done, like Santa calls it off and then sends enforcers to kill anyone who is caught praying to the Baby Jesus? I figure its stupid shows like this that got bigoted dickheads thinking there was a war on Christmas in the first place.
Oh kid, if only you knew the problems that nose was going to cause you. You should have just gone and been a road sign.
Anyway, Sam tells us all about a place he calls Christmas town. No one else calls it that, just him. Sam’s sort of in a world all his own. He tells us about how this is where they grow Christmas trees, which is a lie because we always got ours at a tree farm in Armada. So either I have to accept a talking snow man telling me “Ur doin it wrong!” or I have to suspect everything he says. Frankly, I love the idea of an unreliable narrator in a kids Christmas tale, so I’m going with that! We see inside the Claus residence, which is a bleaker place than I imagined. The dining room is all gray and white. Even the food is gray! Mrs. Claus is giving Santa a ration of stuff because he hasn’t eaten a bite and who ever heard of a skinny Santa, but I contend he just doesn’t want to eat that gray food. Mrs. Claus seems obsessed with getting him fat too, like she’s trying to kill him. This yo-yo dieting will be hard on the old man’s heart. I’m telling you she’s got her eye on that big fat insurance policy she bought for him a couple of years back.
None of the boy elves besides Hermey have hair. The girls all have blond hair. Hermey has long blond hair. Just sayin’
Now I’ve got to talk about the music while we’re going through the opening credits. This is a musical, and much of the story is built around shoe-horning the songs in. Sometimes they fit, other times they only sort of fit. It depends on the song and the placement. I can’t exactly say how many songs there are, I lose track every time because I tend to fast forward through them. I’m just not a musicals kind of guy.
Why in Dante’s hell does a reindeer need a baseball cap? No really, why?
So Rudolph is born and they discover within a few seconds that Rudolph has a glowing red nose. With in about 14 seconds, Santa shows up and sings a song about jingling bells tells Rudolph he sucks and leaves. That’s it, he just shows up to insult our hero and sing a disturbing song. He in fact says he’s the king of ding-a-ling, which explains my discomfort around Santa. He is based on a child-loving Catholic priest after all. Once his totally out of the blue song is over, he tells Rudolph to stop being a red nosed freak or he’ll never have a spot on his team. Evidently if you’re not exactly 100% perfect, Santa wants nothing to do with you. Santa is a dick. Santa also threatens to cancel Christmas if the nose doesn’t stop soon. Santa tries to cancel Christmas for any reason he can find. All he needs is an excuse. Donner, in a desperate attempt to stop his son from being
gay a red nosed freak, puts him on the football team a cap of mud over it. Even Sam gets into calling Rudolph a jerk, claiming that it’s a non-conformity to have been born with a red nose. Like he could have been born normal but decided not to conform to normal standards. Having a red nose is clearly a choice, if his parents just sent him to one of those camps he could be come an ex-red nose.
If this isn’t just a little creepy to you, something is wrong with you.
From there we meet the other protagonist in this story, a blonde haired elf with rounded ears. His name is Hermey and I think the reason he doesn’t fit in is because he’s clearly the only gay elf. No one else has that fabulous blonde swoosh, or even any hair besides the girls. In the show, Hermey wants to be a dentist and I must admit it’s the first time I ever heard it called that! Hermey is derided for his wish to
suck on legal aged boys stick is hands into other people’s mouths. Evidently, elves must make toys, they can’t be dentists. Hermey sings a short songlet which we will hear again later and the scene ends.
They said I was mad! I’ll show them who’s mad!
Meanwhile Rudolph is forced to wear a plastic cap or something over his nose. His father, so blinded by his need to get his son on the team he tells his son that he’s no good. There is then a song by Santa’s Elves shoe-horned in there. I must admit I fast forward at this point. I skip most the songs, because they are interminable. Santa hates the song and runs away from the scene in a hurry. There is then even more deliberate humiliating of Hermey. His boss screams at him and all but leaves him a gun with one bullet so that his
dentistry gayness won’t infect the rest of his group. Wait! Did I strike out the wrong thing there? Hard to keep track of all this subtext.
Yeah! A snow man. Playing a banjo. In a snow field. With a decorated tree. Where’s your god now?
Rudolph makes friends easily when he’s allowed to play with other reindeer his age. He even gets a girlfriend named Clarice for about half a minute before his nose cap flies off and everyone sees that he’s not really
Arian normal. Santa takes the time to humiliate Donner by pointing out how because of the nose his son is worthless. Santa marches off in disgust, ashamed that one of his reindeer managed to spawn a freak. Clarice doesn’t seem to mind the nose, which makes her and Rudolph’s mom the only ones. They don’t get time to be together though as Clarice sings a shoe horned song with some creepy animals frolicking around her and then her father chases Rudolph off. Not to put too fine a point on it, everyone besides the chicks at the North Pole is a bigot!
Scariest puppet this side of the icecapades.
Hermey and Rudolph meet up, and decide to pal around together because who else have they got to hang out with? They sing another song, only about a minute and a half after the last song ended. They decide to head off for California together, but it turns out San Fran is a lot further away than they thought. They get caught in a snow storm and chased by the Abominable snow man. Rudolph and Hermey then meet up with the greatest character ever to appear in a Go-Motion Animagic cartoon thingy! YUKON CORNELIUS! He’s the greatest prospector in the north! He’s searching for silver and gold, and guess what? Yeah, its time for another song. With in this song they don’t just make demands that the characters conform, even the trees have to be dripping with silver and gold to be called a Christmas tree. There is no such thing a tolerance here.
You know guys, when this starts to melt and it will, we are so boned.
The trio decides that three is just about the right number for a memorable cast of main characters. They also decide that they have to run away from the snow monster, so they get on a passing ice flow and just let the currents take them away. While they’re doing this Donner finally feels bad about being such a cockbite and try to go after Rudolph, but not before telling his wife to stay home because she’s just a chick. Sexism can be added to the crimes now. Also, speaking of which, female reindeer have antlers, why don’t these? They must have been taken off by the males to subjugate them further. Our hero’s ice boat crashed into the island of misfit toys.
This bird can’t fly! Remember that, it swims. There is a fish bowl right next to it for that purpose. The bird can’t fly!
I think the Island of Misfit Toys is possibly the best thing in this show. So many of the toys described in yet another song seem so cool. I would have loved a owl that swims under water, or a polka dotted elephant, or a cowboy that rides an ostrich or a Charlie in the Box. I mean really! Anyone can have Jack in a box, but Charlie? No one has Charlie in the box! However, Santa sent them here and forced them to stay by firing heavy anti aircraft guns at anyone who tried to leave. I’m guessing now but it fits everything else they’ve done.
Feeling a little uncomfortable oogling a teen-aged reindeer’s butt? Is there something you’re not telling us? Or perhaps yourself?
Rudolph thinks it would be cool to stay on the island, since they’re misfits too. They go to talk to the king of the island, but it seems since they’re not toys they can’t live there. Even among misfits, they can’t stay there either. This doesn’t stop the king from telling them that they need to go and tell Santa to come get the toys or else find a reindeer’s head in bed with him. Rudolph worries that he’s going to get his buddies killed because his nose keeps attracting the snow man, so he takes off alone. Rudolph is the only noble character we’ve seen so far. Don’t worry though he won’t actually be the last person to show a decent streak. I don’t hate Yukon or Hermey, just so we’re clear on that. They didn’t know he was going to take off, he went in the night. They probably spent all the next morning trying to follow his tracks and hiring guides to help look for him. They tried, but there was now snow and the ice and besides Golden Girls was on!
Rudolph does some growing up, getting stronger, and stops in China for a while to learn kung-fu from an ancient master. HEY! You do what you need to in order to make the show watchable and I’ll do what I need to do okay? Some of us have booze, some have dreams of kung-fu reindeer. Rudolph goes back home and is told by Santa that everyone he’s ever loved has left. Santa then proves what a sack of crap he is by only being able to relate the missing deer through his personal prism, complaining that if everyone isn’t here he’ll never get his sleigh off the ground. The fact that loved ones might be dead or in great pain means nothing to this bastard, because they’re not real people or anything. The only thing that he’s concerned with whether or not he can get his sleigh off! Why is he bothering to pretend anyway? You know he’s just going to find some other pretext to use in order to cancel Christmas.
Okay, how can you not make a sodomy joke here?
Rudolph decides to go save everyone, and that’s when the storm hits. The entire town is being torn up by the storm, and poor Rudolph has to go out on his own. As I said though, he now knows kung fu and can face forces that would kill a normal reindeer. Rudolph gets to the cave of the snow monster just in time, since sweet Clarice was about to be made a meal of. Rudolph engages his mad kung fu skills to lay the smack down on the snow monster, but he didn’t reckon with the fact that the snow monster can just grab a piece of cave and hit him with it. Rudolph gets soundly pwned!
I think he still has that reindeer lodged up his butt. Those antlers must sting.
At just the last moment, Hermey and YUKON CORNELIUS show up to save the day. See, they’ve been looking for Rudolph ever since he left because they didn’t care about his nose, they cared about him. To prove that they’re the only decent people north of the tree line, they decide to save their pal. Hermey makes pig noises to distract the monster and Yukon just up and slugs the ugly monster in the face. Well, he drops some rocks on him, but it’s much the same thing. Then Hermey goes to town on the monster with his pliers, yanking out his teeth with out and anesthetic or anything. Then Yukon really does go in for some pwnination, unfortunately knocking himself and his dogs over the edge with the monster.
I know I’ve been a dick, but I need to make up with you while the cameras are rolling.
Sad at heart, the survivors forget about Yukon and go back to town. When they arrive they tell the story of how they saved the day while those status quo monkeys had cowered. Even Santa realizes that if he doesn’t make amends soon, the media is going to tear him apart. He patches things up with Rudolph and Hermey is told that he can open a dentist’s office. And then, who should come in to the large castle of Santa clause but YUKON CORNELIUS(!) and the snow monster who Yukon single handedly brought into the fold by having the biggest come to Fancy meeting you ever done heard about.
Well, now that we’ve ripped out his teeth and castrated him, he’s as gentle as a lamb. His life has lost all meaning, but we can feel safe around him.
Now, the storm it seemed to keep it up, and shows no signs of slowing. Santa announces that he’s going to cancel Christmas, because one person can do that. I’m telling you, this is why people are so wound up, one store can totally cancel Christmas, in fact just one person it seems can do it. And Santa wants to cancel Christmas for anything. If his wife says “I’ve got a stomach ache.” He’s all like “Oh man, we’d better cancel Christmas!” And she’s all “It’s July, I’ll get over it by December.” But he’s all “No, no! Can’t chance it!” He announces to the group that Christmas is off because of the storm and then realizes that Rudolph has a bright nose which could guide them.
I always wanted to see this show remade or at least re-voiced with Chris Rock or someone like that in the part of Rudolph. I’ve got the script all ready for him… “Oh I see how it is! When I was just a useless freak you couldn’t drive me out of the North Pole fast enough. All the sudden though, when you got a bad storm on your hand all the sudden you need the red nosed freak don’t ya? Well screw you fatso! Strap a halogen to your face and do it yourself! You should have thought about the fact that you might need someone before you treated me like shit! C’mon Hermey, let’s go to Burger King!” For being such a dick as Santa has, he doesn’t deserve to have anything work out for him. It does though, they all go off together because Rudolph still craves acceptance. You know next week they’re going to tell Rudolph he’s not needed again don’t you? Santa is only doing this because this time he needs Rudolph. He only goes to the Island of Misfit Toys because Rudolph wouldn’t lead the sleigh otherwise. Next year when the weathers better they’re all screwed.
Hey look! Roy Orbison showed up to do a cameo as an elf!
One last little bit of pain though. The bird that can’t fly is just tossed out of the sleigh without the umbrella to slow his fall. That bird is sent to his death because an elf made an incorrect assumption about a misfit toy. It’s tragic because it is the bird that had a line in the song about not being able to fly, we saw him tell us he can’t fly and he’s pushed off the sleigh to his death. He even opens an umbrella to tease the bird before pushing him off and waving to him as he plummets to his death. An innocent bird is murdered because they still can’t grasp the concept of a misfit after all that time.
Cold. Blooded. Murder.
The people of the North Pole are a bunch of bigots and murderers and there is nothing more to say about them. They’ll only pretend to be your friend after you’ve saved their lives or made sure that they didn’t have to cancel Christmas. I they are all evil and I hate them! You know what? I’m calling off Christmas! As a result of this hateful special I’m calling the whole thing off. If Santa can do it, so can I. No more Christmas until things like this are expunged!
Wait a second, why in hell are there only 6 reindeer and Rudolph? Where are the other two? On sick leave?
Edit: Someone pointed out to me in a comment on one of the blogs that this review is posted on, that I missed a point. Among all the things I did complain about, it seems I missed the inherent and explicit sexism of the piece. I can only explain by saying there were so many things to complain about, and the females were so marginalized in the story, that it slipped past me. I’m not making excuses, just trying to explain why I missed it. I will point out though, that I had owl murder to deal with. Never the less, I will endeavor to be more complete in the future.