Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer: An In-Depth Analysis of the Film by a 16-Year-Old Version of Myself

Before I was an aspiring screenwriter/snarky blogger, I was once a legitimate film critic for a daily newspaper. Sure, I was a teenager, and sure, I reviewed movies like holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but that didn't make me any less legit or any less snarky.

Because I thought it might be fun (and because I'm also a bit lazy) I've pulled out a piece that I wrote for the paper when I was 16. It's been eight long, crazy years...

'Rudolph' movie flawed, yet still a classic favorite

Written by Zombie, Age 16
Originally Published in the Tribune Chronicle

Legend has it that somewhere in medieval Europe, two small children were chopped up with a butcher knife and ground into sausage.

(Seriously, this is a Christmas story. Keep reading.)

As the legend goes, St. Nicholas arrived and was able to bring the two little sausage patties back to life, as children.

I've got one question:

How come we don't see claymation holiday specials about THAT?

Just imagine it: The two little claymation kids could easily be put through a sausage grinder. (Or, more likely, one of those little mold things that squeezes your Play-Doh into noodles.) The opportunities for gratuitous cartoon gore are endless.

While our animated Christmas specials weren't ever as violent as any given episode of "Mr. Bill," they were still SERIOUSLY MESSED UP.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" made its debut on NBC on Dec. 6, 1964.

"Rudolph" is the pinnacle of all Holiday TV specials. I may even venture to argue that it is one of the greatest movies of all time.

Just as when anything is considered perfect, there is always room to point fingers and laugh at it, "Rudolph" leaves itself open for much ridicule, mainly because of the large, glaring errors and distinct lack of logic in his plot.

Next time you watch, try to explain these:

- Carefully listen to what everyone calls the misfit elf who wants to be a dentist. They begin calling him "Herbie." About halfway through the movie, his name changes suddenly to "Hermey." Which one is it?

- Why does Yukon constantly lick his pickaxe?

- What's wrong with the misfit girl doll? She seems OK by me.

- What kind of stupid elf would build a train with square wheels? Put jelly in a squirt gun? Name his jack-in-the-box "Charlie?"

- What makes King Moonracer think Santa will help the misfit toys? Didn't Santa just help run Rudolph out of Christmas Town for being a misfit himself?

- Santa doesn't seem very concerned for Rudolph when his parents are missing. He's only concerned with whether or not he'll be able to fly his sleigh to all the good children in the world. Is that selfish, or what?

- The abominable snowmonster is completely harmless once they remove his teeth. Wait a minute . . . isn't he still 10 times their size? I don't understand why he doesn't just step on the elves, and knock down Christmas Town.

- Why does Santa give the misfit toys out to children at the end? They've already pointed out to us that no one wants them. I mean, I'd be pretty disappointed if I unwrapped my toy elephant and saw that some dummy (probably the one who dreamed of being a dentist) had painted polka-dots on it.

- If I were one of the mean elves at the end of the movie, I'd hate to have Hermey/Herbie/Whatever working as my dentist. I can just imagine this following scene:

Dentist: Alright, now open your mouth a little bit wider... Good. I can see in back now. Hey, wait a second, didn't you used to make fun of me? Well, buddy, looks like it's time for a root canal!


Despite all the glitches that I pointed out in the movie, it teaches us a lesson that I find valuable to this day.

Each character learns to let themselves be individuals. So, whether you're a red-nosed reindeer, an elf who wants to be a dentist, a jack-in-the-box named Charlie, or a humor columnist who wears duct-tape pants, remember that very important message.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


erica said...

Oh, blast from the past. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that very few of us actually pursued the career of journalism?

Isaiah said...

Really the only thing about that article that sounds much different from you now is the thing about the duct-tape pants. In fact, I'm surprised you haven't written a Christmas movie about living sausage patties made out of children. Merry Gristle-mas to all, and to all a good bite

Anonymous said...

id just like to say that while there are those "holes" in the plot. The movie isn't just a narative. It's a commentary on social injustices dating back in the 1960's. Rudolph represents the civil rights movement, hermy/herbie the gay movement, and if you noticed clerise and mrs. donner were strictly told what they could and couldn't do, so they represent the feminist movement. The whole plot just focuses on the fact that while everyone is different, they shouldn't be made fun of for those differences because they can be good ( rudolph saves christmas, hermy saves the abominable, misfit toys make children happy etc).