Another Scary Kids’ Movie
I am one of those geeks who puts up the Christmas Tree the week of Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of effort for me to put that tree up only to take it down a couple of weeks later. The fact is, I have always loved Christmas. The lights, all the beautiful tones of red and gold, the nip in the air. There were many sleepless Christmas Eve’s in my childhood because I was just too excited Santa was coming!
Hayden is finally old enough to “get” Christmas, and I’ve been trying to build up the magic and pass along some of my Christmas memories. So when I was in line at the US Post Office the other day and saw the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie for sale, packaged in a special “from the North Pole” box, I got all nostalgic.
I sealed it up, addressed it to Hayden from Santa, and slipped it into our mailbox. Hayden was thrilled to receive an early present form Santa and couldn’t wait to watch it. We popped it into the DVD player and began to watch together. Ah, the familiar, soothing voice of Burl Ives. This was going to be great!
But once the movie got rolling, the tone wasn’t as I remembered. What I remembered as a happy, innocent, feel-good Christmas flick was actually a creepy, kitschy claymation piece with dark themes and scary characters.
The story begins with Rudolph’s birth- a sweet enough depiction- but quickly turns for the worse when Rudolph’s father chastises him for his red nose. Throughout the show, Rudolph is ridiculed by almost everyone, including Santa! Speaking of Santa… the Santa in this movie is an asshole. He makes fun of Rudolph, makes the reindeer compete for a spot on his team, and talks shit on the elves when they serenade him with a Christmas tune, yelling, “That was terrible!.” WTH.
And don’t even get me started about the Abominable Snow Monster. I remember him being in the film, but not as a character who gets more screen time than Santa. And I do remember him being scary, and now I know why. The sound effects used for that Snow Monster resemble those of a cheap horror film. Every time the Snow Monster came on screen, Hayden’s face froze in fear, his eyes so wide I thought they would pop out of his skull. I tried stay neutral and wait for some heroic scene to take the movie in another direction. Like, why didn’t Santa rock his power and kick some ass on that Snow Monster? Instead, some random lumberjack injures him with a rock. I am unsure what the lumberjack’s role in the story is, so I know Hayden was confused.
There are three women in the story: Mrs. Clause, Rudolph’s mother, and Rudolph’s girlfriend- all of them are more accepting of The Nose but really don’t have much voice when put up against Rudolph’s overbearing, chauvinistic father and asshole Santa. There is one loving character, a lion who shows mercy on Rudolph, a gay elph, and all the other “misfits,” but he is only in one scene.
In the end, Rudolph does save the day for Santa, despite the hateful treatment he received throughout the movie. When the movie was over, Hayden and I both sat silent for a second. I finally asked him, “What did you think about that?” He didn’t answer. And he hasn’t asked to watch it again, either.