Stuff I Watch in December: Olive the Other Reindeer (1999)

Happy Holidays and welcome! We are counting down the days until December 25th and, in that time, I will be reviewing each and every Christmas/holiday film I watch during the month. They’re mostly a selection of films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

Holiday Inn (1942)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
White Christmas (1954)
Santa Claus (1959)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
I Believe in Santa Claus (1984)
Lethal Weapon (1986)
Die Hard (1988)
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Scrooged (1988)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Home Alone (1990)
Die Hard 2 (1990)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Jingle All the Way (1996)
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Home Alone 3 (1997)
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Olive the Other Reindeer (1999)

Olive the Other Reindeer

DIRECTOR: Animator and storyboard artist Steve Moore who has contributed storyboards for a bunch of the CGI Dr. Seuss properties as well as Dreamworks’ Minions.

WHAT IS IT?: Based on the children’s book by J. Otto Siebold and Vivian Walsh, the television adaptation is just as colorful and clever, if not more so, with a sharp, witty, and delightfully wicked sense of humor which not only appeals to children but also hits their parents right in the head.

THE PLOT: Olive (Drew Barrymore) is a Jack Russell Terrier who has a heart of gold and loves everyone and everything, including Christmas — which is why her heart breaks when she hears on the radio that one of Santa’s reindeer has suffered a bad injury, thereby threatening Santa’s yearly flight around the world.

At first, Santa (Ed Asner) attempts to reassure the citizens of the world by telling them that he’ll need all the help he can get from “all of the other reindeer”, something which Fido (Peter MacNicol), Olive’s pet flea, misconstrues as “Olive, the other reindeer”.

After Fido convinces Olive that Santa was referring to her, Olive makes a fateful trek to the North Pole with her penguin friend Martini (Joe Pantoliano) in tow — but standing in their way is the evil Postman (Dan Castellaneta) who hates dogs, Christmas, penguins — and who will stop at NOTHING to make sure Santa doesn’t make his trip.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The cartoon was met with fairly divisive reviews with critics praising the voice acting but crapping all over the animation style.

WHAT DID I THINK?: The cartoon is perfectly cast with Drew Barrymore providing a child-like whimsy and empathy to her role as Olive. Joe Pantoliano is awesome as the mafia-esque Martini the Penguin while Ed Asner plays Santa for the umpteenth time in his storied career. Dan Castellaneta (who voices Homer Simpson on “The Simpsons”) is always outstanding as the evil Postman while the rest of the cast is rounded out by the great Peter MacNicol, SNL alum Tim Meadows, actor/comedian Jay Mohr as Olive’s owner Tim, and long-time voice actors Billy West (of “Ren & Stimpy” and “Futurama”) and Tress MacNeille (“Rugrats”, “Animaniacs”, and “Tiny Toon Adventures” — among many others).

The musical numbers, which are normally a deal-breaker for a lot of people are also a riot.

For my money, the best of them is the hilariously zany “We’re Not So Bad”, sung by “Schnitzel” (REM’s Michael Stipe), a bitter, angry reindeer with a chip on his shoulder (he’s “a flightless kind of reindeer”, unlike his cousin, Blitzen) who hangs out at a sleazy dive bar with other reindeer, elves, and misfit versions of holiday personalities.

The entire thing culminates with the show-stopping closing number “Merry Christmas After All”, which leaves anyone watching with a big smile.

To say that this is a modern classic is an understatement and I highly recommend it to everyone, young and old, as well as families who don’t know what to watch this Christmas.


Leave a Reply