>Growing up, “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” was never one of my favorite Christmas specials. I was fascinated by it on a technical level (I clearly recall asking my dad how long it took to animate the stop motion animation for the story), but on the whole I have to admit it wasn’t in the upper pantheon of specials like “The Grinch” or “Charlie Brown” or even the not-often shown “Night Before Christmas.”
So, it’d been a few years since I’d sat down to watch “Rudolph.” Quite a few, actually. I’d say probably close to a decade or so.
So when presented with the choice of “Rudolph” or “The Grinch” last night, I decided to give “Rudolph” another look.
And I came away with the same feeling I did growing up. It’s a good, but not great special. Again, on the technical achievement side of things, it’s amazing. But on the whole, the special really overstays its welcome. The story works well when it sticks to the story of the song. And I even kind of like Hermie the Elf who wants to be a dentist. But it’s really once Rudolph is mocked for his nose and becomes a hermit that things go a bit awry. For some reason, I recall the Abominable being scary as a young viewer (probably four or five at the time) and that may be part of what put me off on the special all these years.
Looking at it with older eyes, I honestly feel like the whole Abominable pursuit isn’t the strong point of the story, though it does get us to the Island of Misfit Toys. And yet it feels as though that segment has lost something thanks in large part to Pixar’s magnificent “Toy Story” trilogy. I kept thinking of all the mutant toys in Sid’s bedroom from the first installment during the entire Misfit Toy segment last night.
Part of it is that lack of really memorable songs in the special. The two big ones, “Holly Jolly Christmas” and the title song don’t come until late in the special and I clearly recall as a younger viewer, being anxious as to when we’d hear the famous title song. “Silver and Gold” is OK, but the rest aren’t all that exciting.
I don’t want to say that “Rudolph” is a bad Christmas special. There are clearly ones that are far worse out there. However, on the whole, it’s not quite as great as others. It’s fun to watch again every once in a while, but I don’t think it will make my annual viewing rotation like other specials and movies. At least until I have kids of my own and get to watch it with them….