Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Christmas Tree

As I am wont to do, I sought out a Christmas special I vaguely remembered from my childhood, which I was actually looking for last year when I found Christopher the Christmas Tree instead.  Unlike Christopher, this special, generically named The Christmas Tree (which actually has exceedingly little to do with the plot), is animated so badly with even worse voice work that it actually becomes hilarious in parts.  I'm not going to summarize the whole thing, but just know the general plot involves an Orphanage of Fear run by Mrs. Mavilda, who, besides being generally mean, routinely uses the town's donations to play poker with her buddies.  Things are so bad that the kids turn the pine tree in the back into a surrogate parent named Mrs. Hopewell.  When the Kindle family comes to town, Mrs. Kindle and her kids have to stay at the orphanage while Mr. Kindle works at the mill (why exactly they have to live apart is not explained), which briefly brings hope to the kids, and makes Mrs. Mavilda accountable to someone when the mayor brings over the money for Christmas.  When she loses it in a poker game, she schemes to have Mrs. Kindle framed for stealing (so she can fire her) and Mrs. Hopewell cut down (to spite the kids).  The orphans, unable to warn Mrs. Kindle in time, instead turn to Santa Claus to solve their problems.  And that's when the coincidences begin.  The thievery plot is thwarted by a Christmas accident, and the mayor just happens to drive by when the orphans and Mrs. Kindle try to prevent Mrs. Hopewell from being cut down.  And Mr. Kindle shows up for absolutely no good reason.  And then, when Mrs. Mavilda takes the chainsaw to cut down the tree herself, she's struck by lightning!  Immediately followed by the arrival of Santa Claus, who magically decorates Mrs. Hopewell, and the Mayor declares it the town's official Christmas Tree.  He also magics the kids some new clothes, The Kindles adopt all the kids and are put in charge of the orphanage, and Mrs. Mavilda somehow survived.  But don't worry, the narrator assures us, she's turned good now, as she learned that when you're good, you always win if you're bad, Santa will strike you down.
So yeah, not really a classic.  And as I said, the animation is totally bad.  Most of the time, the characters, especially the kids, look like they're seriously depressed, regardless of what they should actually be feeling.  And Mrs. Mavilda seems to have only two facial expressions: cranky and evilly gleeful.  She also talks the most, which means that she gets the worst lip synch animation I've ever seen.  Ever.  And don't even get me started on the leering mayor:
I know that he's not supposed to seem creepy in the scene, but come on, animators, what's up with this?  It doesn't help that he's watching Mrs. Kindle with the children in this scene, and describes her as a "fine woman."  Brr....
As for the voice acting, the line delivery is so terrible that it almost isn't funny.  Almost.  You know it's bad when unemotional child voice actors actually sound good in comparison to pitched up adults.
You know, I would love to see The Nostalgia Critic take on this special (maybe the Chick), or have it turned into clips by Worst Cartoons Ever or Everything Is Terrible.  That would be awesome.


O Tigre said...
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O Tigre said...

Hello, this is the future! Your wish has been granted! The Nostalgia Critic actually reviewed The Christmas Tree.