Did *anybody* get past the freaky “Immortality” song the first time they saw this as a kid?
Ah-ha, I didn’t think so. Well, for some reason, I’ve seen this being aired again (on the Family Channel, or whatever it’s calling itself right now, I think), so now we can take a gander at this movie as reasoning adults. Does it make any more sense?
Follow this now. Somewhere, there’s a land of spells and Fairies called the Forest of Burzee. Every legendary being you’ve ever heard of lives there in harmony. And the lord of this forest is the antler-sporting Great Ak. Ak finds a human baby in the Forest, and the kid -named Claus- grows up raised by the local Fairy Creatures. Over time, he becomes the Santa Claus we’re all familiar with. Oh, and there’s also an Epic Battle between the good Fairies and some funky Orc dudes. And some memorably freaky supporting characters, including a vaguely Jar-Jar-like gnome named -get this- Tingler, and some half-dragon, half-gnome guys, which would inherently be the coolest fantasy creature EVER if it didn’t look so funky in practice.
So, basically, if the Keanu version of “Babes in Toyland” is the mutant inbred cousin of Christmas Specials, chained up in the attic and forced to eat fish heads, then “the Life” is the brooding Goth chick cousin who writes long diatribes about mortality in some sad little dark room. I can’t possibly imagine what today’s kids think of it.
The Best Parts:
3 minutes in – But where’s Wowbagger, the Infinitely Prolonged?
9 minutes in – Wooh! Ethnic pride!
11 minutes in – Claus and Great Ak’s Let’s See How Humans Are Bastards All Around the World Tour!!!
19 minutes in – If you’ve passed out in the snow, and THIS is the crowd you wake up to, f___ing RUN!
22 minutes in – All the kids in this town share their stuff, no questions or arguments or fights. What alternate dimension is this and how can I move there?
23 minutes in – Wow, just like in “Footloose”!
28 minutes in – These Agwas are the most ambitious evil beings ever.
30 minutes in – EPIC BATTLE!!! (Wait, isn’t this a Christmas movie?)
33 minutes in – All the Agwas and their monster buddies are dead! Merry Christmas!!!
41 minutes in – Oh, that sucks.
42 minutes in – Santa Claus lives!
Classic Lines of Dialogue:
“In all the world, there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child.” – Claus
“And men go to war. They fight each other over what are called ‘Causes’.” – Great Ak, during the Let’s See How Humans Are Bastards All Around the World Tour
“And I slept at his house, and when I woke up, there was this Big Surprise!!!” – Weakum (I’m not touchin’ that one.)
“The good Claus must have brought them, as his are the only toys in the world.” – Some kids’ parents
~*~ Poetry Corner ~*~
“Born in our present state! / Never for babies we! / Lived when a mortal has been(?) / With the nobility / of Non-Humanity!!! / We have no children or kin! / For Alice Empress(?) / Today and forever! / For ages and ages to come! / From the first cracking of doom! / ‘Til the last trumpet sounds! / EE-MORE-TAH-LI-TEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!” – Great Ak (ah, see, NOW you remember this movie)
Things I Learned from this Movie/Book/Whatever:
* – Some lions sound like the motor of a worn-out vacuum cleaner. Also, lions make fine baby-sitters.
* – Santa Claus went through a stage of resembling Brad Pitt!
* – When they say that Santa’s reindeer fly, they mean it in more like a “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” way.
* – L. Frank Baum, upon whose book this is based, was a strange person.
Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures? Fairy creatures, Orc dudes, and those dragon-gnome… uh… things.
Good Soundtrack? Yup.
Hot Guys? No.
Pretty Scenery? Kinda.
Nifty Animation/Special Effects/Illustrations? Hooray for Rankin/Bass’ trademark stop-motion!
Drinking Game Potential? Drink when you hear the “Immortality” song (count background music as well). Drink when you see those funky dragon-gnomes (okay, they’re called “Nooks” or something).
Head Movie Potential? One of the first spirits to attend Ak’s meeting in the opening is a dream Fairy who totes a magic mushroom that shoots out hallucinogenic spores. Need I say more?
While this certainly doesn’t have the charm of Rankin/Bass’ better-known films, it does have their most “polished” visual effects. Plus, it’s certainly one of the craziest things you could hope to watch at Christmas. Jordan and a couple of copies of the “Merry, Merry Christmas” album.
A Rankin/Bass Film released in 1985 by Warner Bros. Pictures. Written by Julian P. Gardner, based upon the book by L. Frank Baum, and directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass.
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