Five Reasons “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the Worst Christmas Movie Ever

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I cannot begin to imagine what was going through the minds of the writer, director, and studio back in 1964 when they created this monstrosity. By the way, I’m working on the assumption that everyone reading this has seen the stop motion movie. After all, it’s considered a classic. Television networks show it multiple times each year around the holidays. Everyone is familiar with Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius and the rest of the heartwarming and uplifting cast of characters that populate the film. The problem is, there is nothing heartwarming or uplifting about the film. In fact, it is the complete opposite. It is ugly, mean, small-souled stuff that should only be watched to learn how not to behave and live. Here are five of the virtually innumerable reasons that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is just the worst.

1. The stop motion is awful. Stop motion can be a beautiful and mesmerizing film technique. Just see films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, or The Fantastic Mr. Fox for examples of stop motion done right. Rudolph is ugly. It’s twitchy. It’s cheap and lazy. I’m sure this reason alone is not enough to persuade those that are still clinging to a nostalgic view of the film. You think you love it because it’s always been there. It feels safe and Christmasy to you. Trust me, its lack of artistic creativity is only the tip of the iceberg. Its failures are many and will be dealt with in turn.

2. Santa Claus is a complete jerk. There is no way to get around this. He reacts like a giant buffoon when he first meets baby Rudolph. Santa sees the big red nose and freaks out. He rejects Rudolph outright and shames the entire Donner family. But that’s not the worst of it. He also treats the elves like garbage. They work hard to please him and even write and sing a song just for him. And how does he respond? He is bored and dismissive. He says it still needs work. He is condescending to Mrs. Claus–who frankly, is a complete saint for putting up with him. And the ultimate expression of his self-centered pigheadedness comes at the point of the film that is supposed to be the emotional and thematic climax–the moment he fully accepts Rudolph for what he is. But that’s not what happens. The only reason he accepts Rudolph is because Rudolph’s glowing nose can help him. It’s a completely utilitarian view of Rudolph and I reject it in the most passionate manner I can. This is not my Santa. This is not a Santa to be admired or respected. He is a fool and should be left to his folly.

3. The adult males in the film are mean, condescending bigots. I’ve dealt with Santa but he is not alone in this. Donner is a tool. He is ashamed of his son. He is embarrassed that his son is different. He treats his wife–aptly named “Mrs. Donner” because the filmmakers think women are weak and less-than–with virtually no regard. He doesn’t listen to anyone, except the worst people you could listen to: Santa and Comet. And don’t get me started on Comet. He is the trainer and coach for the young bucks and he might be the worst of the whole bunch. He is the reason Rudolph cannot play any reindeer games. My only hope is that when Rudolph becomes the lead reindeer to pull Santa’s sleigh, he bans Comet to barn cleanup duty. And I hope the Abominable Snowman lives in the barn and has digestive issues.

Nearly every adult male is sexist, bigoted, and abusive. They are horrible examples for our children, which is exactly what the filmmakers wanted because they were probably communist.

There are two exceptions to this and I will deal with them next.

4. Too many drugs. Bear with me on this one. Yukon Cornelius is pretty great but makes absolutely no sense. He is psychotic – as is evidenced by his tackling the Abominable Snowman off the side of a cliff. He talks and acts as if he is on drugs. The constant yelling, gyrating, sniffing, and licking of his pickaxe indicate a troubled and unstable mind. But he’s not the only one on drugs…

I can think of no other explanation for King Moonracer. It had to be drugs, right? It’s a Christmas movie about a reindeer. There is snow, Santa, elves, snowmen, and a FLYING LION? And this flying lion is a king and he runs the Island of Misfit Toys. He “cares” for them until they can find a new home. Except he has no plan to find them new homes. He gets absurdly lucky that Rudolph and company show up and end up telling Santa about the island. And how does he care for them? They all live outside in the snow and cold while benevolent King Moonracer lives in a giant, warm castle. He sits on his comfortable throne, in his comfortable throne room, in the comfortable castle while his subjects sleep outside in the frigid winter air. So we have another adult male that is just terrible. And makes absolutely no sense. How did the writer even pitch this idea to the studio? Answer: Copious amounts of drugs for all involved.

5. Our heroes, Rudolph and Hermey, are whiny little brats. I get it. They are bullied by friends and family alike. But do they have to be so whiny about it. I mean for crying out loud, buck up boys! Rudolph had the love of his mother and the prettiest doe in the North Pole – Clarice. He also was already a pretty good flyer. He didn’t need to apologize for anything. If the other bucks didn’t want to play with him, fine. He would just fly circles around them while blinding them with his red nose. They would come around eventually when they saw how useful that thing was. And Hermey didn’t need to run away. What good was that going to do? How was he going to become a dentist in the middle of nowhere. No. He should have stayed in the North Pole and set up his own dental practice. I’m sure the elves needed a dentist. It would have been difficult at first, but they would have come around as soon as they realized how much he could help them. And based on the typical elf diet of candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup, they were going to need him desperately.

Like I said. These are only a few of the reasons this Christmas film is awful. Perhaps you disagree. Fine. Let me know why this a good Christmas film in the comment section below.

Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my church, my family, my friends, Firefly, 80's rock, Lost, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc...

14 thoughts on “Five Reasons “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the Worst Christmas Movie Ever

  • December 16, 2016 at 11:23 am
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    You have convinced me of how terrible this movie is. But I want to watch it now just to see it through this lens.

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    • December 16, 2016 at 11:31 am
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      Gird your loins Gowdy. It will never be the same.

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  • December 16, 2016 at 1:50 pm
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    I already thought all of this. Rudolph is a terribly dismal movie.

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    • December 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm
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      Alisa, it’s good to find a likeminded Rudolph hater.

      Reply
  • December 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm
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    As I said on facebook, This article is a heartless attack on my absolute favorite thing about Christmas. Aside from Oh Brother Where art Thou and Transformers: The Movie (1986), this is the movie I quote the most. Hermey has inspired me to make my life an adventure of self discovery. This review undermines everything I hold dear. Sure Santa comes off as a horrible person, but so what? Christmas is not about Santa. Its about Yukon Cornelius saying, “Land Ho!”

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    • December 16, 2016 at 5:01 pm
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      Dave, this disappoints me even more than your disappointment of me and my anti-peanut butter stance from days of yore.

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    • December 18, 2016 at 6:12 pm
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      Dave, did you eat a lot of paint chips when you were a kid?

      Reply
  • December 18, 2016 at 10:49 pm
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    And to think, I had been mad at myself for hating everyone in this movie since I was a kid. I was right! Thanks for the freedom to hate without remorse. Also, the sound that nose makes…are you kidding me? I’ll die 1000 deaths in a foggy snowbank to avoid that. What is that sound?

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    • December 19, 2016 at 10:49 am
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      It’s the worst sound ever.

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      • December 19, 2016 at 4:03 pm
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        The sound made when reading this article is the worst sound ever.

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        • December 19, 2016 at 4:21 pm
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          Wait a sec, I thought Lloyd Christmas made the worst sound ever. I’ve been misled.

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          • December 19, 2016 at 8:43 pm
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            That’s the most annoying sound ever. It’s a very slight difference. But, yeah.

        • December 20, 2016 at 2:35 pm
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          Thanks Dave. Your encouragement is always welcome.

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          • December 20, 2016 at 4:57 pm
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            Brotherly love always leaves me a little misty eyed.

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