You might remember back in the 2000s Cartoon Network had a tendency to play the same few holiday specials over and over again, one of these films was the terrible, soulless, ear-grating, stock word art looking, frame rate dropping, seasonal depression inducing, bargain bin residing, mind-numbing movie known as “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
The other was “Olive the other Reindeer” and I like it more so I’m going to talk about that instead.
“Olive the Other Reindeer” is a 1999 film about a dog who thinks she’s a reindeer and travels to the North Pole to save Christmas. Based on the book of the same name, the movie was produced by Matt Groening, aka “The Simpsons” man. It’s a very charming special that has stuck with me all these years, and is among my favorites, here’s why.
First off, oh my gosh, this movie is so friggin’ cute. They did something uncommon at the time and animated 2D characters in a 3D environment, as a result, the movie looks like a pop-up book brought to life and it does an excellent job imitating the art style of its source material. The decision to do this led to the visuals holding up a lot better than most CGI films at the time since it leans far more on stylization. It’s not just the technology of the film that makes it unique visually, but also the character design. They all have this surreal yet cute look to them, with their beady little eyes and warped faces. There’s really no other movie that looks quite like this one.
The film centers on a little dog named Olive who becomes convinced she’s a reindeer thanks to her awful little pet flea convincing the poor pup that her owner hates her and that she needs to go to the North Pole to help save Christmas. So she heads off to help guide Santa’s sleigh, all while being chased by a jaded postman. It’s a simple story that’s told very well. You really want to root for Olive even though you know for a fact her whole mission is based on a misunderstanding because she’s just such a lovable character.
In fact, the film has plenty of great characters, such as the crazed postman, who is so sick of delivering Christmas gifts that he will chase a dog halfway around the world and stoop to forgery and kidnapping to make sure Christmas stays canceled. However, Olive is the star of the show here and she is a precious little angel and I will protect her with my life. She goes around spreading optimism like an infectious disease, and nearly everyone who doubts her ends up believing in her mission by the end. She’s one of the reasons why it’s hard to walk away from this movie not feeling all cheery and junk.
This film is a classic and is a great one to watch with the family, even adults can enjoy it. I should warn you, it’s a musical, but the songs aren’t half bad in all honesty, some of them are pretty catchy in fact. As of this review, the whole movie is available on YouTube, so if you guys are looking for a cute and cozy film to watch during the holidays, it’s readily available for you.