25 Days: The Year Without a Santa Claus
The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) the voices of the damned
Oh god, it’s another Rankin-Bass monstrosity! Why do these Rankin-Bass movies never make any sense? Is it really that hard to make a Christmas film with a coherent plot? Their movies remind me of craft projects made by little kids: They start out with a solid concept and somewhere along the way it just becomes a Frankenstein’s monster of Elmer’s glue, glitter, feathers, and Froot Loops.
As near as I can tell, the “plot” of The Year Without a Santa Claus goes something like this: Santa has a cold, and after the doctor who comes to check on him says no one cares about Christmas anyways—nice bedside manner, Doc—Santa goes all woe is me and decides to take a year off from Christmas. Mrs. Claus talks two elves (with Vixen) into looking for some kids who still have Christmas spirit. She forgets to mention that the elves should avoid the Heat Miser and Snow Miser, and the elves and reindeer get knocked out of the sky when they wander into a small battle between the Misers. They land in Southtown, USA, and Vixen ends up in the dog pound, and Santa comes to help, and Mrs. Claus also comes to help, and somehow the mayor makes a bargain with them that Vixen can go free if they make it snow in Southtown for Christmas. He also promises to make a national holiday in Santa’s honor (not sure when Southern mayors were given this power, but OK, sure). The elves and Mrs. Claus go to talk the Miser brothers into making it snow in Southtown, eventually going over the brothers’ heads and straight to their mom, Mother Earth. Meanwhile Santa just pays the fine for Vixen and takes her home. The snow plan is moving forward anyways, and all the children of the entire earth are so impressed that they send Santa gifts for Christmas, except for one girl who sends a letter about having a blue Christmas without Santa. Santa is then inspired to go through with Christmas after all. So, I guess the moral here is: If you want someone to get you a gift on Christmas, send them a gift or sad letter and it will guilt them into it. Also, if people aren’t doing what you ask, go tattle to their mother and she’ll make them do it, or ask a Southern mayor.
I don’t think Rankin and Bass like Santa Claus very much. In Rudolph, he was a mean-spirited old man who yelled at the elves and tormented a little reindeer just because he was gay—I mean different! In this one, he has some sort of mood disorder and is apparently so depressed that he can’t get out of bed for the one day a year he is expected to work. I was discussing this with Stacey, and she said, “Santa is a pretty unhappy individual for the person who brings joy to little children everywhere. He has a lot of issues to work through. There should probably be a holiday movie called Santa’s Therapist.” And just like that, through the power of even thinking it, you know a certain cable channel already has someone writing the script.
Anyways, this is another of those films that Larry loves and I basically hate. But I do enjoy seeing the touch of childlike glee that comes over him when this is on, so I suffer through it once a year. Really the only parts I like are the fabulous song and dance routines the Heat Miser and Snow Miser perform. Those guys totally crack me up. I love that they apparently spend their days sniping at each other and practicing musical numbers with their minions.
Tune in tomorrow for Day 22: A Christmas Story.