Flashback Review: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1998)

In 1949, Johnny Marks wrote a song called, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” based on a story by Robert L. May. Many of us are familiar with the song’s lyrics about a reindeer born with a glowing red nose. He’s a social outcast mocked by his peers not allowing him to interact or socialize with individuals. One foggy Christmas Eve. Santa Clause recruited Rudolph to use his nose to help him overcome the foggy environment. Everybody rooted for him and accept Rudolph as a somebody, rather than a nobody. The song continues to play every December during Christmas month.

Fifteen Years Later, a stop-motion adaptation of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer aired on television. It became an instant classic among critics & viewers ranked as one of the best Christmas Specials of all time.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was released in 1998. It received mixed reviews from critics and failed to recoup its $10 million budget only earning $113,484 at the box office. YIKES! This is the only film produced by “Goodtimes Entertainment.” Although the film was a box office disappointment. It became a cult classic on home video. By the way, the 1998 version came out on October 16th. Who would release a Christmas related film during Halloween month? Unless it’s Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas alternating between Halloween & Christmas.

I’m gonna come clean y’all, when I was a little boy, the 1998 version was my personal favorite.

The following review contains crucial SPOILERS. We all know what happened after watching the original special. Is it still relevant since childhood? Well let’s find out shall we?

Nice & Naughty Aspects

Nice: John Goodman, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Debbie Reynolds, Eric Idle & Richard Simmons (not kidding with the latter star) all did a solid job for their voice over performances.

Animation looks surprisingly good for a $10 million budget project.

Songs are sometimes memorable, but they’re not as iconic than Burl Ives’ “Silver & Gold,” Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Why Am I Such A Misfit” just to name a few.

Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is played when Santa is about to leave The North Pole. I’ll have you know that The Beatles are one of my favorite bands.

Rudolph’s theme song is heard during opening credits. It was also sung by the cast near the end of the movie.

Naughty: Where the heck is Hermey The Elf? Seriously! He’s Rudolph’s best friend! You know the elf who dreams about becoming a dentist instead a traditional elf? He’s my favorite character and also relates to many people who aspire to make his/her dream becoming a reality.

Yukon The Prospector, a character from the original special, is also absent.

The Island Of Misfit Toys are missing. They’re a representation of being shunned by society.

To put salt in the wound, The Abominable Snowman (Bumble for short) didn’t appear in the film. This is a major travesty to remove my second favorite character besides Hermey! I have to Double Down this flaw alongside Hermey’s absence! Too bad he got replaced by Whoopi Goldberg, known for making loud farts on The View. Sorry Whoopi, I have no beef towards you. I’m kidding around.

Stormella’s motivation is absolutely ridiculous. She goes berserk over her ice garden. Why doesn’t she remember that she can use her ice powers to create a new garden? Elsa from Frozen made her own castle using her powers! HELLO!

Stormella’s henchmen smacks her behind in a happy mood. Here’s a reminder for you guys & gals, “THIS IS A KID’S MOVIE NOT FIFTY SHADES OF WHITE!”

As Rudolph leaves The North Pole. He sings like an adult. After a singing number is over, he loses his masculinity. I couldn’t even tell if he entered puberty or he has an unbalanced chemical equation based on his testosterone level.

I know this is supposed to be an animated kids movie, but how is Rudolph capable of writing a note without a human hand?

Rudolph’s love interest Clarice, is renamed as Zoey. I guess the director or writer believed that the parents would snicker at Clarice’s name by mimicking Hannibal Lecter quotes. Clarice is a common name. If her name was renamed Martha, Batman would go bonkers yelling, “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?!”

A Plot Hole involving The Sprites (a group of fairies pre-dating The Winx Club) not telling Santa about Rudolph & Zoey whereabouts. They only taught Rudolph to use his red nose to find her. Why didn’t they inform Santa instead of teaching Rudolph to use your nose by believing in himself?

Sound Effects can be annoying at times. The original didn’t use em’ too much.

When Slyly The Fox is attempting to steal the key while Stormella is sleeping. He admits what he’s doing. Nobody does that when you’re about to steal a key to escape or rescue your comrades. The Cast from “Whose Line Is It Anyway” are able to improvise a plan than this nincompoop!

What happened to Slyly’s backup dancers? They only appeared in a musical number. Did they teleport offscreen like Nightcrawler from X-Men? Why didn’t they contribute by rescuing Zoey?

The Final Verdict: D, FOR DINGBAT!

The 1998 version of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer has a ton of problems. As an adult, I realize what’s wrong with this interpretation of a Christmas icon. If I were you, I’d skipped this in favor of the 1964 special. If not, pick my personal favorites like “Ed, Edd N Eddy’s Jingle Jingle Jangle,” “Shrek The Halls,” “The Madagascar Penguins In A Christmas Caper” & South Park’s three parter episode, “Black Friday.”

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