Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good idea for a story and some fun elements
Cons: Stretched too thin to fill time
The Bottom Line:
Finding the New Year
Could have been a lot more fun
With a shorter length
Potential for a Shiny New Year Doesn’t Quite Happen
Apparently, I am trying to catch up on a couple more of the Claymation holiday specials I missed as a kid this year. When I found Rudolph's Shiny New Year on TV the other night, I had to give it a try. It had some great elements to it, but it doesn’t quite hold together.
Rudolph (voiced by Billie Mae Richards) and Santa (Paul Frees) are just back from that famous foggy Christmas Eve when Santa gets a message from Father Time (Red Skelton). It seems Happy, the New Year’s Baby, has run away. He has incredibly large ears, and people can’t help but laugh at them when they see them, and he has taken offense at that. If he isn’t back by the stroke of twelve, the world will be stuck in a time loop on December 31st.
There is one creature who is happy about this possibility – Eon (Paul Frees again), a vulture who is set to be replaced in the new year. So while Rudolph conducts a search of some magically time frozen islands, Eon is right there hoping to snatch baby Happy first. Who will win? Will they even find Happy or just keep missing him?
There is the potential for a good story in here, but I think the desire to stretch it out to an hour (less commercials) is what did them in. These islands that Rudolph searches are where each year goes to retire, and their island is frozen in their year. That was lots of fun, and I had a blast visiting those different islands. Yet, can you tell me why we redid the Three Bears with Happy as Goldilocks? Yep, makes no sense. There were another couple of twists along the way there also felt like they were just there to expand the running time of the story.
Not to mention, why couldn’t Rudolph fly? He had to get help from other animals along the way. Mind you, they had punny names, and I liked them, but I never did understand why Rudolph couldn’t just fly where he needed to go by himself. Again, I think it had to do with expanding the story.
None of this is the fault of the voice cast. While a bit childish sounding, they certainly fit the parts well, and I liked how the brought the characters to life. And considering the audience is kids, the childish part is about right.
I’m not the biggest fan of stop motion animation, but it works here. (Although I do have to wonder why we got a flashback to Rudolph’s story as hand drawn animation. Why not just reuse the stuff from the Rudolph special?) It feels a bit dated and low budget, but I did enjoy it.
Speaking of dated, they make a point of welcoming in year 19Happy at the end. I had to laugh as we are currently waiting for 2015 to come in. Yes, the special is 40 years old, but that definitely dates it.
While little kids might enjoy Rudolph's Shiny New Year, older kids and adults definitely will find it dated and slow. That’s too bad because some elements work, but they are just stretched too thin.