Monday, December 14, 2009

The Year Without a Santa Claus

I love Rankin-Bass, obviously. So here's my second favorite of their specials. The Year Without a Santa Claus.

Santa's upset that no one appreciates Christmas. He's tired of working one day a year for free meals, housing, healthcare and amenities, and decides to throw a tantrum by taking a day off.

Mrs. Claus tries to point out that people still love Christmas.

Santa grumps. "Yeah, but the Gap mentioned Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Solstice in their ads. And the Old Navy greeters still say Happy Holidays even after our cease and desist."

Mrs. Claus has a few ideas, though. She calls up the head elves, Jingle and Jangle. She dresses up as Santa to see if she could do the job.

Jingle and Jangle show up to see her in Santa drag.

"No good, huh?" The elves and Mrs. Claus agree that it makes much more sense for the elves to go on a wild goose change that results in global warming rather than replace Santa with a minority.

Mrs. Claus tells the elves her plan: she wants Jingle and Jangle to go down to Earth prove to Santa that people do care by finding an example of Christmas cheer. Like a Target that only sells Christmas wreaths and refuses to stock menorahs. Or a young Glen "STOP THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS" Beck.

They pick Southtown, USA at random, and ride off on Vixen, a baby reindeer.

When Santa finds out, he scolds Mrs. Claus for sending such innocent souls into the world. He heads down after them.

Down on earth, Jingle and Jangle get a ticket for riding a reindeer. This results in them putting socks on Vixen to pass her off as a dog. (And, frankly, the cutest part of the movie.)

The elves try to talk to a kid named Iggy about Christmas spirit, but he blows them off. And soon they end up losing Vixen to the dog catcher.

Santa shows up next, riding a reindeer down to earth. Introducing himself as "," he asks Iggy if he's seen the elves. But Santa's more interested in whether Iggy himself believes in Santa. Iggy says no way and Santa grows upset.

Iggy's mom notices the strange man who popped out of the bushes to ask her son about Santa Claus and invites him in. Soon, Santa and the whole family rip off Yes Virginia in song form and burn copies of The God Delusion.

Iggy's a believer. Conveniently, he remembers what happened to the elves and their "dog." Santa leaps on his reindeer and rides him off into the distance.

About four hours later, Iggy and his parents realize that the guy was Santa.

Santa busts out Vixen and takes her home, putting her to bed. (The heat of Southtown was a bit too much for our gal.)

Iggy and the elves don't realize this and end up going to the mayor to ask him to release their reindeer. He'll spring Vixen--if the elves can get it to snow in the desert-like Southtown. And in fact he and all the other mayors in America will give Santa a day off.

After selling his eighth pardon of the day, the mayor takes a break to go take phone calls from Runner's World and John McCain, and for a song and dance number.

In the town, the people riot and burn the mayor in effigy in anger at the inefficiency and corruption of local government.

So with Mrs. C, the elves, and Iggy on shotgun, it's road trip time to see the Snow Miser, a guy who controls all cold weather, to ask him about snow in Southtown.

Hearing that Santa has a bad cold, Snow Miser responds, "That's too bad--I'd have given him a good one!"

"Don't you DARE make fun of Santa. He's as American as a Bible juggling, flag waving, sexually repressed talking apple pie."

"Kid, I've got icicles hanging off my nose. I'm hard core. I can break you."

"At least put some damned pants on, hippie."

Snow Miser agrees to the snow -- until he realizes it's in Southtown, which is under the control of his brother the Heat Miser.

At the Heat Miser's, they make their request, but it wasn't filled out in triplicate. Also, Heat Miser now demands the North Pole be warm and under his domain.

Also, that everyone at the North Pole style their hair like Troll Dolls.

The miser brothers end up fighting, so Mrs. Claus goes over their head to Mother Nature who tells Snow Miser to allow one nice day at the North Pole and Heat Miser to let it snow in South Town.

It does snow--their weather tampering works. A young Al Gore sobs silently.

Best of all, everyone agrees Santa gets a holiday and work together to send him cards and presents.

In Santa's honor, a group of ethnic stereotypes decide to film a United Colors of Benetton ad.

Santa's all set for his day off until he gets a card.

Santa blows his nose, teary eyed. Hey, at least she didn't spell Santa with a 6.

Inspired, Santa calls everyone into his office.

"Don't you realize that it's feasible that we can reduce the number of PC holiday celebrations by 80% in favor of Christmas parties? That we can raise the Nativity scenes in banks and city halls by 21% in towns where the Jews and atheists are too browbeaten to complain? Christmas is on!"

Vixen, who was sick in bed only a few hours ago, takes her place among the others, having been stuffed to the gills with NyQuil and Red Bull, with a "Solstice is for Pussies" bumper sticker on her ass.

Child reindeer labor laws, anyone?

Santa sets off happily but bursts into sobs of "No one loves Christmas" when he sees a house whose rooftop is adorned with a HAPPY DIWALI sign.

Vixen, it's going to be a long night.