The Elf that Rescued Christmas (2011)
“A Discovery Beyond Imagination.”
Director: Antti Haikala
Cast: Jukka Nylund, Paula Vesala, Kiti Kokkonen
Synopsis: When a powerful crystal falls into the wrong hands, a young orphan must return it to safety before it’s too late.
The only way a Christmas movie can really induce that warm, fuzzy feeling in most people is by reminding them of the way they used to feel about it when they were kids. Our childhoods are powerful influences on the adults we become, and because for most of us our childhood Christmases reminds us of kindness and emotional warmth, it’s the Christmas movies that successfully create a cosy picture of warmth in the midst of a snowbound landscape that work best. This is why The Elf that Rescued Christmas fails so dismally to captivate its audience on any level. It never tries to resurrect within us that sense of wonder we felt at Christmas, choosing instead to try and tap into today’s kids’ fascination with gadgets and technology. The importance of family plays a part, of course, but it’s secondary to a host of flashy, high-tech adventures in which the bad guy’s army comprises of cute robots called robotics (and who, to be fair, are the best thing about the movie) and the only reindeer we see (who, for some reason, speaks in a Jamaican patois) pilots a helicopter rather than pulling a sleigh.
The plot revolves around Yotan, a young orphan who also happens to be the best behaved kid in the world, even though his stern guardian has him carrying out every menial duty he can think of while offering nothing in the way of warmth or stability. One night just before Christmas, he receives a visit from a heavily bearded chap with a nerdy little assistant who inform him that they need his services to rescue Christmas. No, it’s not Santa, but his evil twin. Clearly, not having to deliver all those presents means Santa’s brother looks a lot more than 20 minutes younger than his older brother — his beard is a luxuriant black for a start. Santa’s twin really wants to trick Yotan into helping him steal a magical crystal which enables Santa to create countless clones of himself so that he is able to deliver all those presents in time for kiddies to open on Christmas morning. Instead of delivering presents, evil twin (whose name by now you have probably realised I can’t remember) plans to kidnap the world’s kids and teach them obedience and discipline, the two virtues they all lack today.
Now, I’ve got to be honest, I sort of agree with Evil Santa on this one. Kids today, eh? Don’t get me started — just take a stroll through your local supermarket at a weekend to get an idea of how I feel about them. More often than not, obedience and discipline are the key ingredients in their life that they lack due to parents who either dote too much or don’t really care. But something tells me Evil Santa’s going to be on the losing side in The Elf that Rescued Christmas (good luck finding that elf, by the way).
The Elf that Rescued Christmas is probably perfectly decent entertainment for toddlers, who, let’s face it, demand only bright colours, squeaky voices and the occasional pratfall to be entertained. The Elf that Rescued Christmas delivers on this score, but gives little thought to the toddler’s parents who will probably have to sit through it on numerous occasions in the run up to Christmas (which starts sometime in September these days). The characters are pretty bland, thanks to a standard of animation which falls short of the standards set by the likes of Pixar. It’s ok, but it’s not outstanding. Coupled with a seriously sub-standard quality of writing — which might be due to the fact that the spoken dialogue is translated from the original Finnish — and characters that are either incredibly dull, or hugely irritating (such as a comedy sidekick squirrel with a high-pitched voice who delivers excruciatingly unfunny one-liners), The Elf that Rescued Christmas outlives its welcome long before its running time is over.