Cartoon Review: The Christmas Orange

Posted: December 12, 2012 in Cartoon Review, Holiday, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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The Christmas Orange (2002/ Bardel Entertainment/ Dir. Ian Freedman)

So here we have something so obscure that I may be the only person who actually bought the DVD. Not only am I the only owner of the DVD in America, I bought it 10 years after the product came out. And I only bought it for a few dollars, on a whim because I’d never heard of it and reviewing things that say “Christmas” on them is a thing I do. So I decided to give it a try. Given the product was only $6, given that it was a one shot for Canadian TV, and given that it was 10 years after it was first broadcast, I wasn’t expecting to find a huge amount about the cartoon. It’s based on a book, that’s what I found out. It’s not a bad product, we’ll get that out of the way for starters. I’m not sure how good it is though. Let’s examine The Christmas Orange…

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…yeah.

For starters, this is clearly a production that was animated on computers. I’m not sure how obvious it looks in the screen caps, because I haven’t made them yet (Oooo, now you know my process) but in motion it’s very obvious. So the animation looks a little cheap as a result, but the art style is charming and delightful, so it matters less. I’m willing to give them a few animation cheats when the drawings themselves look nice. As far as that goes, it’s a pretty well produced cartoon, but not stellar. However, the credits tell us that about a half dozen trusts and agencies gave money to the producers, so we can pretty much be sure that this was made on a shoestring. As such, I feel like a cad mentioning that it looks a little cheap. Particularly when the cheapness is covered up with a layer of charm. They worked within the constraints and made a pretty good product.

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I will not make a joke about a boy’s first orgasm here, that would be base and crude.

The story is a little basic, but it’s okay. A kid named Anton Stingley is born on Christmas, and on his 5th birthday works out that there is more going on that day than just his Birthday. Of course, having been made to feel the whole town was celebrating his birthday all those years gave the kid a pretty strong sense of entitlement. Upon learning that he was only getting gifts half as often as everyone else, he decides to work up and epic 65 page Christmas list. When he wakes up on Christmas Morning, Anton (now age 6) finds only an orange. So he decides to sue Santa.

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Alas poor Yorick!

There you have, more or less, the basic plot and the first problem. OF COURSE the modern holiday story is going to involve a court case, because we’ve all grown so much more litigious these days. Only, we haven’t. What we actually have these days is groups pushing the law to its very limits and people using the law to make sure that those groups don’t go over the limit. We’re actually less litigious than we were 100 years ago, it’s just different people have access to lawyers about different things, but no one wants to hear that. They only want to hear that lawyers have made the country sue-crazy, even if it isn’t true. So yeah, playing up a story that would have felt relevant in 1995 maybe? When the media hype about the sue-crazy culture was at its peak? Maybe. Now? Feels dated before the digital ink on the non-existent cel is dry.

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Any lawyers reading this, do you get spotlights in the courtroom?

Without getting into it, the court case is just a time waster. Santa is being accused of a breach of contract (despite a list of requests not actually being a contract) and everyone kind of turns on him because they all had at least one instance where Santa disappointed them with a gift that didn’t turn out so well. Santa sadly drops his head and walks away, admitting defeat and announcing his retirement. Of course, at this point the whole town turns on Anton, blaming him for everything. Fickle town this. And may I say, heavy thing to lay on a kid. I kind of hate the town of Bleeksville for this, but whatev.

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I think in Law and Order this is where we’d hear the “Chung Chung!” sound.

So during the trial, it came out that Anton had 1806 toys that he’d never even taken out of the packaging. This made him a lavished upon 6 year old, and meant he was being an entitled brat. However, at this point in the narrative, it means that he has one gift for each person in town. He then proceeds to hand out all the gifts because… CHRISTMAS! Quite frankly, this feels more like a checklist of ideas to me than a coherent story. He’s learning the true meaning of Christmas and stuff, but it doesn’t really do or say very much. It feels like it’s to no end, because everyone else in town is going to be a douche sucker anyway, why bother? Why not just burn down the town and shoot anyone who manages to escape? For one little boy? No one else learns anything, and they’re all in need of a lesson. Anyway! Anton meets an old man at the end of his personal journey, and says he gave away everything but the orange, he then gives the old man the orange and while I know I make this joke a lot… The orange then starts to sparkle, the music swells and he turns into Santacus Prime.

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You thought I was joking?

Santa and Anton then fly off into the night, delivering oranges to everyone in Bleeksville and… that’s the end really. It just sort of drops off at that point and ends. Syd liked it, I feel more ambivalent. On one hand, it wasn’t actually offensive, but it didn’t really say much either. The legal angle was tired before this thing hit the screens, and the writer had almost no understanding of how law worked anyway. However, they didn’t actually beat you over the head with the message, and the art style was nice. I can’t recommend this too highly, but I won’t say it was actually bad either. You might want to watch it if you hang out at my house sometime.

Official Score:
11 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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