movie

You Better Not Pout, Cause I’m Gonna Critique “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1970)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

 

I first saw this film last year around the holidays. I can’t remember why. But I enjoyed it both then and this year. It’s about the legend of Santa and his early life, why he does certain things, and much more.

I’m not going to narrate the whole movie. But I am going to point out what I thought worked well and what could’ve been better.

 

First with the strengths.

 

1: The plot and reasons behind Santa’s life and choices

 

Using the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as a guide, I must admit that this was done with lots of thought put into it. It was likely no easy task, let alone the stop-motion animation. You find out why Santa was called Kris Kringle in his early life, why he wears red, why he goes through the chimney to deliver toys, and a lot more.

 

2: The musical numbers

 

Every song in this film is fantastic. They have great tunes, lyrics, and emotional sensation.

 

3: The brief Rudolph cameo

 

When the children are naming Santa’s reindeer, one almost acknowledges Rudolph until the narrator stops them and says, “That’s a different story.” Even the character’s design in this film differed from the Rudolph in 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”. Lol.

 

And now onto the parts that could’ve been improved.

 

1: Kris Kringle’s character design as a young man

 

As much as I enjoyed this movie, to be honest, I was never a fan of Kris Kringle’s youthful face with mature voice. I don’t know his age at the time, but still.

 

2: Why were the wizard and penguin still alive when Santa reached old age?

 

Unless the wizard was supposed to live longer with magic, even if he lost most of it (and this was made long before “Harry Potter”), shouldn’t he have died years before? Same with the penguin?

Yes, yes, I know. It’s a child-friendly movie. So death might be too mature. Even if it was never mentioned and the warlock and penguin disappeared without reason, it still would’ve raised questions to parents.

However, to young childless adults, like me, it feels strange and unrealistic. Oh well. It’s a cartoon.

 

3: The characters never really expressed strong emotions

 

Even in high-stressful situations, characters barely reacted. Their emotions seemed weak and neutral. It’s kind of hard to relate to them like that. In other child-friendly movies, characters will react more strongly, thus making them more believable.

 

That’s all. Despite some of the flaws, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is a great film, worthy of 5 out of 5 stars.

 

short fiction

Santa Bots: A Short Story

Remember when you used to believe in Santa Claus until you were told at a certain age that he didn’t exist? That it was really your parents who got you your Christmas gifts?

I’d been told only seven years ago, at age eight, that there was no Santa. I’d opened my mouth in horror. I’d also let my energy down, as I had dragged my feet to my room over the shocking revelation.

Of course, now at fifteen, I knew how unrealistic it’d be for a man to deliver presents to every good girl and boy from the North Pole in one night.

But my ten-year-old brother, Tristan, wouldn’t let go of accepting that Santa Claus didn’t exist.

I walked into my living room, where the decorated Christmas tree stood. Tristan watched TV.

A mad scientist made robots and dressed them up as Santa Claus.

            “I’ll make all those children happy, after their parents told them there is no Santa Claus,” the scientist said. “Perhaps, Santa is just not what they imagined.”

            The scientist finished assembling the last robot. He pressed a button on his remote that said, “Activate.”

            The robots’ eyes lit up. They walked toward the man.

            “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” said the first one. “I am Santa Claus.”

            “Father Christmas,” another robot said in an English accent.

            “Babo Natale,” a third robot said in an Italian accent.

            “Perfect,” said the scientist. “Now I will make everyone believe in Santa, and they will also be loyal to him.”

            “Yay,” Tristan said.

“Tristan, that’s just a TV show,” I said.

“Oh, Cassie.” Tristan turned off the television. “What’s Christmas without a jolly old—”

“He’s not real. Aren’t you going to be in middle school next year?”

“What does that have to do with this?”

“Everyone’s going to think you’re crazy, still believing in Santa and falling for a TV show.”

“Maybe Santa was a robot this whole time.”

“You’re joking, aren’t you?”

“Whatever.” Tristan stood up. “Don’t be surprised if you get coal tonight.”

I crossed my arms and glared at Tristan. No way would mom and dad give me coal. I hadn’t misbehaved all year. Even then, it’d only happened occasionally. I’d still received gifts every Christmas, including when I’d believed in Santa.

 

A few hours had passed. My family and I had eaten dinner. I now lay in my bed, only to hear a bang on the roof. Gasping, I bolted up and hopped out of my bed. I opened my window and looked up. There was a sleigh, and hoofs scraping against the roof.

I closed my eyes and shook my head. I gazed again. The same things remained there. And a heavy figure climbed into the chimney.

This can’t be happening, I thought. Santa’s not real.

Despite being taught not to do this when I was little, especially on Christmas Eve, I left my room and walked down to the living room. My heartbeat raced and my palms sweated. I rushed my breathing.

The boots showed themselves. I inhaled and backed away. More of the figure’s red clothes revealed themselves, followed by a white beard. The figure showed his face—only to have it look more metal-like than flesh-textured.

This couldn’t be, though—unless some unknown scientist or genius had super-advanced tech to created a Santa bot like on TV. Still. That couldn’t happen in 2018.

The eyes glowed yellow. The robot turned to me. “Ho, ho, ho,” it said in a robotic tone. “You have to go back to bed, or else you’re getting coal.”

I ran back upstairs and into my room. I leaned against the door and breathed. Who could’ve done this? Should that person be reported to the police?

Perhaps, so. I hurried to my parents’ door and knocked. “Mom, Dad, wake up!”

My mother opened the door. “Cassie, what’s going on?”

“There was a Santa robot downstairs!”

“Now’s not that time for nonsense, Cassie.” My mom closed the door.

“I’m being serious!”

There was no answer. I stomped down the hallway and knocked on Tristan’s door. Tristan opened the door.

“Tristan, there was a Santa bot downstairs, like the one in that show you were watching.”

“No, that was just a TV show.” Tristan closed the door.

“It was like that, seriously!”

He reopened the door. “Have you lost your mind, Cassie?”

“No!”

The roof shook.

“Earthquake!” cried Tristan.

“It’s not an earthquake,” I said.

The vibration came to a halt. I looked around. My bedroom door had remained opened. I turned to the window. The Santa bot and reindeer rode away on the sleigh.

“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” the robot said from outside. “And to all a goodnight.”

“That doesn’t seem right.” Tristan rushed into my room. “Those reindeer look fake.”

I approached him.

“Santa’s voice sounds strange,” Tristan added.

“That’s because he’s not Santa,” I said. “That’s a Santa robot.”

Tristan gasped.

My parents’ door opened. Both my mom and dad entered my room.

“What’s that outside?” my mother asked.

“A robot Santa along with robot reindeer,” said Tristan.

The sleigh landed on the house across the street from mine. The Santa bot hopped out.

“Yes,” the scientist’s voice echoed from outside. “Soon, you will also start being loyal.”

“What was that?” asked Tristan. “He… he sounded like the same mad scientist on TV.”

“Let me be considered the nicest man in the world,” the same voice said.

More sleighs soared outside. The sky also glowed yellow.

“Hey, Cassie, why don’t we go back to sleep?” asked Tristan.

Gasping, I turned to him. His pupils glowed yellow. So did mom and dad’s.

“No, no!” I rushed downstairs. I put on my boots and coat and dashed outside. The same mad scientist as on television walked down the street. All the neighbors stared at him, with yellow eyes.

“I’ve been considered naughty forever by my parents,” the scientist said. “I’ve always wished that Santa existed. But now he is going to take all your prized possessions and give them to me.”

I inhaled and ran back inside. A Santa bot had my electronics, beauty products, Tristan’s action figures, and mom and dad’s photo album.

“Stop!” I cried.

The robot turned to me. “You are not loyal.”

I rushed into the kitchen and grabbed a rolling pin. I wacked the robot. But it grabbed me.

“Hitting is naughty,” it said. “That means you are getting coal… forever and ever.”

I kicked the bot and returned to the kitchen. I filled a glass of water. But the robot grasped my wrist. The water spilled away from it.

“You are on my naughty list permanently.”

“No, no!”

But the liquid spread to the robot’s shoes. The bot let go of me. Streaks of light electrocuted it. Its voice deepened and died out. The robot collapsed onto the ground.

Breathing, I stared. Yup, it made zero moves. I went outside. All the Santa bots lay on the street motionless. The people seemed to have gone off the spells. They gazed at the machines.

“Cassie?” my mom called.

“Yeah?” I turned to her.

“Cassie, darling, are you all right?” my mother asked.

“I’m fine, Mom.” I hugged her.

“You saved Christmas,” said Tristan. “I saw that are stuff is still here.”

“Well, more importantly, we’re all still here,” my dad said. “After all, Christmas is about spending time with loved more than it is about the gifts.”

“That is true,” said Tristan. “Family is more important than Santa.”

I grinned.