Five Reasons “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the Worst Christmas Movie Ever
I cannot begin to imagine what was going through the minds of the writer, director, and studio back in 1964 when they created this monstrosity. By the way, I’m working on the assumption that everyone reading this has seen the stop motion movie. After all, it’s considered a classic. Television networks show it multiple times each year around the holidays. Everyone is familiar with Rudolph, Hermey, Yukon Cornelius and the rest of the heartwarming and uplifting cast of characters that populate the film. The problem is, there is nothing heartwarming or uplifting about the film. In fact, it is the complete opposite. It is ugly, mean, small-souled stuff that should only be watched to learn how not to behave and live. Here are five of the virtually innumerable reasons that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is just the worst.
1. The stop motion is awful.
Stop motion can be a beautiful and mesmerizing film technique. Just see films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, or The Fantastic Mr. Fox for examples of stop motion done right. Rudolph is ugly. It’s twitchy. It’s cheap and lazy. I’m sure this reason alone is not enough to persuade those that are still clinging to a nostalgic view of the film. You think you love it because it’s always been there. It feels safe and Christmasy to you. Trust me, its lack of artistic creativity is only the tip of the iceberg. Its failures are many and will be dealt with in turn.
2. Santa Claus is a complete jerk.
There is no way to get around this. He reacts like a giant buffoon when he first meets baby Rudolph. Santa sees the big red nose and freaks out. He rejects Rudolph outright and shames the entire Donner family. But that’s not the worst of it. He also treats the elves like garbage. They work hard to please him and even write and sing a song just for him. And how does he respond? He is bored and dismissive. He says it still needs work. And he is condescending to Mrs. Claus–who frankly, is a complete saint for putting up with him.
And the ultimate expression of his self-centered pigheadedness comes at the point of the film that is supposed to be the emotional and thematic climax–the moment he fully accepts Rudolph for what he is. But that’s not what happens. The only reason he accepts Rudolph is because Rudolph’s glowing nose can help him. It’s a completely utilitarian view of Rudolph and I reject it in the most passionate manner I can.
This is not my Santa. This is not a Santa to be admired or respected. He is a fool and should be left to his folly.
3. The adult males in Rudolph are mean, condescending bigots.
I’ve dealt with Santa but he is not alone in this. Donner is a tool: he is ashamed of his son, is embarrassed that his son is different, and he treats his wife–aptly named “Mrs. Donner” because the filmmakers think women are weak and less-than–with virtually no regard. He doesn’t listen to anyone, except the worst people you could listen to: Santa and Comet. And don’t get me started on Comet. He is the trainer and coach for the young bucks and he might be the worst of the whole bunch. He is the reason Rudolph cannot play any reindeer games. My only hope is that when Rudolph becomes the lead reindeer to pull Santa’s sleigh, he bans Comet to barn cleanup duty. And I hope the Abominable Snowman lives in the barn and has digestive issues.
Nearly every adult male is sexist, bigoted, and abusive. They are horrible examples for our children, which is exactly what the filmmakers wanted because they were probably communist.
There are two exceptions to this and I will deal with them next.
4. Too many drugs.
Bear with me on this one. Yukon Cornelius is pretty great but makes absolutely no sense. He is psychotic – as is evidenced by his tackling the Abominable Snowman off the side of a cliff. He talks and acts as if he is on drugs. The constant yelling, gyrating, sniffing, and licking of his pickaxe indicate a troubled and unstable mind. But he’s not the only one on drugs…
I can think of no other explanation for King Moonracer. It had to be drugs, right? It’s a Christmas movie about a reindeer. There is snow, Santa, elves, snowmen, and a FLYING LION? And this flying lion is a king and he runs the Island of Misfit Toys. He “cares” for them until they can find a new home. Except he has no plan to find them new homes. He gets absurdly lucky that Rudolph and company show up and end up telling Santa about the island. And how does he care for them? They all live outside in the snow and cold while benevolent King Moonracer lives in a giant, warm castle. He sits on his comfortable throne, in his comfortable throne room, in the comfortable castle while his subjects sleep outside in the frigid winter air.
So we have another adult male that is just terrible. And makes absolutely no sense. How did the writer even pitch this idea to the studio? Answer: Copious amounts of drugs for all involved.
5. Our heroes, Rudolph and Hermey, are whiny little brats.
I get it. They are bullied by friends and family alike. But do they have to be so whiny about it. I mean for crying out loud, buck up boys! Rudolph had the love of his mother and the prettiest doe in the North Pole – Clarice. He also was already a pretty good flyer. He didn’t need to apologize for anything. If the other bucks didn’t want to play with him, fine. He would just fly circles around them while blinding them with his red nose. They would come around eventually when they saw how useful that thing was.
And Hermey didn’t need to run away. What good was that going to do? How was he going to become a dentist in the middle of nowhere. No. He should have stayed in the North Pole and set up his own dental practice. I’m sure the elves needed a dentist. It would have been difficult at first, but they would have come around as soon as they realized how much he could help them. And based on the typical elf diet of candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup, they were going to need him desperately.
Like I said. These are only a few of the reasons this Christmas film is awful. Perhaps you disagree. Fine. Let me know why this a good Christmas film in the comment section below.
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24 thoughts on “Five Reasons “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the Worst Christmas Movie Ever”
You have convinced me of how terrible this movie is. But I want to watch it now just to see it through this lens.
Gird your loins Gowdy. It will never be the same.
I already thought all of this. Rudolph is a terribly dismal movie.
Alisa, it’s good to find a likeminded Rudolph hater.
As I said on facebook, This article is a heartless attack on my absolute favorite thing about Christmas. Aside from Oh Brother Where art Thou and Transformers: The Movie (1986), this is the movie I quote the most. Hermey has inspired me to make my life an adventure of self discovery. This review undermines everything I hold dear. Sure Santa comes off as a horrible person, but so what? Christmas is not about Santa. Its about Yukon Cornelius saying, “Land Ho!”
Dave, this disappoints me even more than your disappointment of me and my anti-peanut butter stance from days of yore.
Dave, did you eat a lot of paint chips when you were a kid?
Why do you live vicariously through movies? Movies are just role play. All of them.
And to think, I had been mad at myself for hating everyone in this movie since I was a kid. I was right! Thanks for the freedom to hate without remorse. Also, the sound that nose makes…are you kidding me? I’ll die 1000 deaths in a foggy snowbank to avoid that. What is that sound?
It’s the worst sound ever.
The sound made when reading this article is the worst sound ever.
Wait a sec, I thought Lloyd Christmas made the worst sound ever. I’ve been misled.
That’s the most annoying sound ever. It’s a very slight difference. But, yeah.
Thanks Dave. Your encouragement is always welcome.
Brotherly love always leaves me a little misty eyed.
When a grown man has to spend his time bashing a Christmas movie made before they we’re born then it is definitely the world has become trash. Why aren’t you bashing modern stop motion films? They’re worse considering our ability to make completely computer generated films these days. You also forget that Rudolph being shunned is part of the story. Really drug use? From the 60s? I would have never guessed. The writers we’re probably on something. And aren’t most kids whinny brats? Especially in kids films.
With the world being as politically correct as it is nowadays, this movie would have never had a chance of being made today. But c’mon, we’re talking 50 years ago. The attitude and dialogue reflected what was going on in the 1960’s. Santa and the rest of the crew come around in the end.
Definitely not the worst Christmas movie ever. Try watching Santa Claus Conquers the Martians if you want to see really bad…
I appreciate the comments guys. I stand by what I wrote, though.
Rudolph is one of the most popular and recognizable holiday films – which puts it in a different category than something like “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” I’m sure there are objectively worse films out there, but few, if any, that are as well-known and well-loved as this one. That is what I am fighting against – our society’s celebration of the banal, the atrocious, and the mediocre.
I am with you 100%. I have always hated this movie, and my family are never allowed to watch it if I am in the house.
I never liked it as a child. The characters were so mean. And they only loved Rudolph wheb they could use him for something. Where’s the humanity? (On the part of the writers)
I appreciate all the comments – even those that disagree with me.
Do you like “home alone?”
Phil, I respect everyone’s right to have their own opinion. So while I respect what you have to say, I disagree with your overall assessment because I think you’ve missed the teaching point of the whole film.
The 60s were certainly not a decade of enlightenment, in fact far from it. The mindset displayed by the males in this movie, from Santa to Donner to Comet were very, very typical and realistic for that day. And l believe the producers used that stereotype on purpose because while even in the 2000s we still find it challenging to accept things that are different from ourselves, back in the 60s “different” most definitely was not acceptable, especially when it challenged social norms.
I believe, and this because it’s target audience was young children, the producers set out to build a story that said to their younger audience, one, don’t look down on others or make them feel bad because they are different. When we do, as the movie shows, we just never know how our rejection of them might hurt them and cause them to not see value in their own selves.
The latter half of the movie shows Rudolph and Hermey, who both have been previously rejected, linked up with Cornelius and set off together on their quest.
I believe here we see that sometimes just because others don’t see our strength and value to them that it does not mean that we do not possess a strength and value to someone else.
Remember, the target audience are young children so the producers did not make a story line that was supposed to be deep and make a lot of logical sense to adult viewers. They kept the content simplistic on purpose so that it did not need much explanation in order to get their point across.
In the end, as Hermey is able to remove Abominable’s hurt tooth, and as Rudolph is able to aid Santa in getting through the blizzard I believe the producer’s intent was to show the adults- who began the movie being so prejudiced and short sighted- that just because people start off different (Rudolph) or dare to be different (Hermey) it doesn’t mean that their difference has no meaning or value. In fact, the movie points out, that the very people that we want to neglect and overlook are sometimes the very people that we might need in order to help us out in life.
As well I believe that another point, concerning Rudolph and Hermey, was that just because others do not believe in you it does not mean that we shouldn’t believe in ourselves, because whether others see it or not we do have value.
So, sir, that’s my viewpoint.
Agree or not, that’s how I see this film.
Thank you for your time.