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Heartless Mrs. Mavilda runs an orphanage where kids live in miserable conditions because she keeps all of the donation money for herself. She hires a new assistant who, along with Santa, helps children finally have a merry Christmas.
After mis-hearing a radio broadcast about Santa canceling his Christmas trip due to an injured reindeer, Olive the dog decides to travel to the North Pole and volunteer to be a replacement. Unfortunately, Olive must deal with an evil postman who's tired of handling all the extra Christmas mail. Will Martini the penguin be able to help Olive realize her dream? Written by
Funny but more straightforward than you'd hope from Groening
Olive is an ambitious little dog who hears that one of Santa's reindeer has been injured and may not be able to pull the sleigh. Olive sets out to set into the place of the reindeer, making a few friends along the way. Meanwhile a bitter mailman sets out to ruin Christmas for all concerned.
I caught this early on Christmas Day buried in the middle of every channel trying to put up some feel good programmes and films about Santa and reindeers mostly animations. This one struck me because how different the animation was a little weird and off-kilter to be just another banged out Christmas animation. Then I noticed it was produced by Matt Groening he of Simpsons and Futurama fame. I had hoped that this would be as sharp as some of the better episodes of those series but it didn't quite make it.
Generally it was amusing and it did have a few characters that were sharp and delivered one liners and I suppose the whole set up is inventive enough and different enough to stand out from the crowd of feel good animations on this morning. But it wasn't in the same league as Groening's Simpsons episodes. However the humour is sufficient to make it stand out and the voice work helps a lot.
Barrymore brings a relentless cheerfulness to Olive and the various side kicks help. Pantoliano is the best voice as the penguin Martini while others include Jay Mohr, Castellaneta, Stipe and MacNicol. It's not star studded which is good as that can often replace a quality product, but the cast are all good enough to deliver on the story's potential.
Overall this can't hold a candle to much of Groening's other work but as a competitor for your attentions amongst a host of other festive cartoons then this should easily beat many of the other stocking fillers that the networks serve up to fill the day.
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