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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
One of the least accomplished episodes of "The Simpsons" was "Insane Clown Poppy," with Drew Barrymore as the voice of Krusty's illegitimate daughter Sophie. Happily, she and Matt Groening pre-emptively made up for this in 1999 with the charming "Olive, the Other Reindeer," which they executive produced, and which featured one of them (hint: not Matt) as the voice of the title character.
When Santa Claus faces a crisis that may mean his deliveries won't get through, lovable dog Olive mishears him on the radio hoping to depend on "all of the other reindeer," and believing that Mr. Kringle is counting on her, she's off to the North Pole with the help of her penguin friend Martini, but with a conniving postman (!) out to stop her. Only Scrooge would not be rooting for Olive and Martini to succeed in the course of this special, not least with the warm and winning voice work (particularly Barrymore as our four-legged friend, Joe Pantoliano cast against type as good guy Martini, and Michael Stipe as one of Santa's reindeer - who has a very funny joke about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).
A good, heartwarming story with computer animation from DNA Productions that looks more traditionally cartoony than the norm, which is not a bad thing here; Drew also does her own singing, and it must be said that she won't be giving Alicia Keys a run for her money - but her scrappy enthusiasm on her numbers ("Merry Christmas After All" provides an oddly endearing blend of Miss Barrymore's slightly flat vocalising and the truly musical Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) only adds to the special's charm. Funny and non-sick-making, this is up there with Channel 4's adaptation of "Father Christmas" and some of Rankin/Bass's seasonal cartoons in the winner stakes; one to tape.
"Warp speed, captain!"
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