"Elf Bowling" is probably one of the worst Christmas specials ever made. It lacks the charm it is supposed to have, the animation is terrible, and it is not funny at all. All this added to the fact that it was post-produced to tie in to a popular downloadable video game.
In fact, all bowling elements of the film made no sense to me. Sure, the video game is fun. I know because I've played it. However, how can you have Santa use elves as bowling pins and make both the Christmas special endearing and Santa not look like a masochist? This movie's answer to that question is apparently by making the elves actually LIKE being knocked down by a heavy bowling ball. As long as Santa is rolling that ball, it's a compliment, I guess.
The way you can tell that "Elf Bowling" and all bowling elements were added to the film at the last minute is just by looking at the title: "Elf Bowling: The Movie- The Great North Pole Elf Strike". If you take anything related to bowling out of this movie, you still get a story that's predictable, and characters whose actions fly in the face of logic. Adding bowling to the plot is just clearly contrived.
Apparently, in one of the stupidest Santa origin stories ever, Santa Claus (voiced by Joe Alaskey, who also does the voice for Grandpa Lou in TV's "Rugrats") starts out as a pirate (yes, a pirate!) whose fellow shipmates make it their duty to steal toys from orphans. When Santa has a falling out with his brother, Dingle Kringle (voiced by Tom Kenny, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants), they end up both accidentally walking off the plank. Because they happen to fall off the ship in the North Pole, they end up frozen and floating off to a land inhabited by toy-making elves.
While the brothers initially plan to steal the toys the elves made, Santa warms up to the elves. Dingle, however, does not. Santa goes on to take over the workshop, while Dingle, in plain sight of Santa, wants to take over the toy making operation. First he wants to keep the toys for himself. Later, he wants to deliver the toys to all the children in the world with invoices attached so he can profit. INVOICES! As if kids would actually pay them.
Do you see any room for bowling in this story? Somehow, they manage to wedge it in, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Also, Dingle, being the bad guy, cheats in the first game, then is caught by the elves. They have a rematch, and Dingle cheats again, unbeknownst to those same elves. Talk about "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me"! For plot convenience's sake, the elves never seem to comprehend Dingle's evil schemes, even when he flies them to Fiji. The elves are not supposed to be stupid, but their lines like "What the cranberry sauce are you doing?" make you wonder.
Despite the veteran, talented voice actors they recruited for this special, this is just a very cheap way to promote a video game that did not need this movie to promote it. It had already been downloaded 100 million times (literally) before this movie came out.
Everything about this movie felt cheap: the writing, the animation, and even the sole black elf who spoke intelligence-insulting jive talk. I did not enjoy it, and I doubt kids will either. However, it may be best used as an actual bowling pin so you can through a bowling ball at it.
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