One of the things I remember of Christmases as a child was watching all kinds of animated Christmas specials on TV after opening my presents. Most of those specials have faded away into the mists of time, but a few bob up every now and then, usually because they’re still shown around the festive period.
However, in recent years I keep recalling one particular yuletide cartoon that’s never been repeated since, called Jingle Bell Rock. I finally caved in to nostalgia and tried to find a way to watch this cartoon in a way that was completely legal, just to see if it still measured up to the scraps of memory I possessed of this odd little tale… and boy is this odd.
Things start off with a stereotypically schmoozy LA producer (voiced by none other than Milton Berle, a man who is apparently well-renowned in the US but very much unheard of here in the UK) telling somebody over the phone about how he personally saved Christmas. It soon transpires that the real credit goes to an elf named Buddy.
See, Buddy works in Santa’s workshop; specifically, the Music department… although given that his boss refuses to have any new Christmas music made, you wonder why he bothers to show up at all. This naturally leaves Buddy and his apparently sentient electric guitar in a funk. However, Santa himself is in bigger trouble; turns out giving free stuff to millions every year isn’t good for business, so St Nick is in the red, as well as wearing it.
Buddy, being a conscientious employee, suggests winning the money needed by entering a talent show in LA with a song he’s written. His boss (and his boss’ stupid lackey) invite themselves along, and are quickly seduced by the bright lights and glamour of tinseltown. Luckily for Buddy, he happens to meet a young waitress with dreams of making it big, who happens to be the cousin of the schmoozy producer from the beginning.
I’d go on describing the plot, but… I actually want you to go and watch this cartoon. It’s less than 23 minutes long, and it’s quite fun in its own little way with a surprisingly sharp sense of humour. That said, it does show its age (1995 – 20 years old this year) what with the fashion and giant cellphones.
Also, it feels more like it’s written for the grown ups then for kids, what with Milton Berle and the main plot being “save Christmas by making sure Santa doesn’t go broke”, as well as some rather risque jokes barely a minute in. Still, overall it’s not too objectionable and for all its bizarreness it’s got a remarkable amount of heart, with a nice underlying message of doing things for the right reasons and not giving up on your dreams.
Go on, give it a look.