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Western Animation / Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1998)

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In 1998, GoodTimes Entertainment adapted Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer into a movie (unrelated to the Rankin/Bass Productions adaptation of the same name). It is a Coming of Age Story that centers around Rudolph's dream of becoming a Flyer — one of the heroic reindeer who pull Santa's sleigh — and triumph over Arrow's bullying. Eventually this bullying escalates to the point where Rudolph runs away from home.

Unfortunately, the North Pole is experiencing a terrible blizzard, and it threatens not only Christmas, but Rudolph's life...

GoodTimes later made a sequel film, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, however it was an All-CGI Cartoon sequel to the original Rankin/Bass specials.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Context Change: In the original story, and the Rankin-Bass adaptation, Rudolph being left out of the Reindeer Games is an extension of the bullying he suffers for his nose, as the other reindeer simply don't want to play with him. In this version, Rudolph is initially allowed to join the games and even wins the first race, but is disqualified and banned due to his glowing nose giving him an unfair advantage (in Rudolph's defense, Arrow provoked him into doing so by teasing him about Zoey, so Rudolph blinding Arrow was unintentional).
  • All-Knowing Singing Narrator: The Sprites of the Northern Lights plays this from straight beginning to end. They also becomes Interactive Narrators before the beginning of the climax.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: It's a Rudolph story complete with scenes of other reindeer making fun of him, what would you expect? Twisting the knife a little further, the elves in the "But What About His Nose?" musical number don't seem to be above picking on a newborn fawn either, for that matter.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: After Stormella leaves when Santa refuses to hand over Boone and Doggle when they accidently destroyed her Ice Garden, which causes her to close her bridge that everyone from Santa's Village uses to get across Grand Chasm to the public in retaliation, Doggle then asks Boone if they will still get promoted and Boone hits him in the head for asking it.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Show Me The Light". In the film it was performed by the composer and his wife. The credits version was sung by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: Stormella operates under this logic. Until Rudolph uses a "wish" for her to be nice.
  • Batman Gambit: Arrow of all people pulls off one. During a race, Arrow riles Rudolph up by pretending that Zoey only likes Rudolph because she feels sorry for him. Rudolph is aware that it is a lie, but the mere fact that Arrow would badmouth Zoey in that manner makes him so mad that his nose glows and blinds Arrow, causing Arrow to crash and causing Rudolph to win the race...which is considered cheating, so Arrow ends up winning by default since Rudolph is disqualified.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Subverted with Leonard who was more annoyed with Rudolph and Slyly for trespassing in his home than straight up trying to murder them. After Rudolph explains their situation, he softens and is friendly afterwards for the rest of the movie.
  • Book Ends: The Sprites sing about Rudolph in the beginning and ending of the film.
  • The Bully: Arrow has bullied Rudolph his entire life due to his red nose. It only gets worse when they crush on the same doe.
  • Christmas Elves: It is a Christmas movie that is an adaptation of a famous Christmas story and the elves of this variety are featured in the film.
  • Clashing Cousins: Rudolph and Arrow are cousins (their dads are brothers). They really don't get along, and it only gets worse as they get older, especially once they develop a crush on the same girl. However, their status as kin is never brought to attention.
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: Downplayed. Arrow has shadows under his eyes, but he's more of a bully than a villain.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The character's name is Slyly. It doesn't get more blatant than that.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Since Rudolph is three times his size and has hooves, Slyly's attempt to fight him ends badly.
  • Distant Duet: "Show Me The Light" between Rudolph and Zoey.
  • Exposition Fairy: A literal example with four fairies who sing about the story. They also contribute to the plot; they're the ones who finally inform Rudolph what his nose can really do.
  • Expy: Being the love interest to the titular character and one of the few who accepts his deformity, Zoey is obviously meant to be a stand-in for Clarice from the original special.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Sort of. After Rudolph saves Stormella from falling to her death, she is bound by the Rules of the North Pole to grant Rudolph a wish, anything he wants. The Friend or Idol decision part comes into play when Stormella has a suggestion of her own: Rudolph could wish for a normal nose, what he's always wanted! Rudolph insists that his wish is: "I want you to be nice."
  • Furry Reminder: Human personality aside, when someone ambushes Rudolph by dropping onto his back, he reacts like any deer would; bucking the attacker into a wall.
  • Gentle Giant: Leonard at first seems to be a dim-witted yet vicious polar bear who doesn't take kindly to strangers, especially when Slyly tries to trick him into leaving his home. After Rudolph apologises and explains the situation, Leonard is much friendlier than he first appeared.
  • Hakuna Matata: Slyly the fox sings "It Could Be Worse" to Rudolph after he's run away from home on how there are worse situations in the world and how he should forget his troubles.
  • Hate Sink: In a classic fashion. We can’t really hate Stormella and her minions due to their charismatic quirks, but we can hate Arrow and his friends who agree with his opinion of Rudolph completely. He is obviously intended to be as despicable as possible, as he constantly bullies poor Rudolph for his nose and he ends up winning by default in the reindeer race even after he gets blinded by Rudolph’s nose and he still acts like an ass even after Zoey tells him what kind of a person Rudolph is on the inside.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Stormella inflicts this on herself per Rudolph's wish.
  • "The Hero Sucks" Song: "But What About His Nose?", regarding the elves and other reindeer mocking a baby Rudolph's nose, while his parents try to point out the positives in their son and try to explain away the abnormal attribute.
  • An Ice Person: Stormella, who even has the power to create a massive snowstorm.
  • "I Hate" Song: Stormella's Villain Song, "I Hate Santa Claus", is all about how she hates Santa's jolliness and how she's planning to stop him from delivering toys.
  • I Have No Cousin!: Although not specifically stated in the film, Rudolph and Arrow are cousins (his dad is a sibling to one of Rudolph’s parents), and it’s very likely his bullying of Rudolph was was born out of resentment as he doesn’t want anybody to know that he is related to what he sees, in his view, a freak.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: It seems like everyone born near the Pole is imbued with random magic: reindeer can fly if they train hard enough, Stormella has wand-based sorcery...when Rudolph asks the Sprites about his condition, they basically go, 'Yeah, that happens sometimes. Don't worry about it'.
  • I Owe You My Life: Stormella eventually owes Rudolph her life after Rudolph saves her from falling off a cliff to her death. And according to the Rules of the North Pole, that means Stormella owes Rudolph a "wish". Rudolph wishes for Stormella to be nice.
  • Jerkass: Arrow is a bully who teases Rudolph for his nose.
  • The Lady's Favor: Before the Reindeer Games begin, Zoey gives Rudolph her heart-shaped locket to wear while racing in them. Unfortunately, she's still dating Arrow at this point, and Arrow sees it while competing against Rudolph and gets pissed. After Rudolph leaves the village, the locket is one of the few things he takes with him.
    Slyly: Who gave that to you?
    Rudolph: Somebody special...I don't want to talk about it.
    Slyly: I don't blame ya, kid. Love is for suckers.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the Rankin/Bass special. Santa and Rudolph's parents, while still troubled by his nose, are much more accepting towards him. Most of the movie is lighter than the first.
  • The Movie: Inverted. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie is a re-imagining of the song. The sequel, however, is an unofficial sequel to the famous Christmas special.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: The dozens of non-Flyer reindeer teach younger reindeer and...haul cargo, maybe? It's not made clear.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Let's face it, Eric Idle can't hold onto a Brooklyn accent long enough.
  • Papa Wolf: While he never does, Blitzen threatens to lock antlers with the next buck who makes a crack about Rudolph's nose.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Arrow is a total Jerkass, but the movie expecting the audience to root for Zoe and Rudolph cheating on him together, instead of Zoe simply breaking up with him earlier, is still pretty questionable.
  • Puppy Love: Zoey and Rudolph are still kids but have crushes on each other.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Because of its Lighter and Softer tone, the film seems to make a point of having nearly everyone in a powerful position be either this or sympathetically motivated. Let's go down the list:
    • Santa Claus is a responsible, caring boss to his workers. There's a point in the film's beginning where Rudolph is running away from school, in tears because (almost) every child there was bullying him. Santa finds him- this lonely colt who he has no knowledge of- and takes the time to reassure Rudolph, giving him an encouraging pep talk about how every deer and elf is welcome in his village. Later on, when his elves are being bullied by Stormella, he refuses to allow the sorceress to 'punish' (i.e, kill them) any of them, defiantly protecting his employees. (He does demote Boone and Doggle after learning of their crime, but that's understandable given the circumstances.) And in the film's climax, when Rudolph and Zoey's parents realise that their children are missing, he immediately sends out a search party.
    • Rudolph's parents are loving and supportive.
    • The unnamed referee at the Reindeer Games has good reasons for disqualifying Rudolph from the race he won. The usage of Rudolph's light did cause an accident, and this accident could well have had serious consequences. That Rudolph didn't mean to create it is irrelevant; the other racers could have been badly hurt. This doesn't explain why he didn't disqualify Arrow for crashing into the other racers at the beginning and causing one elf to have to be carried away on a stretcher. However, since the referee was standing near the finish line, this can easily be justified by the referee simply not having seen Arrow's behavior since he did it at the start of the race.
  • Running Gag: A strange one, in which Slyly keeps stealing Rudolph's teddy bear to snuggle with while he sleeps. Rudolph just gives it to him for Christmas at the end.
  • Save the Villain: Rudolph saves Stormella near the end of the film.
  • Sibling Triangle: Replace "sibling" with "cousin," in that Rudolph and his cousin, Arrow, both develop a crush on Zoey.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Rudolph's voice is noticeably more adult (and male) in "Show Me the Light".
  • Speech Impediment: Leonard tends to stutter.
  • Theme Naming: Friends Boone and Doggle names come from "Boondoggle": work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.
  • Those Two Guys: Elves Boone and Doggle are always in each other's company.
  • Tuft of Head Fur: Bucks like Rudolph and Arrow have fur on their heads while does like Zoey don't.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Boone and Doggle accidentally set off most of the problems in the movie when they accidentally wreck Stormella's ice garden. This prompts her to show up demanding that the two be handed over to her for "justice"; when Santa Claus refuses to give them up, Stormella tries to wreck Christmas as revenge.
  • Villain Song: "I Hate Santa Claus", sung by Stormella.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Reflected in this adaptation from the Rankin/Bass special. There's also a subversion: Rudolph overhears his father say "That nose of his was an accident", and in response, he runs away. The subversion is that Rudolph heard that sentence out of context: his father was standing up for him to the referee, contesting the decision to disqualify Rudolph for blinding Arrow, since the nose problem isn't Rudolph's fault.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer The Movie


Show Me The Light

Rudolph and Zoey sing about how far apart they are and wish to be reunited some day.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DistantDuet

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