Thanks to ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas, there is a multitude of Christmas-themed viewing to be had this time of year--some good, some awesome. And, in the spirit of Christmas and giving and all that, I (and a few possibly masochistic friends) sacrificed some of my Sunday to watch and recap some fabulous claymation Christmas specials for you, my deserving readers. Below is the first installment, Pinocchio's Christmas.
Pinocchio's Christmas (Rankin-Bass, 1980)
The Main Players:
- Pinocchio, who is less than a year old, kind of a tool, and extremely stupid. Which you can't really fault him for, since he's made of wood.
- Geppetto, an asshole woodcarver who inexplicably wears a wig with a bowl cut, and is just as stupid and toolish as his wooden child.
- Fox and Cat, an evil mastermind and his moronic accomplice, respectively, who are somewhat offensively dressed like gypsies.
- Maestro Fire-Eater, a puppeteer with a disappointing name.
- Lady Azura, some kind of magic woodland queen, or something, who planted the enchanted tree that Pinocchio came from.
- The Duke, a heartless rich man who learns a Valuable Lesson.
The timeline here is pretty unclear. It seems like some of the events in the movie have happened, but obviously not all of them, since Pinocchio is still made of wood (as Geppetto continually and dickishly reminds him). Aaaanyway, Pinocchio is pretty psyched for his first Christmas, and Geppettool (trust me, it's an appropriate nickname) sells a pair of boots to buy him his first Christmas present. A math textbook. A week early. LAME. Pinocchio, catching on to the spirit of Christmas pretty quickly, sells the textbook to buy Geppettool a present, but Fox and Cat trick him out of his money.
Penniless and presentless, Pinocchio is forced to whore himself out to Maestro Fire-Eater, who rebrands him "Sir Larry Olive Tree" and makes him the star of his own show. But then, tragedy! Pinocchio falls in love with Julietta, a non-living marionette, and steals her away from Maestro Fire-Eater before he can carve her into an old man (yes, really). After he's chased by police dogs into the haunted Forest of Enchantment (talking to his inanimate girlfriend all the way), we get some background on the Origins of Pinocchio.
Apparently, he was once a branch on an enchanted tree, but when a carpenter tried to turn the branch into a table leg, it started laughing. Yeah. Rightfully freaked out by the muffled talking coming from the piece of wood, the carpenter gave it to Geppettool, who carved into it as it "mm-hmm"ed right back at him. CREEPY. Once he was finished, Pinocchio's first act as a living puppet was to kick Geppettool in the ass. Because even as a newborn creepy wooden boy, he's a total dick.
And because in this version of the world, bad boys are unpopular, only Fox and Cat would be friends with him, and they taught Pinocchio how to steal. A moralistic cricket tried to be friends with him, but he left after Pinocchio threw a book at him. Okay, that was kind of the best ever. Anyway, Geppettool hopes that the beauty of Christmas will change Pinocchio's ways.
Back in the forest, Lady Azura finds Pinocchio and takes him to her Chalet (seriously), finally decides along with "Dr. Cricket" that he's not a bad boy, and teaches him a valuable lesson about how you don't need real money for gifts. Meanwhile, Geppettool finds the fake puppet that Maestro Fire-Eater created to replace Pinocchio lying in the gutter, and is totally distraught because he can't even recognize his own wooden kid. Worst "dad" ever.
Fox and Cat, up to their usual tricks, have made a deal to sell Pinocchio to the Duke as a present for his kids. They trick Pinocchio, the world's dumbest fake boy, into getting into a sleigh that takes him to the Duke's house. The Duke's kids are rightfully creeped out by the present, so Pinocchio teaches the Duke the same valuable lesson that Lady Azura taught him. Aww. Santa gives them a ride back to the village (what?!), and Geppettool and Pinocchio are reunited. Pinocchio's "present" is to go to school and obey Geppettool. So...more of a New Year's resolution, really.
Lady Azura, along with her poodle and monkey attendings, arrive with Julietta, who is now a living doll like Pinocchio. There is much foreshadowing to the movie, and a cheerful Christmas toast...with oatmeal. Which begs the question: What terrible tragedy befell Julietta between now and whenever the movie is supposed to take place? (My guess: Geppettool got jealous of all the attention Pinocchio was giving her, and made her into a doorstop.)
- "I never know what gifts to buy," sung by Geppettool, who apparently secretly hates Christmas. Every year he doesn't buy a gift, just because they're hard to pick out? Uncool! It's an oddly schizophrenic duet between him and his reflection in the mirror.
- "Gonna get lucky, knock on wood," a maddeningly catchy, and unintentionally innuendo-laced, song sung by Pinocchio about how he's going to get lots of money to buy presents.
- "Let 'em laugh," sung by Maestro Fire-Eater when Pinocchio is onstage. It's a complete rip-off of "Make 'em Laugh," from Singin' in the Rain.
- "It's the truth," sung by Fox and Cat, in which Cat is repeatedly struck by lightning every time Fox sings "or may lighting strike me down." Oh, Cat. What crazy hijinks will you get up to next?
- "Put your love in a poem," sung by Lazy Azura, about expressing oneself without money for presents. It involves cards, roses, and hugs, which are all weak-ass presents.
- An informative song about the difference between laughing "Ho Ho Ho" (like Santa), and "Ha Ha Ha" (which is wicked).
- "Look! The rain is fuzzy!" -Pinocchio, upon seeing snow for the first time.
- "Gonna get lucky, knock on wood! [Knocks on self.]" -Pinocchio, taking advantage of his wooden head.
- "But...if I'm funny, they may laugh at me!" -Pinocchio, catching on to the concept of "comedy."
- "Egad! That bump on a log has purloined the ingénue!" -Maestro Fire-Eater, upon discovering that Pinocchio has stolen Julietta.
- "Once, someone tried to be my friend. A cricket! But all he did was preach and give advice all day." -Pinocchio, before he learned to wish upon a star.
- "Christmas presents do not talk back to nobility!" -The Duke, after realizing that the living doll he bought his kids is a total tool.
- Christmas is for everyone, even marionettes.
- Don't play hooky from school.
- You can give a crappy Christmas present for free!
Bottom Line: Every character in this movie is an asshole, and most are incredibly stupid, to a hilarious degree. And I've had that goddamn "Gonna get lucky, knock on wood!" song stuck in my head for almost five days. You can check out the first nine minutes here. The first half of the dreaded song is at the end of the clip.