Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 13

           I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. Lucky number 13 is up today, let's see what it is. 

Nestor the Long-eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

           It figures that the first Rankin-Bass Christmas special that I would draw would be what easily has to be the worst of them. That seems to be the way this stocking is picking them. Oh well. It is hilarious to me that the same year that birthed Star Wars also gave us this abomination. Full disclosure, this is the first of two picks that I am not watching unadulterated. I am watching the Rifftrax version of Nestor the Long-eared Christmas Donkey. For those that don't know what Rifftrax is, it is an audio track that you sync to the program that makes jokes about it as you watch. It is a product from some of the same people that were responsible for Mystery Science Theater 3000, which means it is excellent. If you are thinking about watching this special, I suggest that you watch this version as well.


           Nestor the Long-eared Christmas Donkey opens at the North Pole just as Santa is leaving to make his deliveries. Santa's donkey then informs us of a number of things. First, Santa has a donkey. Second, the donkey in the manger display under the tree in the North Pole's stable is inaccurate. Third, he knows this because he is descended from that donkey. He then launches in to the story of his donkey forebear.
           We are introduced to Nestor, who is one of Olaf the donkey breeder's donkeys. Olaf doesn't care for Nestor because of his freakishly long ears. The other animals also pick on him for the same reason. One night, a roman soldier shows up to buy donkeys. The soldier picks the ones he wants and selects Nestor without noticing his ears. Just as he is about to pay, the soldier finally notices the engorged aural receptacles and decides that since Olaf was clearly trying to cheat him he will take all of the other donkeys he selected without paying for them. After the soldier leaves with all the young donkeys, Olaf is furious. He kicks Nestor out in the cold and tells him never to return. Nestor's mom breaks open her pen door and runs after Nestor. She catches up to him and finds them some cover from the elements. She then lays on top of Nestor to provide him warmth. The next morning, Nestor's mom is dead from exposure. Merry Christmas, everybody.

A snow bank?  No, that is Nestor's mom's corpse.  Really.

           After his mom's death, Nestor is wandering when a cherub appears to him and tells him that God has a plan for him and that he must head towards Bethlehem. The cherub leads Nestor to a village a short distance from Bethlehem and tells him to wait there. Soon after, Mary and Joseph arrive looking to buy a donkey to carry Mary on their way to Bethlehem. Of course, they end up with Nestor. They are waylaid by a sand storm but Nestor's red nose long ears allow him to navigate through to their destination. He then takes them to the manger when all the inns are full. After Jesus's birth he returns to Olaf's for some reason.

"You're responsible for my mom's death, let's hang out and laugh!"
Final Thoughts

           Nestor the Long-eared Christmas Donkey is bad. It is derivative of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to an extreme level. The special even brings Rudolph up on numerous occasions. Beyond that the marriage of the biblical Christmas story to a Rankin-Bass talking animal special just feels really weird. I can't really come up with a single saving grace for this special. Beyond the story, the animation seems worse than some of the earlier Rankin-Bass specials and the songs are the worst kind of repetitive. Also, his mother's death is handled with no tact and seems out of place tonally. The Rifftrax for it is good though. So, if you want to add some sarcastic humor to your holidays, buy the file from Rifftrax and be prepared to wonder how this got green lit in the first place.

This special will never be as beloved as that one no matter how much it tries to force that idea down our throats

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