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Olive, The Other Reindeer (1999)

  Directed by: Steve Moore
Written by: J Otto Siebold, Vivian Walsh, Steve Young
Starring: Edward Asner, Drew Barrymore, Dan Castellaneta, Joe Pantoliano
Music by: Michael Stipe
Links: Olive, The Other Reindeer on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book
Genre: Cartoon/Animation

This movie gets: 8.00 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 53rd of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"Cute, quirky, fun" - a review by pearly

Olive, The Other Reindeer is lots of fun. Based on the kid's book of the same name with the gorgeously memorable illustrations, it's about Olive, a cute little doggie who, fearing that Christmas will be cancelled when one of the reindeer is injured, heads to the North Pole to help Santa deliver the Chrissy pressies.

Having Matt Groening on board as a producer (and with a minor voice role) certainly can't hurt a production like this. The man can do no wrong. Added to that you have Drew Barrymore's star power in the lead voice role, as well as producing, and Michael Stipe as another character who has a singing role. It all adds up to an enjoyable 45 minutes of animated delight.

The animation is old school cartoony: it's certainly not in the league of Finding Nemo (2003), but it manages to animate the charm of the original drawings, and add to their cute quirkiness in a wonderful way.

The voices are all pretty cool, I even warmed to Barrymore's portrayal of Olive, purely due to her obvious enthusiasm for the role. Stipe is also great, but Dan Castellaneta (Mr Homer Simpson himself) takes the cake with his deliciously evil voicework as Olive's nemesis, the postman (kinda reminded me of Newman from Seinfeld).

Not all that surprisingly, you shouldn't expect a Simpsonsesque style of entertainment from Olive, The Other Reindeer; it's more fun than funny, and is aimed at a younger audience. But the quirkiness that it does have, and the extreme cuteness factor are likely to count in its favour for people of any age.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 15 Mar 2004

"Groening, Stipe, and Barrymore: together at last" - a review by mino

Olive, The Other Reindeer is a (rather loose) adaptation of J Otto Siebold and Vivian Walsh's modern classic children's book of the same name. The book has been a favourite of mine for some time, but I didn't even know the movie existed: when I saw it, I sat there staring open-mouthed: when I saw the amazing cast and crew listing, I nearly trampled several little old ladies to get to the checkout.

Best of all, I wasn't disappointed. Olive has been adapted into animated form by (amongst other people), none other than Matt Groening — and if you need me to add the words ‘of The Simpsons fame’ for you to know who that is, you need serious help, my friend — and he doesn't disappoint at all.

Though the plot varies markedly from the book (and is filled out with a lot of side-scenes, because otherwise it would be a 4-minute film), the basic gist of it is there. Olive (voiced perfectly, much to my surprise, by Drew Barrymore) is a small Jack Russell-like dog, who lives a happy life with her owner and her pet flea, with occasional run-ins with the local postman, a particularly vicious soul voiced to perfection by Homer Simpson himself, Dan Castellaneta, who would like nothing better than to have Christmas cancelled so he doesn't have to deliver any more cards.

When one of Santa's reindeer is injured, Santa appears on the radio and anounces that hopefully, ‘all of the other reindeer’ will be able to help him out. Olive mishears this as ‘Olive, the other reindeer’, and figures she has to rush to the North Pole to help Santa out. She hooks up with a very shady penguin (Joe Pantoliano), and sets off to save the day.

Along the way, needless to say, Olive encounters any number of crazy characters, many of whom are voiced by either moderately-well-known TV stars, or by well-known voices of animation (like Billy West, who plays Fry in Groening's Futurama), and sings a few songs. Barrymore's singing voice isn't exactly going to set the world on fire, but she's greatly assisted by the fact that the songs are written by Michael Stipe, who also sings one of them (not coincidentally, one of the best ones).

So, a fairly cute kids' Christmas movie, right? Wrong.

Olive isn't just cute, like ‘aww, look at the little Drew Barrymore puppy’, or mildly amusing like the book. It's laugh-out-loud funny, with some great wordplay and some hilarious visual gags — there are even some Simpsons-style signs in the background to reward the eagle-eyed watcher. The songs too, are highly amusing.

Some great voice talent, clever writing, oh-so-cute animation, and tremendously catchy songs combine to make Olive a far, far better piece of made-for-Christmas TV filler than yet another repeat of A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), that's for sure.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 13 Jan 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.00
Lowest rating: 8 (by pearly, mino)
Highest rating: 8 (by pearly, mino)
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