It’s Christmas time! But, it’s also still 2020. So, that probably means it’s going to be one of the worst Christmases ever. Why not double down on that and watch some of the worst holiday movies ever made? That’s the plan at least. This is the fourth entry in Dyl’s Worst Christmas Ever.
Today’s movie is called The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t. And, well, let’s be real for a second. That title could totally be in reference to COVID. Luckily though, this movie was made back in the 1960s before such a word was even known. But, this movie still speaks to today’s problems quite well. You see, Santa Claus is having financial problems. The North Pole has been bought up by a cranky old man named Prune and Santa can’t afford the rent. So, he hires a lawyer in an effort to try to help get rent before Christmas Eve. Otherwise, he’ll have to cancel his yearly trip, effectively making Christmas moot that year.
Here’s the thing though: I actually don’t think The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t is all that bad. Sure. It’s dated. Some of the special effects don’t hold up all that well. The songs aren’t terribly memorable. And, it can be a bit cliched. The only thing that really stands out as horrible is the elves. They’re wearing weird old lady wigs despite clearly being men and are led by one of the creepiest characters I’ve seen. But, if you told me this was a beloved holiday classic, I’d believe you. It seems like the sort of thing you’d watch as a kid and not realize how bad it is until you’re older. Now maybe I’m just too far into this challenge already. I may be losing my sense of reality. But, I left my viewing with no much more than a shrug. I wasn’t repulsed. I didn’t laugh at it. There’s nothing that seriously offended me. It’s just a not great, typical, forgettable Christmas movie.
In fact, I think the biggest crime The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t committed is the fact that it was filmed in live-action. If this were an old Rankin/Bass stop motion movie like Rudolph or The Year Without a Santa Claus, I think it’d be really really good. In fact, it’s got a lot of the staples of that era of specials. The lawyer feels like the delightful narrator. Santa is equal parts jolly and clueless. Mrs. Claus is setting him straight. They’ve got songs every five minutes whether it makes sense or not. And, there’s a mustache twirling villain who is campy in all of the best ways. He was easily my favorite character. He sings a song about why he hates children and it more or less boils down to that they get more attention than him. He doesn’t understand why he’s not spoiled but they get to be. Which, honestly, same. Anyways, I can definitely see him fitting in along the Heatmiser or Snowmiser. Plus, you can get away with a lot more in animation. A lot of bits that look silly in ridiculous when a human being does them looks natural when done by a cartoon character. The ending of this movie in particular would have improved tremendously through the more simple art form. Of course, you’d need to cut down the runtime but that wouldn’t be hard either. There’s a lot of filler in this hour and a half movie. Half of the song lyrics and dialogue is just repeating the same phrase over and over anyway. Cutting half of that would make it an appropriate length for a tv special.
And, well, that’s all I have to say about The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t. It’s definitely not the travesty some of our other movies have been. In fact, it’s almost kinda average. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this should be added into everyone’s Christmas rotation. But, it’s not bad enough to pull out and laugh at either. It’s forgotten for a reason. There’s nothing that makes it stand out. It’s perfectly slightly below average. Not the best. Not the worst. Forever destined to sit towards the middle of the Christmas movies list. Can you think of anything sadder?