By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Like all real Americans, Movieboozer Co-founder Oberst Von Berauscht grew up in the 1980s. As a result, he was witness to a golden age of claymation and/or muppet-based Christmas specials. Even though it has been years since he’s seen most of them, his memories are vivid (and mostly apocryphal). Join him now as he takes a nostalgic journey to a place and time he remembers only in theory. -MovieBoozer Editorial staff
The Christmas Toy centers on Rugby, a stuffed tiger who is the favorite toy of the children in a large suburban home. Rugby is beset by fears of being replaced, and with Christmas looming on the horizon, is planning how to stay the favorite. He eventually decides to sneak into the presents on Christmas Eve, to hide in one of the boxes, and hence re-live the experience of being opened for the first time.
You mentally inserted a sexual metaphor after reading that last sentence… admit it, you perv… no? Just me? oh…
Fearing for their friend, the rest of the toys put together a rescue mission to find Rugby, and talk some sense into him. Meanwhile, Rugby discovers “Meteora” among the presents. Meteora is some kind of Space-BattleQueen toy, unaware of the fact that she comes from a store.
If that synopsis isn’t enough to give it away, The Christmas Toy is perhaps better known to fans as “That show that Pixar totally ripped off of.” There is a lot of truth to this accusation. It isn’t just the “sentient toys” motif (which you can trace back to at least the Nutcracker, if not older), but also in how the toys treat being played with as some kind of higher calling. The constant fears of being replaced are also explored heavily here; Rugby is essentially Woody. If you look past the kid-friendly songs and cute muppets, a darker story is hidden in a place even Pixar fears to tread. You see, in the world of The Christmas Toy, once a human sees the toy somewhere they aren’t supposed to be, they die (as the pile of dead clowns in the corner of the playroom makes eminently clear), and can be saved only through the powers of love songs and Deus Ex Machina storytelling.
Kind of like that, yeah…
The tension of the film is ramped up in scenes where the toys traverse the hallways of the house wile avoiding contact with their faceless human masters.
The character Mew in the film is constantly reminded that he is a cat-toy, and teased for his catnip smell; he is not accepted into the group as an equal. This isn’t about discrimination, it is about religious warfare. Think about it; the lives of the toys depend on the benevolence of beings that can and will murder them for misbehavior. Because he serves another master (the cat) and doesn’t receive the love of their human gods, Mew is seen by them as an untouchable, unclean being. Mew is subjected to their will and frozen for his impudence, because what are the gods without wrath?
“They gave us a Coke Bottle and it FUCKING ENDED society…”
Adding to the debate is Meteora, a warrior Queen from space who believes herself to be “real” at first, but is quickly seduced by the lies and half promises of the toys. The toys convince her that the love and attention she will receive from the children is a better path, totally ignoring the fleeting nature of that attention. Weakened by the magical shitosity of 80s Synth Orchestra music, Meteora joins their cult. Is the Henson company satirizing fanaticism, or organized religion in general? You decide.
At the film’s climax, Rugby finds his neglected friend Mew dead on the cat-box. Stricken with grief and blaming himself, he sings a sad song which ends in Mew rising from the grave like some kind of flea-bitten Lazarus. Now I ask you dear reader, is this the act of a loving god, or did Rugby just create a soulless zombie? (I’ll give you a hint, the family’s cat is named Ouija)
“Look out, he’s going to eat your FAAAACE”
Am I extrapolating too much? Probably… but I won’t take my chances.
Where are your child-gods now, bitches?
Take a Drink: anytime they call Mew a “cat toy”, and for every Catnip reference.
Take a Drink: for terrible musical interludes.
Do a Shot: for everything here that Toy Story co-opted.