The holidays always bring the worst
kids' programs out of the woodwork. What is it about Christmas that
inspires people to put together cheesy, trite films loaded with
sugary sentiment? Holiday films don't have to be that way (look at
The Polar Express!), but sadly too many are like The Happy
Even the name has a cheap ring to
it, somehow, as if someone spent a whole five minutes or so trying to
come up with something to slap on the DVD cover. At least it's
accurate: The Happy Elf is the story of Eubie, a very happy
elf in Santa's workshop. But I guess he's not so happy at heart, for
poor Eubie just wants to be loved and accepted... where have we heard
that before? Oh yeah, in every other trite holiday
why-can't-we-all-get-along family piece, except that I suppose all
the standard "I'm different from the other little elves"
differences were already used up, so we get to move on to personality
defects instead of physical or ethnic differences. You see, Eubie is
so optimistic and gosh-darn upbeat that he stands out from the other
elves. (Yeah, I'd want to smack him, too. No, that doesn't happen.
The Happy Elf only runs 45
minutes, but it's a very long 45 minutes, involving a cheesy frame
story of a Harry Connick, Jr. stand-in telling the story to a couple
of naughty kids, and the main story of Eubie and his pals bringing
Christmas cheer to a sad little town called Bluesville. Yes, it's
just as lame as it sounds. Parents: think twice about buying this
DVD. If your kids hate it, you're out the money, and if they love it
(kids do sometimes love strange and unpalatable things, like
Twinkies) you really, really don't want to have to put up with seeing
it more than once.
I doubt that any member of the
audience would like The Happy Elf, though. Not only is it
cheesy and lame, but it's just... bad. The animations are really
hideous... not just ugly, but downright disturbing. There's something
about the plastic-textured faces and exaggerated body motions that's
quite creepy. I can imagine the younger set might have some bad
dreams after seeing this film, with a maniacally grinning Eubie
chasing them around and squealing with glee. Ugh. Now I might have
The one selling point seems to be
that the film features the voice acting and one of the songs of Harry
Connick, Jr. If you are a die-hard fan, I suppose that it might be
kind of cute to see his animated film, but you'd have to be pretty
obsessive about the singer to want to add this piece of Christmas
fluff to your collection.
The Happy Elf comes with two
video options: the original widescreen transfer, and a
pan-and-scanned version. I'm not thrilled that they even included the
pan-and-scan version, but on the bright side the menu shows a shot
from each version that clearly illustrates the chopped nature of the
The widescreen transfer is
anamorphically enhanced, and looks fine. It's clear and clean, with
Two audio tracks are provided: a
Dolby 5.1 and a Dolby 2.0. Both are fine, with the 5.1 sounding a
little fuller. Dialogue is clean and crisp, and the music is balanced
well with the rest of the track.
There's not much here of interest. A
nine-minute "making of" interview with Harry Connick, Jr.
is very lightweight. There's a "build an elf" activity
(lame), and a gallery of characters from the film. For budding
animators, there's also a storyboard option that plays the entire
film with the regular soundtrack, but with the storyboards instead of
the final animation. Lastly, there's a trailer for the film and a
short promotional clip for the Harry for the Holidays program.
Some additional games are included as DVD-ROM content.
Chalk this one up as another
disposable Christmas animated feature, with no redeeming value
whatsoever. The story is trite and dull, the music is nothing to get
excited about, and the animations are downright creepy. Even if you
find it in a bargain bin, best to just skip it.