CONTINUING the month of Christmas at Torments, Dan watches another animated abomination.
I don’t remember when exactly I first watched Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa, but I know for certain it wasn’t in December. I’m fairly certain it was, in fact, September, which is decidedly not a Christmas month, and I’m absolutely certain that it’s Mike Fish’s fault. You see, Mike Fish giveth and taketh away – he giveth a wonderful, heartfelt analysis of Metropolis, and he taketh away my Christmas cheer. In September. This is on your head, Michael.
In any case, to call Believe in Santa a car-crash is a study in outrageous understatement: It’s a destruction derby in the Bermuda Triangle on a windy day. It’s quite possibly the worst children’s film I’ve ever seen, and I sat through all 80 minutes of Life’s a Jungle. Believe in Santa has the good grace to clock in at half of that crawl, but the thing’s incessant badness weighs down upon the viewer’s skull until the cerebral cortex leaks out of the ears, spools on the floor and makes a mess of the carpet.
Reviewing Believe in Santa is an impossibility. Mine is a fool’s errand. Words alone are incapable of rationalising the reality on-screen. To understand Believe in Santa is to witness it in all its putrescence; to behold the graveclothes of computer animation scuttle from the ragged claws of underpaid artists; ultimately, to see, firsthand, the numbing death rattle of made-by-committee children’s television. I’ve said this before about Torments in the past – that they need to be seen to be believed – but I am not joking. This makes FoodFight look like Fantasia.
Believe in Santa outstays its welcome four seconds in as PS1 test footage chugs across the screen in the form of a distressingly polygonal train. Clipart snowflakes float along a flat surface as Comic Sans font heralds J Rose Productions and North Pole Productions as the culprits. The camera eventually pans out to reveal a mini-map for a SNES platformer with JPEG mountains and Microsoft Paint grass patches. A school bus pulls up. A drum sample hits. Oh no. A young boy named Rick E. (Walter Jones) begins to rap. OH NO. His puerile lyrics about “gawking” at toys in the window regularly stray from the beat. His shoes clip through the pavement. He goes to school – Rapsittie St. Elementary – the motto of which is, “Striving for Excelence [sic].”
We meet Rick E.’s friends and apathetics. Among them is Smithy (Eddie Driscoll), a scarf-wearing child with Steve Buscemi’s eyes and a psychopathic obsession with sandwiches. So obsessed is he that he is willing to say this sentence: “I’m ready to skate bigger and faster than my Mom can make the biggest sandwiches in the world.” Smithy throws things at people’s heads. I’m losing my mind. Rick E. likes Nicole (Paige O’Hara; yes, that Ariel), whose preppy scattishness and unbelief in Santa sends the eight year-old boy into a depression. He seeks the counsel of his Great Grandma (Debra Wilson), who sagely advises: “BeewHubbado-whiBiDeehooBastunkinniLly CHRISTMAS.” It is not explained why Great Grandma speaks all her lines as if she’s having a stroke.
Nicole sings a song about how much of a bitch she is and how good she is at brushing her teeth. I come from Planet Telex. Mark Hamill appears as Eric, the father of Lenee (Jodi Benson; yes, that Belle). We were born upside down. Nicole learns the errors of her ways in rejecting Rick E.’s affection and finally confesses her belief in Santa and the spirit of Christmas. I’m unsure, but I theorise this to be the moral of the story. Jenna (Grey DeLisle), the sister of Lenee, receives a present in the form of a piece of sentient shit with squiggly eyes and brain damage that’s been sculpted into the world’s wonkiest pony. The kingdom of heaven is within.
Grandma briefly finds her speech receptacles to affirm her own undying belief in Santa. Tragically, she relapses immediately: “HoaseiijiggltyaitndstibbonaggillumiminatiKURRISTMUSSS.” The shadows of a sleigh and reindeer steeds float across the street as Baphomet descends and everyone eats each other, howling to their Blood God: “Believe in Santa! SHUT THE DOOR.”
The most brain-scratching element of Believe in Santa is the bevy of talent involved. Numerous The Simpsons alumni are accounted for, most notably Nancy “voice of Bart” Cartwright, who also produced. As mentioned, Mark Hamill – Luke fucking Skywalker – appears, albeit briefly, while Uwe Boll favourite Clint Howard and prolific VA Jack Angel also shame themselves by association. Two Disney Princesses show up. I can only imagine that these esteemed and talented names were conned via unscrupulous promises or, alternatively, lured in by producer Cartwright’s gravitas.
Most of the film’s information is speculative. Writer-director Colin Slater’s only other credit is, apparently, Wolf Tracer’s Dinosaur Island, released a mere two years later. This is despite his IMDB profile claiming his involvement in producing over 4,000 hours of television. Dinosaur Island presumably filled the void left by Believe in Santa’s projected sequel, the Easter-themed A Bunny’s Tale, after the former’s catastrophic response lead to its immediate removal from television circulation, airing only once. Believe in Santa subsequently fell into obscurity before it was found 13 years later by Dycaite of the Lost Media Archive. What a discovery.
Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa (Rhapsody? Rap City? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN) is an insult to animation. It’s a cynical ploy for television circulation on the back of established stars that inexplicably succeeded, exploiting the work of talented voice artists to posit a bogus message of Yuletide inclusionism so facile and transparent it disappeared off the face of the fucking earth, but tragically not for good. If you want to see the lowest of the low in glorious rhapsody (I’ll stick with that), track this down on Youtube, get sloppy drunk and reel in the festive season with style.
Merry fucking Christmas.