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Olive the Other Reindeer (1999)

by on 2010/12/12

According to, the Internet archive of misheard song lyrics, the words to our Canadian anthem have been mis-sung by the ill-informed and unpatriotic as: “Oh Canada, we stand on cars and freeze.”

How about R.E.M.’s Losing My Religion, penned by Michael Stipe?  “Let’s pee in the corner. Let’s pee in the spotlight.”

Ok, one more. Frank Sinatra’s For Once In My Life: ” For once in my life, I won’t let Zorro hurt me.”

I’ll stop now.

Olive the Other Reindeer, the 1999 Christmas classic produced by The Simpsons-creator Matt Groening, also deals in misheard Christmas carol lyrics and other plot-driven dialogue. In this case, the misheard lyrics in question are  “all of the other reindeer” from Christmas carol and chilling guide to woodland shunning Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer.

Our hero Olive is an adorable dog with a bed-pan shaped head. In full-flight Christmas spirit, Olive skips around her town singing and helping all she encounters. She assists a critter family struggling with their Christmas tree purchase, finding them a pine-scented air freshener. She vouches for a grifter penguin Martini (Joe Pantoliano) hawking Rolexxx watches in an alleyway, confirming to the cops that the box of loot is her Christmas gift.

Voice acted by the equally adorable Drew Barrymore, Olive lives with her owner Tim (Jay Mohr) who is in the grips of a towering snit-fit because Santa’s announced he’s hanging up his jingle bells and cancelling his worldwide flight. Tim takes out his Christmas depression on Olive, criticizing her lack of dogliness because she refuses to “bark senselessly” and other typical canine behaviours.

In her doghouse, Olive mishears a newscast calling for “Olive the other reindeer ” to come to the North Pole to save Christmas. Then when Olive’s hard-of-hearing pet flea Fido causes another Three’s-Company-style misunderstanding, mishearing Tim’s apology to Olive as an order to get out of his life forever, Olive sets out for the North Pole.

Olive hops a Greyhound bound for the Arctic and runs into the consistently hilarious, on-the-take Martini. Unfortunately for the entertaining duo, their do-goodery is dogged by an embittered postal worker simply called The Mailman of United States Post Office (performed by voice-acting genius Dan Castellaneta).

Turns out The Mailman is solely responsible for Santa’s decision to give up on Christmas because the postal worker’s been stuffing bags of letters to Santa with hate mail, calling Santa, of all things, “Fat Boy.”

In the funniest musical number in a film packed with funny songs, the Christmas-hating mailman complains that extra Christmas mail causes shoulder straps to tear at his flesh.

“By now my ligaments are toast,

But here it comes, more parcel post,

Why not splurge? Send it priority!

What’s one more pain in my posteriority?”


During her adventure, Olive encounters Futurama’s Billy West as a vacationing Eskimo, Tim Meadows as Richard Stans, Michael Stipe as Schnitzel, Blitzen’s flightless cousin, and finally Edward Asner as Santa Claus. Based on the children’s book by Vivian Walsh, the 2-D, naive computer-generated animation style gives the movie a child-like storybook charm.

There isn’t enough room here  to share all the good that this movie delivers. I will simply say that Matt Groening’s line in the making of documentary:  “you’ll never want to hug a computerized image as much as this” is wholly true.

Do your heart some good and hang with Olive this holiday season.

* * * *

Rated G

45 minutes


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