It’s time to look at a film that was either a very quick knockoff of Toy Story or they just happened to think up a fairly similar plot. Granted I haven’t seen Toy Story in a while so long-time fans could probably make the case that the plots aren’t too similar. They’re both about talking toys though so that’s good enough for me. The film’s reasonably enjoyable, but it’s just not all that exciting. The villain really helps to carry the experience though.
The film starts off with Santa’s helper Granny Rose getting sick right as Christmas is fast approaching. This would be bad, but fortunately the new helper Mr. Grimm has just arrived. He will make sure all the toys get to the right place…..or will he? Turns out that Mr. Grimm is a crook and he’s make a ton of money by selling the toys. This guy’s definitely not feeling the Christmas spirit. Well, the toys can’t have that so they dash off and try to deliver themselves to the proper kids, but it’s difficult since they don’t really know where to go. Additionally, they have to test these kids to make sure they’re worthy.
There’s also a subplot where a kid named Christopher is trying to get a train. Unfortunately this is a pretty rough town and a pair of bullies decide to use this kid to break into Granny’s place to grab some money. I’ll give Chris some props though, he does quickly call for the police once he is inside which is super logical. I feel like most of the time when the villains tell the hero to go inside somewhere to unlock the door, they should do something like this. If you open the door it’s game over. Where Christopher messes up is that he starts banging on the door like a mad man so the police assume he is a villain as well. The interrogation scenes are fun even if they ultimately get taken down by Granny. I’m not sure that blackmailing the police is the best way to prove someone’s innocence, but Granny pulls it off I suppose.
Christopher gets a pretty reasonable role during the film as this plot plays out at the same time as the toys. I just figured I’d tackle it first. The toy plot won thanks to Mr. Grimm, but this wasn’t a bad subplot. As mentioned, Chris is more fun to watch than the average kid which is important. All right, time for the toys! Whenever you’ve got a group like this you’ve gotta expect a traitor and that character always sinks quite far for me. In this case, the weak willed toy was the merlin figure. The guy was definitely a sucker and is really lucky that Grimm didn’t finish him off. Whenever you trust a villain it’s a one way trip to defeat.
The best toy was definitely Jingles and the Skipper. Skipper was pretty hype for the duration of the film, but he didn’t look so good towards the end. Unfortunately he got paired with the wrong kid and so he almost lost his whole identity. I always feel like the toy should just escape at that point, if the kid doesn’t know how to properly play with the toy then that’s on them. You can’t really blame the toy for running away. As for Jingles, he was just a good dog from the start. He was always willing to jump into the line of fire to protect the other toys and had a much harder ride to the happy ending than the rest. He had to take a few hits from Grimm, shiver in the cold, etc. Jingles never gave up though!
Meanwhile you’ve got Mr. Grimm and that guy was just a lot of fun. For starters he wasn’t afraid to actually fight with the toys. He takes the whole “These guys are alive!” thing in stride although to be fair that seems to be the case for just about everyone here. He may take a lot of hits, but his plan wasn’t so bad. He got the granny out of the picture really easily and was also poised to get away for the money if not for tripping so quick. Just because Grimm’s plan ultimately failed does not mean that it was a bad one. You can’t win them all and as long as the plan was sound I don’t think we can really fault him here. It is what it is after all right?
The animation’s pretty reasonable. The colors are smooth and the character models are on point. It may not be quite as solid as you would expect from the 90s, but I certainly wouldn’t say that the animation was bad either. It holds up and you won’t really have any complaints. Likewise the writing is passable. The characters are pretty polite and seem to act realistically. Even if they may not be all that interesting there were no bad characters except for the magician. That guy could never quite win back the respect he lost by surrendering to Grimm like that.
Overall, How the Toys Saved Christmas is a reasonable film. It’s not like it really makes any mistakes. I just didn’t feel a whole lot of passion or heart behind the film. It felt like long periods of time would go by without anything really happening. I think part of the issue here is that the main cast just weren’t all that exciting. Take away Mr. Grimm and you’d really have an issue. It’s still a nice wholesome film to watch for Christmas though. It’s not all that long and you’ll probably appreciate it even more if you’ve ever wanted to get a toy but watched as a scalper got it and then sold it back for 10x the price. You’ll feel the danger of why they can’t let Mr. Grimm win here.