12/9/09

RVOD087 Christmas Rhapsody

(1949, Short/Holiday, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

I am small and of no account.

Rating: **1/2

In a Nutshell:

The adventures of a clinically depressed tree, chosen for decoration at Christmas.

Summary:

Can't see through my pokerface.The camera takes a leisurely pass over a snowy mountain, finally ending up at a young tree. The tree begins to narrate. “I am small and of no account,” he says. He says it again. And again. And again. And so on.

While the little evergreen bemoans his accountlessness, the local forester’s children wander past. They cavort in a generic fashion until one of them stumbles across the tree. They summon their father, who agrees, and hands one of them an axe. They drag the newly felled tree back to their cabin.

As the children drape him in ornaments and garlands, the tree begins to revel in his newly beloved status, albeit in the same dreadfully depressed tone he used for his “small and of no account” soliloquy. The family dons their Sunday best to gather round the tree and mouth a full choir and orchestra rendering Silent Night as a joyless dirge.

Thoughts:

To say that the short is like spending ten minutes with someone who can only moan about his worthlessness would be inaccurate. The word “like” is the one I take issue with, here. It literally is ten minutes spent with someone who can only moan about his worthlessness, which is about as uplifting as you’d imagine. I’m pretty sure the narrator/tree voice guy thought he was conveying reverence, but in reality he sounds like his will to live can only be measured with negative numbers.

Mike, Bill and Kevin step up to deliver the commentary anyway. As the choir sings Angels We Have Heard on High over the opening, Kevin joins the chorus with “Po-o-o-okerface!” While the oldest boy and his mother struggle to straighten the tree, Mike provides them with an argument that culminates in, “You’re ruining Christmas!” While the family lays out a Nativity scene, Bill wants to know, “Which one is Stinkor, master of odors?” Mike gently reminds him that He-Man characters are not in the bible. The energy of the crowd at the Christmas 2009 live show made up for a lot, but the riffers are by themselves in the studio version. Christmas Rhapsody is gamely mocked but riffing against the short’s depressing tone is an uphill climb.