“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” -Clarence, It’s a Wonderful Life
You’re unique in the world. You’re important. No bones about it, whoever you are, the world needs you in it. This is the basic message of It’s A Wonderful Life and every TV episode and movie based on its story. And lord knows there’s a lot of renditions of this story. Today’s Christmas special is a take on the classic tale by one of my favorite childhood cartoons. This is It’s a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special.
Montana Max has ruined the rehearsals for the Tiny Toons Christmas special, leaving Buster (who was running the show) feeling like a total failure. As a result, Buster is depressed and tries to throw himself “out of the picture.” Before he gets the chance, his guardian toon angel, Harvey, comes down to help out. After Buster wishes he’d never been on Tiny Toons in the first place, Harvey grants his wish. Buster gets to see what the show would be like if he’d never existed.
It’s A Wonderful Life is a movie that’s got a lot of sentimental value for me. It’s one of my mom’s favorite films of all time and we’ve made a tradition of watching it every year. It might be slow and a little cheesy at times, but it always fills my heart with Christmas joy. Most of all, I love the story and it’s message, the simple tale of a man learning how his life has impacted the world around him. As such, it’s a given that I really liked the story of this special. At it’s core, this special is basically a carbon copy of the Christmas classic. Elements are changed, but that’s unavoidable when you’re trying to adapt a story for a cartoon franchise. Luckily, the story is easily adaptable and timeless. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the show’s sense of humor.
About 80% of this show’s jokes (or this particular episode, at least) revolve around references to ’90s celebrities and jokes that I no longer get. Most of the jokes were comparing situations and people to popular celebs of the time. Being that I have a terrible memory and I was only a small child at the time, a lot of the jokes went over my head. On the other hand, there WERE references and direct parodies to Wonderful Life itself that I immediately understood and appreciated. I even loved that Buster’s guardian angel is a tall white rabbit named Harvey who sounds like Jimmy Stewart. (To all who don’t get that reference… I’m sorry.)
The animation for the special was about as good as Tiny Toons can get. Everything was bouncy and over the top cartoony. It’s all a joy to watch. Even the celebrity caricatures that I understood looked exactly like who they were meant to portray. My biggest problem with the animation was the show’s opening. They went through the trouble of making and singing a new Christmas-y opening for the show and the animators couldn’t be bothered to change the intro in kind. At most, we get one shot of a snowy Acme Acres in place of the regular shot. It even creates the distraction that the characters’ mouths no longer are in sync with the audio. It’s a lot more annoying than you might think. Then again, it is understandable the the show was trying to save a few bucks by not changing the entire opening for a one-off episode.
All in all, this is a solid Christmas special for it’s adaption of a good story. However, I can’t really recommend it to anyone younger than 20. The younger crowd isn’t going to get most of the humor. Hell, I doubt the kids of the 90s really understood most of the jokes back then. The jokes just haven’t aged well. But if you actually remember watching Tiny Toons back in the day, I do suggest revisiting this episode if you can find it. It’s sure to give you that Christmas-y feeling. And remember, no toon is a failure who has friends.