Retro Review: Olive the Other Reindeer


Released by Fox on December 17, 1999, Olive the Other Reindeer is a musical television film directed by Oscar Moore and produced by Futurama and Simpsons Creator Matt Groening. Originally based on the children’s book of the same name by J. Otto Seibold, the film tells the story of Olive, a dog who loves Christmas. When she thinks her owner is going to replace her and after being told that Santa was looking for “Olive the other reindeer” not “all of the other reindeer” to help pull his sleigh, the young dog sets out on a journey to save Christmas all while being chased by a bitter mailman.

The film stars Drew Barrymore as the titular puppy, Olive and Joe Pantotoliano as her penguin sidekick, Martini. The film is an adorable adventure with car chases, musical numbers, and Christmas cookies. The film is a family-friendly movie about an unlikely hero and her determination to help instead of feeling down on herself. It teaches children that everyone needs help every now and then. This theme of needing help is written all throughout the film, with Olive needing help from those who help her get to the North Pole (including Martini, the drivers who got her there, and even some singing reindeer at a bar) and of course Santa who needs Olive’s help to pull his sleigh.

The film is like its own take on the Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer story, even referencing the classic tale. Its colors and wild late 90s-early 2000s computer animation is deliciously weird and distinct, making for a notable holiday film. Y2K kids will remember the film as it played on both Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, among other Christmas films like The Powerpuff Girls: Twas Fight Before Christmas and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends: A Lost Claus. Compared to those Craig Mccracken Christmas movies, this film not only stood out but left an impression that leaves it feeling like a piece of lost media, trapped in the recesses of our nostalgic memory.

Olive the Other Reindeer is an adorable family film that tells the story of a puppy who wants to save Christmas. It is about the help it takes to make a journey happen and being driven by the desire to help others. Drew Barrymore’s voice distinctly matches the type of character that Olive is, with the remaining characters being perfectly cast as well. While it’s not the most groundbreaking Christmas film out there, It remains an oddly animated story from over 20 years ago. The visuals may feel a bit dated, but the film still remains in the hearts of those who watched it all that time ago. For them, it is a classic.

I give Olive the Other Reindeer 7 out of 10 penguins for its Animation, its cast, and its nostalgic vibes.