The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas (2009 short) review…

“Ow, My Balls!” would be so proud… After the break…

The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas (2009 short) review…

There are times when, as a reviewer, you just want to give up. You don’t want to take the time to watch drivel just so that you can analyze the drivel and explain why you consider it drivel. To slightly paraphrase what a teacher in a cartoon strip once remarked, “I’m putting in more effort in grading these papers than the kids are in writing them!” Yet to remain silent would be counter-productive in that it would simply encourage more of this drivel to be produced. Darned if you do, darned if you don’t.

As I’ve written before, there are always hard-working, honest people behind even the most incompetent productions. They are hired to perform some aspect of a larger production, they perform that job superbly (or at least well enough to get paid) and then they leave without having influenced the amount of drivel that the production will inevitably produce. I’m not faulting those people; They’re not the ones making the crucial decisions as to whether or not something turns into drivel.

“The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas” is a 2009 animated short film that parodies the animated story “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” in both title, medium and plot. To be completely fair, there’s not a lot to “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” – Some grouchy old recluse hates it when people celebrate Christmas, decides to steal all of their Christmas stuff so that the people will be sad when their stuff is missing and, upon discovering that it wasn’t the material possessions that made the people happy, has a change of heart and gives it all back. The End. Somehow, that summary got stretched out into a feature-length film some time ago so it’s only fair that it gets scrunched down into an animated short that’s barely a few minutes long.

The film advertises itself as the final film of Jonathan Harris and, if you don’t know who that is, you were probably born after 1980 or have decided that 1960s science-fiction television just isn’t your pastime. Jonathan Harris was the effeminate kinda-sorta villain/coward doctor from that “other” popular science-fiction show from the 1960s, “Lost in Space.” Yes, the actor went on to many other ventures but, just as with fellow actor William Shatner, quickly got typecast in the role that made him famous. As is typical in the world of animation, the time between laying down the vocals and the time that the animation was completed (especially for an independent production) meant that years passed and that Harris died long before the short was completed.

“The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas” at least has promising production values and certainly carries itself with an air of quality. Hand-drawn, the animation looks completely adequate for the production and there’s no problems with the visual style.

The story is a complete photo-copy of “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” all of the way up until the punchline with only a few bolt- and screw-centric references thrown in (as the characters are all anthropomorphic screws and bolts). Curiously, there’s a strange “Scrooge” scene that feels ‘bolted’ on (see what I did there) and I’ve read that it was done so well after Harris’ death as some sort of postmortem reunion with some of his fellow cast members from “Lost in Space.” Even before I had learned of the reason, the added scene already felt oddly out of place and never really adds anything towards the production except for one blunt joke.

The entire punchline of the animated short is that the bolt is crabby because he hasn’t had enough sexual intercourse, a problem that the character Cindy Loose Screw (a more mature version of the Grinch’s “Cindy Lou Who”) most certainly fixes when the two meet as the bolt is stealing all of the Christmas stuff. The End.

Literally, the end.

I understand that, with a running time in the single digits, you can’t introduce a lot of concepts. However… Really? That’s the punchline? That’s the whole punchline for the entire short?

The short film “Godzilla versus Bambi” had a singular punchline. It had a very short run time. Both the brevity and the punchline worked in that film because of the source material. Godzilla is big; Bambi is small. You figure out the rest.

In “The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas,” the source material just isn’t there to deliver the punchline. OK… A screw has sex with a bolt. The bolt got “screwed.” Ha ha? I don’t get it – It’s not as though the bolt became a screw or that the bolt found a nut or nuts (get it? GET IT?!) where the threads were the same size or even found another bolt (or even a screw with the same threading, perhaps) to befriend. What’s the point of having anthropomorphic bolts and screws if the end result is merely a sex joke?! Shouldn’t there have been more of a reason to have the characters be anthropomorphic bolts and screws? Why not just make the characters midgets or giants or cups or saucers or screwdrivers or… Or anything! It would be as though you turned all of the characters from the Harry Potter series into rolls of paper towels or toilet paper or Saran Wrap… Why? Why do it unless there’s a tangible and legitimate reason for it?! Because of the “screw” punchline? Really?

“The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas” supposedly received some awards. I don’t know why. Ask them. Maybe judges for animation contests just like crude punchlines.

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