I know I grimaced as if the Grinch just ripped a Christmas-hating fart right in my face when the old badger told the two young forest animals at the beginning of The Tiny Tree that the Christmas story he was about to tell them wasn’t about toys or Santa. You don’t have to be Rudolph on a foggy night to see that absolutely no good could come of such a proposition. Just from the title alone, I was already concerned that this was going to involve a midget tree pining (get it?) to be a giant redwood and learning the valuable lesson that God made you just like he intended to because he hates your undersized guts!
Reality though as is usually the case in obscure holiday specials is almost always exponentially more treacly that whatever preconceived notions you might have. While there is a tiny tree, he’s pretty chill about everything in his meadow. There are a few seconds where some lumberjacks snark that he’s such a runt, he’ll only ever be good as a Christmas tree, but nothing comes of that and the real drama is taking place at the nearby farmhouse.
Girl in a wheelchair! Not smiling! Can’t freaking walk and play with the forest dwellers! Since the story begins all the way back on Groundhog Day though, she has the entire year to make friends with the local animals before the big Christmas climax!
And what a climax it is! Her falling out of her wheelchair, doing a faceplant into the snow is just the beginning because the worst blizzard any animal can remember is hammering the area! And Wheelchair Girl’s presents and Christmas tree are in the village, but her dad can’t get them because of the snowstorm! Now her Christmas will be ruined because of all that damn snow! Oh, the irony!
But you know who looks at irony and shoves a pine cone up its smug ass? Tiny Tree! Double T quickly realizes that only he can save Christmas and has a plan so damn crazy, it could only work on that most magical day of the year! If her beta male daddy can’t give her a Christmas tree, Tiny Tree will become a Christmas tree himself!
TT leaves his nice spot in the meadow and gets transplanted outside Wheelchair Girl’s window and allows himself to be decorated. Luckily for him, the morning star shows up just in time so he didn’t have to endure some smelly chipmunk climbing on top of him to put a fake star on his head.
The Tiny Tree plays out like some greeting card daydream, not so much a story, but a cynical accumulation of parts designed to push as many emotional buttons as possible, but fails since we have no connection to anyone involved (I don’t even think Wheelchair Girl had a proper name!) and is so obvious in its manipulative intentions.
When Tiny Tree announced his plan to become a Christmas tree, for a moment I was intrigued as I thought he meant to be chopped down and wanted to see how his “suicide” would be handled by everyone. But then the animals just dug him up and transplanted him, thus cementing the entire experience as one that is utterly pointless and devoid of any drama, conflict, or climax.
Balsa-like in how lightweight the whole affair is, it splinters into harmless bits (except for maybe the hideous songs – but that’s always the case with these holiday cartoons) almost right from the beginning, at least leaving the determined viewer relatively pain free from any splinters in the ensuing next half hour.
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