Christmas Tale ‘The Happy Elf’ Available on DVD

HappyElf.JPGIt’s hard to imagine there could be an excess of happiness at Santa’s workshop, but most of his elves are rather stressed with Christmas just two days away. Eubie, however, is one elf whose exuberant happiness knows no bounds — and his unrestrained expression of it gets on the nerves of the other elves.

Thus begins the story a wandering minstrel tells two children he finds fighting — throwing Christmas tree ornaments at each other! — on the sidewalk just before Christmas. The very ludicrousness of the premise sets it up for laughs from viewers old enough to recognize the contradictions.

All of Santa’s managers try to avoid having Eubie assigned to their division. He ends up in Naughty & Nice, checking the last-minute ratings of children that will determine whether Santa will leave them a gift. When he notices that almost all of the “naughty” notices are from the town of Blues Ville, he defies North Pole rules and sets out to try to help them. “It could be all these children need is a little cheering up,” he says prophetically.

Blues Ville, it turns out, is the antithesis of Eubie — everyone is glum. Situated in a narrow strip of land between two steep mountains, it receives sunlight for only a few minutes a day, and the darkness permeates its citizenry’s soul. Not quite all the citizenry, though; Eubie persuades another child to help him in his efforts to make them nicer by making them happier, and she takes him to a meeting of the town’s few happy people. “I’m so encouraged by our turnout,” the meeting presenter announces, and Eubie and his companion look around the room at the rows of otherwise empty chairs.

Interspersed with Eubie’s escapades in Blues Ville and antics at the North Pole are songs from Harry Connick Jr. Bringing Eubie to life is the voice of Rob Paulsen, whose performance added another Annie Award nomination to the three noms and three wins he’s earned in a career that also includes Daytime Emmys for animation and DVD Exclusive awards for songs. The award-winning cast also includes comedian Lewis Black. Friendship, perseverance and happiness (with tongue often firmly in cheek) are the attributes whose value The Happy Elf celebrates — all wrapped in the Christmas spirit on Anchor Bay Entertainment’s DVD re-release of the 45-minute animation from 2005.

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