The ABC's of Film Noir
The ABC's of Film Noir

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999) Classic Movie Review 179

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

It's kind of hard to explain. Have you heard of deus ex machina?

Today’s movie is Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999). This animated musical is done in the cutout style and has a ton of obscure references. This movie has a low 7.1 rating on[1] This lovely film only has a 62 percent audience approval on[2] This Christmas film is a lot better than that. I think people that didn’t like it must have missed the inside jokes.


All of the actors in this animated tale are voice only.


Edward Asner played Santa, something he has done like 12 times if you remember for the El Dorado (1967) review.


Drew Barrymore voice the role of Olive, the other reindeer. Besides being that cute kid from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and the darling of romcoms, she is the granddaughter of actor John Barrymore.

Joe Pantoliano acted the voice of the penguin Martini. Pantoliano played the role of Guido in Risky Business (1983) and Doc in Eddie and the Cruisers (1983). He was Francis in The Goonies (1985) and the record producer in La Bamba (1987).

Peter MacNicol voiced the role of Olive’s pet flea Fido. MacNicol is known for playing the young wizard in Dragonslayer (1981) and John Cage in televisions “Ally McBeal” 1997-2002.

Tim Meadows was the voice of bus driver Richard Stands. Meadows is known for “SNL” 1991-2000, The Ladies Man (2000), and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007).

Jay Mohr was the voice of Tim. Mohr is best known as the bad guy from Jerry Maguire (1996).

Michael Stipe of “R.E.M” voiced the flightless reindeer Schnitzel.

Matt Groening of “The Simpsons” 1989-2019 voiced Arturo.

The postman was played by Dan Castellaneta, not Kevin Costner. Castellaneta was a “The Simpsons” alumnus.


Dog Oliver (Drew Barrymore) is getting excited as Christmas approached. She helps others get ready for Christmas. She is sneered at by an angry postman (Dan Castellaneta). She runs into a penguin named Martini (Joe Pantoliano) that is selling fake watches. I know it is Martini and Olive like the drink but I like to imagine it is in homage to the bar owner in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). Martini is also selling zoo supplies. He was selling files to the monkeys until a real stool pigeon turned him in. A policeman warns Martini to stop selling fake goods but Olive vouches for him.

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

When Olive gets home, her owner Tim (Jay Mohr) is very disappointed that she has not done any dog things, such as chase cats or bury bones. Tim is mean to Olive and says there is no Christmas this year. Olive talks her problem over with her pet flea. They hear on the radio that Blitzen the reindeer was injured on a practice flight and Christmas might be canceled.  Santa (Ed Asner) says maybe they will make do with all of the other reindeer. The flea convinces Olive that Santa said “Olive, the other reindeer.” The flea says that the reason Olive is a bad dog is that she is really a reindeer.

Tim comes to the doghouse and apologizes but the flea translates it as an attack on Olive. She leaves to go to the North Pole.

As Olive runs past the zoo, where the monkeys are using files on the bars of their cage, she knocks down the postman. He is very happy because Christmas is canceled. Olive tells the postman she is the other reindeer.

Olive boards a Mauve Hound bus to Arctic Junction. Martini shows up and begs to be taken along. The postman grabs Olive and said she has committed mail fraud. At first Martini skips out, but finally, he saves Olive and they get on the bus to the north. The bus driver tells Olive she misunderstood and that he used to believe the Pledge of the Allegiance was about him as his name is Richard Stands (Tim Meadows). Two traveling Eskimo’s explain to Olive that she is not a reindeer. Martini uses the Lloyd Benson quote like that he used on Dan Quail in the Vice-Presidential debate, expect he uses reindeer instead of John F. Kennedy. Olive is undeterred.

The postman is hot in pursuit. He runs a truck of tinsel off the road and trees become decorated. He pulls even with the bus. Martini uses some zoo stationary to make a paper airplane and forces the postman off the road.

Tim is missing Olive.

The bus pulls into Arctic Junction where they have an hour before the next bus. The postman pulls in not too far behind them. He dresses as a waitress with the name tag Flo. Of course, we know where that came from; Eat my grits.

The group hears that Santa will be having an 11pm press conference to cancel Christmas. The drag postman tricks Olive into going to the parking lot. He throws her in the back of the mail truck and heads south. In the back of the truck, Olive sees that postman has been sending mean letters to Santa. Olive finds a box from Deus ex machina. Which is from Latin via Greek theater, meaning “god from the machine.”[3] This was first used in Greek tragedy, where actors in the roles of gods were lowered on to the stage by a machine.

In the box is a metal file labeled “great for monkeys.” Olive escapes but makes it back Arctic Station too late to catch the bus. Richard Stands recommends they try to the bar for help.

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

The Top of the World Bar is a rough place full of reindeer and elves that don’t work for Santa. They start roughhousing Olive and Martini steps in to help. Olive chews out one of the bad guy reindeer. He feels bad and they decide to help. The deer is named Schnitzel (Michael Stipe) and his human companion is Round John Virgin. Schnitzel is flightless and Martini the penguin says “it happens.” Using his snow machine, Round John delivers Olive and Martini to the front gate of Santa’s shop.

Olive can’t get past the elf guarding the gate. Martini uses his knowledge of business trickery to get Olive inside. The postman shows up and is admitted to Santa’s shop. Inside, the reindeer and elves are talking over the cancellation of Christmas. Olive finds Santa and says she is the replacement reindeer. She gives a motivational speech and they decide to try.

Martini gives extensive press conferences as Olive’s attorney. They harness Olive into the team and she gives it her all. The team makes it into the air and Olive begins to fly. Comet believes in Olive.

Back at the North Pole, the postman has stolen all of the toys. He captures Martini and places him in the back of the truck. Santa finds the junk mail that has been placed in the sled. Olive says she can pick up the postman’s scent. They track him down and with Martini’s help take over the truck.

Olive lets Martini loose and he says he will drive the postal truck home. Olive picks up some priority mail envelopes to use as wings.

Comet invites Olive to stay for reindeer games. She sees her house on the way back. They hit fog on the way back and Olive sniffs them home. They make it back to the pole by sunup. After cookies, Olive gets a set of fake antlers from Santa. Olive just wants to return home to Tim. Comet flies her back and Tim is extremely happy to have Olive back.

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

Martini returns to the zoo a hero. He has the postman tied up as a penguin with a soda bottle mouth. He is placed with other penguins. Martini becomes a mailman.

World-Famous Short Summary – Ever dog is the best dog in the world

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Beware the moors


Olive, the Other Reindeer (1999)

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