Glisten and the Merry Mission is a genuinely nice movie. Many animated features, even the good ones, include a bit of what the MPA calls “rude humor” to get a PG rating and make themselves feel a little hip. This debut feature from Build-a-Bear Entertainment embraces its G rating and lack of objectionable content. If you want to take your kids to see a sweet Christmas picture that imparts an uplifting message for the holiday season, this is exactly what you’re looking for.
The story is set in and around Santa’s workshop. A minor crisis arises when it appears the elves won’t be able to make enough toys by Christmas. An elf named Cinnameg (Julia Michaels) thinks the place needs to become more industrially efficient, but supervisor Crumble Starsnaps (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) takes a very cavalier attitude toward the whole thing. Meanwhile, Cinnameg’s daughter Marzipan (Trinity Bliss) goes in search of a floating sparkle she keeps seeing. That puts her in proximity to a Christmas-hating bear named Grizz, hilariously voiced by Michael Rapaport.
Those two plot threads eventually converge. The film also includes a grandmotherly elf voiced by Dionne Warwick, reindeer who work as air traffic controllers, and, of course, Santa Claus himself. He’s played by Chevy Chase. Having the star of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation portraying Santa is a terrific touch, and the comedian gives the role his all with a warm, ingratiating vocal performance.
The story of Glisten and the Merry Mission deals with ideas that every parent wants to expose their children to: kindness, cooperation, generosity, and friendship. Appealing characters bring those themes across in a way that will resonate strongly with young viewers. Running concurrently with them is a heartwarming subplot about the magic of Christmas. Given the Build-a-Bear connection, you might expect the movie to be a feature-length commercial for the product. Well, there is a plot point about making teddy bears, although it has much more to do with the idea of showing love to other people than it does with consumerism.
The 2D animation style is bright and colorful, if not necessarily as detailed as many of the Disney classics. Kids will eat it up. Glisten and the Merry Mission is definitely aimed at the 8-and-under set. The film is simple and wholesome enough for them to grasp. And I think that’s the prime appeal. As a parent, you can have a nice trip to the theater with your kiddos. They’ll be entranced, and you’ll be won over by the movie’s tender humor and innocent charm. Plus, you know, Chevy Chase as Santa!
out of four
Glisten and the Merry Mission is rated G. The running time is 1 hour and 18 minutes.