“You kids wouldn’t want to hear a crazy Christmas story, would you?”…
…This is how Santa Claus (voiced by Keythe Farley) opens Alien Xmas, a new animated holiday special coming to Netflix from none other than the team behind the not-so-kid-friendly Killer Klowns from Outer Space!
But you know what? Santa’s sack is a sack full of lies!
Based on the book by director Stephen Chiodo and Jim Strain, and illustrated by Charles Chiodo, the script was adapted by Stephen Chiodo, Dan Clark, Noah Kloor and Kealan O’Rourke and follows X (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), a member of the alien race Klepts, a thieving race hellbent on collecting as much stuff in the world as possible! With their eyes set on Earth, “the most stuff-filled planet”, supreme leader Z (voiced by Barbara Goodson), sends X to earth to build a machine which will blow all of Earth’s objects into space for the Klepts to collect after X, the smallest and most picked on of the Klepts, volunteers to prove his worth. Arriving at Santa’s village in the North Pole, X finds himself distracted by all the things to steal, unprepared for a little girl named Holly (voiced by Kallayh Rhambo) to steal his heart.
Awe, isn’t that nice? And yes, if you haven’t figured it out yet, Alien Xmas is not a horror story. So as for that craziness…
Alien Xmas is, for the most part, a pretty standard kid’s Christmas tale, full of ooos, ahhhs, and an endless amount of aweeees, one that borrows heavily from other holiday classics. Like Rudolph, the adorably squee-worthy X is the outcast of the Klepts, picked on for his short stature instead of his nose. Channeling his inner Grinch, once X arrives on Earth, he immediately abandons his robotic death machine of a helper and leaves it to assemble the gravity destroying Gyro-tron while he goes off on a thieving spree. We watch as X slinks and shimmies around the North Pole, stealing every treat and shiny thing in sight without a care for how it affects those he’s stealing from. Kind of like when the Grinch literally stole Christmas.
In a sense, Alien Xmas is a warm Christmas cookie made up of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and a sprinkling of Invader Zim for added flavor, with an animation style that doesn’t stray all that far from the former two. That Invader Zim topping is where the “crazy” part comes in. It just invades the film with too little too late.
For most of Alien Xmas, we watch X as he snatches everything he can. Meanwhile, little Holly is sad that her dad (voiced by Steve Staley) won’t be around for Christmas Eve because he has to fix Santa’s new rocket-powered sleigh. Something which reindeer citizens are caught booing. So when Dad happens to come across X—who promptly plays dead, the last resort of his species—and leaves him for Holly as a “toy”, X is allowed to experience all of the joys of Christmas, including the most important lesson of all, that “giving is what Christmas is all about.”
If only Christmas was a year-long concept, am I right!?
More than two-thirds of Alien Xmas is this sort of cheery, melt your heart kind of Christmas joy but with an alien, with humor that never gets more risqué than those reindeer booing the fact of losing their jobs. And in the middle of a pandemic, Santa! So those expecting the sort of bizarre which the Chiodo brothers are accustomed to may find this to be closer to burnt cookies left with water instead of milk. But kids are simpler creatures, devoid of the cynicism of us “but why wasn’t this made for me adults,” and Alien Xmas is a fun, traditional gift of familiar themes and important messages, one of my favorites being the film’s subtle nod towards inclusivity, with a wide range of elves from ethnicities other than the standard “sugar cookie white” we’re so used to seeing in the 60s holiday classics.
But Alien Xmas isn’t without its zangy bow.
Just when you think Alien Xmas is going to end with hardly a “crazy” moment, the yellow-snow hits the fan and Alien Xmas suddenly goes from 0-11 in the blink of an alien laser blast. Killer Klowns famously perverted all sorts of objects associated with clowns, and so it’s no surprise when Chiodo does eventually drop a bomb of Christmas quirkiness. We see wreath shooters, wrapping paper ropes, freeze rays, and a few other colorful surprises that fit the Klepts right in with Christmas.
The insanity makes up just minutes of the runtime, which may not be enough to please older viewers, but there’s enough goofy humor, adorable characters and all around warmth to keep the kids cozy by the fire while they dream of alien candy canes and sugar plums or whatever. Alien Xmas likely won’t go down as a new holiday classic, but it’s the perfect, early Christmas watch for families in need of a little Christmas spirit and a reminder that there is, in fact, good in the universe.
Alien Xmas arrives on Netflix November 20th.
By Matt Konopka