There’s nothing that brings out the worst in people like writing a musical. If you think you know someone who is a decent writer, maybe even a decent songwriter and thespian, you might not be too bothered when they try to write a musical. Well, they will shock and amaze you when they reveal a two-act-long piece (with intermission) of poo poo. Writing musicals is just hard because it takes many of the mistakes people make when writing movies (like relying on a good actor or sound effects to save a show) and turns them up to 11. That is the reason people say “the movie musical is dead,” and that is obviously what befell the 2002 movie “Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa” by Wolf Tracer Studios.
“Rapsittie” is an animated movie and an aggressively bad one. If you want to kill a day, spend time reading online reviews and watching analyses. It’s like a 40-minute hate child of “Holler If Ya Hear Me”* and “Dougal.” The acting is bad, the plot is bad, the songs, the dialogue, the characters, all bad. The animation style brings eternal shame to anyone who worked on this. If I found out that somehow Miyazaki worked on this, I would destroy every copy of “Spirited Away” I own.
What are you supposed to do when not one aspect of your movie works? It’s elementary: you throw money at the script. This is the biggest mistake Wolf Tracer Studios made, because they apparently spent zero dollars on hiring an actual writer. What they did do was go and throw their cash at big actors like Mark Hamill. Voice actors do not save shows. I have done enough half-assed school projects turned into musicals to know that when you’re out of time and money, you have to give everything you have to the plot and the dialogue. Screw songs, screw actors and screw animation. If I had to choose just one aspect of a show to be handled by a human and the rest to be handled by baboons, I would choose the script. You can still have something good with bad animation, like “South Park.” You can have something good with horrible voice acting. One hundred percent ditto for songs. Even if I could get Lin Manuel Miranda to write the songs, if I had to choose between Miranda and a baboon, I would choose the baboon. You can cut a baboon’s songs to not drag on too long, but you just can not do that with a plot. You need a plot. Without that, all you would have is a Lin Manuel Miranda revue. Stop trying to make revues a thing.**
Wolf Tracer Studios desperately needed to spend their money on the script, plot and dialogue. What makes the script worse is how obvious it is what the writers are trying to do. They are trying, legitimately, to use tropes familiar to audiences. Schoolyard bullies pick on a kid with a big heart, materialistic girl rejects him, the teacher is put upon. But, they are executed horribly. There is a scene where two girls and a guy are searching a basement and the guy says, “Look, a spider.” The girls scream and the guy laughs, saying he can totally blackmail them now. Blackmail HOW?? What trope are they trying to use, and what world do they live in where people can be blackmailed for not liking spiders? Is this supposed to be a reference to how “girls don’t like bugs” (not sure if that’s even a trope)? Then, a rich girl throws away a present because it’s “not from a mall.” There is no person on earth who thinks the mall equals rich. It boils down to how evident it is what the writers think they are doing versus what we see them actually doing. There are just too many holes, contrivances and random events. If they gave the slightest bit more effort to fix it, it could have been okay. Instead, this movie has A-list actors saying lines like, “Daddy, tell me he’s a special man” (about Santa), or “I love creeping out creepy girls.”
I’d like to credit Peter Lagershausen, Alex Dahl and Max Craig for showing me this movie.
*Not the Tupac song, the Broadway musical. It is, by all accounts, horrible.