“Go On An All-New Journey With Santa’s Little Helpers.”
Little Brother, Big Trouble: A Christmas Adventure is a sequel that once again takes us to the North Pole and into the lives of the reindeer that inhabit the region. Niko (Matthew Boyle), son of world famous reindeer Prancer (Paul Tylak), bemoans the small amount of time he gets to spend with dear old dad. If only dad lived with him and his mom (Susan Scott) then things would be perfect. But when Niko brings forth this idea to his mom, complete with arguments about how nice it would be for her to have someone around to help her with things, she surprises him with the news she’s found someone else.
There’s a new buck Lenni (Michael Sheehan) in her life and if that wasn’t bad enough, Niko learns Lenni has a young son of his own, Jonni (Callum Maloney). So now Niko is expected to not only be cool with the whole situation, he’s supposed to be thrilled at becoming an instant big brother. Needless to say, the young reindeer is not on board with the turn of events, and when he has a chance to ditch Jonni, he does.
But wouldn’t you know it? The second Niko’s back is turned, Jonni is stolen away by the eagles, adversaries of Santa’s team of reindeer. But why take Jonni? Well that goes back to the first tale in the life of our little reindeer, The Flight Before Christmas. In that film, Niko’s actions led to the death of Black Wolf, brother of White Wolf (Niamh Shaw), the leader of the eagles. And she’s not too keen on her brother being gone. But when she realizes she doesn’t have Niko but Jonni, it’s even better. She’ll get rid of both brothers and her revenge will be sweeter. Insert the obligatory happy ending and there you have it.
Little Brother, Big Trouble: A Christmas Adventure is less a film about Christmas (way less) and more (way more) about being okay with divorce and the idea of a blended family. As such, it didn’t hit the right festive note I am looking for in a holiday film. It has its merits for kids who are going through a similar situation, but for a purely Christmas film it misses the mark by a country mile.
The picture, a 1.85:1 video transfer, is an interesting amalgamation. Care is taken to detail textures like wood to a really lovely degree and scenes like the one inside of the factory are great. However this same attention to detail is not equally applied throughout the film leaving some portions feeling unbalanced, especially those which feature wide shots of the eagles’ domain. In those shots the rock formations feel flat and clearly lack texture. Otherwise the palette is nicely saturated. Overall kids will not care but I do. The audio is a nice surprise with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which holds up well to the task. There’s no separation of the audio spaces and each level blends well.
The special feature is a collection of featurettes which were actually interesting. “From Script to Screen” showcases the journey the story takes from the printed page to the screen. “At the Scoring Session” is a picture-in-picture format which plays part of the movie as well as the orchestra as they play the score. “Getting it Onto the Screen” talks about some of the design elements the filmmakers consider.
Little Brother, Big Trouble: A Christmas Adventure is not your typical holiday story. It’s more about accepting when your family changes than about anything else. Sure the animals are cute, but if it’s a Christmas story you’re after, this will disappoint. However if you like your tales with a side of life lesson then snatch this up.