The Daily Stream: Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe In Santa Should Be Your New Holiday Tradition

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Film: "Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa"

Where You Can Stream It: YouTube

The Pitch: Everyone that celebrates Christmas probably has a holiday movie that they watch to get them in the spirit. For some, it's the Rankin and Bass claymation specials. For others, it's "Die Hard." Growing up, "Elf" and "A Christmas Story" during its 24-hour marathon on TBS were my family's go-tos for Christmas morning cheer.

Of course, I still follow this tradition — I will defend "Elf" as a whimsically fun time until my dying breath. However, as I grew older and developed my own taste in films, I expanded my holiday watches. Nowadays, I turn on stuff like "Black Christmas" and the first two "Silent Night, Deadly Night" movies, but I wouldn't consider them my most cherished holiday traditions. That honor is bestowed upon "Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa," a CGI-animated film with a bizarre story and an even stranger history behind it. If you're a cult movie fan that somehow hasn't already seen it, what are you waiting for?

Why it's essential viewing

The premise of "Rapsittie Street Kids" is pretty simple. A young girl named Nicole (Paige O'Hara) is given a teddy bear by a classmate, the rapping and rhyming Ricky (Walter Emanuel Jones). Due to the differences in their class and her stuck-up attitude, Nicole throws the gift away, thinking that it's not expensive enough for her. However, she has a change of heart when she discovers a letter Ricky wrote to Santa Claus, explaining that he wanted to give her the bear because his deceased mother gave it to him. Realizing the importance of his gift, Nicole enlists the help of her friend Lenee (Jodi Benson) and Ricky's friend Smithy (Eddie Driscoll) to get it back.

Pretty standard stuff for a Christmas special, but it isn't the actual story that has given the film the reputation it carries. Its terrible CGI animation was pretty bad even for 2002 – keep in mind that "Ice Age" and "Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie" were released that same year. The way the characters' mouths never sync up to their dialogue, the stock assets used to decorate scenes, and the clunky way the characters move, are memorable for all the wrong reasons. While the animation is often the most mocked aspect of the film, there are plenty of other things about it that just don't work: a grating and stereotypical script, bizarre voice-acting decisions, and bad musical numbers, just to name a few. The way these elements come together, though, is what makes it such a memorable experience.

If I just believe in Santa

If you thought the final product was a strange and uncomfortable experience, just wait until you hear about the actual production. In Polygon's oral history of the film, it was revealed that "Rapsittie Street Kids" only had a budget of $650,000, and that producer James DeLuca was convinced by director Colin Slater to animate it in CGI rather than traditional drawing techniques. Rumors have circulated for some time that Slater was a member of Scientology, allowing him to rope in the film's unusually stacked cast. Apparently, though, he was just really charismatic.

However, perhaps the craziest thing about the production of "Rapsittie Street Kids" is that it was animated in four months. Think about that for a second – a team of experienced animators had only four months and $650,000 to create a 40-minute film with finicky, self-made CGI software. It really is no wonder, then, that the film looks the way it does, and knowing that background makes the experience of watching it both uncomfortable and exciting. You can't help but admire the fact that it got finished and released at all, even if the final product is a bit nightmarish.

Of course, I can hype up this movie and its history all I want. It's not going to serve as a proper substitute for actually watching it. If you're looking for a truly unique experience, make sure to check "Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa" off your Christmas watchlist before Santa comes to town.