As this movie about Norwegian children begins, it is nearing Christmas time. Tween Mariann and her younger brother are decorating the Christmas tree together with great harmony. The time period appears to be in the middle of the previous century, based on the cars on the streets and the absence of modern toys and gadgets. The clothing also gives a hint, although it is difficult to accurately determine the time period due to Norwegians’ love for traditional attire, such as flea pattern sweaters and thick wool hats.
The main focus is on a utopian past filled with joy, Christmas markets, and magical toys that come to life at a spin-the-wheel game. The teddy bear, voiced by Zachary Levi in English, is the central character and is won by Mariann fair and square. However, the mischievous teddy bear secretly moves the wheel in hopes of being won by an adult who will take him on adventures. He doesn’t realize the love and comfort that comes from being cherished by a child, but by the end, he will surely learn about it.
Teddy embarks on a “B” level adventure when he is purchased by a mysterious international man and encounters a talkative plush hedgehog. Meanwhile, Mariann learns the valuable lesson of why breaking and entering is wrong, a moral that all parents can support. The arrival of grandparents leads to an existential crisis for Teddy’s little brother, who questions if Santa is truly his father. Jan Gunnar Røise, playing the role of their actual father, hilariously falls while decorating the Christmas tree. Mariann Hole, with her stylishly teased blonde bob, successfully avoids burning the rice pudding. This film captures all the dramatic elements of a Norwegian Christmas in one neat and entertaining package.
If you are over the age of eight or nine, you may become easily distracted by analyzing how the filmmakers have attempted to conceal the mismatch between the actors’ original Norwegian dialogue and the need to dub it into other languages. This results in limited visibility of characters’ mouths and the use of moustaches to mask lip movements. However, this technique is not as effective for children and women, so they often resort to exaggerated facial expressions in order to divert attention from their mouths. On a positive note, the animation is flawlessly done and quite delightful.