Balto – Nostalgia Critic

This film has grown a large following, but despite it being beloved, are there a FEW things that might be off about it? The Nostalgia Critic reviews the animated movie Balto.

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

135 comments

  1. Neo-stalgia Fan 1

    I’d like to first start with saying something positive about this review. It’s pretty fair about how the story and events it’s based off of don’t seem to match up to well, not to mention some of the other awkward bits and the apparent cruelty of nature. And even then it still makes the point that it was still a decently entertaining time, even if it was a bit contrived.

    But speaking of contrived stuff I have issue on:

    OHHHH MY GOD DOUG, I get it, you hate Phil Collins, stop forcing us to hate him too by shoving all of this “OOOOHHHH LOOK AT ME PHIL COLLINS SINGING SINGING SINGING OOOHHHH YEAAAAH!” down our throats! He wasn’t even singing in this movie, what was the point of it all!? Is it so wrong for some of us to even, dare I say, LIKE Phil Collins in any capacity? No? We have to hate him like you do too? Well, better keep doing more annoyingly forced bits about him and his singing in movies to make sure we hate him too just for associating him with your annoying hatred of the guy! GOOD GOD. I never thought I’d say this, but can we PLEASE just go back to making Randy Newman jokes, at least that didn’t piss anyone off.

  2. The Woodridge event is on a Wednesday night? How is anybody with a job supposed to attend?

  3. Still waits for a Norm of the North review.

    Maybe he has to wait for it to really become classic.

  4. As much as this movie isn’t perfect, I do have a lot of nostalgic fondness for it. Although the comedy for the most part isn’t that great in my opinion, it really does hit you with the drama and the suspense. That scene with the coffins I will always respect because it’s one of the few times in a family film that it addresses mortality so simply and so maturely. It doesn’t need dialogue, but it immediately shows how very serious the stakes are if the medicine doesn’t make it. Plus as much as it gets wrong about the history, it did still prompt me to go find that same statue in Central Park when I visited, even though I was a teenager at the time and hadn’t seen the movie in years. The final live action scene stuck with me that much.

  5. Any one else not able to play this?

  6. I don’t get it; is the Critic so upset that the villain is evil? Isn’t that what we expect of villains?
    The Critic doesn’t like that the heroes must deal with challenges and conflict? Isn’t it that which makes an action-oriented film (well) action-oriented and suspenseful?
    Is the Critic truly so disappointed that Phil Collins didn’t have a singing part in this movie that he had to create songs for him? XD

    Well, I suppose it would have been nice of Steele to make peace with Balto in order to get the job done… Which would defeat the purpose of having an antagonist to begin with.
    And anyone who has ever seen LotR knows how exciting walking in a line against beautiful countryside can be… (ha-ha)
    Also, I cannot say a Phil-Collins interpretation of ‘Reach for the Light’ would have been all bad… But Collins didn’t sing it: Steve Winwood did, so what’s to complain about? Moreover, that’s the only song this movie has and it doesn’t happen until the credits begin.

    But that’s not the movie we got: Balto was actually (passably) good (if not historically inaccurate).

    I didn’t dislike this review (per se), but it was certainly an odd choice for NC.

    • Yeah, i felt disappointed at the end because NC didn’t really do much criticizing of the movie at all. Usually, an NC episode is a mix of Commentary-Jokes-Review. But this episode felt like it was all commentary and jokes. And the jokes dont work because the NC didn’t really have any major flaws in the movie to point out. So he resorted to complaining about things, that did not really deserve and critiques (villain looks constantly evil, phil collins, shit happening constantly at the end).

      The joke about how all the bad stuff happening towards Balto in the movie could have been criticized much better. The NC could have gone into a rant about how its better to have one well-developed plot dilemma in a movie, rather than throwing a bunch of random ones (bridge breaking, avalanche, rocks falling) in a short period of time at the end to create a false sense of suspense. But instead, we get, “DURR, BALTO WOULD PROBABLY BE LIKE ‘GODDAMMIT’ WHEN THIS SHIT IS HAPPENING XD”.

      Not sure of NC had trouble making this review or if he was experimenting a little.

  7. thatchickwithlonghair

    I forgot to mention that I really like the message of this movie for kids. Balto was different and that made him an outcast but he was able to turn it into “I’M AWESOME BECAUSE I’M DIFFERENT!” and throw it in everyone’s face. I love that. It’s an updated “Rudolph” story and with all the bullying in schools, kids can’t hear this positive message enough. Every kid who is picked on for being different needs this movie in their life.

  8. So just to clarify for viewers, Balto did NOT just get credit for being the last dog on the run. He got credit for much more. In addition to that, he ran the Iditarod trail, which is where the last great sled dog race is run to this day, where competitors are frequently hit with blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, gale force winds, and whiteout conditions. So in 1925, mind you, this dog not only ran that trail but he rescued the rest of his team in the Topkok River, and completed his run in near whiteout conditions where his driver could barely see his hand in front of his face. Despite the whiteout and the team having to run in the dark, Balto kept them on the trail. But when they arrived at the final stop where they would have passed the medicine to another team, that other team was asleep. So what did they do? They KEPT GOING. Balto was not supposed to be the last dog, but rather than wait to be relieved by the sleeping musher and dogs, he and his team went all the way to Nome and delivered the medicine needed. When they got there, it was his musher who suggested giving credit to the dog and not just himself. And the rift with the other dog and musher had more to do with their jealousy of the publicity for Balto than anything else. So while the other dog deserves credit for his effort, the credit given to Balto is in no way misplaced.

  9. Jesus you would think Balto was half Coyote as opposed to half Wolf (Dogs and Coyotes HATE each other making offspring between the two rare.)

  10. So… NC didn’t understand the most important scene in the entire movie? But… but… really?

    • thatchickwithlonghair

      Yeah, that’s weird. I was only ten when I saw this movie and not only did I really *get* that scene; I was blown away by how powerful it was.

      Hopefully he’s just being goofy about it.

  11. what the fu…..”The Muggleverse”???……Doug don’t try to pretend you know jack shit about Harry Potter. you’ve only seen the movies, you have not read the book, and therefore you know as much about Harry Potter as M. Night Shamalan knows about Avatar The Last Airbender.

    • You’re being to literal. Sometimes when people say “universe” they actually mean “a specific group of people”.

    • The Real Silverstar

      So only bibliophiles and Harry Potter connoisseurs are allowed to make Potter jokes and references now? When did that happen? I must’ve been away when that got passed into law.

  12. Can you talk about the MTV series Good Vibes and Daria?

    On a side note, I mention this all before, why don’t you review a classic horror like this one I’ve finally found after all these years after just seeing a few scenes of it and never knowing how it ended. It’s called Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. You might like it. Maybe.

    Also what do think of these TV series shows called:
    John Doe
    Forever Knight
    The Misfits (British Show)
    Misfits of Science (Movie and series)
    and The Zeta Project
    (I think some of these shows are like Sonic the Hedgehog a.k.a. Sonic Sat a.m. They all have incomplete ending.)

    P.S. Is there anyway you can review the Japanese versions of Ironman, Wolverine, X-men and Blade? I’d also really like to hear what you think about the FX series Archer and Chozen.

    P.S.S. And I never found out if you were going talk more about the Disney Afternoon shows Gummi Bears, Chip N Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Talespin(even the hour uncut movie special I found about it) and Darkwing Duck. Also you never answer my question, If you hate the Goof Troop song: “Gotta Be Gettin’ Goofy” then does that mean you hate The Darkwing Duck Rap?

  13. Victoria Heckman

    Yeah, I used to love this movie as a kid, but I rewatched it last year (and wrote a blog review on it) and it does not hold up well in the long-run.
    I compared the character designs and character roles between this and “The Lion King”, and it REALLY shows that it just wants to be like Disney and not take any risks or put in any originality to the story or to the visuals. Leaving only a very bland product. (I’m pretty damn sure that the fan following for this movie is made up of people who are soooo much more creative than this.)

    Also, it really bugs me that for a movie that tries to hammer in the racial themes, the villain even calling the main character “half-breed”, that they got such a Wonder Bread-boring white actor to play said main character. (I might not mind that so much if they had gotten an actor who can actually, you know, leave an impression on the audience.)

    You want to see a movie from the mid-nineties that uses animals as a metaphor for racial tensions? Go watch “Babe” again. That movie did it so much better.

    • thatchickwithlonghair

      I don’t agree. I think this movie holds up pretty well. It’s not trying to hammer in “racial themes”. It’s about just being different. And I think that’s justified because half-breed dogs are not treated well at all by society. They’re not even allowed to compete in dog shows which I think is total bullshit.

      This movie doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be Disney to me at all. It has plenty of originality in the visuals too. I’d take Balto over adult Simba any day; Balto has a pretty sweet personality and he’s a very noble character. Simba’s a bit of a jerk, tbh.

      • Victoria Heckman

        You missed my point. I wasn’t even saying “‘Lion King’ was better”.

        My point was this movie is bland. Okay, at best. The only folks who remember it are those in the fan following and those like me who watched it several times as kids but then forgot about it for a while. Not a lot of folks outside those groups remember this film at all, and there’s a reason. The filmmakers took little to no risks writing-wise.

        There are SOME things I will grant in the film’s favor, like how they made Jenna’s eyes look more mature instead of the typical “round, innocent eyes” for female characters, and I thought the animation on the polar bear twins was very solid and their designs stylistic and interesting. And, of course, casting Jim Cummings as the villain. It’s tragically rare you get legit voice actors in a major motion picture. (It’s just a shame we couldn’t also have, say, Jeff Bennett as Balto and Kath Soucie as Jenna.)

        • thatchickwithlonghair

          “Little to no risks”!? The film’s main conflict is about DYING EIGHT-YEAR-OLDS.

          Lol, you’re funny. “Bland” is the last word I’d use to describe this movie.

  14. Gah, keeps locking up on me. “Vidme?” Man, YouTube has its problems, but I swear, sometimes it seems like every other video service is just weird and twitchy half the time.

  15. I just watched this film the other night. I’ve been waiting for the NC to do this film. So happy to see this as his review for today.

  16. I loved this movie so much growing up, and to this day it’s still one of my favorite animated films. It was just so much fun, beautifully animated, really touching, shockingly dark at times, and really well-done. The live action scenes were nice, too, and helped add to the story. This is one of the best animated movies, if you ask me, which is why it has a big following at long last.

  17. the info about the dog balto kinda made me sad. I mean it’s not like the dog itself tried to hog all the credit he should have been part of the ceremony.

  18. thedarkwolfzearoth

    Personally I think Balto 2: Wolf Quest is the superior movie. It doesn’t try to tell a “true story,” but instead focuses on a story about finding one’s true self. Also it explains the white wolf which makes the scene in Balto make a bit more sense and gives it more impact.

  19. Anyone else notice the new opening is like “The New Adventures of Johnny Quest” opening he called out way back on his Top 11 Animated Show Openings?

  20. The way Phil Collins’ music is used in “Tarzan” is the exact same way Randy Newman’s music is used in “Toy Story.” They both vaguely explain what is going on in the character’s minds through song even though the visuals pretty much tell you what’s going on already. I’m honestly very curious why Doug only ever seems to harp on Phil Collins for doing this and no one else. I would genuinely love to hear what he would have to say regarding this.

  21. The_Doctor_1234569

    It’s not the best movie, but I do have a soft spot for it. I even have the DVD. It’s not as a great as my Nostalgia Goggles made it out to be, but it’s pretty great. As for the historical accuracy- yea that was atrocious. But at least it made you want to learn more and get the right info.

  22. Seriusly? You couldn’t be bothered to get a sharpie to write some text on a box and sprinkle some flour on it for make shift dust? You had to edit in the text and dust? That’s just weird :/.

  23. I saw Balto a couple of times as a kid but I don’t remember much about it. I don’t remember the live action part at all. Also, you’re never going to let that Phil Collins thing go, are you? Lastly, the way you did the title card before you talked about the theater opportunity was well done. One very last thing: I forgot how dark this movie was. O.O No wonder I didn’t like it as a kid.

  24. Oh, this review had me laughing.

  25. That was somewhat cute) Adorable, even 🙂 I thought Doug would rip this movie to shreds, which I was not looking forward to, because, as a kid, I used to love it. But the review was a lot of fun)
    What people should give this movie credit for, though, is that it’s an existentialist’s heaven. As Doug mentioned, the perpetual personal crisis which Balto suffers produces some mature ideas. Belonging to both cultures and not being accepted in either of them is an extremely painful experience and, unfortunately, not uncommon in the modern society.

  26. This is still my favorite animated film of all time. Was nervous about seeing the review but I was pleasantly surprised and laughed quite a few times, especially at the parts about Steele. (Fun fact: Steele was originally supposed to be voiced by Brendan Fraser but he dropped out).

    A few things:
    The whole point of the scene on the boat was that Boris was trying (and failing) to make Balto feel better. The toy thing was still ridiculous tho.

    Not sure if it was mentioned in the movie but if I remember correctly, Muk & Luk were Polar Bear cubs which is why they didn’t join the fight initially against the larger bear.

    The whole point of Jenna with the bottles was so he could see the town through the darkness (because they had taken down the lamp which was supposed to guide the mushers back to the town after they had given up hope that they would make it back)..it was also a callback scene to the scene under the hospital earlier.

    Balto did actually have a line or two towards the end. When he sees the ‘Northern Lights’, he says ‘Jenna’ excitedly then howls.

    My interpretation of the whole story overall was it was a grandmother telling the story to her grandchild.. of course she’s gonna embellish it and add talking animals and change some things around for dramatic and comedic affect..and before you ask, yes I am aware they brought that up in the review.

    All in all it was a great review..I’m glad that the critic didn’t hate it. 🙂

  27. Didn’t Balto’s fame came from him actually LEADING his sled back home? His musher developed snowblindness during the journay, and couldn’t see. He had to rely on his lead dog to find their way back.I know this still leaves all those other dog teams and their mushers being not credited enought and all, but saying that Balto received all the credit just because he was on the last team is a huge understatement. Also, I’m surprised that there was no mention at all of the fate of Balto and the rest of his sled team. Kinda thought Aunt Despair at least would bring it up ;p

    I love this movie btw^^ The sequels… well, they were worse, of course. The second movie thought was okayish I think, even though for some reason it got turned into a musical practically. The third movie was meh

  28. Will making fun of horrific negligent parents ever not be funny? The fact that the kids life is destined to be an even more horrific mess that continues the cycle into future generations just ads to the laughs. Thanks NC.

  29. Late Nakagawa Ryou

    Malcolm will return in… uh… Next Week’s Review!

    Heh, I’m the king of pop cultural references

  30. Devil's Advocate

    also Balto didn’t get super powers in that scene, he embraced his mixed nature. and he found the strength to get back up the cliff.

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