One night, the Sprites of the Northern Lights- a group of singing, colorfully garbed sprites who fly around the North Pole, are seen putting on a remarkable light show in front of Santa Claus' workshop, where Santa and his wife, Mrs. Claus witness the whole thing, to celebrate a very special occasion. It is revealed that a baby reindeer which his parents, Blitzen and his wife, Mitzi name Rudolph is born with an unusual red, shiny nose (a birth which the Sprites joyfully witness as well). Blitzen starts to worry that Rudolph will be made fun of because of this, while Mitzi is more optimistic. Later in the morning, they meet up with Rudolph's three uncles- Dasher, Comet, and Cupid -and introduce Rudolph to them. Cupid tickles Rudolph's chin and tummy until his nose starts glowing, which draws attention. Blitzen's worst fears are confirmed with the secret of their son's nose now revealed to Comet, Cupid, Dasher, and the rest of the residents of the North Pole.
Meanwhile, two of Santa's elves Doggle and Boone cross the bridge of the wicked Ice Queen, Stormella, to deliver mail and accidentally crash into and destroy several ice statues that belong to her. When Stormella finds out, she closes her ice bridge to the public as punishment, and if anybody dares to cross it, she threatens to create a blizzard so strong it will stop Santa from delivering presents to children around the world.
A year later, Rudolph is grown a little bit older and is sent to school, where he is ridiculed for wanting to be a Flyer (the name for Santa's reindeer) despite his nose by his mean and arrogant cousin, Arrow, and the other students with the exception of their teacher, Mrs. Prancer and Zoey, a kind young doe whom Rudolph has a crush on. Rudolph eventually runs away from school because of all the teasing and meets Santa, who accepts him despite his nose and treats him with kindness, saying that everyone is different on the outside, but it is what's inside that counts. Shortly after, on Christmas Eve, after Santa has flown away for his annual travel around the world with the Flyers, Rudolph winds up running into Zoey who says that she wants to be friends with him, but Arrow, who is also in love with Zoey, disrupts their romantic moment beneath the mistletoe and has Zoey leave with him instead, which she reluctantly does. But as she leaves, she smiles over at Rudolph, making him realize that she likes him.
Years later, Rudolph is now a teenager and is about to take part in the Junior Reindeer Games. Zoey gives her pendant to Rudolph to bring him good fortune, much to the chagrin of Arrow, who is now in a relationship with Zoey. During the event known as The Sleigh Race, Arrow cheats so he may be chosen to become a Flyer, so he crashes into the other competitors and then trash talks Rudolph, making his nose gleam and blind Arrow. Rudolph wins the race, but is disqualified by the referee because his glowing nose is considered cheating and makes Arrow winner by default. Rudolph's disqualification infuriates both Blitzen and Zoey, who confronts Arrow for cheating and ends their relationship. Rudolph overhears his father arguing with the referee that his son's nose was an "accident", attempting to persuade him that Rudolph couldn't have controlled his nose's glow and avoided blinding Arrow. But Rudolph misinterprets it to believe that his father is ashamed of him, and decides to run away from home.
At night, unknowingly with the help and guidance of the Sprites of the Northern Lights, Rudolph finds an empty cave where he decides to sleep in. However, his rest is interrupted when an Arctic fox named Slyly comes in and tries to fight Rudolph for possession of the cave but after a few misunderstandings, Rudolph and Slyly become friends. Later at night, Blitzen and Mitzi find a farewell note from Rudolph in their home. Zoey comes by to see Rudolph but his parents tell her the shocking news. Devastated upon learning that Rudolph ran away from home, Zoey runs off in search of him and even deliberately crosses the forbidden bridge of Stormella the next morning, who imprisons her in an icy prison cell. Upon learning about Rudolph and Zoey's disappearances from their parents, Santa assigns and sends Boone and Doggle to search for them.
Meanwhile, Rudolph and Slyly abandon their cave when an avalanche occurs and seals off the entrance, so, they decide to look for another cave. At night, Rudolph and Slyly come across a cave which is inhibited by a polar bear named Leonard, who lets out a certain growl and snarl because of their intrusion. At first, Slyly and a regretful Rudolph trick the polar bear into thinking his cave will collapse and make him run away. However, the jig is up when an angry Leonard quickly returns and realizes he's been tricked. Slyly runs away scared but Rudolph stays and kindly apologizes to Leonard for their trickery, which he admits was wrong, and explains their situation. Having been told the truth, Leonard sympathizes and welcomes Rudolph and Slyly to his cave. Once everyone's asleep, Rudolph starts having a nightmare which includes bad memories from his childhood about how he was ridiculed for his red nose, which causes him to wake up and walk outside a little. There, he meets the Sprites, who tell Rudolph that he must rescue the kidnapped Zoey. They instruct him on how to properly use his nose, and Rudolph, Leonard, and Slyly journey to Stormella's castle to free Zoey. However, Slyly stays behind while Rudolph and Leonard enter the forbidden castle.
Rudolph and Leonard make it inside her castle, but soon find themselves locked up in ice prison cells of their own by Stormella. Zoey tells Rudolph that she ruined everything, but Rudolph says it's his fault since he ran away. Zoey then says to him that he means the world to her, to which Rudolph replies to her that she makes his heart glow. Then, Stormella fulfills her vow and unleashes a humongous blizzard upon the North Pole using her magical powers. After the Ice Queen goes to sleep, Slyly sneaks into her bedroom and retrieves the key around her neck to his friends' prison cells after inadvertently telling her the truth (something he learned from Rudolph when they first met Leonard) to make her go back to sleep when she catches him in her room. However, Stormella wakes up and sends her pack of wolves after Rudolph and his friends, cornering them on a cliff. When she threatens to freeze Zoey first, Rudolph uses his nose to blind Stormella, sending her toppling off of the cliff, hanging on for dear life. Rudolph saves Stormella's life by allowing her to grab on to his budding antlers and pulls her back up on the cliff with the help of his friends and Stormella's minions, and the grateful Stormella offers to grant him a wish. Much to the Ice Queen's dismay, Rudolph wishes that Stormella would turn from evil to kindhearted rather than to have a normal nose like he always wanted instead.
Stormella does indeed have a change of heart after fulfilling Rudolph's wish but the snowstorm that she created is unstoppable. Boone and Doggle finally find and bring the entire group back to Santa's Village. However, because of the blizzard, Santa is unable to carry out his flight this year but, when he catches a glimpse of Rudolph's glowing nose, Santa asks him to lead his team and once Rudolph agrees, he is given a Medal of Valor (which all Flyers wear) and his father tells him that he is proud of him. Rudolph guides Santa's sleigh through the storm, and receives a hero's welcome when he returns and it turns out to be a merry Christmas after all.Kathleen Barr as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Twinkle
Michael Lloyd provides Rudolph's singing voice
Eric Pospisil as Young Rudolph
Myriam Sirois as Zoey, Glitter, and Schoolroom Doe
Debbie Lytton provides Zoey's singing voice
Vanessa Morley as Young Zoey
John Goodman as Santa Claus
Whoopi Goldberg as Stormella
Carmen Twillie provides Stormella's singing voice
Debbie Reynolds as Mitzi, Mrs Claus and Mrs Prancer
Bob Newhart as Leonard
Eric Idle as Slyly
Garry Chalk as Blitzen
Richard Simmons as Boone
Alec Willows as Doggle and Prancer
Lee Tockar as Ridley, Vixen and Milo
Matt Hill as Arrow and Donner
Christopher Gray as Young Arrow
Elizabeth Carol Savenkoff as Aurora
Cathy Weseluck as Sparkle
Paul Dobson as Dasher
Terry Klassen as Dancer
Colin Murdock as Comet
David Kaye as Cupid
Tyler Thomson as Schoolroom Buck
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 40%, based on 5 reviews. The audience gave a more positive score of 59%.
In 1998, four books based on the film were released.Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: A Retelling of the New Animated Movie, which was based on the film's plot.
Rudolph Save the Sprites, which served as a sequel and saw Rudolph and Zoey search for the missing Sprites of the Northern Lights.
Rudolph's Special Day in Santa's Workshop, which features an infant Rudolph getting a tour of Santa's Workshop.
Christmas Town: Rudolph's Sing-A-Long Book, featuring lyrics to the film's songs.