SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE Saturday 03 December, 2011

The other Jeffrey Lebowski gives us the origin story of the fat man in the red suit.

This film was released when I was seven years old. Which makes it quite old. It tells us how Santa goes from being an incredibly generous villager to the north pole sweat-shop owner and toy market monopoliser.

You know how when you see a kids film now it has a little something thrown in for the adults. This film doesn’t. It is a straight up, out and out kids film. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, the kids will adore it, but it does probably mean that you’ll be bored silly.

Santa Claus is played by David Huddleston, who you and I will know as the other Lebowski in The Big Lebowski (“are you employed Mr Lebowski?”). He is much softer here though and plays the role of the caring Santa most convincingly. He is accompanied (somewhat bizarrely for me) by Hyacinth Bucket’s sister (Judy Cornwell as Mrs Claus) and Dudley Moore as Patch the elf who wants an industrial revolution at the north pole. This film must have been made in the UK as a lot of familiar faces from British TV pop up here and there. Look out for Christopher Ryan (Dave Hedgehog & Mike from The Young Ones) as a rather perplexed looking elf.

John Lithgow stars as the bad guy and his over the top performance is well suited to the surreal feel of the film. His character is an unscrupulous toy manufacturer who we see being censured for the hazardous nature of his toys.

The plot see Patch being alienated and then needing to prove himself to Santa by creating a wonderful must-have toy. It’s reasonably engaging but really only for kids.

Keep an eye out for the most subtle piece of product placement ever. At one point the film actually becomes a McDonald’s ad. A kid pressed his face up against the golden arch branded window and then we cut inside to see all of the families enjoying their burgers, nuggets milkshakes etc. Hilarious. It did mean that I spent the next few minutes wondering how much it must have cost them to have that in there.

Overall the film is a tad dull for those of us who are too old to be watching christmas films anyway. It looks nice though as it is from an age before CGI. Get it if you need to keep the young’uns quite or if you are suffering from insomnia.

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