The Santa Clause 2 Review

Time for the big Santa sequel! This time we’ve got more of a focus on the North Pole as they get their own subplot but there are still enough human scenes to keep you going. This one goes for more of a 50/50 blend so while it can’t quite touch the original, I’d still call it a pretty good film. The human world stuff is really solid as expected while the North Pole action isn’t as engaging. It is pretty fun to see the fake Santa’s facial expressions though as he reminds me a lot of the Cat in the Hat.

Scott is now an expert Santa who has done well at Christmas over the years. Unfortunately there is now a snag in the operation since a new Clause has been discovered in the contract which states that he has to get married or lose his powers. The whole thing is pretty suspect and forced for drama but I guess we have to roll with it. Santa heads back to the human world to find someone to marry while Bernard and Curtis stay back to look over the Pole. Unfortunately they are unable to do this on their own and create a Santa robot to rule until Scott returns. Unfortunately the robot has other plans.

Right from the jump there is an issue with this premise. Before Scott showed up in the first film, Bernard was perfectly able to look over everything without help. Why do they need a fake Santa at all? Also, keeping the secret of the real one being away doesn’t serve any real purpose if you ask me. I don’t see how the Elves would panic without Santa being around and this led to the circumstances of the fake taking control. So no part of the North Pole subplot was thought over all that carefully. None of it makes all that much sense so that was unfortunate.

This plot just isn’t very interesting in part because I don’t like Curtis as a character. He’s got to be the worst elf as his plans tend to be terrible and he always gets in the way. Bernard would do a lot better without him. At least fake Santa was fun by the end when he really thrived on being the villain. Still, he’s a bright point in what’s otherwise a bit of an uninspiring plot.

Back at home, Scott has to deal with a lot of drama such as Charlie being a rebel at school now. He has started defacing school property and has just become a delinquent. The film tries to show that it’s because he wanted to stand out a lot so Scott would come home but when you remember that he has a globe which summons Scott at will..the whole thing seems odd. It also seems to hint that Scott would just never visit him which doesn’t seem to be in character. I don’t see him suddenly losing track of time and staying at the North Pole. That just wouldn’t make any sense at all.

I’d say what I’m getting at here is that the writing was particularly weak. There are still a lot of fun moments here and I would call the movie a pretty good one, but it’s no longer great. There are enough things holding it back where it just has to settle for being a bunch of fun where you don’t look at the story too hard. It’s the definition of a forced sequel in that regard. The writers clearly needed an excuse to have the characters back again so this is how they went with it.

Fortunately Neal isn’t written out entirely so we get some nice scenes with him and Scott. The dynamic is a little different now since Neal likes Santa a lot and Scott has less disdain for the guy. He still does make sure to interrupt Neal and constantly mock him though so I can definitely appreciate that. Their scenes together are still a lot of fun. Scott is also able to instantly control the room once he arrives at school and defends Charlie well.

Of course there has to be a romance plot here based on the premise of the film. So at the school there is a tough principal by the name of Carol. She runs a tight ship so naturally the rebels at school don’t like her. Well, Scott is on her side with this and eventually the two start to get together but the main issue is that Scott will have to break the news to her about being Santa. As a kid she had a traumatic experience about that so it won’t be easy. Can Scott really convince her of this?

In a way that shouldn’t be hard because Scott performs a bunch of miracles during the film. One of the better moments for him was definitely at the work party where he gets everyone exactly what they wanted for Christmas. Fortunately he did it as a bulk order so it only cost him a magical point. It’s nice because Scott is always a very good natured guy and he just wanted everyone to have fun. He certainly accomplished that very well and I do feel like that’s proof enough for Carol to believe him. I do understand not wanting to believe Santa is real though because it’s hard to wrap your head around that.

Carol’s a solid character throughout and she was definitely in the right with all the school scenes. There’s no way to defend Charlie and that’s why the kid is a terrible character here. Carol isn’t even being mean or doing anything extreme. She’s just laying down the law that you can’t post graffiti everywhere and expect to get away with it. Carol’s stern but a very fair character and never for a moment did I think that she was in the wrong during any of her appearances. If she doesn’t create some law and order now then it’s only going to get worse for the kids later on.

Overall, The Santa Clause 2 is a weaker follow up to the first one but it’s still a good movie in its own right. If the first one didn’t exist then this would still be a fun standalone film to recommend checking out. The continuity boost helps at least boost the fun factor since it’s always nice to see the characters return. If you really liked Charlie in the first movie then the character assassination of him suddenly being a rebel may hurt the film more for you but otherwise you’ll be fine. There’s still a good amount of humor here and solid scenes in the real world. As long as we have that then the film is set. Now if the third film removes that…well we’ve got a problem. You’ll see my review of that one shortly.

Overall 7/10

Miracle on 34th Street (1994) Review

It’s time to look at another adaption of Miracle on 34th Street. It’s definitely a pretty well known story to have so many adaptions and it’s a story that doesn’t grow old so it’s always cool watching it again. This film does a good job of telling the story. There really isn’t a lot different from the others if you ask me, but it’s all executed well as expected. I dare say that it may even beat the original this time around. There are no real weaknesses here although Santa is a little more emotional than I’d expect.

The movie starts off with Kris (AKA, possibly the real Santa) noticing that the Santa who would be in the big parade is drunk. He’s pretty outraged about this and scolds the guy before going on his merry way. Dorey shows up and fires the guy before heading over to Kris and making him the new Santa. It all goes very well for a while with Kris helping the store’s reputation and making everyone happier. The villains don’t like this though so the rival store hires two thugs to bring the drunk Santa back and frame Kris. Kris will have to think quickly in order to turn things around or he may spend a long time in jail.

One change here I suppose is that corporate is more of an active villain. The CEO actually gets complete villain music accompanying him and his two lackeys are basically the villains from Home Alone. They’re not the brightest characters around and tend to make a mess of things, but they keep on trying. They actually do get some success in the end with their framing plan so I have to give them some props here.

I have to take props away from Kris though. He gets easily tricked and provoked by the villains pretty quickly as he takes his cane out and whirls it around like a weapon. It’s not very hard for the villains to make it look like he’s making an attack and the drunk follows him around outside to seal the deal. Didn’t anyone see this guy harassing an elderly citizen? It’s a shame that nobody on that block had the courage to defend him or to at least back up his story of being provoked. The thing is though, Santa shouldn’t have resorted to violence so quickly anyway. He needs to be the bigger man in this situation and in the end he just didn’t pull it off.

As for the other characters, we’ve got a good cast. Susan is better than the average kid character in most films. She is skeptical of Santa existing which is good because he is fake. I’m actually with Dorey here on not teaching her kid that Santa is real because it’s good to keep them honest from the start. Even if you let the kid choose for herself if she wants to believe in Santa or not, you shouldn’t be trying to convince her of something that’s not true. Dorey could let her be into more kid stuff, but she didn’t seem unreasonable and I dare say that Susan turned out pretty well from what we saw.

As a result I’m less on Bryan’s side here. He is really trying to push the Santa angle despite it not being what Dorey wants. He really shouldn’t be surprised when she turns down his proposal which also was a little bit out of the blue. He seems like a nice guy for sure, but given how long he’s been with Dorey he really shouldn’t have been quite as surprised as he was at her answer. It seemed to be pretty in character for her.

Then we have Dorey who is a pretty solid character. She is absolutely a facts person who has no time for Santa or things like that. She’s also handled the annual parade for so long that she doesn’t really care about it anymore. I suppose if I was doing the same parade year after year I probably wouldn’t care about watching it and would just take a nap too.

One of the best parts of any film with a court scene is the actual court scene and this movie was no different. It was a lot of fun to see Kris enter the stage and to have everyone making a ton of comments. Kris did almost ruin the whole thing again and proved himself to be a tough character to root for, but everyone else was ready to do the majority of the legwork. It’s a fun set of scenes and managed to stay entertaining all the way though.

Miracle on 34th Street has good pacing and is just a lot of fun. It’s a solid film to see on Christmas especially, but would hold up well at any time. The writing is sound and the character cast is good. Kris is weaker than in the previous adaption, but it countered by having a better kid and I do like how the villains were handled as well. It’s fine to have them get a little extra animated considering how much money is at stake. It’s reasonable for the villains to be trying anything they can.

Overall, What more needs to be said? This is a very fun film you can watch with the whole family and debate on if Santa is real in this film or not. The movie is fairly ambiguous on it and you could make the case that some things don’t make sense if he doesn’t have supernatural abilities. Personally I think that this version of Kris just was a bit insane. At the very least he seemed to take things literally a whole lot and didn’t notice when people were making fun of him or putting him in a bad spot. Being the real deal doesn’t mean he had to be smarter, but it would have helped his case. If he is a bit crazy then it’s fine for everyone to be tricking him the whole time.

Overall 7/10

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer Review

It’s time to look at a very well known Christmas film from back in the day. The title already lets you know that this is either going to be a meme worthy film or it’s going to be terribly mean spirited. It’s the former and the film is a complete success. The movie just rolls with this crazy premise and it’s one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a long while. The characters are all portrayed perfectly and the only negative with the film is that it ends so early. I could have kept going with this movie for at least another half hour or so.

The movie starts by introducing us to the cast. Grandma’s run a successful store for a very long time. Unfortunately she is so nice that the town tends to take advantage of her by going in and doing shopping, but then remembering that they “forgot” to bring some money so they have to take it on credit. Cousin Mel has had enough of this and tells Grandma to charge these people. Grandma will do no such thing, but Mel knows that soon they will all be bankrupt. She needs to find a way to get some money for her family. That’s when Austin shows up. He’s an ultra rich guy who has bought all of the stores in the city with Grandma’s being the only one left. If Mel can find a way to bump off the grandparents or get them to sign a deal to sell the place she will be able to make herself rich…and pay for the family to live well enough. It’s mission time!

Wait a sec…what about the title right? Well, Grandma gets run over by a reindeer early on in the film and vanishes. She is presumed dead by most, but Jake believes that she is still out there somewhere and he aims to find her. The scene of her getting run over is definitely surreal as Grandpa sees this happen, but actually gets really happy about it. He’s borderline ecstatic which is surprising since later on they act like the two are still on good terms. The rest of the family doesn’t see this and they prevent Jake from going outside for a while because they are so sure she is okay. By the time they go outside she is gone.

The film is very ambitious with this as we get a 9-12 month timeskip where Grandma is gone the whole time. That’s actually pretty dark for the characters if you’re thinking about it. I certainly felt bad for good ole Grandma. There’s a twist about where she is although you would probably be able to put two and two together in this case. Grandma’s a good character, but maybe a bit overly idealistic. You can’t realistically give things away for free too often because people will take advantage of you. Especially those who are your “friends” if they realize that they can get benefits for being nice. It’s a dangerous game she was playing.

Jake’s parents are good for the most part, but they have one scene where they look bad early on. Grandma needs to bring some cookies over to the nearest shelter/soup kitchen and nobody offers to go with her. Keep in mind that it’s super late and dangerous outside which the parents are sure to tell her about, but then they still don’t go with her. Why even half heartedly ask her to stay if you aren’t going to help? It was definitely pretty odd with Jake being the only dependable guy around.

Jake was actually a standout character. Usually I’m not a big fan of the kids, but I have to give him some major props because at least he was actually trying to do something the whole time. He repeatedly ran for the door to help Grandma even if the adults stopped him. Then he never gave up the search for a whole year as he tried to locate to Grandma and even skated into the villain’s headquarters multiple times to stop the corrupt dealings in there. There’s nothing else I could have asked him to do and so that means he perfectly handled the situation. I don’t expect I’ll see another kid quite as competent as Jake in a long time. Most characters could learn a thing or two from him.

One of those characters would be Grandpa because he just looks terrible throughout. First off he wouldn’t help Grandma and then he crumbles under pressure when Mel shows up. At first he had some potential there as he randomly started to sing, but then he let the age catch up to him and got delirious enough to sign the papers. At that point I had to shake my head because he was making every kind of mistake that he possibly could. I expected better from this guy. While Slime was a villain, at least she was really good at her job. I liked her confidence and she even managed to negotiate a pretty good commission for herself.

Mel is one of the biggest characters here though and she is an exceptional villain. She makes a lot of good points and while she invalidates them all by resorting to kidnapping at least you can understand where she is coming from. Her motives are anything but pure even if I made it sound that way in the summary. She just wants to be rich and will do anything in order to achieve that dream. Mel is resourceful and determined, two traits that are important for any character to have. She was also willing to talk in court when most villains would have played dumb there. She doesn’t do anything half heartedly and you can respect that.

Finally we have Austin who is probably the most reasonable billionaire I’ve ever seen. Most of these guys are treated as corrupt villains who will do anything to get the store. That’s not Austin’s way. He’s willing to dress up as an elf in order to broker a deal and makes sure to do everything legally. He even gives the heroes the benefit of the doubt when they ask him to wait. I was surprised at how well his character was handled. I’m also glad that the film didn’t go out of its way to give him a mean ending either because he didnm’t deserve one. The guy was just a really good business owner and this points to how good the writing in this film was. The guy was just realistic and downright likable. He reminded me of the lawyer who also appeared in the film later on. That guy was pretty good too as he reminded the jury that they had to be impartial and only consider the facts. It’s not like he wanted to slam Santa or anything like that, the guy was just doing his job and doing it well at that.

The animation here is really smooth. The characters all look good and everything is very bright and detailed. There’s a lot of fluid movement here and the characters are very expressive. It’s just a very great feature all around. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which may not be the most inspired, but it has some good tunes. The song of Mel and Slime talking about how they were going to get rich was solid and the Grandpa’s song may not have been the best, but I loved the segway into it. It was also a scene that showed how cunning Mel was as she played along in order to get what she wanted.

It goes without saying that the film is pretty good at comedy as well. Pretty much all of the jokes land and it was one of the funnier specials that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s because the movie uses the quick wit style of humor that I always enjoy more than the long build up to a joke style that others use. A quick remark or a fast comeback just goes a long way. Mix that in with the film’s top notch writing and you’ve definitely got yourself a winner.

Overall, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is a great film. You really need to see this one for Christmas because it’s just a lot of fun. Nothing about the film feels like it was cheaply made. You’d think that it was slapped together but the film has a lot of heart in it. I dare say that the only weak part of the film is the song that it was named after. That song isn’t particularly catchy but since we got the film as a result of it I’ll cut it some slack. This is the kind of movie where I’d be nervous for a remake or sequel because it’s incredibly unlikely that it could top this one.

Overall 8/10

Twas the Night Before Christmas Review

It’s time to look at a fairly old Christmas special from back in the day. The saying is pretty popular, but I imagine a lot of people haven’t actually seen this special. It’s a fun little adventure that may be over in the blink of an eye but still gives you an entertaining adventure. Santa doesn’t look great here though as he is pretty easily tricked and that’s dangerous for someone who has the power to travel the whole world in an instant. Hopefully this experience will teach him a thing or two.

So the plot of the film is that Santa doesn’t appear to be coming to the local town for Christmas this year. The reason for that is because he got a letter from the town saying that they didn’t want him around. It turns out that Albert and a bunch of the other kids sent the message and since they signed it as being from the whole town Santa decided not to show up this time. The grown ups are definitely dismayed at this because they count on Santa to get all of the presents. The Mayor and the rest of the council aren’t sure what to do, but Joshua has an idea. He’ll build a clock that has the sound of everyone singing and it’ll get Santa to come back. It sounds like a good plan, but the kids can’t let this happen. Will Joshua be able to make the clock in time or will some kind of “accident” occur which ends up stopping him?

Albert is really the antagonist here even if he isn’t evil. He’s really just a kid who doesn’t believe in Santa although his sending a letter to the guy was pretty extreme. He was smart enough to deliver it to Santa though and throughout the special we see that he is pretty smart so it worked out pretty well for him. He’s a decent villain, but as a character he is definitely annoying. These kids not believing in Santa isn’t an issue but by sending a letter they are sort of admitting that he is real aren’t they? Regardless the plan worked.

Father Mouse does his best to reign Albert in, but it’s tough since the kid loves talking with really large words to throw the guy off the trail. Father Mouse isn’t ultimately able to do a lot, but he does try to spread the good morals around and show Albert that you’re supposed to be a nice person around Christmas. I mean, it’d be great if you were nice throughout the year, but 1 day is better than none right? The real standout character here is the Mayor. I like how he takes control whenever he is on screen. He may not be very forgiving as he benches Joshua right away after a single failure with the clock. In theory he should have at least given him until Christmas to fix it. What’s the worst that can happen? If the clock doesn’t work then they are no worse off than if they didn’t use it. Still, the Mayor doesn’t second guess himself and that is very important for any ruler.

As for Joshua, he means well. His clock building skills are pretty good. While I think he should have tried to do more to get the clock working, he realistically put about as much effort as you can expect. If you’re banned from going to the clock tower then there’s not much more you can do. I doubt he would want to go to jail for a clock…that wouldn’t even be impressive among the fellow inmates. A character who didn’t try hard is Santa Claus. Holding a grudge against an entire town over a single letter is pretty petty. At the very least he should have gone into town to find out if that’s how they really felt about him. Maybe go incognito as a villager and ask around. I understand that he is pressed for time, but the special made him look pretty gullible. This is also low key the worst Santa design I’ve ever seen, but that’s less important.

As far as the animation goes, I’d say that the movie has aged pretty well. The character designs are on point and I like the backgrounds. A good amount of effort was put in here. I’m not really sure about the music. The Christmas songs are always fun to hear though even if this isn’t the best one. It at least gives the movie some festive cheer so on a technical level this film is good. I also thought the plot was pretty good even if the film didn’t take the concept as far as it could have. With only around 30 minutes to work with the special had to move at a very fast pace the whole time.

Overall, Twas the Night Before Christmas is a good special. It’s a fun Christmas story that will keep you engaged. The writing is solid and the characters do a good job of not being extreme versions of themselves. You can feel how sad the town is at the prospect of Santa not showing up and there is no point in the special where you’ll get bored. I don’t really think this special will be remembered in the same way as something like Rudolph, but it’s one that I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending to anyone who wants a good Christmas story. If you haven’t seen this one yet then you should change that. It’s just a pleasant special.

Overall 7/10

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians Review

It’s time for a pretty surreal film. Right from the title you probably could have guessed that though. Santa’s conquering the Martians?? Now, don’t get your hopes up for a Star Wars type film where Santa goes in guns blazing as he takes out dozens of aliens. This sadly isn’t that kind of film. It would have been pretty amazing if he was going around blasting everyone so you can imagine my disappointment when it didn’t happen. It’s still a pretty entertaining film at times, but also boring at others. That may sound contradictory but basically some scenes age really well because of how cheesy they are. The scenes that aren’t over the top just tend to be pretty boring. Some of the main characters are also kids who can’t really hold their own story.

The film starts off by showing us the planet Mars. The parents aren’t happy because now all the kids do is watch Earth TV. Interestingly they aren’t happy about this because the kids are always getting distracted and decide that they need to bring in Santa to give them some more freedom. I don’t see how the solution really helps to be honest. I’d understand if you wanted to turn off the TV, but wouldn’t bringing in Santa just make it worse? He’ll introduce them to the spirit of Christmas and will get them to embrace their individuality but that goes against the planet’s system. If anything you’d think that the people would be more against that. I suppose I shouldn’t examine the plot too much….but it was still an interesting start.

The two kids the martians happen to run into are Billy and Betty. Kimar figures they can help him find the real Santa Claus since the Earth is filled with tons of fake ones. The kids know that he is in the North Pole and assist with finding him. The martians aren’t of one mind with this though. While Kimar and Dropo like the kids, Voldar wants to destroy them and stay with the old ways. Fortunately the kids have Santa to help them out…but is he really that helpful?

The kids are pretty cheesy and oblivious to everything. As a result they really aren’t my kind of characters. They just tend to slow down the film and get in the way of everything all the time. I was just waiting for them to get with the program. As for Santa, he’s definitely a little more “down to earth” than most. In his first scene he’s smoking a cigar which may have been a common thing to do back in the day, but it’s rare to see Santa doing that. It’s a bad influence for the kids so you wouldn’t really expect him to do that. I’d also have liked to see him act with a bit more urgency on Mars.

There’s nothing bad to say about Kimar. He’s trying to do what’s best for Mars and even if it involves crossing planets he is ready. I suppose he can be a bit oblivious to Voldar the whole time, but that’s about it. He’s just a good leader. I certainly preferred him to Dropo who doesn’t work well as a comic relief character. It goes back to how part of this film’s humor worked while other parts do not. I think the parts that were intentionally trying to be funny ended up falling flat while the film in general had a nice campy atmosphere even if it may not have been intended.

To expand on this, just look at the martians. Their costumes are so terrible that it’s a little funny to look at them. It’s like a Star Trek design from the original show, but with poor effects. The Star Trek aliens have aged really well, these have not. Then you have the fact that the government actually knows about Santa to the point where TV gets him on an interview. So that acknowledges that there is a guy who travels the whole world in a day and gets everyone presents. How is that possible? It’s not so something doesn’t add up here. My guess is that the government helps him deliver all of the gifts. It’s also nice to have aliens visiting Earth and not going around trying to murder everyone for a change. These guys just want to have a nice Christmas.

As for the villain Voldar…I guess he checks off the right boxes. The guy is really over the top and his goal doesn’t really amount to much more than he doesn’t want to have Santa on board. He’s fine with the current system. If put to a vote I would have imagined that most people on the planet would feel better, but the sage agreed with Kimar which probably had a lot of sway. Going back to the plot for a sec, I still feel like there were so many more ways to help the kids than to bring Santa. Why not think up some activities for them or let them do what they want? The main reason why they would have been stuck is because they wanted to stay traditional but bringing in Santa goes against that either way so then it becomes a non issue.

Overall, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is a reasonably good film. I definitely wouldn’t call it a very good one or anything just because it can get dull. The absurd premise is really what will need to hook you. If it doesn’t then you’re basically out of luck. It’s the kind of plot that I tend to enjoy so the film works for me, but I will acknowledge that they could have done a whole lot more with the premise. Santa did “conquer” the martians with his idealogy but I would have liked a physical takeover. An easy way to do it would have been to have most of the planet agree with Voldar as I mentioned and Santa has to break his way through the city. It would have been a very different film of course, but definitely one that I could get behind.

Overall 6/10

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus Review

Time to look at a drama film that takes place on Christmas. It’s based on an editorial from a while back, but since basically the whole film is fictionalized I figured I’d still give it a review. It’s a pretty nice film that reminds you how even if everyone around you can be mean spirited you shouldn’t stoop to their level. The main character gets jaded at times, but ultimately stays strong.

There are a few plots going on in this movie. One of them is with James who loses his job after defending himself from a few brutes. As it usually tends to be, they’re the ones who get away with it while he and his friend get booted out. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of jobs at the moment so James is working hard to try and find anything that could work out for him. He’s starting to think that doing things the right way may be more of a hindrance than it’s worth. Meanwhile his daughter Virginia gets teased for believing in Santa Claus. James advises her to write to the paper about it.

This leads us to the second plot. You’ve got the writer Francis who is currently dealing with depression. He’s been one of the best newspaper reporters in the business but it has cost him a lot of time away from his family. Now he finds himself all alone and blames himself for not being there for his wife. His boss gives him the assignment on Santa Claus hoping that it will give the writer something to live for again and to hopefully get him back into his groove.

There are other plots along the way like the aspiring writer in the newspaper, a sick mother, and a corporate news guy trying to get a story. So we’ve got a lot of story here and the film is relatively short at around an hour and a half so everything has to move pretty quickly. The writing is good so it’s able to hold up and the character cast is solid. I don’t expect you will have any real qualms with the film. At most some plots just don’t feel as interesting as others. I was more invested in the James plot than any of the others ones after all.

He was definitely in the right with defending himself from the attackers in the opening scene. I know they sometimes tell you to look the other way but if someone’s literally attacking you and hampering your abilities on the job you have to do something. It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect James to do anything else. That’s personally how I see it at any rate. Likewise I was glad he jumped in to help his friend in the bar even if it put his job at risk. You have to help your friend in these situations. Part of why James is my favorite character here is that he always made the right choices even when it was dangerous for his career. He’s the kind of friend who has got your back. He definitely starts to doubt himself at the end, but it was a trying day for sure.

It’s not to say that Francis’ plot wasn’t good. It’s just not quite as interesting. I thought the boss was actually the standout character here. He really thought things through and made sure he was there for his reporter. The scene of him putting out his cigarette in the ash tray was also very important because if the gas had been on with the windows closed then Francis would have died too. He was betting everything on the fact that Francis hadn’t totally given up yet. The interesting thing is that Francis had seemingly been about to do just that, but opened the window just in time. The boss showing up ended up saving his life.

Meanwhile we have the assignment and I’d say that Francis’ answer was good. He didn’t totally lie about Santa being real, but kept the response vague enough so that a kid could interpret it that way. It’s always a debate on if you tell your kid that Santa is real or not. Nowadays a lot of parents say they just tell their kid right away so there’s no disappointment later on. Personally I would also establish early on that the parents are getting the gifts and there is no Santa. Even if it’s pretty harmless, telling a kid that Santa is real is a lie. There are ways you could imply it without actually lying, but it’s just so much easier to not mislead the kid here. Also it helps to start informing kids about the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ rather than letting them grow up thinking it’s about gifts and Santa Claus.

The film definitely tackles some pretty serious themes here with suicide and struggling to find work. It handles these themes well without making the film overly depressing. The movie still has enough happy scenes to keep things going well and so you can have a good time by the end. I think the only character who got a raw deal here was the corporate reporter who was trying to get the aspiring writer from the Sun. Now, maybe I’m missing something here, but was the guy that bad? He recognized that the lady was the one writing some of the articles lately and was prepared to offer her a real salary as a writer. I get that the girl didn’t want to ruin Francis by going away but she could have tried her luck without throwing him under the bus. I guess his approach was pretty over the top and maybe I’m missing a moment of him acting more sinister, but on the surface it didn’t seem like a bad deal.

Overall, This is a good film. The character cast here is well rounded and it’s impressive how they based a whole film around a pretty quick editorial. The kids did a good job of looking after their parents and supporting them through this tough time. Virginia go the magazine which was pretty inspiring at the end and the other kid helped her sick mother by getting the soup ready and generally helping out around the house. We don’t get to see her all that much, but it’s made apparent that she is being very responsible. Aside from the bullies running around a lot of the characters just seem like good people. If you haven’t seen this film yet I’d recommend changing that.

Overall 7/10

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus Review

It’s time to look at a classic short about the origin of Santa Claus. It involves cosmic beings and a debate on if mortals should become immortals. It’s a pretty fun special but one where the length works against it to an extent as it ends so quickly. The plot appears to be on turbo mode the whole time so you’ll stay entertained, but Santa doesn’t get to properly prove himself. By the end of the special you’ll be on the fence about making him an immortal. If anything you may want to give him the thumbs down.

The short has a time jump near the beginning but essentially when Santa was a boy he was raised by a tiger. After that he was stolen by a fairy god and taken to the realm of the gods. They showed him how to live and eventually showed him how sad Earth was in comparison. Still, Santa decided that he needed to go there and help those who couldn’t help themselves. He was given a few holy beings to help him as well as some sprites. At last he could make the world a better place for those who didn’t have enough. He would make Christmas fun for everyone. Unfortunately, some cave trolls don’t like this and decide that they will rob all of Santa’s presents for themselves. Can Santa stop them or will he needs the gods to save him?

Naturally you’ll hope that it’s the former right? Unfortunately, Santa is able to do very little against these guys. He barely even tries to come up with a good plan and just does the same things over and over again. He insists on just walking through this dangerous valley over and over again to no avail. Santa is a nice guy of course, but he just doesn’t seem all that capable. Without all of the magical beings helping him I feel like he would have been absolutely doomed. The guy wouldn’t have even known how to live on his own since he was raised in a world where food is unlimited.

I will admit that the scene where the gods show up to fight the trolls was hype though. In particular, the Great Ak (The main god) shows up and basically tells the trolls to surrender or die. They choose the latter option and that’s it for them. In stories like this the high above beings usually just watch from afar and do absolutely nothing. I’m glad that this wasn’t the case here as they should be willing to come and help Santa out. They were his friends for a while after all and want him to succeed. Maybe they should have prepared him a little more before sending him to Earth.

Also, why should Earth have all of these supernatural beings anyway? You’d think that the gods would have wiped them out or established some rules as otherwise the normal humans are basically doomed from the start. These are all world building questions though and the special is way too short to deal with all of that. These aren’t really negatives, just observations. At the end of the day I thought this special was pretty fun. It had a little more action than I had expected and the premise is pretty interesting. It’s really not what you’d think of at all when you picture a movie about Santa Claus’ origin.

I’m still not a big fan of the animation style, but what else is new right? You either like it or you don’t by this point, but it won’t really hurt the film. It does limit how good it can be from the get go, but the movie stays in the positive area. I think if it had been just a little longer it could have possibly earned an extra star, but as it stands the movie ends up losing to most of the big Santa Claus titles or the more iconic Rankin/Bass productions. There’s a reason this one isn’t very well known.

Overall, This film will certainly teach you a very interesting way to look at Santa’s origin. I’d recommend checking it out if you’re curious. You certainly aren’t very likely to see the story play out like this again. It’s not their best production but it gets the job done and since it is fairly short it’s not like it’ll take a whole lot of time out of your day to check it out. Maybe one day we’ll get another Santa origin and it’ll draw inspiration from this one.

Overall 6/10

Miracle on 34th Street Review

It’s time to look at a very iconic Christmas film. Miracle on 34th Street is a film that I know by reputation but I was never aware of the plot. I figured it had something to do with a kid finding out his father was a famous basketball player but clearly the sport spinoff is completely different. It’s definitely a solid film and one that holds up quite well throughout the years. Mixing Santa Claus with the court room is a recipe for success!

This movie starts off with Santa Claus deciding to take a break for a little while to see if New York understands the Christmas spirit. Unfortunately it seems that they don’t and buying gifts is all they care about. He quickly replaces drunk Santa at the annual Macy’s parade and is a big hit. His boss doesn’t believe in Santa but Mr. Claus aims to change that. Unfortunately a psychiatrist wants him out of the picture and tries to tell the world he is crazy. Santa is now in a legal battle to prove he is the real deal but the opposition has a smoking gun in the fact that they found his home address…in Long Island!

With almost every delusion there’s a point where it breaks and a point where it should burst if enough facts are provided against it. Often the individual in question will have an identity crisis, stay in denial, or suddenly be very rational about it. That’s not the case in this movie as Santa sticks to his theory that he is the real deal. Of course, nobody challenges him with the tough questions like how many presents he delivers a year or why he doesn’t live in the North Pole. We can probably assume that he was asked those questions in the original nursing home but it’s still a pretty interesting premise. The big question of course I believe he is Santa? I’m going to have to say No here. I just think there are too many strikes against him. The evidence is overwhelming and leaving his cane in the House is the only impressive part by the end. I like to think he left it there to hint to the leads that they should buy the house which could be done without the supernatural. Still, even if Kris Kringle is a little deluded here, he is still a pretty fun main character. Seeing him confront the drunk Santa was pretty intense even if you could argue that the drunkard won that battle. Santa can just be a little too naive and shocked at times to take on a battle weary New Yorker.

The cast is actually pretty solid as a whole. Doris is a likable enough lead and I was on her side of the debate. She has decided to raise Susan practically. She teaches her daughter early on that Santa is fake and shows her that there is a trick behind everything. It’s certainly a different way to grow up but I can roll with it. At the end of the day there isn’t much of a reason to believe in Santa. It’s not like it’s going to help you in the future. Unfortunately the message of the film is against her and that believing in a little magic is good for you. I don’t buy into it, but at least the message wasn’t shoved at the viewer too much. As it is most of the characters don’t believe in Santa and just use him for the publicity.

The romance between her and Mr. Gailey is a little weak though. Considering that they didn’t know each other pretty well, they got serious pretty quickly. I couldn’t really get behind that, but Mr. Gailey is also a fun character. He actually comes up with strategies to improve his odds which is commendable. Getting Santa to stay at his house was certainly a brilliant nice and one that really helped him out. He was also persistent in trying to get Susan to believe in Santa even if that did turn out to be a little trickier than expected.

Susan is a nice enough kid. She can still be rather greedy for her age as she immediately asks for a huge house to put Santa on the spot. Why couldn’t you ask for a doll house or something like that? Even at Santa’s big party she comes across as a big ingrate the whole time. This was a big moment for him and all of Macy’s, you’d think she could have at least pretended to be happy. Of course, she is just a kid so I’ll try to cut her some slack but it does support my theory that often times the kids can get in the way.

The supporting cast can be pretty solid as well. Doris has a colleague who is able to quickly get on board with the Santa idea. When an opportunity presents itself you have to quickly get with the flow or be swept away. In this case Doris may have been swept away if not for this guy’s quick thinking. Santa’s jolly actions of sending customers to other stores is crazy but it brought results so of course you would want to throw your lot in with him. Mr. Macy’s is also a very reasonable character and doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. His visions of the newspaper during the court scenes were certainly handled really well. When push came to shove, Mr. Macy’s was definitely ready. The guy from Gimbles was also pretty solid but at least from this movie it’s clear who is in the lead. Gimbles is merely following while Macy’s leads. It’s pretty nostalgic to see Macy’s as well since it’s been years since I set foot in there. I should probably change that one of these days.

Really the only bad character here was the self proclaimed expert who had a grudge against Santa. That guy was definitely not even meant to be likable though. The kid that Santa mentored was also on the annoying side I suppose. I keep on forgetting that the kid even exists since he really doesn’t even serve a purpose in the story. I guess they needed a reason for Santa to hit someone and get in trouble but I’m sure we could have had other routes. Santa definitely should not have gotten in the car with the others either. You always want to let the top boss know what’s up in case things get tricky.

As always I definitely enjoyed the courtroom scenes. Seeing them debate on if Santa exists or not is definitely an interesting concept. The mail delivery may have been on the really convenient side of things but I suppose we take those. Both sides did a decent job debating and in this case I would actually be against team Santa. After all, there’s no way that guy exists even if the post office has conceded. Putting the kid on the stand was a low blow as well. This is why you always want to leave the kids home before engaging in serious business.

Overall, Miracle on 34th Street was a really solid movie. The pacing was tight and it went from start to finish quite smoothly. I wouldn’t say that it ever dragged on and the writing was solid. Kris Kringle could tow the line on whether he was a good character or simply an annoying one the whole time. For the most part I would definitely say that he was handled well though. I think making him the real Santa would have made the film even better but I suppose they wanted to keep the grounded aspect of the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet then you should definitely check the film out. It’s got heart.

Overall 7/10

Rise of the Guardians Review

Rise of the Guardians is a film that looked like a lot of fun right from the first trailer that I saw of it. The movie looked like it would have a surprising amount of action in it and the idea of a Holiday Mascot crossover had a lot of potential behind it as well. The film turned out to be about as good as I had hoped and it’s definitely got some nice visuals for the action scenes. I can safely say that it is rather underrated considering how obscure it appears to be, at least relative to other big animated films.

The plot starts off with a lonely guy named Jack Frost. He has ice powers but nobody actually knows him. Guys like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have a lot of fans but not poor Jack. Despite trying to help people out and enjoy himself in the process, people just can’t see him and as such it all goes for naught. 300 years pass by and nothing changes. However, a mysterious villain has arisen and is determined to destroy all of the iconic holiday legends. Santa Claus and his team of icons realize that this is one battle that they cannot win. Their leader tells them to enlist the help of Jack Frost. Can this team really be enough to take down this villain or is the battle over before it has even begun?

As I mentioned earlier, the battle scenes are handled really well. The energy effects are vibrant and you can feel the power behind Jack’s blows. The rest of the graphics are fairly standard but solid nonetheless. The character models look good and the screen is always clear. If this was more of an action movie then the film would probably be able to prove itself even more. There isn’t much of a soundtrack so that is regrettable but still, having one of the two big technical components to the film at the ready is a good way to start off.

One slight issue with the film, or at least a concern for when the fight scenes would occur is that Jack appears to be the only power hitter on the team. The rest of the combatants just pale in comparison and they don’t seem to have any really useful special abilities. Jack has complete control over the ice and can fire blasts so concentrated that the they are basically lightning strikes. He is really the only one who puts up a decent fight against the villain while the others are basically just watching. At the very least you would expect Santa to be really powerful but surprisingly this was not the case.

Santa is a twin blades user who strikes with pure power. The problem is that he isn’t very fast nor does he seem to be very smart. He’s a nice enough chap and makes sense as the leader of the team but making him a little stronger would have definitely been a good move for the film if you ask me. They still could have had some reason as to why he couldn’t hear the main villain without simply making him weak.

The Easter Bunny is also weak but he’s not nearly as likable as Santa. He talks a good game but just can’t compete when the chips are down. You can tell what his character is after a single scene with him. The trope of acting super tough when you’re actually weak can make for really good characters but typically the film or show has to at least be a little self aware that the character is all bark and no bite. This one never really gets into that. He still isn’t the worst character though or even the 2ns worst. He can still be somewhat reasonable.

The 2nd worst character is definitely the Tooth Fairy. She can’t fight at all and is a little too obsessed with her teeth gimmick. It wouldn’t even be a problem if there was more to her character but there really isn’t. Her role in the film is so small that you could take her out entirely and I doubt a whole lot would change. The worst member of the team is the Sand Man. He’s one of the most annoying kinds of characters as he is always sleeping but actually ends up being the strongest kind of all. He didn’t have to work to get his strength but in fact he was just born into it. He has a lot of arrogance when fighting but not the cool kind as you’re still just annoyed at the guy. It gets to the point where you already dislike him so much that his potentially good moments don’t even work. As you can tell, I did not like this character and giving him the pivotal moment at the end of the film wasn’t a great move if you ask me. Why couldn’t Jack have gotten the big blow and ended his character arc on a grand note? If you ask me, that would have been perfect.

The villain is pretty solid. His plan to take down everyone who believes in the legend is pretty solid as then they will be too weak to put up much of a resistance. He should have picked them off way before that though instead of focusing on the main goal even when there was just one kid left. At that point you just have to pick off the main characters one by one. In his defense, Jack’s plan was pretty good though and it’s easy to make the kids believe when you actually move stuff around right in front of them and use your supernatural abilities in an obvious manner. The villain made for good fight scenes so I’d definitely say that he did a good job fulfilling the role.

I’ll also give the film kudos for not giving the kids much of a role. Lets face it, they would have had some cheesy scenes and I’m not sure I can buy into the kids as solid characters just yet. Still, since they were crucial to the villain’s plan they needed some screen time. The way the film handled it was pretty solid so that’s another feather in its cap. The writing in general was pretty solid and while the cast of characters may not have been amazing, Jack was likable which is really what counts. He’s a solid lead and I’d be up for a sequel.

Overall Rise of the Guardians is a solid animated film with a good amount of action and heart. It’s a film that I would definitely recommend checking out. Where else are you going to see a film where Jack Frost finally gets to shine and prove himself as one of the big Christmas characters? He really doesn’t get a whole lot of attention compared to the other big characters in most media so this may be the only time to really see him take the starring role. Maybe it’s time I get the game adaption of this movie to see if it holds up well. Getting it for Christmas would have been fitting but that day is already booked with presents so most likely it would be later on if I purchase it.

Overall 7/10

The Year Without a Santa Claus Review

Time for a Christmas special about Santa and we already saw that the last one didn’t fare quite as well as the average special. Unfortunately, that continues as The Year Without a Santa Claus may have ended up being the least interesting Christmas Special to date. Perhaps Santa Claus just isn’t cut out to be the main character of a film. It could also just be a bad roll of the dice and then he can get em all next year.

Well, the plot is pretty self explanatory from the title. Santa is feeling tired and sick this year. His doctor lets him know that nobody cares about Santa or Christmas anymore and Santa quickly buys this story. He decides to take a day off and his two elves are sad about it. Ms. Claus thinks about being Santa herself, but ultimately decides not to do it. Her Elves must now find some Christmas spirit in South Town to show Santa that there is still hope. One thing leads to another and one of Santa’s reindeer is placed at the pound. Can the Elves make it snow in Southtown so that the Mayor can believe them and free the Reindeer? It’ll be a pretty dicey challenge for the heroes.

Well, the biggest problem with the film is that it’s simply uninteresting. Santa isn’t really the main character since he’s taking a break so the two elves…I guess I’ll just say their names, Jingle and Jangle must team up with Ms. Claus to be the main characters. They mean well, but they are definitely not main character material. Jingle and Jangle making mistakes and one of them beating up the other one gets old very quickly and Ms. Claus is a nice person, but her type of character isn’t great for the lead. She’s the nice old lady that everyone is actually afraid of and I’ll admit that I’ve never been a fan of this kind of character. It’s decent comic relief I suppose, but the film can certainly do better.

Things get a bit better once Snow Miser and his brother Heat Miser show up. First we have to listen to their songs of course and then we get to see a display of their abilities. I think it’s safe to say that Heat Miser would probably win in a fight, but Snow Miser is a lot more reasonable and he is definitely the better character. This guy doesn’t miss a beat and he’s always ready to throw a little snow your way. These two added a supernatural effect to the special and then we got to meet their boss.

Once again, the film tripped a little in how it handled the situation. Mother Nature was a being that scared even Ms. Claus and everyone talked about how tough and vicious she was. Then…she’s actually a really nice lady who scares the two Misers. It was not entirely unexpected, but it was still not a great twist and you’ll probably wince a few times. “This can’t be happening” is something that you might say as she forces the Misers to compromise.

Even the ending is rather odd as the moral is that the kids decide to give Santa his own holiday so he can rest. It’s all going well until one kid can’t hold her feelings back any longer and guilt trips Santa by letting him know that her Christmas is going to be terrible without him. The other kids start to cry too until they finally force Santa to don his old costume and take up the tradition once more. The holiday is cancelled and you wonder what the point of it all was. What just happened here?

The film certainly made me drowzy as it powered through all of the tropes imaginable. At least the Reindeer got a happy ending since everyone else wasn’t doing very well at the time. I will admit that the Mayor was a pretty great character since he mocked the heroes until the bitter end. He even danced with a little kid to show just how tough he was when he let the elves know that he wouldn’t release the Reindeer. He’s just that kind of guy, he’d rather let the animal stay at the pound than find him an owner. It’s the kind of thing that could definitely make him unlikable, but I like to think that this is a nice pound where the animals are cared for.

Overall, This film was a bit of a miss compared to the other Christmas specials. There is no sense of wonder or amazement here. You can’t even really call it a cheerful/happy film. Santa definitely doesn’t look good here and the film never really knew where it wanted to go with the plot. Ms. Claus’ decision to abandon her Santa adventure was so sudden that you know a last second script re write must have happened. If only the characters had been more interesting, the film could have had some hope. I can’t recommend this film and you should watch A Charlie Brown Christmas instead.

Overall 4/10