On the Silver Screen – Get Santa
Christopher Smith’s Get Santa adds Jim Broadbent to the ever growing list of people to take on the role of Santa Claus, though he did voice him in Arthur Christmas. I don’t even want to guess how many people might have played this character. The story here is that Santa is arrested after a crash causes him to lose track of his reindeer and he enlists a father and son to save Christmas while running from the law bent on hunting them down.
On the whole I found the film to be really entertaining with a solid story and humour that works well for the most part. Rafe Spall’s Steve is a likeable everyman who is fresh out of prison after being caught as the getaway driver for some kind of robbery 2 years prior to the beginning of the film. He is filled with regret and completely devoted to his son who leads him on an adventure this is entirely insane to him.
Steve’s relationship with his son is unsurprisingly the emotional core of this film. Kit Connor has great chemistry with Spall and they feel like father and son; a dysfunctional father and son but a realistic family connection all the same. Their journey to becoming closer to one another is nothing new but it’s handled genuinely enough to work. Some of their interactions are really funny with Steve adopting an air of disbelief throughout the narrative while Connor frustratedly drags him along through this madness. At other points I found their scenes together very touching as they both come to accept the spirit of Christmas.
If that last sentence sounds cheesy that’s because it is. Parts of this film are really cheesy but they’re supposed to be as it’s a Christmas movie about the importance of family, goodwill towards Men and having faith in something ludicrous. There’s nothing new going on here in terms of theme or message but it is very nicely handled. I never felt like I was being beaten over the head with a frustrating attempt to make me feel uplifted at the prospect of Christmas being a magical time.
Jim Broadbent gives a great performance as Santa Claus. He’s just the right kind of over the top to pull off a character like this but there a moments of genuine heart to it as well. The scene where he reminds some hardened prisoners about a Christmas morning that was particularly touching to them was a really genuine moment and well acted by Broadbent who delivers these lines with great wisdom and affection. He perfectly embodies the cheesy side of the character as well as the centuries of tempered wisdom and experience. It’s a far more nuanced character than I would have expected.
The Santa in prison part of the story goes a long way towards offsetting the cheesier aspects of the story. I found these scenes to be really funny as well as having genuine tension -for a Christmas movie anyway- as Santa acclimates himself to the prison population. The moments where he has to act tough are nothing short of hilarious. His joyful spirit is impossible to hide and that’s where most of the comedy comes from in these parts of the film. Some of the scenes come across as awkward like when he assumes Warwick Davis’ character is an Elf based on his height. I suspect that’s the idea but Davis is a trooper for putting up with yet another commentary on his size. The message of Santa reminding all these hardened criminals of the spirit of Christmas is a little on the nose but it does work. Anything that lets us see Warwick Davis in an Elf costume wrestling a man has got to be worth it.
In terms of imagery this film does the job very well. Santa’s workshop looks great -despite some ropey effects- and seeing the sleigh fly over the skies of Britain looks appropriately magical. Contrasting that with the clinical images of police chases and other domestic normalcy adds to the fantastical nature of the flying reindeer and Harry Potter style postal service.
Some of the jokes are a little too juvenile with far too many fart jokes. I get that it’s for kids but the repetition of some of these tired jokes does not work. There’s plenty of humour here for people of all ages but some more variety would have made for a better experience.
A nicely inoffensive Christmas movie that manages to put forward a standard message very well. Effective casting and a heartwarming story help make this a genuinely pleasant Christmas movie.
The typical emotional core of a father and son estranged from one another finding common ground is done well here and is carried nicely by the talented actors playing it. The script is smart enough to keep it from getting overly sentimental and there’s lots of fun to be had in the insanity of the situation.
Jim Broadbent does a great job as Santa. He manages to do the joyful cheesiness of the character as well as the centuries earned wisdom of someone who cares about everyone on Earth.
The Santa in prison scenes are nicely done and provoke a lot of comedy from Santa trying to act tough to survive being surrounded by hardened criminals. Some of the scenes here are a little awkward but it’s an interesting twist on the saving Christmas story.
Some of the humour is a little juvenile which is to be expected from a kids Christmas movie but there’s an uncomfortable repetition of some jokes that aren’t that funny. Young children will love it I suspect but it didn’t really work for me.