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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Get Santa movie review: Shawshank Christmas

Get Santa red light

Or, That Time That Santa Went to Prison and Dad Broke Parole to Spring Him. You know, for kids! A new classic in the annals of Yuletide movie misfires.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Or, That Time That Santa Went to Prison and Dad Broke Parole to Spring Him. You know, for kids! No, seriously: That’s really what Get Santa is. In the annals of Yuletide movie misfires — of which there are many — this is up there with Santa with Muscles and Santa Claus, the Movie (counting only the ones aimed at children, that is). I don’t know what anyone involved here was thinking: Father Christmas and the criminal justice system do not go together. There is nothing jolly about jail.

I re-emphasize: This is a movie intended for children, complete with aw-shucks father-son bonding, fantasy Christmas magic, Stoogey slapstick, and new depths of toilet humor that only a grade-schooler could find hilarious. It’s from a writer and director, Christopher Smith, who once made a very grim, very funny black comedy about a corporate retreat that goes murderously wrong — that’s called Severance — and has made other films with titles like Creep and Black Death (neither of which I have not seen). This is not the sort of artist to whom you hand the keys to a would-be heartwarming and cheerful holiday jape.

And yet someone did precisely that.

This is not the sequel to Bad Santa. Yet it has Santa (Jim Broadbent [Paddington], much less amusing than the last time he played Santa, in the wonderful Arthur Christmas) arrested the day before Christmas eve after an incident in which he was trying to spring his reindeer from London’s famous Battersea animal shelter. (There’s a lot of incarceration in this movie. Tis the season!) Don’t ask why the reindeer were there, or why they can’t just fly away: there’s Reasons. Now Santa is in the same prison that Steve (Rafe Spall: The World’s End, I Give It a Year) just got released from, and even though it seems like not such a bad place — there’s only one guard, and all the inmates are apparently placid, misunderstood overgrown little boys — Santa needs to be sprung or else Christmas will be ruined. In but the first violation of his parole, which naturally forbids him from associating with other criminals, Steve is right back at the prison with his nine-year-old son, Tom (Kit Connor), who previously had an encounter with Santa that resulted in a pedophile joke — you know, for kids! — to see what they can do to help save Christmas.

That special Christmas magic is at work: Santa needs, basically, a getaway driver, and that’s exactly what Steve was in prison for!

Once more: Children’s movie.

So who are the villains here? Well, there’s Mom (Jodie Whittaker: One Day, Attack the Block), whom Tom complains is “being horrible” about Dad, merely because he’s been absent from the kid’s life for two years and was never reliable anyway. (Steve instantly proves Mom right by not returning Tom when he promised to, what with the saving Christmas and everything.) And then there’s Steve’s parole officer (Joanna Scanlan: The Invisible Woman, In the Loop), who is a mean fat lady who is constantly shoving food into her mouth, because fat. Women are mean and nasty here, failing to appreciate what really matters and getting in the way of boys’ fun.

And I haven’t even touched on the “let’s teach Santa how to be tough in prison” sequence. Ugh.

Eventually, the Lesson is imparted upon us: “Sometimes it’s better to listen to your heart than your head.” Yeah. That’s how some people end up in prison in the first place.


red light 1.5 stars

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Get Santa (2014)
UK/Ire release: Dec 05 2014

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated LOC for the lump of coal the makers earned
MPAA: rated PG for some mild rude humor and language
BBFC: rated U (mild slapstick violence, mild crude humour)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    “Women are mean and nasty here, failing to appreciate what really matters and getting in the way of boys’ fun.”

    Ah, Stock Movie Role for Women #2, how we’ve missed you. (#1 is the Hawt Babe, obviously.)

  • althea

    Jim BROADBENT!!?? This is too sad.

  • Constable

    Okay, what’s next, Santa’s Christmas Assault? Where Santa must use his “Christmas Magic” to help Allied forces break through enemy lines so he can deliver toys to the children in Germany? Barbwire and tinsel coming next December.

  • Tonio Kruger

    “I saw Daddy springing Santa Claus…”

  • Tonio Kruger

    The possibilities, unfortunately, are endless…

  • RogerBW

    And so beautifully parodied already in Arthur Christmas.

  • rick

    Is this the same Jim Broadbent, the BAFTA and Academy Award-winning Jim Broadbent??? Yikes.

  • Christina Millan

    Well just seen it and my 7 and 9 year old laughed their heads off all the way through. Honestly, i enjoyed it. Modern take on Christmas and poignant message…..We aren’t all perfect but there’s that someone no matter what you have done that has that little bit of belief in you. Hard to do a Christmas film and this was a thumbs up. I’d pay to see it again x

  • The same.

  • jervaise brooke hamster

    More evidence (in any were really needed ! ! !) that the ‘so-called’ British film industry is an abomintaion which must be destroyed, NUKE THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY, NOW, WITH A 50 MEGATON DEVICE ! ! !.

  • Danielm80

    If you ever see an Adam Sandler movie, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is going to go on high alert.

  • But there’s also *Paddington.* So hands off the red button.

  • Beowulf

    I don’t see a U.S. release date. Have we been spared?

  • I don’t see this playing in the US. It’s too British, which won’t appeal to American kids, who are the only possible audience. Consider yourself spared.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Oddly enough, when you first wrote about this, I could not help thinking about how much the plot of this movie seemed like a bad country music song. So much so that I almost expected to find out that this movie had cameo roles for Jeff Foxworthy, Toby Keith, Bill Engvall, Jaime Pressly and Larry the Cable Guy. About the only thing that seemed really British about it was the casting of Jim Broadbent — who is apparently doing serious penance for some sin he committed in a past life.

    (I know. I should just shut up before I give someone in Hollywood an idea for the next bad Christmas movie.)

  • Tonio Kruger

    I don’t suppose it’s too much to hope that the makers of this movie will be visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve…

  • Tonio Kruger

    Spoken like someone who has never seen such lousy American Christmas movies as Deck the Halls, Four Christmases, Elf and Christmas with the Kranks

  • What’s British about this is the tone, the humor, the references. American kids just haven’t been exposed to that the way that British kids have no trouble watching American kids’ movies because they see them all the time. I’m sure American kids could muddle along, but Hollywood wouldn’t know how to market it, and it would be too risky a proposition.

    An American remake, though: that I could see happening.

  • High Five for Including Elf there. I really really dislike that movie. I just don’t get the love for it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I obviously don’t get the love for it, either.

    However, it does make me appreciate rarities like Arthur Christmas a lot more.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, you know what they say about great minds thinking alike. ;-)

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