Review: A Monster Christmas / Cert: PG / Director: Chad Van De Keere / Screenplay: Michael Shear, Samantha Shear / Starring: Emilio Estevez, Ray Liotta, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Jane Lynch / Release Date: Out Now
It's all too clear the audience at which some films are aimed. A Monster Christmas, also known under the catchier title ofAbominable Christmas (watch the film and you'll understand why), is one such. Featuring the voice talents of Emilio Estevez and Ray Liotta, this festive family animation directed by Chad Van De Keere, though harmless and innocuous fun which should amuse kids for a while, may prove a strain to sit through for anyone older than about ten.
Abby (Winter) and her brother Adam (Gould) are warned by their father (Liotta) not to venture from their home in the Colorado mountains to the town below. The thing is that Abby and her brother are Abominable Snowkids and their father is the Abominable Snowman. Knowing that his family are in danger from humans – especially the nutty scientist Margaret Knowhow (Lynch) ,who is determined to capture the Abominable Snowman for her research - Abby and Adam's father is desperate to keep them safe. But Abby has ideas of her own and – along with Adam, who has been given the task of watching over his sister – decides to explore the town with predictably disastrous results.
Christmas is the time for family orientated entertainment, which often consists of feature length animation that clearly falls into one of two categories. Firstly you have those that come from the major studios such as Disney, Fox or Warner Brothers, which spend years on the drawing board (literally) and it shows. They may be of varying degrees of accomplishment, but generally the standard of animation on films like Arthur Christmas and the upcoming Frozen is high enough, and the stories clever enough (often with a smattering of double entendres and hidden meanings) to keep audiences of all levels interested for their ninety minutes-plus duration. Then you get those which were clearly done on a lower budget. They may get a few B-list Hollywood stars involved to give life to the characters; however, you can't help but feel that paying for the services of these people didn't leave much of the budget for the animation.
A Monster Christmas, unfortunately, falls into the second grouping. Don't get us wrong, there's nothing the matter with the film per se. In fact, in and of itself it's quite charming, with its story of a hapless father doing his best to bring up his unruly offspring single-handedly after his wife has died. The characters however appear stereotypically irksome – an overprotective parent, feisty young daughter, know-it-all older brother, as well as bumbling baddies and buffoonish representatives of the law – whilst the storyline offers little opportunity other than to involve everyone in endless misunderstanding-induced chases. The animation – though by no means as bad as the recent Scottish abomination Sir Billi – is not much above the standard you'd expect from a made-for-television film, which A Monster Christmas was originally intended as.
This piece of festive whimsy is no Christmas cracker. Probably diverting enough for younger family members should they get bored with the rest of Santa's gifts, it will, like the majority of the same presents, be forgotten by end of the year.