BLU-RAY REVIEW: SAVING SANTA 3D / CERT: U / DIRECTORS: LEON JOOSEN, AARON SEELMAN / SCREENPLAY: TONY NOTTAGE, RICKY ROXBURGH / STARRING: MARTIN FREEMAN, TIM CURRY, JOAN COLLINS, ASHLEY TISDALE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Some films truly are only acceptable at Christmas, take Jingle All The Way for example, any other time of the year it seems out of place but when viewed at Christmas it is a funny, warm and lovable joyous festive classic (or maybe that is just us?). Indeed Christmas, more than any other occasion, is all about good tidings and many cinematic offerings capitalise on this ‘goodwill to all flicks’. Enter this animated festive family adventure, which seems to suffer from a chronic (and possibly candy-driven) sense of déjà vu- and not just because of the time travelling plot. Saving Santa is a film that on the good side makes you appreciate your favourite Christmas films, mostly because it shows how forgettable some can also be.
The film looks at hapless inventor, voiced by Martin Freeman, Bernard D. Elf (did you see what they did there?) and how he comes to learn the time travelling secret of Santa’s slay, which he is forced to use to save the North Pole from an invasion by an obsessed mailing entrepreneur. As plots go it sounds pretty wacky but it is a shame to say that Saving Santa is not ho-ho-ho-ly entertaining and setback by its inferiority to other favourites it borrows from. Fact is, that very young kids may be amused but if they have already seen the likes of the excellent Rise of the Guardians or Arthur Christmas, then they’ll be twiddling their thumbs during this brief but still rather dull effort. The biggest issue with the film is that the plot is just not all that interesting, despite a talking reindeer and an elf interrogation. The film feels underwritten and laid back when it comes to the gags and falls short of other, better, movies (some of which you can catch on TV already).
Despite running at just over 1 hour and 20 minutes, the film recycles numerous jokes (mostly about shovelling reindeer dung) and the time jumping restarts wear incredibly thin. Add to this the fact that Saving Santa cannot really decide if it wants to be a musical (in the vein of Henry Selick’s masterpiece The Nightmare Before Christmas) or not, thanks to a handful of misplaced musical numbers. This said, the film is saved by some enthused moments of vocalising by Freeman and by a last ditch (and moderately successful) attempt at emotion, even if it is concerning a villain that is little more (dress it up in all the CEO megalomania you like) than a postman boss with mummy issues. It is annoying really because with the likes of Tim Curry, Noel Clarke and Joan Collins on-board you at least expected some vibrant personalities amidst the characters. Unfortunately they remain as forgettable as the film’s jokes and songs.
The visuals are colourful if unadventurous and by all means not everything needs to be perfect (or even great) when it comes to films like this. For sure some kids (the younger the better) may enjoy this Elf-laden adventure, it is certainly inoffensive enough. That said, kids that have been around long enough to see other better Christmas films will likely be less in awe of this tepid adventure and more puzzled with questions like, How many times are they going to do it again? Why is that Elf so annoying? Why does Santa sound funny? And how much poo can a reindeer do? Meanwhile all you parents out there will be sat mentally mulling over the Christmas list again. Tis the season to be jolly for sure but even so, there are more magical adventures out there than Saving Santa 3D.
Saving Santa Recording Sessions, Why Saving Santa?, Some Kind of Miracle Music Video, Trailer