The film opens up with Doug (Oliver Hudson) future father of two, trying out a new video camera on Christmas day. We see his wife, Claire (Kimberly Willams Paisley), take overshooting the video as she pans the camera over to Doug on the floor with their three-year-old son Teddy, who is playing with his new firetruck. We learn that Doug is a fireman and is proud of his family. We cut to a couple of years later, and the family has a new baby named Kate. We continue to see Christmas’ through the years as the kids get older, each scene is very evident that the family adores each other and is happy even when we see the two kids fighting over a toy. Doug makes them ‘hug it out,’ and they go back to being happy. We see the family feeding candy canes to a reindeer and Teddy getting a knife from Doug that is inscribed with the saying “A Pierce Always Sees It Through.’ The last Christmas we see is 2017, where the family is decorating a snowman as Doug places a fireman’s hat on the on top.
We cut to 2018, and Kate (Darby Camp) is watching the Christmas from 2017 on an old video camera. Something is different with the family as the tree isn’t decorated and there aren’t any presents under the tree. Kate takes the tape out of the camera and places it in a plastic bin. She sees that there is an unused tape, takes the tape and the camera up to her room. Kate starts recording a video for Santa. It is evident from the video she is recording that Doug is no longer a part of the family. As she is recording the video, her brother, Teddy (Judah Lewis) opens her bedroom door. Just as Kate is complaining about how Teddy has become a ‘big loser,’ he throws a shoe at his sister. He begins teasing her about how at ten years old she is still making video letters to Santa. It is apparent Kate still believes in Santa and that Teddy no longer has the Christmas spirit as he almost tells Kate that there is no Santa. Teddy tells Kate he is going out with friends and Kate tells him she is going with him. Teddy then dumps a whole can of fish food in Kate’s fishbowl, so she has to stop and scoop out all the food out of the water. Little do the kids know that on Christmas Eve, not only will they be meeting Santa but they will also cause Santa problems that he might not be able to fix. Christmas just might be ruined by Kate and Teddy even with Stata’s magical powers.
Netflix and director Clay Kaytis have brought us a delightful new Christmas tale with a decidedly fresh take on Santa Claus. Kaylis is a former animator who worked on such films as Bolt (2008), Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013). Kaylis’ background in animation shows as once Kate and Teddy meet Santa the action, and the surprises never stop. This is a very different Christmas story as there is an exciting car chase through the streets of Chicago, a street gang that threatens Teddy, and Santa, played by the magnificent Kurt Russell, gets arrested and thrown in jail, which could cause a ton of gifts to not be delivered to disappointed girls and boys around the world.
Russell doesn’t play your ordinary, jolly and fat Santa. No, this Santa works out, drives a tricked up sleigh and never says ‘Ho, Ho, Ho.” This Santa even sings rock and roll songs, using some of the moves that Russell did in the 1979 movie ‘Elvis,’ where Russell played the title character. It is obvious that Russell is having a blast playing Santa, looking as he is having just as good a time making the film as we are watching him.
Both Darby Camp as Kate and Judah Lewis as Teddy hold their own in their scenes with Russell, with Camp playing Kate with a wide-eyed passion for Santa and Christmas. I especially enjoyed the elves, who are strange little guys who speak a strange language and are as bad-ass as Santa is.
So go on a rollicking adventure with Santa, Kate, Teddy and the elves in this cool addition to the Christmas movie collection. By the way, there is a neat little surprise near the end of the film that was a lot of fun to watch.
My Rating: Full Price
Mike’s rating system from best to worst:
1). I Would Pay to See it Again
2). Full Price
3). Bargain Matinee
5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again