Xmas: 'Santa Who' (2000) Dir. William Dear
Leslie Nielsen brings his warmth and gentle spirit to another role of Santa Claus in this made-for-TV movie...
TV reporter Peter Albright (Eckholdt), reluctantly reports on Christmas festivities, much to the frustration of girlfriend Claire (Lively) and her son Max (Morrow). Santa Claus (Nielson) makes his preparations to leave the North Pole for the Christmas season but bad weather hits his flight-path causing him to spin out of control, fall out of the sky and land on the bonnet of Albright’s car.
Looking after the bearded old man in the red suit, Claire hires him as a local Santa Claus thanks to his warmth and admiration by Max.
Albright must question his faith in the season as it becomes clear the magic of Christmas is in danger of dying along with Santa’s memory if they can’t help remind him who he is…
A cheap and cheerful TV-movie, populated with a generous amount of over-acting, awful special effects and a cheesy story. But, as these factors generally make up the formula of a Christmas film, it works in places, but fails in others.
I say it fails, maybe it won’t for some, but it just really doesn’t sit with me as I find most TV-movies very droll, badly acted and cringe-worthy to watch with the cheap music, production and effects. It’s the actors, mostly Steven Eckholdt, who seem to think he's funny with lots of over-played gurning, physical comedy and bad puns, but he just comes over as very irritating and a smart-ass as standard. Even the lovely Robyn Lively feels wasted here, despite her adding some warmth and charm to her scenes.
Don’t expect Leslie Nielson to be his usual quick-fire self in the comedy stakes, as he spends 90% of his time here as a bumbling, confused and weary Santa who has to piece together his memory over 88mins. We also have the clichéd Christmas characters – the cynical man, the supportive woman, the wide-eyed child, the cranky TV executive, the inept cop, the wise elf…they’re all here and not taking any prisoners for this slice of festive cheese.
Nothing new, and nothing special, but the thought is there to dish out family friendly story that, after all said and done, does have a heart to it behind all the crap.
'Santa Who' is a Gleneagle Productions / Hearst Entertainment production