Twitter Plot Summary: Santa Claus gets sent to prison after crashing his sleigh. It’s up to Steve and his son to free Santa and save Christmas.
When December isn’t being assaulted by Christmas shoppers and repetitive festive tunes, and when there isn’t a big blockbuster release planned (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit et al), it is also the month when a plethora of Christmassy films hit cinemas in a bid to rake in a bit of festive cash while the going is good. Get Santa is yet another of those films, albeit one that is carried by a number of decent gags and dedicated performances from the cast. It also proves to be a resolutely British film and stands out from the crowd because of it.
Rafe Spall’s Steve has spent the last two years in prison for being the getaway driver in a failed robbery, and now having served his time he finds himself being released on 23 December. Back out in the world, he’s keen to resume his role as father to his son Tom (an engaging performance from newcomer Kit Connor), however Tom has discovered Santa Claus is in the shed (following a sleigh malfunction) and he needs both Steve and Tom’s help to rescue his reindeer, restore his sleigh to working order, and to save Christmas. No pressure there then. Unfortunately for Santa, he’s soon arrested and sent to the exact same prison that Steve has just been released from. Very convenient plotting.
Ewan Bremner mugs for all he’s worth as the police officer leading the investigation, and despite the less than serious storyline he’s almost too much to cope with. Thankfully he’s balanced out by the always reliable Jim Broadbent as Santa, and the comic timing of Rafe Spall. Kit Connor avoids the common pitfall of child actors by not being irritating and is entirely believable as the son who wants to bond with his father, yet also is intent on making sure Santa gets out of prison and can fulfil his duty.
Moments of pure genius – in particular a brief scene where Santa is in character as Mad Jimmy Claus, or any scene with Warwick Davis as an inmate mistaken for a dwarf, or even Stephen Graham as The Barber – are balanced with other scenes that don’t hit their mark. At its core however is the father/son relationship, and it’s on this that Get Santa should ultimately be judged. Steve just wants to unite with his son and, despite the ludicrousness of the situation, is willing to go along with it even if he ends up back in prison. Despite being aimed at the children’s market there are a good few moments that, had they been structured differently, wouldn’t sit as unpleasantly as they do. The corrupt prison officer, played by Peep Show’s Super Hans (Matt King) is an essential character but is so inherently odd that he’s almost in the wrong film. If you wanted a polar opposite to Ewan Bremner’s mugging, this is your man.
So it’s pretty much as expected, a generally entertaining but ultimately fluffy and non-essential Christmas adventure that has just enough depth and humour to justify a viewing, even if you’re probably better off just watching the trailer. The performances carry it quite a substantial way, and proves to be a surprising move for a director, Christopher Smith, who is better known for making horror movies. Who’d have thought it?