Santa has ended up in prison, his reindeers have fled and it looks like Christmas is going to be cancelled, unless he can rely on the help of young Tom (Kit Connor) and his dad, the recently released from prison Steve (Rafe Spall). Wanting only a Christmas with his son, who he has been apart from whilst locked away for two years, Steve finds himself going to extreme lengths to help save festive cheer, not only for his son but soon for everyone else that relies on Santa too.
Christmas family films often use Christmas time as a barometer for life – in It’s a Wonderful Life George’s bad Christmas is an example of just how bad his life is and in Get Santa it takes saving Christmas for the entire planet to properly reunite Steve and his son. This sentiment is one of the best things the film has going for it, and could play well with the parents taking their kids to see a film like this. However it’s let down by the poor character writing, and the odd choice of casting Rafe Spall as an ex-convict and getaway driver – it’s so unbelievable even in a kids film – with no real character development. Although the father son dynamic is good and Spall’s performance is certainly not a bad one, the characters just don’t feel real or relatable, in particular the disappointingly underwritten role of the mother. Although this is a film about a father son relationship Jodie Whittaker’s acting abilities exhibited in Broadchurch earlier in the year are not made use of.
Add to this the lack of jokes and you end up with an oddly muted film. The barrage of fart jokes land terribly and even the plethora of British comedy actors who crop up, from Joanna Scanlan to Warwick Davis, don’t help lift the unfunny script. Jim Broadbent is pretty fun as Santa, and his time in prison, attempting to create a hard man image, aided by the Barber (Stephen Graham) might raise a smile. But overall it all falls rather flat.
There are some nice looking scenes at the North Pole though, and the more magical segments of the film with northern lights and flying sleighs do momentarily lift the film. But if you’re looking for family fun at the cinema, I’d suggest Paddington instead, or if you want Christmas cheer as December begins then revisit Nativity! from 2009.
Get Santa is in cinemas Friday 5 December