Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Yule Love It: Santa & Me (2013)

AKA Monster & Me.

I knew I was in for no small amount of pain when Santa & Me started. It was, from the very first scenes, a cheap and childish effort. It's another one of those films that feels as if it was made to give everyone involved their one and only chance to be involved in the movie business. The fact that most of the people here have been involved in a number of other movies is a fact I find as worrying as I find unbelievable, and I'm not sure whether it makes me view this effort in a better or worse light.

Athena Baumeister plays a very spoiled young girl named Rubie. She's so horrible that Santa (in the form of Freddie De Grate) decides to curse her. She is made to look as horrible on the outside as she is on the inside (which means she wakes up with spots, based teeth, and a monobrow), a spell that can only be broken if she received a proper gift from a friend. And this is when Rubie starts to learn that she doesn't really have any proper friends, and maybe she has been too quick in her bullying and dismissal of young Olivia (Alyssa Kennedy).

Oh boy, where to begin here? The fact that this isn't the worst Christmas movie I have seen, and it's not even the worst I have seen THIS MONTH, says a lot more about the amount of Christmas movies I have watched than the quality of this film, which looks like someone was given a video camera and script written in crayon at the end of a dinner party. The adults would have had some wine, the kids would have been happy to stay up later, despite being quite tired, and it all seemed like a great idea at the time.

Baumeister isn't too bad in the lead role, although her characters is so annoying and horrible in the first part of the movie that it's hard to care for her when she is turned into a monster. Kennedy is also okay, I suppose, but it helps that she isn't the focus of too many scenes. Everyone else, however, is horrible. The parents (Christine Springett and David Neff), the little brother (Lucas Barker), and Santa (De Grate); most of them act as if they have just been rudely woken up in the middle of the night, had the concept of acting badly explained to them, and then been pushed in front of the camera after they've already spent a good 15 minutes or so protesting that they still don't know what they're supposed to do.

Koji Steven Sakai has crafted a poor script, but he gets a goodwill point for not padding things out with even more unnecessary moments. Don't get me wrong, you could argue that so many moments here ARE unnecessary but they usually tend to work in terms of highlighting the spoilt nature of Rubie's life (unlike, for instance, a 10-minute sequence showing people playing croquet - I'm looking at YOU, Santa's Summer House).

Director Jeff Solema can also get a goodwill point, mainly because he gives hope to everyone who has ever wanted to direct a movie. I'm not sure if anyone told him that directing a movie meant actually asking actors to act and trying to hide the fact that the whole thing is being filmed on a budget of $1000 but, if they did, he clearly didn't get the memo.

Maybe a goodwill point for each of those things is too much. They can have a half point each, making one whole point. But, amazingly enough, the film also gets a goodwill point for actually, well, not doing a terrible job at making its obvious point. Once it gets to the third act, despite remaining only barely competent (in terms of it actually looking and feeling like a proper film) and staying very much aimed at younger viewers who won't question the many flaws and nonsensical moments, it brings things to a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.

But most viewers won't see that. Most will have given up within the first 5-10 minutes, and I don't blame them. I really wanted to. Because this is not good. It just ended up not being quite as bad as I thought it was going to be.


If you can endure this movie then you can endure this triple-pack.
Here are some Disney movies for American readers.

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