UK Release Date: 5th December 2014
Runtime: 102 minutes
Director: Christopher Smith
Writer: Christopher Smith
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Kit Connor, Warwick Davis, Jodie Whittaker, Stephen Graham, Matt King, Joanna Scanlan, Nonso Anozie
Synopsis: When Santa Claus is arrested, it’s down to a boy and his ex-con father to bust him out and save Christmas.
Christmas movies are easy to get wrong. There’s a very fine line between festive flop and Christmas classic, with the next Elf liable to turn into a retread of Jingle All The Way very quickly indeed. The latest attempt at crafting an enduring film for the holiday season is British comedy Get Santa, which is a film of lo-fi appeal and simple pleasures.
A few days before Christmas, nine-year-old Tom (Kit Connor) finds Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) holed up in his garden shed after an accident with a new sleigh. Soon, Santa is in prison and Tom must get the help of his ex-con father Steve (Rafe Spall) to save Christmas whilst avoiding the clutches of his bizarre parole officer (Joanna Scanlan).
Get Santa is a film that gets by as a result of its underlying charm and warmth rather than its filmmaking ability. There’s a pleasantly offbeat British sense of humour to the whole thing that imbues it with the kind of quirky appeal that can make a Christmas movie fly.
| "You have to let me out of here or Christmas will be cancelled."
The film is led by Jim Broadbent’s wonderfully avuncular Father Christmas. It’s difficult to imagine a more perfect bit of casting, with Broadbent continuing his current run as the go-to man in the red suit after 2011 animation Arthur Christmas. He is witty, warm and genuinely convincing as a man driven by innocence and Christmas spirit, shining as he bonds with inmates Stephen Graham and Nonso Anozie during his time as hardened crim Mad Jimmy Claus.
Rafe Spall and newbie Kit Connor carry most of the narrative heavy lifting in Get Santa and do a great job with it. Spall proves terrific as the deadpan straight man to Connor’s Outnumbered-style quick-witted kid. Connor himself is a great discovery, doing a great job of the often thankless task of being the innocent child lead in a Christmas movie.
They are propped up by an excellent supporting cast, pilfered from British sitcom stalwarts, with The Thick of It’s Joanna Scanlan a grotesque delight.
Get Santa is not a film about subtext and big ideas; it relies on simple pleasures. Unfortunately, it sometimes isn’t funny enough and there are huge time periods when jokes simply fail to materialise.
| "Considering how many mice pies I eat, I think I’m doing very well."
However, there’s a pleasingly ramshackle nature to it all, with some loveable visual effects sequences and the sense that it’s all a bit rough around the edges in the best way possible. There’s a slight edge to it all that you might expect from director Christopher Smith, still most famous for horror film Severance.
The bottom line with any festive movie is whether it leaves the audience feeling content and Christmassy. Get Santa achieves that in spades, thanks to Jim Broadbent’s fantastic presence and some engaging directorial choices from a man more used to gore than snowflakes.
You’ll definitely be humming carols all the way home.
Pop or Poop?
The cinematic equivalent of a warm cup of cocoa on Christmas Eve, there’s something incredibly charming about Get Santa, despite its flaws.
Jim Broadbent fits the role of Father Christmas like a glove and the British comedy talent in supporting parts really rises to the occasion, with Joanna Scanlan a real highlight.
It’s not a guaranteed Christmas classic, but Get Santa is one of the most enjoyable festive films since Elf.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.