Following on from the success of the Nativity! movies, here comes another British Christmas-themed live action family film ready to cash in on everyone’s festive spirit. Shame it’s about as magical as a soggy Boxing Day sprout.
Just released from prison, former getaway driver Steve (Spall) just wants to see his young son Tom at Christmas. His ex isn’t so keen, but when Tom finds a man claiming to be Santa (Broadbent) hiding in the garden shed, he asks his unsurprisingly sceptical dad to help him save the man – and help save Christmas. Their adventure leads them to Richmond Park, where the reindeer have relocated, and Lambeth Prison, where poor Santa has been sent after he was arrested trying to free them from an animal rescue centre. And all the while, Steve is being pursued by cops and a nasty parole officer who may send him back to prison.
While the film lacks any magic or sense of wonder, it does have some nice moments thanks to Broadbent’s enjoyable performance, especially when he undergoes a makeover to survive in prison and emerges as dreadlocked Mad Jimmy Claws. Spall is likeable as the dad wanting to be with his son, and there is nice support from Warwick Davis, but in the end it just isn’t funny enough (unless you enjoy the running gag of farting reindeer) or warm enough to deliver very much Christmas goodwill.
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