Film Review: Get Santa (2014)

“That is one exceptionally clever squirrel”

A slightly odd addition to the festive film slate, Christopher Smith’s Get Santa has a strangely muted sense of Christmas spirit, which viewed through these Brit flick lenses, never really takes off. Rafe Spall’s failed getaway driver Steve is just out of jail and all he wants is to spend Christmas with his son Tom, a cute Kit Connor. But partner Alison has a new fella, his parole officer is out for blood and his kid seems more preoccupied with the bearded man in a red suit he’s found in the shed.

Of course that turns out to be the real Santa, aka Jim Broadbent, who has crashlanded in Richmond Park taking his sleigh for a test run. And in the course of trying to rescue his reindeer from the pound, he ends up in prison (allowing for the film’s one 24 carat joke as the resident barber does his hair and beard up gang-style to help him blend in) and so it is left to Steve and Tom to save Christmas, even if it means breaking his parole.

I’m always wary of critiquing a family film too harshly but even in not taking it too seriously, it is hard to ignore the main problem at the heart of Get Santa, which is a distinct lack of magic. For a film that has inventive usages for the Northern Lights, a forest full of elves and Joshua Maguire, it does very little with them and instead, a rather downbeat feel permeates the action, even when there is apparently so much at stake.

Spall rarely breaks out of first gear in a somewhat somnambulant performance, Jodie Whittaker is wasted as Alison and Maguire’s stepdad is peculiarly anaemic and understanding. The prison scenes have a weird cosiness about them, Warwick Davis’ amusing tunnel digger and Stephen Graham’s barber doing the best here even with that ending… Joanna Scanlan and Ewen Bremner are the Grinch-like authoritarians who would stop them all but it’s less a case of Get Santa than get out of here.

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