Kurt Russell Having A Blast;
What Is Not To Love?
Part of our society’s holiday tradition is to stay in and watch family friendly, cheesy, predictable Christmas movies that serve no other purpose other than to make us smile. When they work, they can add a great touch to a time of year that already feels warm despite the cold weather. And this one works.
The script from Matt Lieberman doesn’t break a lot of new ground but it doesn’t need to, either. It carries the themes that tend to prevail in these movies: family, love, tradition, human nature and belief. They ring as true as ever in a proven formula that, flaws, plot holes and all, delivers a fast-paced Christmas adventure with an infectious spirit and a knack for action.
Now, is some of the CGI shoddy? Sure, especially when reindeer were involved. But the elves look good (and are sure to please the kiddos), the magic effects are well done and the chase scenes have a good blend of speed and humor. Director Clay Kaytis seems to know what kids will like and what will amuse the adults and delivers both skillfully. Not to mention the jail cell rock concert, with Santa fronting a great bluesy (and, as an Elvis cover, appropriately…sexy?) rendition of Santa Claus is Back in Town, which is just awesome.
Kurt Russell digs in and chews scenery like Santa at a pancake buffet, and the results are a joy to watch. He works very well in the touching scenes, encouraging everyone to believe in in themselves and in the possibility of Christmas miracles, giving off the fatherly warmth the role calls for. But he seems like a kid in a candy store when allowed to cut loose and embrace the fun side of Saint Nick. The acting from the kids (played by Judah Lewis and Darby Camp) is good and occasionally deeper than expected, and Lamorne Morris brings good humor to a small cop role.
And, in a nice little touch that feels as authentic as this kind of thing can feel, the elves have their own language instead of just speaking English. Was it just me or did Elvish have a little Dothraki in it?