The initial response to the cover/poster of the film is interest. Everything is set up and shows completely what's going to happen in the film without much going on, since it's a static image. It's a Family of Santa Claus, seems that one of them and a child are trying to get Christmas back into the Christmas that we once knew, hope and magic. Cute concept though that's something that's been done to death, still there's new features being produced to make them. Personally I like them, though mostly as TV specials, but features like this are rare so it's a joy to see a Santa Movie that's about family and the odd inner workings of the North Pole. The Part I like the most about this is it doesn't seem like a pandering film, like a movie that's trying to be something that it isn't, it's a feature that's trying to show the world that this character can be fun and maybe a little less about the religion and more about the magic and adventure, it's more about the selfless being.
Opening shot is a fast paced zoom to a little Cul-de-sac, where a little girl places a letter to Santa, then we see a bunch of flags of the world all placed on a hill assuming it's the North Pole. We're now below the hill looking at all the Santa Claus family through the generations in portraits.
It's interesting that this is the communal story we're all going with, that Santa is the next Santa, never the original. Not the first fact I'd think of, though it makes the most sense, though it takes a bit of the magic away, though makes it more like each Santa in history WAS really a different person. It's neat to think about that in this world there's been a different Santa and this is the 20th, but someone will take over his job one day.
Sweater is the letter writing guy in the workshop (we find out later this is Arthur), the card writing scene is very intimate, like he was talking to the child himself and letting her know that everything will be wonderful and perfect for her and every child. Then we come across a City, a spaceship hovers and elves descends upon the City as all of these little ones run and preform amazing feats that would impress any retail worker and special OPs team alike, though impossible, but still an impressive little bit of animation. The choreography is stunning and the selfless acts that these elves preform is unseen and mesmerizing.
The 20th Santa has a son, we meet Sweater as Arthur by name, also his design is perfect for his character, a little loose, though the spirit of a person overenthusiastic for the holiday. Now we have two sons, still don't know one of their names. The grandfather is maybe my favorite person in this whole film, he's amazing and the Mother is sweetness incarnate, also the name of the other son is Steve. Between this we got the plot of the film, one of the gifts never made it to it's child.
The 20th Santa sees Arthur isn't the best son, a disappointment, compared to Steve. Also a lot of the humor is based around awkward moments, it's not really something that I like about modern comedy, though in this movie there's not too many of these moments. While playing a Christmas Board game the family let on more lore into the world that they've created. It seems that Arthur is very passionate, and sweet like his mother, about being Santa and everything involving Christmas, though lacks the competence to pull it off properly. Steve on the other hand seems to take after his Mother and is more than able to take on the mantle, though keeps his Father's stubborn nature.
There was a really sweet moment, Arthur talking to his brother, really rooting for Steve to become the next Santa, it's a joy to see that in brothers and Family, then Steve just yells at him, it feel so wrong, as if nothing is more important then this job even though it's a holiday and the job should be over. Good cheer and peace, seem to be something that a lot of this family has forgotten. Well it seems they're going the "corporate vs magic" plot, it's not a bad one, though a bit cliche, still it fits this perfectly, but it's taking on too many homages into this film. A little elf that wants to be something better, a Santa that wants to see everyone happy, a Santa that doesn't care about Christmas as much as he should, and an impossible or improbable situation that they'll get through in a journey that's the exact length of one hour and thirty minutes (I don't count credits). With one child (Gwen, it was her letter in the opening) without a present Arthur puts it up to him to get it to them before the magic dies in her heart.
Gom dons his magnetic elf ears and gives a treat to his loved ones, Professor Steeping and his niece Tea Steeping.
Malcolm is the name of the 20th Santa, it seems that the Mother is the sweetest person in the world, she's too sweet, I hope she stays that way, though gets more respect. It's disheartening that she's not more respected as Mrs. Clause. Arthur has amazing speeches in this movie, also there's a lot of old world thinking in this film, it's funny for a cheap laugh, though it's really offensive in some parts. There seems to be magic in this world, since we saw all the science, now we get to feel some of that good ol' magic times of Santa, love this old man.
Something about old people in cartoons, they are the greatest!
GrandSanta wants to help, he isn't heartless, though wants to show up Steve, still he wants the children to be happy and that's endearing to see in this film, that a child isn't going to be without a gift. We finally get to see the amazing arctic landscape and this is a beautiful scene, all the reindeer in flight after running to make the evening better and grand. Such a gorgeous scene, it's incredible, that's all I can say, it's just amazing and stunning. Also the speeches, some of the best writing I've heard in years of watching animated films.
HA, "Want to help me make a snowman?" this is amazing, I love it, that's a great poke at Disney. (This again is why GrandSanta is the best character in the film)
It's neat to see all the different parts of the world, amazing designs. I think the best thing about their collective knowledge of the world, they have none except for all the houses and children. In this lore they've placed themselves in a bubble at the North Pole, even though they are Santas that doesn't mean they're worldly travelers, though they do go all around the globe. A traveling person isn't the same thing as being in each place, living there or visiting are different adventures. Arthur could figure out that it's Africa based on a stamp, his work as Santa's helper allowed him this knowledge, more knowledge then the past two Santas. Steve is taking on the problem of GrandSanta trying to help Arthur and the child that's missing a gift. It's neat to see the dynamics, also that he still has a heart for his Grandfather running around at 136 years old, wanting him safe or at the very least back home before he or someone does him any damage.
The midpoint of the film, with all the hijinks coming to a head, Steve finally gets in contact of the crew of Evie the sleigh and the mission and what being Santa really is, is confronted. We get a beautifully revealing scene, the elves wake up 20th Santa and start asking questions, then it cuts to Steve now getting the herd nibbling at his heels about the one child, but it seems that the 20th Santa has passed the blame one too many times to Steve. He leaves in a huff and let's his father tread water to solve the problem at hand or saving his son and Christmas. This scene is amazing, since it shows the passion and the dichotomy of each son, since Santa leaves the room too to look at Arthur's work station, it's a lovely seen and sobering thoughts about what it means to be Santa.
Arthur tries to paddle to deliver the gift in a boat with GrandSanta and a gift wrapping elf, also he's afraid of buttons… though tries to grab the slay as it spins around the Earth. As he covers himself in magical dust he floats into the sky, then catches the sleigh, though everything is upside-down and we get a wonderful silent and dry moment in the boat with the elf and GrandSanta as Arthur collects himself in Evie. The Santas leave the North Pole (30th Santa, Steve, and Mrs. Claus) and the elves think it's the end of the world and start to panic. Though we're given a gift of an amazing shot of the Earth as the sleigh pops up into the atmosphere, it's wonderful, their searching eyes and ours to find the home they're looking for to give one last gift. Then they advance into a ball of fire as the reindeer are ripped from the sleigh, though it makes me wonder about the flopped reindeer, now a special reindeer that GrandSanta kept around, another cliche that this beast filled perfectly, leaps into battle, this courageous animal that saved the day and their lives.
Mister Postman and his spaceship!
(My favorite moment in the whole film)
It seems Steve has made another mistake, though like his brother they went to Mexico. There's only a small amount of time left before; one the North Pole is destroyed and two the Sun will be up. Arthur cycles with the gift to Gwen, before she wakes up. It's revealed that it's Father like Son when it comes to directions. Steve totally takes after his Mother when it comes to technology and intelligence. The choreography again is stunning, the cycling that is preformed by a man that couldn't walk into a room is amazingly professional and perfectly preformed, also while an elf wraps the gift that is hopping around the town, as the Sun peers out from the mountains behind them.
I don't know why, but my first reaction to Arthur coming to Gwen's home, the Sun hitting the house, the house Arthur spent all night trying to get to before the Sun came up was "Just throw the bike through the window!" That's maybe the most unSanta thing I can think of, but it would solve that problem of getting into the house and the gift by the tree… I might want to avoid delivering gifts. Also the Santa parents start to realize that one needs to be good with children and have a heart in this business and not the mind of a cooperate genius. Steve is amazing, though he hasn't the passion to be the icon, just the know how, Arthur on the other hand is the hero this world needs.
All the Santas are running toward Gwen's house all trying to please the child and keep the magic of Christmas alive and well in the hearts of all the children of the world. They do it, they get to the house and deliver the gift, the beaming eyes and joy ringing through the house as all the Santa generations join in the coatroom watching this happen. I think this is where I'll end it, since you'll need to see the film and the acting in this movie to truly feel the love between the characters and the actors. It's amazing staging and acting make all the details melt away and we get to see the spirits of the characters in their purest form of the Father of Christmas. If you enjoy the holiday season for the people around you, warm thoughts, and well wishes, then this is your film, this is your modern Santa classic. You'll always be happy to see it year after year, Thank you Sarah Smith.
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