Teddy and Kate grew up in a happy home with joyful parents and a truly festive father. Through a series of home videos we meet the family, first Doug and Claire, then Teddy and soon Kate. But by the time we reach the present, the happy family is in a different state…Claire is a nurse struggling to keep her fraying home life together at all. Doug is nowhere to be seen and the once tight-knit Teddy and Kate are in constant fights, in part because Teddy has become withdrawn and started to follow a path of crime.
When he is forced to babysit his sister on Christmas eve, Teddy gives into Kate begging him to watch an old Christmas video. Insisting she sees Santa slip into the picture, they set up to watch for Santa. But rather than just get video proof, Kate slips into Santa’s slay. The two are soon revealed and after a crash landing find themselves having to help Santa successfully get his reindeer, hat and presents and everything delivered within a few hours or ruin Christmas.
It is a pretty simple story with common beats, kids who need to learn the truth about themselves and Christmas…redemption.
Does this mean it is bad or even just boring? Actually, no. The film actually is pretty entertaining. It is light and fun, but still can hit some emotional resonance. The reveal of why their father is no longer there and how this drives Teddy.
Of course, the biggest help for the film is Kurt Russell as probably the toughest hunk of a Santa Ever. Russell plays the role with a nod to the notion that he is not really the most likely candidate for Santa…but he brings his own kindly tough guy charm to the film. This is a modern Santa, yet still a very magical one.
For me, this one mostly hits the right notes, enough to find it an entertaining holiday film.
Plus, while obviously animated, it was kind of nice that they did not just put a bunch of kids in pointy ears and call them elves.