|'Rafe Spall may be doing his best Martin Freeman impersonation for much of the running time, but that doesn't stop him from being an able and likeable leading man'.|
Every new festive period inevitably brings with it a fresh batch of Christmas films hoping to be added to the stack of DVDs heaved out every December for their annual rewatch. Many are deservedly resigned to be replayed ad nauseam on digital movie channels you don't even realise you have or - even worse - Channel 5. Every so often, though, a new festive classic appears, finding its way into a coveted position within your viewing schedule alongside stalwarts of decades past. There are, of course, those which fall between these two extremes, never managing to do enough to become twelve-monthly must-watch material but offering a great deal to like nonetheless. Get Santa is one of these films.
On the surface, director Christopher Smith - up until this point in his career best known for his work in the horror genre - puts together a fairly straightforward rehash of the "Help Santa out of trouble, or Christmas is cancelled!" narrative that has been the basis of a great many Christmas films since Miracle On 34th Street if not earlier. In that sense, Get Santa brings little new to the table, with each beat of the story largely in its expected place, characters generally following their predictable development arcs, and everything winding up much the way you will anticipate come the end.
What helps Smith's film to become something considerably more worthy of your time can be seen in both its less prominent features and its impressively talent-filled cast. Rafe Spall may be doing his best Martin Freeman impersonation for much of the running time, but that doesn't stop him from being an able and likeable leading man. Those in support are also dependable, with the presence of Stephen Graham and Jodie Whittaker feeling particularly welcome.
Stealing almost every scene he's in, however, is Jim Broadbent as Santa Claus himself. Whilst he makes a perfectly satisfying straightforward St. Nick, it's through the secondary story of his incarceration for trying to poach back his own reindeer that Broadbent regularly delivers many of Get Santa's biggest laughs. A sequence in which Graham's prison barber helps Santa to "blend in" whilst locked up is an absolute hoot, made even more enjoyable through the fact that Broadbent is evidently having a ball in the role.
As festive family entertainment, Get Santa delivers satisfyingly regularly. There are a few ill-advised attempts to appeal to the younger members of the audience: parole officer Ruth (Joanna Scanlan) feels like she's wandered out of a bad Roald Dahl adaptation during the opening act before being toned down later on; the handful of occasions where the comedy descends into toilet humour are also entirely unnecessarily. That said, however, there's enough within Get Santa that's very easy to enjoy, making it a worthwhile addition to your Christmas viewing schedule.
Get Santa is available on UK Blu-ray, DVD and digital download now.