Daisy's Christmas Stocking #3 – Dear Santa
Dear Santa is the story of a collection of two dimensional ass hats who spend the last week of Advent discovering the meaning of Christmas. Thanks to the quality of acting, writing and the quality of the production values, the film feels like it’s playing out in real time, even though it’s only 78 minutes long. Not relevant but interesting: The director is also responsible for Bikini Hoedown, Bikini Frankenstein, Bikini Jones and the Temple of Eros and 13 Erotic Ghosts.
The first three quarters of the film are spent exploring the ways in which Gordon, father of Teddy, is more tool-like than the contents of Tim Allen’s props cupboard. “If we want our son to be successful, we can’t have him believing in fairytales!” he says, admonishing his wife for spending 32 cents on a stamp for Teddy’s letter to Santa. But Teddy writes again! “Dear Santa, all I want is for my Dad to believe in you. If he did, he might be nicer to everyone, including me and my Mom. Please help him find the spirit of Christmas!” he writes.
Dad is going to struggle with this. He works for an evil boss who wears shirts made from cushion covers found in the lobbies of Ramada Inns, which is quite bad, and he sells stolen cars, which is worse! He wants Dad to sell cars for 14 hours a day, and take over his whole evil car enterprise, which means no white Christmas for Teddy, even though Teddy has been practising, by standing around in the house in his snow clothes, having carefully placed a bowl of oats in front of a fan. He might never touch real snow.
Dad shares the bad news with the family, and the Mum, a character who is allowed less growth and breathing space than some cress, on a flannel, in an airing cupboard, strops off. Dad sleeps on the sofa and is visited in the night by Lilith, the elf, who is either experiencing some shockingly bad IBS or is deeply, professionally, ashamed of herself. Dad is going to be a Secret Santa, to learn the meaning of Christmas! We see him growing a beard, getting fatter and wearing a Santa suit! The elf takes him to shouty Santa bootcamp. “He doesn’t say AMEN, or WHAT’S UP DUDE!” she yells, when he can’t get his hos in the right order. But is he full of Christmas cheer? Of course not! He’s selling more cars, on TV! “I’m crazy Gordon of Sleight’s used cars! Crazy Gordon’s giving away cards because he’s lost his senses!” goes the jingle. I’ve often wondered how much mental illness goes undiagnosed because it hides in plain sight. “I think I’m going mad.” “Of COURSE you’re mad! You’re Loco Colin of Colin’s Kut-Price Kitchens! Shine on, you crazy diamond!”
Mum thinks this display is tacky, and makes noises about moving the family to Phoenix, sans Dad. “But you don’t even like your Dad!” says Dad. “He’s DEAD!” screams Mom. “THANKS FOR NOTICING!”
Dad, still in denial, is hitting the nog hard, being rude to an extra who may or may not have been Jessie from A Bride For Christmas and facilitating evil Mr Sleight’s plan to evict all the children from the rec centre, in a plot development that has less logic than the storyboard of a Deuce video. It might be a good thing – the lady running the rec centre is telling the kids a story that begins “Once there was a little boy called Franklin. He was very slow, and he had no hair.” If this is the first line of some classic children’s literature, do get in touch, but I suspect the rec lady is even less sane than Loco Colin.
Lilith the elf is horrified, and takes him back in time (FINALLY! A RECOGNISABLE CHRISTMAS MOVIE TROPE!) to his first Christmas, where he is disappointed by his father, who appears to be the Dad actor with a disturbingly DILF-y stuck on moustache. “”A toy train isn’t going to get you anywhere in life, but with a good pair of boots, you can start working! The sooner you learn the meaning of a buck, the better.” Dad’s Dad was an identical bastard? Noooooo waaaaaaaay! Who saw that coming?!
Still, Dad pleads with Lilith, saying he can’t change. “I’ve only known one way since I was a kid. I’m a bottom line guy!” Paging Social Services. But he does change, just in time for evil Mr Sleight to knock him out and put him in the boot of the car, despite Teddy’s attempts to rescue him, BMX Bandit style. Luckily, magic takes him out of the car and teleports him to the North Pole, where he greets a wisecracking owl from Queens with the words “You’re an owl! A talking owl!” Another inept elf gives Dad a tour of Santa’s worryingly low-tech looking workshop (at this point my boyfriend walked in and said “Is this…Canadian? It has a kind of Canadian air about it”), then Lilith returns, and says that Dad is now allowed to deliver some presents! Including a gift wrapped puppy that can be wanged from the sleigh, straight into a chimney! But they stop on the roof of Mom’s sister’s (Aunt’s) house to give Teddy his gifts. “Wow,” says Teddy, opening an envelope, “tickets to Aspen!” which is a totally normal thing for an eight year old to say. Lucky Teddy then gets to ride on the sleigh and apprehend evil Mr Sleight stealing a car with with his henchman! “No-one messes with THE CLAUS!” says Dad, who makes a phone call. “Hello, this is Santa Claus, I’d like to report a crime against the Christmas spirit. Yes, I’ll hold.”
If you haven’t yet suffocated yourself with a pillow, or imbibed poison nog, you then see Dad waking up, thrilled to be de-Santa’d, racing to Aunt’s to stop the trip to Phoenix. He tells Mom that he’s sorry, but being Santa changed him and now he loves them all very much. Mom takes him back, asking NO QUESTIONS. My first words in that situation would be “Well, I have MANY QUESTIONS.” Anyway, even Aunt gets a festive bang as the ranger (yeah, Canadian) who tried to book Dad for speeding has taken a shine to her. Lilith the elf winks from a rooftop. THE END. Thank f*ck.
Dear Santa is also known as Secret Santa in some territories. I suspect this is because it is so bad that it needs multiple identities in order to hide in the schedules, luring unsuspecting viewers to the rocks of hell. Less festive than the gone off mulled wine I had at that pub in Ally Pally where a family tried to eat their Christmas dinner while a man claiming to be the manager hurled chairs at them.