Get Santa is available to rent, buy or stream now.
It will be no surprise that the final two films on our 2021 festive countdown are family affairs. However, what may come as a surprise is that our Christmas Eve choice comes from director Christopher Smith. Yes, that’s right, the writer and director of classic horror movies Creep, Severance and Black Death makes our festive list with his 2014 Christmas family adventure, Get Santa. Considering the man behind it and his horror credentials, you may wonder if Get Santa is suitable for the whole family?
Well, fear not, as, in my opinion, this is one of the best Christmas family movies of the past seven years and one of the most underrated. Get Santa is one of those rare festive gems that appeal to kids and adults alike, its humour both sharp and delightfully silly, and its story beautiful in scope and scale. But add to that the brilliant Jim Broadbent as Santa alongside a veritable whos who of British talent, from Stephen Graham to Joanna Scanlan and Rafe Spall, and you have a festive comedy that shines from start to finish.
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It’s Christmas, and Steve Anderson (Rafe Spall) has just been released from prison on parole under the guidance of his evil, Roald Dahl-inspired probation officer (Joanna Scanlan). All Steve wants is to spend some time with his son Tom (Kit Connor), who lives with his ex-wife (Jodie Whittaker). However, events take a strange turn when Steve receives a late-night phone call from Tom, who claims to have found Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) in the garden shed. Assuming this Santa is a predator, Steve rushes to the house only to find a man dressed as Father Christmas, who claims to be the real Santa while explaining that he has accidentally crashed his sleigh and lost his reindeer. Of course, Steve is less than convinced and quickly tells the man to leave.
Unfortunately, when he gets arrested trying to recover his reindeer from Battersea Dogs Home, things go from bad to worse for Broadbent’s Santa, and yes, you got it; Santa finds himself locked up in prison. But, with time running out, can Steve and Tom find Santa’s reindeer, repair his sleigh and organise a daring jailbreak with the help of Steve’s old prison mates? Only time will tell in this creative, funny, beautifully written slice of festive magic.
Get Santa is, in essence, a delightfully different take on Miracle on 34th Street. But, in its soul, this cracking family comedy is a discussion on life, opportunity and the wrong turns we can so easily take. For example, a genuinely tender scene sees Broadbent’s Santa recounting the childhood disappointment and pain of each prisoner around him; here, his knowledge of each man’s childhood sheds light on what ultimately led them to their adult life. Meanwhile, for Rafe’s Steve, the need to reconcile with his son following his imprisonment sits at the heart of the story – his son’s forgiveness, all he needs to move forward again with hope.
What makes British cinema different to its Hollywood cousins will forever be debated. For example, while some say it’s the technical talent behind the screen, others argue that the screenwriting and performances shine through. However, in many cases, it’s British film’s ability to skirt Hollywood’s sentimentality in favour of a more delicate and humorous approach. And it’s here where Smith’s movie excels as it masterfully laces its laugh-out-loud moments with something far more delicate. As a result, Get Santa appeals directly to kids with its fantasy, wonder and farting reindeer while also finding a place in the heart of every adult watching. This, in my opinion, makes Get Santa the perfect Christmas Eve family movie.