Sunday, December 10, 2006

TV Movie Review: Santa Baby

Day 6 of the TCR Christmas Extravaganza

This just premiered on the ABC Family channel tonight. And, OK, maybe it's not "teen" per se, at least not in the way I've set up my blog, more "family" actually. But, I think it's relevant enough to include, and anyways I try not to be too rigid as to the theme of the blog.

The Movie: Santa Baby
Airing On: ABC Family
In the Year: 2006
Starring: Jenny McCarthy, Kandyse McClure, Ivan Sergei, plus George Wendt as Santa Claus

Plot Summary (With Spoilers): Mary Class is a very successful consultant who runs her own practice, going in to failing companies and suggesting ways that they can improve to save their company. As we open, we see Mary giving a speech to the board of directors of a department store, suggesting they change their entire image and marketing campaign, and even name, to Spotlight. She is then called up to visit her family, as her father has had a heart attack. She quickly makes arrangements to get up there, along with her trusty assistant Donna. When they get to Mary's home, it doesn't take Donna long to realize that Mary's father is Santa Claus! And since Santa is so sick, Mary is going to have to take over the family practice this year! Mary is, perhaps surprisingly, not upset or distressed by this, but actually thrilled. She has often had various ideas to improve productivity around Christmas time, to get the list checked faster, get the mail read and processed faster, build the toys faster, etc. Citing tradition, Santa has always rejected these suggestions, so she is extremely excited to see them in action to prove that they will work! She is pleased to see that they are making things go faster, although Santa is still unhappy that the tradition is being destroyed.

Also living at the North Pole is Luke, Mary's old boyfriend who she totally ditched out in the cold when she decided to move away and get into business. Luke is clearly still in love with Mary, although she has a boyfriend back home, Grant. Grant ultimately finds out where Mary is staying and comes over to visit her unannounced, thus discovering her secret as well. Things start to go very downhill shortly after this. It turns out the productivity improving measures aren't working nearly as well as she thought they would, and in fact the toys might not even all be ready by Christmas. Plus Grant has a crazy idea to install a mall right next to Santa's workshop to build business. Mary and the other Claus's are distressed to hear this, as this would bring people to the previously secret location of Santa's workshop, which could mess up everything. Mary breaks up with Grant, but he goes back to pitch the idea anyways, hauling along pictures of Santa's workshop to prove the encounter. In the end, Santa pitches in to help all the toys get built, Mary thwarts Grant's plan to build the mall, and discredits him in the process, and Mary delivers all the toys on Christmas without a hitch. Mary gets the real Christmas spirit in her heart, and realizes there is more to Christmas than ruthless cold efficiency.

And They All Learned A Valuable Lesson: Business people get to be successful by being CRUEL, COLD, and HEARTLESS people. Values which are totally counter to the Christmas spirit. Christmas is about LOVE and TRADITION and COMPROMISE. Screw business.

Greg's Review/Comments: Santa Baby was such a stunningly bad movie, in every way, that it's kind of hard for me to make any comments on it at all. Many reviewers relish in writing reviews of things they hated, hilariously skewering all of the aspects of it. For a lot of reviewers, like say Ebert, this is one of their hallmarks that their readers love and look forward to. I am not one of those reviewers. My only mode of review is "serious, thoughtful" which a movie like this totally destroys. Nonetheless in the spirit of Christmas and ruthless, cold efficiency, I will continue.

Problems Greg Had With Santa Baby (No Order):

1) The plot was hackneyed and unoriginal. Santa is injured and somebody unprepared must fill in, oh no! Exploring Santa's family, interesting. This movie was amalgamated together from the parts of several other, superior Christmas movies (at this point, even The Santa Clause is superior).

2) The movie once again reinforces the offensive to me notion that business is evil and that all successful businessmen are cold and evil people.

3) The dialogue is horrible, and horribly unrealistic. The characters are all one-dimensional stereotypes, with a maximum of one character trait apiece.

3) The acting, while not as bad as I thought it would be, was not good either. All of the actors did what they could with their roles I guess, but none of the actors rise above the material. Jenny McCarthy was not as bad as I might have thoguht she would be, but she is incapable of dealing with the simplicity of the script and character. She is not cute and charming enough to carry this role.

4) The romantic leads, Jenny McCarthy and Ivan Sergei, have no chemistry and their relationship is not believable. Their relationship was a throw in to the movie, it never feels real, and it was never even something I was really rooting for. And I root for almost all love stories in movies!

5) The jokes aren't funny and the elves, as comic relief, are way too silly to generate real humor. Maybe funny to the kids, who I guess this movie is marketed too, but not to the parents. I would probably be able to handle all of the above if the comedy in the movie was actually good, but I didn't laugh once even though there are hundreds of jokes in the film.

6) There was no emotional core to the movie. Once again, I am an enormously huge sucker for Christmas movies. The ending to Scrooged gets a lump in my throat every time, and I've seen that movie at least 10 times. But I will tell you, my heart was not warmed after viewing this movie. The movie spends way too much time on the lame comedy and non-starter romantic story, and not enough time building up the touching Christmas turnaround. When Jenny McCarthy finally does embrace the Christmas spirit, it's so abrupt, and handled in such an understated way by the movie I felt almost nothing. If there's any type of movie where it's OK to go a bit over the top, it's a Christmas movie! Come on, ABC Family.

Final Rating: I didn't expect it to be great, but I really had no way of knowing it would be this bad. Definitely one to skip this Christmas season. 1/10.

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