THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS
The film is a live-action remake of The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), a one-hour stop-motion animated tv special from Rankin-Bass, which in turn was based on a 1956 childrens story by Phyllis McGinley. The book and tv special tell how Santa falls into a bad mood after he catches a cold and loses interest in having Christmas this year. The two elves Jingle and Jangle become caught up in various escapades in South Town in their effort to find someone who still believes in Christmas to try and inspire Santa again. The story remains basically the same here, having been padded out with more background in the story of young Iggy Thistlewhite and a heavy-handed and obvious message where Santa takes a stand against the commercialisation of Christmas.
This remake might be politely termed a disaster. It was directed by Ron Underwood who once a promising Hollywood director, where he made the highly enjoyable monster movie Tremors (1990), the likeable light fantasy Heart and Souls (1993) and the big commercial hit of City Slickers (1995). That was until the successive disasters of Mighty Joe Young (1998) and The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) fairly much torpedoed Underwoods career as a cinematic director, leaving him washed up in the outskirts of tv fodder like this.
Santa Baby was routinely passable on Ron Underwoods part but The Year Without a Santa Claus is an embarrassment. It is a film that collectively feels made by people who dont care about what they are doing. Underwood choreographs lame slapstick sequences pursuing the reindeer through the town or with the two elves in videogame arcades. The Heat and Snow Miser sequences take place on cheap unconvincing sets that are barely above the level of a high school pantomime and come accompanied by some really badly choreographed dance sequences. The film is shot with flat, dull photography indeed, my companion who sat watching the film with me was genuinely surprised to learn that it had a 2006 release date rather than was a faded print from the 1970s. It is hard to believe that the tedious, beneath entry-level work here could come from the same director who showed an immensely promising hand when he debuted with Tremors.
John Goodman seems to be going through the moves it is difficult to tell if it is the Santa makeup or he is just starting to look old. There is stand-up comedian Eddie Griffin who plays an elf with a cynical streetwise accent, making for possibly one of the worst pieces of miscasting in recent memory. Some fun is had by Chris Kattan who plays his role to the gallery for all it is worth but the appearances of Harvey Fierstein and Michael McKean as the Heat and Snow Misers contain some excruciatingly bad overacting.
Clip from the film here:-