Most recent attempts don’t reach a level of greatness worthy of the “classic” moniker; in fact, many come up way short (Olive the Other Reindeer, anyone?). And while I had the highest hopes for Opus and Bill’s A Wish for Wings That Work (1991) to become a beloved holiday favorite, it was not to be.
This year, there’s a new contender for the crown of Christmas classic: the animated movie Gotta Catch Santa Claus.
At Anytown Public School (yep), tweens Trevor (Cory Doran) and Veronica (Lisa Lennox) debate the existence of Santa Claus (William Shatner) over a game of speed chess. Trevor believes in the magic of Santa, while Veronica says his whole existence and the “give presents to children everywhere in one night” shtick is logistically impossible. Trevor decides the only way to convince Veronica that Santa’s real is to catch him, with help from twin nerds Errol and Gabriel (both voiced by Nathan Stephenson). But someone may stand in the way of Trevor’s plans: LeFreeze (Cal Dodd), a big baddie made of space ice who’s got a 100-year-old grudge against the jolly fat man.
Gotta Catch Santa Claus injects some fresh life into holiday TV and movie viewing. It’s an enjoyable, contemporary take on Santa and the season, with references to the Internet, lattes, soy milk, and gift cards – all without sacrificing the charm or purity of the season or its classics.
The film is kept at a quick yet unrushed pace largely due to the dialogue by Die Hard(!) scribe Steven De Souza, with enough in-jokes to keep adults’ interest as well as kids’.
The animation is fairly well done, and rich in colors. And while the musical numbers may not seem memorable at first, they do grow on you with repeated listenings.
As the voice of Santa, Shatner is just about a perfect pick for the part. It’s astounding that this obvious fit has only happened once before (Shatner voiced Santa for the early ‘90s cartoon Eek! the Cat.) A nice touch: Santa’s head elf is Scottish – a tip of the hat to the Kirk/Scotty relationship of the Star Trek series.
So is Gotta Catch Santa Claus a classic? It’s obviously too soon to tell. Will it get repeated plays on your TV by your kids? To quote a favorite Christmas toy, all signs point to yes.
Will your kids like it?Gotta Catch Santa Claus is fun for all ages, though preschoolers may not be able to keep up with the dialogue…but they probably won’t care.
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?She’ll probably appreciate this update. It may not replace her childhood favorites, but it’s got enough of an adult slant to make it entertaining for grown-ups as well as kids.
Gotta Catch Santa Claus
• Directors: Peter Lepeniotis, Jamie Waese, Jin Choi
• Screenwriter: Steven De Souza
• Cast: Cory Doran, Lisa Lennox, William Shatner, Nathan Stephenson, Cal Dodd
• MPAA Rating: G
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