12 Days of Netflix: Get Santa
Laurence Boyce | On 21, Dec 2019
Director: Christopher Smith
Cast: Rafe Spall, Jim Broadbent, Kit Connor
Watch Get Santa online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
We unwrap a different Christmas film from Netflix’s dubious seasonal selection every day. For 12 days. It’s the 12 Days of Netflix.
Unless it contains Victorian London, a bunch of orphans going “Lawks a lordy!” and a man learning the error of his ways thanks to some ghosts, Brits don’t really do Christmas movies. There something about the gaudiness, the unabashed sentimentality and the oft-demanded saccharine sweetness that seems to suit other places much better. The Americans can have their happy endings, peace on Earth and the real meaning of Christmas is in your heart. We’ll have the one where the snowman melts, thank you very much.
Directed by Christopher Smith – a veteran British director with a number of well-regarded horror films, including Creep and Severance – Get Santa is an attempt to create a family Christmas movie suffused with a very British sensibility.
After being released from jail, getaway driver Steve Anderson (Rafe Spall) looks forward to reconnecting with his son, Tom (Kit Connor). But Tom has bigger fish to fry – or trees to decorate – as he’s found a crash-landed Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) in his garden shed. With the help of his dad – who is understandably sceptical – they direct Pere Noel to where he can find his escaped reindeer. Sadly, the police swoop in and St. Nick find himself in the actual nick. For the sake of his son, Steve promises to help find a way to spring Santa and save Christmas – even with his ogre-like parole officer (Joanna Scanlon) gleefully looking for any opportunity to send him back to prison. As Steve and Tom go on to encounter reindeer, elves and crashed sleighs, Santa learns to survive in prison while hoping he’ll soon be out to deliver the presents.
Get Santa takes the turkey that represents the clichés of traditional British cinema and stuffs it full of the glitz of a Christmas movie. Much of it trades on the incongruity between the two – even the title seems a sly wink to the seminal Get Carter (well, Santa is a big man and he is out of shape). There’s often much fun to be had with these moments – a scene in which Santa is walking down a prison gangway, hair in cornrows and Straight Outta’ Compton blasting in the background shouldn’t exist in any media but the fact that it does will put a smile on the most grinchiest of faces. And in the world outside the prison, the film presents us with a slightly bucolic view of London and the UK. Starting in the grey streets of the capital, the film moves to the countryside, becoming ever so slightly magical as things wear on. Even the finale, set mostly around the prison (which includes a lovely little homage to The Shawshank Redemption), is lit in a way that adds a little Christmas sparkle. And make no mistake – this is a family film through and through, with even a pantomime fight sequence partly shown in shadow to avoid scaring the little ones with too much violence. There’s also lots of dwelling on the bodily functions of reindeer.
Everything is a bit lightweight, with the narrative and characterisation as thin as a paper crown from a Christmas cracker. But the plethora of accomplished British actors – alongside Broadbent, Spall and Scanlon, the likes of Stephen Graham, Jodie Whittaker and Warwick Davis all are clearly having fun – and the fact that its heart is in the right place makes this an enjoyable, and sometimes unique,–stab at yuletide fare.
Get Santa is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.