12 Days of Netflix: The App That Stole Christmas
Ivan Radford | On 15, Dec 2020
Director: Monica Floyd
Cast: Jackie Long
Watch The App That Stole Christmas online in the UK: Netflix UK
It’s hard to dislike a film that has at its heart a message about not spending too much time on your phone when you could be spending time with the people you love – but The App That Stole Christmas gives you a good run for your money.
The film, directed by Monica Floyd and co-written by Floyd, Peter John, Jennifer Rapaport and Miriam Bavly, is a debut feature for many of the people involved. It follows Felix (Jackie Long), an investor who creators a powerful app that harnesses the shopping craze in the run-up to Christmas. But when that app becomes so popular that people spend less time with their families, he finds his own life also impacted by the increasingly detached, online existence of everyone around him. Cue an elf named Ray turning up, a stint in Santa’s Village Resort and a lot of people talking about the importance of “presence” and not “presents” and, well, you get the general idea.
The problem with The App That Stole Christmas is that, despite its honourable intentions, the basic nuts and bolts of the film don’t work. The app, called “Bomazon”, isn’t explained at any point, so it’s hard to understand what exactly it does; the dialogue tries to make up for this by having people repeatedly saying the word “app”; and all the serious dramatic conversations are undermined by ADR work and editing that makes it sound like parts of the dialogue were recorded in entirely different rooms, because they were.
With such a heavy-handed and unconvincing framework to hang everything on, the film’s honest message becomes tedious rather than thoughtful, the attempts at jokes frustrating rather than funny and the runtime painfully slow, despite only clocking in just over one hour. And, at a time when technology is helping people to connect with each other, the film’s release couldn’t be more awkwardly timed. The App That Stole Christmas isn’t a cynical sequel or cash-grabbing reboot, but it does steal away 63 minutes that you could use to spend quality time with your loved ones instead – and, in an ironic way, that’s unfortunately entirely appropriate.
The App That Stole Christmas is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.