Wednesday, December 14, 2022

I Believe in Santa: Movie Review

A confused movie with no audience.
I Believe in Santa does not know its audience. First it has a really silly premise – a grown adult who actually believes in Santa. And second, it’s a kid’s movie but not for kids. The rom-com element is too mature to be interesting or funny to kids. So it’s for adults who believe in Santa? Those don’t exist. If we can overlook that existential problem, it is a mostly cute and sweet Christmas movie.   2022

Directed by: Alex Ranarivelo

Screenplay by: John Ducey

Starring: Christina Moore, John Ducey

The two leads are Lisa (Christina Moore) a single mother with a frustrating ex and since hasn’t found a sane enough man to make it work; and Tom (John Ducey) a hard-working lawyer who just hasn’t found someone who is worth making time for. The pairing works. They are two reasonable adults who have a spark and the first six months from Fourth of July until December are romantic bliss.

But then Christmas comes around. Lisa hates it, Tom goes overboard with talking Santa decorations and the whole works. This is going to be a problem. Lisa decides he’s worth struggling through the holidays for. And this is where Lisa’s daughter Ella starts to be the highlight. Ella is really cute without stealing the focus meaning she can just be a kid without being annoying. Tom takes them Christmas tree shopping and decorating the tree, he bakes cookies with Ella, he reads her The Grinch, and he helps Lisa explain to Ella how Santa is real but he doesn’t have the capabilities to bring her an iPhone.

It's kind of a sweet movie at this point. Two adults making a relationship work with a cute daughter helping them out. But then we get to that problematic premise and Tom reveals that he isn’t just saying Santa is real for Ella’s benefit, Santa really is real. This is the stumbling block in their relationship. Lisa can’t get over it, and everybody understands that.

Meanwhile Lisa is at work. She’s a writer for a website that only cares about clicks. This isn’t journalism this is random writing with no purpose. Lisa has been assigned to write a story about Christmas, she’s struggling with that since she hates Christmas, then she comes up with the idea to write about the man who loves Christmas and the woman who hates it. But instead of writing it she complains that she doesn’t have any ideas. And then finally, she has the exact same idea again and then just writes it. I’m fairly certain the writers (definitely multiple uncredited ones) forgot that they already had Lisa coming up with this idea. So this is a movie where the writers don’t even remember what they already wrote.

Tom’s friend Assan has a really thoughtful defence of Tom’s belief. He likens it to religion and how people are scared of him and will make assumptions about him solely because he’s a Muslim. I’m not sure believing in Santa as a grown adult deserves that level of defence, but it was an astute and considerate moment for a Muslim character in a Christmas movie.

I Believe in Santa is all over the place. It’s a kid’s movie for adults who believe in Santa, and then if you get past that to enjoy the cute and sweet romance, you get one scene with dreadful writing followed by an authentically written scene. Not sure what audience is going to enjoy this but I also don’t think there’s much of an audience in the first place.

Want a different Christmas movie or just more holiday-themed movies? Holiday Movies