Friday, December 20, 2013

Movie review: Becoming Santa

The minute you mention "documentary," people turn off. But a documentary oftentimes is no different than reality TV, which many say they love.

The movie I'm reviewing is called Becoming Santa, and it is a reality TV movie-length exploration of one man's decision to "become Santa" for a Christmas season.

The film focuses mostly on Jack Sanderson, a 44-year-old LA native. When a 97-minute movie centers around one character, it's important that the character be likable. Jack is. He is intelligent, witty, humble, self-effacing, and sweet. He is a delight to watch.

The story is simple. Jack finds himself alone one Christmas, his mom having died previously and then his dad having died recently. He's by himself, in middle age, wondering where his Christmas spirit went. He decides to try jogging his spirits alive by posing as Santa for the holiday.

There is a lot more to becoming Santa than one may think. The settings differ and so do the logistics. There is Santa in a parade, Santa ringing the bell outside on the corner, Santa visiting children in hospital or orphanages, Santa on the Polar Express, and of course the Department Store Santa. Jack decides to purchase a Santa suit (which one? There's lots!), dye his natural beard white, and attend a Santa School to learn what it's all about.

The lady running the Santa school initially seems like a flake, but there is a method to her madness. It is here in these scenes where we discover just how much there is to being Santa. It is a heavy responsibility and much more than saying ho ho ho. For example, how does one respond to a child who tearfully asks Santa to get his divorced parents back together? Or to ensure his cancer-ridden sister is healed? How to comfort a child whose parent is serving overseas? Is it hard to be likable all day? And in one wry comment, Jack mentions the back-ache inducing heaviness of America's children.

The film intersperses scenes of Jack becoming Santa with clips of the history of Santa (interesting! And weird! and a little offensive!), interviews the descendants of the very first Department store Santa, peeks behind the scenes at the NYC USPS, which actually reads every Dear Santa letter and actually does try to help. The film also shows the behind the scenes peeks at how Santa gets to and from different venues, and offers moving interviews with experienced Santas. The film doesn't hide the sweet sadness of the after-Christmas let-down, and one Santa even openly discusses his post-season depression.

Along the way, Jack is funny and sweet as he learns the ropes. The Santa School teacher explained that Jack is a natural and has the potential to be one of the best Santas she has ever seen. Whether he will do another season is the question. All the other Santas said that if you do more than one, you have become Santa.

There is no profanity that I remember, no lewdness, nothing untoward which might offend. I'm not a Santa fan but this film was sweet. Ultimately, it was about one man trying to find meaning to the season and to his life, which, of course, is sad because devoid of Jesus, there is no meaning. It is a clean, charming, feel-good movie. I hope Jack finds the reason for the season someday, but in the meantime, it is a good film and I very much recommend it.

On Hulu, Netflix, and also on Snagfilms.com (free)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

What happened after the film ended? ABC News follows up: More than A Red Suit and 'Ho Ho Ho'

John MacArthur on Santa, "The Christmas Intruder"

My other Christian movie reviews:

Life of Pi: A Christian review

Christian Movie Review: "What If...?"

Faith Like Potatoes: Movie review and a discernment lesson

Movie review: "The Next Voice You Hear..."

Movie Review: Andy Griffith in "Angel in My Pocket"

Movie Review: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", and a Christian comment about this secular movie

Christian movie review: "WWJD II: The Woodcarver"

Movie review: "Birders:The Central Park Effect", comments on creation & biophilia

 Herb & Dortothy

No comments:

Post a Comment

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

I wish you all a blessed day with friends and/or family. For those who can't be with friends or family, if you're working as a first...