Steve (Rafe Spall) is released from prison after two yeas, and wants nothing more than to reconnect with his son Tom (Kit Connor). Tom, however, discovers a man claiming to be Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) hiding in his shed to recover from a sleigh crash, and begs his dad to help him reunite Santa with his reindeer and save Christmas.
It seems that Jim Broadbent had so much fun voicing Santa in Arthur Christmas that he has decided to do the whole thing again, but in live action. Get Santa tries to create a world that is believable and fun, but somehow the magic is lost on the way to Lapland.
Jim Broadbent is well able to play Santa, and does so with aplomb. There are times where the character is a little cringeworthy, but when he gets back into his red suit and regains the twinkle in his eye, then all is right with the world. Rafe Spall plays Steve as an earnest and caring, but rather messed up father. Spall also creates a warm and gentle relationship with Connor, and it is obvious that the two had fun creating their characters. The rest of the cast is made up of Warwick Davis, Stephen Graham, Ewen Bremner and Jodie Whittaker.
Get Santa obviously has good intentions, but is completely let down by a weird tonal mix created by Christopher Smith. The idea of Santa needing ordinary people’s help to get Christmas back on track is theme that recurs again and again, so immediately Get Santa feels a little unoriginal and uninspired. Couple this with Santa thrown in jail for trying to rescue his reindeer and the film quickly becomes a mess. As well as this, much of the humour comes from toilet jokes and, while these may impress the tiny ones at first, there is only so much poop that can be flung before the audience mentally checks out. The cast do what they can to rescue the film from disaster, but they are fighting a losing battle.
As director, Smith fails to marry the two strains of the story together and, while the performances are fine and when the magic of Christmas truly kicks in, it’s charming, Get Santa takes far too long to get where it’s going. As well as this, there is a feeling of inevitability about the whole thing, since Christmas will surely be saved like it always is. Smith has made his name as a horror director and, while he is to be admired for trying to stretch himself as a filmmaker, this is a challenge that well and truly fails.
In all, Get Santa is a film that tries to run on British charm and the connection between an estranged father and son, but there are two sides to this coin, and they never truly connect. The poop jokes get old, the prison scenes are odd and try as the cast might, they can’t rescue this film from feeling a weird sentimental mish-mash that never truly feels coherent.