Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What's On Netflix?: SANTA CLAWS

Welcome to another installment of WHAT'S ON NETFLIX?, where we pick out a film currently playing on Netflix and review it for the fans. This week, we're looking at The Asylum's first (but hopefully not last) holiday effort: SANTA CLAWS.

Howdy fellow film freaks, Robert here. At first glance, it seems that if it weren't for those three words "The Asylum Presents" at the beginning of Santa Claws, it's possible that it would be indistinguishable from any of the other two-bit Christmas movies forced upon the world in recent years. It's another "X saves Christmas" story, with the usual trappings: the true believer, the stubborn non-believer (who will be converted by the end), a wacky mishap that threatens to abolish Christmas for all time, and the unlikely heroes who bumble their way into restoring the holiday to the children of the world, and thus order to the universe.

The non-believer this time is Julia, a single mother determined to teach her son, Tommy, that Christmas is just a big Capitalist sham. The true believer is their next door nieghbor, Marcus, a computer geek with a very good reason for his belief. That wacky mishap that threatens Christmas comes this way: Julia and Tommy have kittens that they can't care for. Apparently mom doesn't earn enough from her work as a blogger to be able to afford them. So the kittens have to go. Son Tommy, who gets that mom hates Christmas, but hasn't fully adopted her non-belief yet, decides he'll box up the kittens for Santa and have him find homes for them.

This being a Christmas movie, Santa is, of course, real. On Christmas night, he arrives, and finds the box. It turns out, though, that Santa is allergic to cats, and begins sneezing so badly that he falls off the roof and knocks himself out cold. With Santa unable to do his thing, it's up to the kittens to deliver the presents and save Christmas.

While that does sound like the plot of some throwaway TV movie, rest assured that the company that brought you the wonder of Sharknado is not going to let you down in the craziness department here. Hallmarks include the Elf Support System aboard Santa's Sleigh, where an elf named Tinsel guides the kittens on their journey. Kudos are due here in that scriptwriter Anna Rasmussen managed to work in the scientific name of reindeer -- the Elf Support System accurately refers to them as rangifer tarandus. Order is maintained, however, since Tinsel can't quite pronounce "rangifer" correctly.

There's also a scene involving a certifiably insane little girl who really loves kitties, reindeer that speak with a surfer accent, and the standard Asylum-style ending, in which arbitrary criteria for success on the kittens' part are randomly introduced, and then promptly ignored. For example, Santa says repeatedly that he has to deliver the last present before sunrise, but by the time he actually does deliver that last present, it looks to be about 9:30 in the morning.

Santa Claws is another Asylum movie in the Asylum's grand B-movie tradition, so if you aren't an Asylum fan, this one probably won't convert you. This one is interesting to me, though, because it's a Christmas movie, and so it kind of works as a commentary on holiday-themed movies in general. Think about it: the reigning box office earner in the Christmas movie genre is a brainless comedy from last century about a hyperactive child who screams a lot. True, that says something about the tastes of the public as much as it does the state of Christmas entertainment. But since the typical Christmas movie parodies are cynical, nihilistic "comedies" about losers, buffoons and man-children (Bad Santa, Fred Claus, Elf etc), then Santa Claws looks pretty good by comparison.

Santa Claws is rated TV-PG.

Robert's Score: 8.5/10

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