Movies about children questioning their belief in Santa Claus don’t make sense. The ones where Santa turns out to be real, I mean. Usually they begin with some little asshole at school calling another kid a baby because they still believe in Santa. Suddenly there’s a crisis at home. “Oh no! Our dear son/daughter (insert generic child name) is losing faith in the magic of Christmas,” the parents exclaim. “The realities of life are crashing down on us all at once! Wonder and merriment stand on the precipice of oblivion! Magic is dead!”
“Hold on a second, Christmas Movie parents. You’re not making sense. I can understand your disappointment with your precious offspring learning what darkness awaits in adulthood, but there is something very important you’re forgetting. Actually, it’s kind of creepy”.
The one tradition of the “Holiday Season” (I say “Holiday” because I am part of the vast majority of liberal Americans waging the “War on Christmas”. I mean it, dude. I’m in the trenches. Wishing the staff at Wal-Mart a Happy Holidays before Thanksgiving arrived. Hanging Holiday decorations around my Holiday tree, that I bought from a store that had them on sale since September. Buying deeply discounted Holiday presents for the family to open on Holiday morning, which is December 25th. I even listen to Holiday carols. Yep. You may THINK that Christmas is still one of the largest cash-cows in America. You’re pretty sure it begins earlier and earlier every year. MAYBE it’s the one Holiday practically everywork place is expected to celebrate in some capacity. But no. That’s really just Holiday time. We’re winning this holiday WAR!) I still enjoy is the viewing of God-awful Christmas films.
They get worse every year, and I soak them up. If I can thank anyone for giving me a Merry Holiday each season, It’s The ABC Family Network. (Have you seen Christmas Bounty? May be the baddest of the bunch.)
As I said above, films concerning the existence of Mr. Cringle bug me. They have for a long time. Not because they give children empty hope that maybe their parents haven’t been lying to them their whole lives. That part is fine. Let the kids believe in magic as long as they can. They bug me because they all contain a gapingly stupid plot hole. One that any film featuring Saint Nick falls into without the hope of rising from.
I bring it up now because of a tremendously stupid movie starring the tremendously unlucky Shelley Long. It’s called “The Santa Trap”. You can watch it on places like Hulu. But don’t. I love bad Holiday films, but this is so bad it hurts. It hurt me. It hurt my girlfriend. It hurt our cat. It certainly hurt the actors. And it hurts the entire genre of bad Holiday films.
The premise is very simple. Little girl is told by her pissed off brother that Santa isn’t real. The parents are upset. The girl is devastated. Everyone is a mess. Then the girl decides the prove them all wrong. She sets a trap for Santa. It works. Santa is locked in a cabinet. When everyone comes down to see who broke into their home, they see it’s Santa. Only the little girl believes him.
Okay. This is a textbook example of what is so horribly wrong with this subgenre. Let’s go back and talk to the generic movie parents I introduced you to at the start of the article.
“Seriously guys, you worry me,” I tell them, picking our conversation back up.
“Well, we don’t want our baby to be unhappy at Christmas,” they whine. “Everyone is supposed to be happy at Christmas.”
“Quit pouting, and think about this for a minute.” Their faces blanken. Thinking is an ability the writer forgot to include. “You guys don’t believe in Santa Claus. That dick at your kid’s school doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. Your child is questioning Santa Claus. Let me ask you this: Why don’t you believe?”
More blank staring. One blinks, might speak – nothing.
Sigh. “By the end of this movie, everyone is going to meet Santa. He’s going to be real and you will all be big smiles. Magic is restored. Touching. But right now, at this point of the story, none of the principal characters believes in him. Why? Because the plot says so. You have to go from not believing in order to have a proper story arch. For all of you to grow and change, you need to believe in amazement again. That’s really sweet, but totally stupid.”
At this point, Holiday Dad protests, “Now come on, there’s nothing wrong with messages of hope and love at Christmas.”
“I agree. But there is a problem with ignoring a sinking plot hole so big that it swallows any remote interest in the rest of your journey.”
Mom smirks. “Oh yeah hot shot. What’s that?”
My teeth grind. How do they not know this? Oh yeah, the writer. “If Santa turns out to be real that means every year your child wakes up to presents from Santa. Presents you did not buy for them. Presents that could only have come from a total stranger coming into your house and placing them under the tree while you’re sleeping. So when your kid comes to you and says shit like, ‘This bully in class called me a baby because I believe in Santa’, you should be saying, ‘Well, that kid is a douche who never gets presents because he’s such a douche and has no reason to believe in Santa. You’re a good kid who gets presents for being good every year, and we certainly didn’t get them for you, so Santa is real.”
“Yeah, but -” they start to say as a unit. I wait for their logic and reasoning. It never comes.
I’ll admit, there are “Is Santa real?” movies that pull it off. Tim Allen in The Santa Claus. Even Ernest Saves Christmas. Miracle on 34th Street. These films distract you from the ugly ignorance of the film by at least being entertaining. They have fun characters that get you excited about the story.
I guess the real problem with other Santa movies is that their characters just aren’t interesting.
Happy Holidays everyone. Let us know some of your favorite bad Holiday films. (And keep up the good fight against Christmas. I think we really have it on the ropes!)