Dear Santa Review

Dear Santa is part family entertainment, part romance, and part holiday fantasy. It’s made for audiences who add honey to their Honey Wheat cereal, or sugar to their Frosted Flakes. It’s too sweet for some but for good old fashion family values, Dear Santa does attempt to tug at our heart strings, make us laugh and cry, and whatever other overused cliches you can think of for the usual wholesome, Christmas-themed genre.

Directed by Jason Priestley, Dear Santa never really strives to have a fresh take on the holiday genre. It follows a premise we’ve all seen before—a widowed father raising a daughter alone, in a relationship with a woman he has convinced himself he’s in love with. And of course, the daughter can’t stand her but loves the new woman who’s come into their lives but is unable to connect with dad because of his situation. How did she come into their lives? It just so happens the new woman comes from a wealthy family who will cut her out if she does not become more financially responsible. She comes across a letter written to Santa from a girl who begs Santa to bring her daddy a new wife. She devises a pretty clever scheme (and of course one that would never work in the real world): find out where dad works (which she does despite not having anything to go by except the letter, unless she hired a private investigator to find out for her), and win over the little girl’s dad. With me so far? Turns out, dad runs a soup kitchen and decides the best way to win him over is to volunteer. Yes, this is only a quarter of the way through the movie. I had to endure through the remaining hour and fifteen minutes of this painfully slow moving film.

To move this review along faster, she finds camaraderie with the volunteer staff and forms a bond with the little girl. Meanwhile, dad’s lady friend has been doing a little digging of her own on dad’s new “friend,” and warns her to stay away. Does this lead to a climatic showdown, a catfight to the death between the two? Are you kidding me?

To be fair, I tried looking for good points in Dear Santa but the film just felt empty, devoid of any substance, and very unoriginal on purpose. Priestley is a fine director, especially within the family genre, but this effort was clearly phoned in by all involved. Even for the audience it was intended for, I’d doubt anyone would be interested enough to see how it ends (spoiler alert: it ends as all these movies do). We want to care about the characters, be involved in a film no matter what the genre. I’m not a movie snob that is above watching a wholesome sweet family film, but if it’s a film that at its best is a half-assed effort, with actors merely there to collect a paycheck, not only does it come across on film but I’m going to call them out on it. Dear Santa, please don’t make anyone have to go through the experience of sitting through Dear Santa this Holiday season.

DVD Bonus Features

There are no bonus features available at all for this film.

"Dear Santa" is on sale November 1, 2011 and is not rated. Children & Family, Romance. Directed by Jason Priestley. Written by Barbara Kymlicka. Starring David Haydn Jones, Emma Duke, Gina Holden.



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