Father Christmas is back in more ways than one
Yes, it is that time of the year. And with it come the songs, led by Mariah Carey and George Michael. Slowly the spending plummets to birth presents. The lights creep in. The trees, dead or alive, come in many colours. The snow is whimsical in nature and wants to be prayed for. The greetings start, extending carols. And of course, movies appear, to borrow, make believe or simulate the magic of the season. Saddle up for another merry go round, full of borrowed magic, definite spoilers. You have been warned.
Father Christmas is back: The usual suspects
Father Christmas is back. The title is literal. For one, it feels very much like a sequel. Secondly, but I had to get to the end to understand that, the family is indeed called Christmas. From the surnames (Christmas and Hope) to the story, saddle up if you want to be taken for that weird ride. The whole thing is just that tiny too far-fetched and a little too caricatural for my taste. It also contains touches of frustrating conveniences to the point of vomiting. The only reasons I watched it till the end are simple. The ever-lovely presence of stars John Cleese, Kelsey Grammer, Caroline Quentin and Kris Marshall are just worth the time. Saying that, I am not sure I could take another such disaster. Elizabeth Hurley further quenches nostalgia, playing her usual sexy Brit character. This time, she does add a dash of pregnancy.
Father Christmas is back: The formula
Father Christmas streamed on Netflix since November 7th.The movie aims to quench the Christmas thirst that the season brings with it. Britain can be American like everyone else. All it needs is to put together the common ingredients:a feast for the eyes, a story by the numbers, an American in the middle of supposedly pure Britain, a couple of diversity touches, sprinkle mentions of our best export (The Beatles in this case). And just let Christmas do the rest. Saying that, Nathalie Cox in her naughty Mrs Claus (technically Mrs Christmas-Hope) lingerie, Hurley’s ever present cleavage and Ray Fearon’s handsome mug probably helped a lot. An awkward roller-coaster of clichés here and hysteria there, couples with an unconvincing take on the absent father or the daughters’ reaction. It is as if all was done quickly and awkwardly and all that saves it is the acting.
Father Christmas is back: Verdict?
Watch it or not? Well it’s Christmas so why not… This movie is not worth watching again though. It is far from a compulsory watch, and this by several miles. But you know, this is possibly what Christmas is about, movies like Father Christmas is Back. You don’t need to pay attention to them. They are easy to understand. They invite familiar and loveable screen faces in your living room. Beloved actors are in the background in your party. The lives they portray are worse than yours. There is a mention of hope at the end that makes you believe against all odds. Or maybe it is just giving our favourite actors an outlet to just goof around and enjoy that too. Either way, the whole thing makes the magic occasion grander.
If you think of it as your favourite actors goofing off, it works. Otherwise, well… it is just a caricatural view at patching broken families at Christmas with an unconvincing story and a wonderful cast.
Father Christmas is back: Editor’s notes
Thanks to its title, Father Christmas is back is obviously a Christmas movie. The British comedy was released in 2021. The movie is directed by Philippe Martinez and Mick Davis. It stars a host of A list stars, including John Cleese, Kelsey Grammer, and Elizabeth Hurley.
John Cleese stars as John Christmas (I always suspected Christmas was his real surname!) Kelsey Grammer is James Christmas, the elusive or rather estranged father. Caroline Quentin plays mother Christmas, Elizabeth Christmas. Their four children are Joanna, Paulina, Caroline, and Vicky.
Elizabeth Hurley plays Joanna Christmas and Naomi Frederick takes on Paulina Christmas while Talulah Riley is Vicky Christmas.
Nathalie Cox stars as Caroline Christmas-Hope. Caroline’s husband who we have to thank for the name Hope is Kris Marshall as Peter Hope. Their children are Amelie Prescott as Daisey Christmas-Hope and Oliver Smith as Henry Christmas-Hope.
Other characters include American actress April Bowlby as Jackie, the girl that Father Christmas brings home with him as his partner. There is also Ray Fearon as Felix and Katy Brand as Reverend Jane.
Father Christmas is back was streaming on Netflix at the time of writing. Watch the trailer below.