I'd like to do a final review of my husband's most recent movie, and for the first time in his professional life, I'm going to do so publicly because it's the first one the majority of my readership wouldn't be completely scandalized by.
Warning: Those of my more conservative readership may want to skip it as the movie does contain elements they'd rather have nothing to do with Santa (sexual deviance, drunkeness and a general lack of education regarding who St. Nicholas actually was). If it helps, this movie is not about the historical Santa Claus. It has nothing to do with Santa's origin, how he's been commercialized or even who he is to different cultures.
Instead, this movie is unapologetically about the red-suited, white-bearded, jolly old man who sits in malls whispering magic directly into the expectant souls of those he greets.
However, I Am Santa Claus is not simply a documentary about men as mall Santas. In truth, it's the story of mall Santas as men - living, breathing, fault-bearing members of humanity who are bonded together by their treasured love of Christmas and their dedication to instilling Christmas joy into every facet of their existence.
Still with me? Alright then!
I Am Santa Claus is the documentary brainchild of director Tommy Avallone. When I tell you this man has a resume more colorful than an Apache headdress, I'm severely understating his capacity to surprise, delight and entertain. Not only is he thoroughly creative, he's got the talent and drive to ensure his ideas come to life. God bless him; he knows how to get folks excited about his projects. In fact, Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame) was so taken with Tommy's idea that he signed on as Executive Producer!
My husband was also brought on-board as another producer. If there's one thing my husband is good at doing, it's making things happen! He's able to see the long-term needs of projects and come up with manageable goals that keep those projects steadily moving forward. Owning to his ability to see the whole picture, he's able to express that picture to others who've only glimpsed the canvas still wet from priming. Inspiring confidence and excitement in others for these films enables him to find and connect investors with the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I'm very proud of him!
The filmmakers chose to whittle their litany of Santas down to five: four professionals and one newb (the incomparable Mick Foley). These Santas cover the gamut from down-on-his-luck divorcee to a tattooed grill-master with a smattering of high-society and homosexual detours to boot.
Now I actually felt my readership cringe at the word "homosexual." Let me make very clear that Santa Jim, the rainbow-suspendered Santa who proudly displays his "Mr. Texas Bear Round-up" medals while parading through a homosexual dance-off, is not a horrible man hell-bent on infecting children with ideas of man-on-man love.
In truth, he's actually my favorite Santa (after Foley) because you cannot help but feel the supreme and all-encompassing joy he gets from making others happy as Santa Claus. His personality is so genuine, loving and humble that you can't help but want to reach through the screen and hug him close.
The theme of homosexuality was very much downplayed for the majority of the film. There is a portion that is over-the-top-in-your-face, but I fully understand that it was done as a quirky insight into a world very few of us know or understand. However, the director goes out of his way to reinforce that sexuality of any sort (homosexual, swinger or otherwise) has absolutely nothing to do with the role of Santa Claus. I was appreciative of that.
The only real issue I had with the film was the fact that there was a significant bit of vulgarity that came from down-and-out Santa Russell. This man is, quite truly, his own worst enemy, and that is unfortunately showcased by the choice of what was left in the film vs. on the cutting room floor. And while I understand that this sort of schadenfreude is considered entertainment anymore, I really could've done without several of his scenes as it just felt mean after a while. That being said, I still feel as though he has his bright spots as well and the director used him marvelously as a juxtaposition to the others on several occasions to underscore a few important points.
The first half of the film is dedicated to introducing these men and telling us who they are in the off-season. These men hold regular jobs like you and me: real estate agent, contractor, antiques dealer and even unemployed. However, no matter what their position, each man is dedicated to Santa all year round by growing / keeping their hair and beards long, maintaining a certain jovial shape and practicing their "Ho, ho, ho" to children who clamor before them in grocery parking lots.
The second half of the film is where things get really interesting. Mick Foley (of WWE fame as Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack) makes the transformation from steel cage veteran to St. Nick novice.
And dear readers, prepare yourself a stockpile of tissues as you watch Mick blossom into the most endearing person you will ever have the privilege of watching. There is no one more generous, thoughtful or soul-beautiful on the screen. No one! He possesses within himself the true Spirit of Christmas (and you guys know what I mean!). There is an undeniable, Christ-like joy within him that compels him to bring happiness, healing and love to others. My heart is swelling with appreciation for him and others like him who go to such lengths to bring joy to others so selflessly.
The climax comes with an incredible Christmas Eve surprise that will leave all of you in tears of astonished joy. I won't ruin the surprise here, but that scene alone made the entire movie worthwhile. I've seen this movie a dozen times, but I cry EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. There is nothing quite like witnessing the wonder and awe of children, and this movie documents each open-mouthed gasp, giddy hug and raucous shout.
It is really inspiring to see the lengths these men go to in order to solicit smiles, wield magic and create lasting memories for the kids. God bless each and every one of them.
For more information (like the trailer), check out their website: IamSantaClausMovie.com
Otherwise, pick up your copy today at any of the places below!
iTunes Amazon Google Play Vimeo
Vudu CinemaNow Target Ticket VHX
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