“Christmas brings out all the freaks,” an exasperated zoo guard says in Snow, when he finds a man talking to one of the specially imported reindeer. Fair assumption, and this festive message rings true for our protagonist Sandy (Ashley Williams), who’s courted exclusively by weirdoes. There’s recent ex-boyfriend Buck, who has given up so much to be with her- like killing animals! Except he does still shoot animals. (Better than Ted’s promise that he didn’t still have feelings for Robin, right? Right? Ashley Williams was Victoria in HIMYM. I’m still sad about the ending.)

Bachelor number two is an eight-year old called Hector who lives in Sandy’s flat complex. It’s like they copied and pasted generic sassy Disney channel sidekick lines for him. The kid never stops acting on top of his acting. Our final option, and eventual love interest (spoiler) is Nick Snowden, who’s come through a magic mirror and has to get his flying reindeer back before Christmas Eve. Uh oh, he’s also technically Santa who saw that coming?

In theory, he’s a real catch: he and Sandy share a love of animals, have both lost parents, and are attractive. That’s seasonal movie matchmaking 101. In practise however, Nick is pretty creepy- the guy follows Sandy home and her landlady finds him “just looking”. Thankfully for him nobody bats an eyelid. He’s also apparently Amish or something, because Nick’s never heard of a seat belt. Honestly, what kind of role model does that make Santa? An irresponsible driver, for one. He does have his awkward way of fumbling over words in his favour though, which is much better than the guy who offers Sandy “some Buck time”.

The face of a woman who does not want to buck.
The face of a woman who does not want to buck.

I think the stand out star of the film is the bad CGI. Considering it’s 2004, it should be far better, but this totally works in the film’s favour. There’s a chase sequence between Nick and Buck to get to the runaway magical reindeer Buddy, and it’s laughable. I can’t put into words how much I enjoyed the slow-motion tranquiliser dart flying through the air after Buddy as he jumps a suspension bridge. I’m not sure whether those onlookers were yelling “nooooo” because of the tension or the awful special effects. Even when Nick and Sandy fly off to the North Pole together, the sequence has an overwhelming feel of a theme park Sleigh Simulator 3000.

Still, the weird guy gets the girl, and after all isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas? As the zoo guard observed, get your freak on. Get your freak on, everyone.

Rating: Ho Ho/ Ho Ho Ho

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