Santa Who? has one of my favourite opening sequences in all seasonal moviedom. Let me try to set the scene for you.
It’s…Victorian times, apparently, and a boy in breeches writes a letter to Santa whilst a nun watches the roaring fire. He finishes the letter and hands it to the woman who isn’t a nun but rather a governess/Scottish Widow (sans cape), who tells him his dad won’t pick him up from this lavish orphanage. The boy then watches from the landing (he’s suddenly upstairs) as the woman throws his letter into the fire.
Cut to chimney exterior emitting CGI embers, a gloved hand scoops up the embers from off-camera.
Cut to present day. Eh??
This isn’t the trippiest Dickens adaptation ever, but the childhood of news reporter Peter and that’s why he hates Christmas, because of the mean Scottish Widow. This has also affected his relationship with Claire, whose request for commitment is apparently preposterous to Peter. Women! Always wanting men not to dick them over, what’s all that about?
Meanwhile, Lesley Nielsen is Santa but a super distracted one (probably thinking “why did I sign up to this film?”) so he takes a ride with the reindeer to clear his head. Of course the confused elderly man crashes directly onto Peter’s car and gets amnesia! How “wacky”. Being a good person as well as a stand-up boyfriend, Peter doesn’t take this poor man to the doctors or police, but uses the story for personal gain and potential national coverage.
This film is a predictable beast. Peter juggles Santa, a needy girlfriend (“will you try to get on with my son” URGH LEAVE HIM BE WOMAN HE’S GOT A CORRIDOR TO WALK DOWN AT WORK) and a precocious child (Claire’s son Zack who is 10 going on 7). There’s a largely forgettable subplot about Santa’s elves venturing out to save him where they are faced with racism at border control for their pointy ears.
Yes, there are laughs to be had when Santa says that Christmas is “too commercialised” (Santa Who? is available on DVD from all bad retailers- or if you’re lucky like me, at a closing down sale) and when he has flashbacks to a screensaver shot of CGI reindeer tumbling everywhere, but schlocky entertainment is hard to find in such a mostly dull memory loss romp.