OK, so I lied about taking a break in December but some movies require being blogged about right away. Words can’t express the pure genius of The Santa Trap. Of course by pure genius, I mean you will laugh, cry, and beg for the movie to end. My wife and I have a pretty good sense of humor. Snarky comments got us through the movie. However, the pain of watching the film subdued even the snarkiest. Eventually, we just sat thinking. When will it end? Please let it end. Why isn’t it ending! The quote of the evening was when my wife paused it to see how much time we had left, “22 Minutes? I don’t know if I can sit through another 22 minutes!”
Even the trailer brings back painful memories. Before we got to the point of poking out our eyes with a sharp object, I was actually excited to see the movie. In the opening credits, two names caught my attention. The first was Robert Hays. This guy was the lead role in one of my favorite movies of all time: Airplane! He was practically my babysitter when I was young. I could be dosed on three pounds of sugar and running around the house like Lord of the Flies. Just throw a VHS of Airplane! in the VCR and I would be glued to the television. The next name that caught my attention was Dick Van Patten. To me, he was the guy from practically every Mel Brooks movie (another one of my favorite movie makers of all time). Who would be next? John Cleese? The Santa Trap was going to be the best movie of the season… or so I thought.
My first warning should have been the low budget quality and staged shots of the film. As a veteran of low budget films myself, I tend to be very forgiving of the lack of technical quality. If the movie is funny, the story is good, or the concept is neat, I’ll forgive the film maker. Unfortunately, The Santa Trap lacked anything to take my mind off of the thought: this scene looks staged like a play. The next scene also looks like a play. Am I in a play right now? Did I get transported back to my undergraduate directing final? What is the nature of reality? Are we the imagination of a playwright? He/she must have writer’s block to imagine such a dumb movie.
Basically, the premise of this movie is the older brother gives his younger sister a hard time about believing in Santa so she decides to capture him. Her father, played by Robert Hays, thinks he is a prowler and sends him to prison. The rest of the movie involves stereotypes imagined by a person who never left their house in fifties years.
For example, most of us think of Harley driving bikers as part of an older generation that wishes to recapture the glory days of their youth with a giant engine between their crotches. This movie thinks of bikers as people that would fight your sister, rape your booze, and drink your brother. If the writer of the film left their house once every fifties years, they would probably notice that most bikers these days care about AARP, affordable healthcare, and restaurant discounts over fighting and boozing.
Shelley Long’s (the wife of Robert Hays) character arc in the film was to accept the fact they moved to a new city and loose her identity to her husband. She still got to manage one of her old accounts (she was apparently the biggest person on 5th avenue) but went from New York’s elite to a shut up and deal with it housewife. I find that to be a very believable character development as gender roles have never really changed. I tell my wife to shut up all the time and to get back to making goulash in the kitchen. Then she makes me sleep in the shed… the cold… dark… lonely shed.
What really drives this movie is the lack of character arc for Robert Hays. Apparently, Robert Hays moved them to the small Southwestern town of La Quinta (yes, like the Inn) for a new job. This job is high pressure and has him working all the time. On Christmas Eve, he receives a pile of work to take home. They later find the person he replaced at the job in a hospital from a stress related heart attack. Yet somehow by the end of the film, he sure is happy to be in his new home. Hooray for dysfunctional workaholic fathers that place work over family time!
Yes, this kid proved Santa exists but I’m sorry to report her father will die at forty due to a stress related illness. Her mom left her career to manage one lousy account so the lavish lifestyle will come crashing down without their father’s income. But at least when they are homeless, they will be happy they are together (and in a climate where it doesn’t snow). I am not kidding. This movie actually has homeless people cheerful and thankful for their situation. No amount of Home Alone knock off humor will make up for this film. But since tis the season, I will say the movie is worth seeing. In order to fully understand how to rate a movie from one to ten, one must understand what one really means.