Julius, orphaned as a baby, loves Christmas with all his heart, no matter who says otherwise. But even the sternest faith in Santa can be tested – and when Julius is told Saint Nick isn’t real, he must embark on an adventure to rediscover his Christmas spirit and save the holiday from darkness.
Christmas movies stand in a field of their own when it comes to reviews. Few would claim that family favourites like Home Alone or Elf are Oscar-worthy – but fewer still who love the sub-genre would have anything bad to say about them. There is a deliberate cheesiness that comes with films made for the season, unoriginality we are willing to accept in the name of hearing our favourite carols and feeling the warm fuzzy glow of the holidays. Alongside the fact that Christmas movies are generally made to appeal to young and old alike, you need a different mindset to enjoy Yuletide viewing.
With this in mind, I have the pleasure of reviewing TriCoast Studios’ Finding Santa. A re-release of the original Danish and Swedish co-production (titled Den magiske juleæske) with English audio dubbing brings this quaint tale to a new audience. The Scandinavian influence is obvious – the animated scenes are like something directly from our childhood dreams of a white Christmas, and the film is filled with Scandinavian references and imagery such as Krampus and Julestjerner (Christmas stars). This gives Finding Santa a European authenticity reminiscent of a classic Christmas story book and gets you in the spirit of the season right away.
The animation is often truly beautiful. The opening scene of the sun shining through an icicle on a still Christmas Eve day is every bit as eye-catching as a big-budget Disney film, and stills throughout the film perfectly capture winter’s beauty. Along those lines, the old-fashioned animation gives the characters a Tim Burton-esque feel. While this means they don’t look as realistic as what we see in a Hollywood animated film, and seem clunky, for some that’s part of the old-worldy appeal.
While Finding Santa looks pretty, unfortunately the story doesn’t come across as well. Perhaps there was much lost in translation, perhaps it’s just the general cheesiness of Christmas movies, but the dialogue was pretty banal. Much of the film’s set pieces also seemed very copy-and-paste, often far too simple and predictable for adults to enjoy. While children will no doubt enjoy the quaint story and likeable characters, there isn’t much memorable here.
Julius, our protagonist, is cute – but his motives and characteristics are a little confused, which make him less likeable. His quest takes him to face Krampus, Santa’s former partner gone rogue, in a battle to keep Christmas alive. Krampus is loud and silly; an ideal villain for young children, but one that may cause adults to lose interest. The other supporting characters are similarly one-dimensional.
Overall Finding Santa is a real visual treat and will appeal to children, but it doesn’t have enough depth or intrigue to hold adults’ attention for the full 80 minutes.
I would like to thank TriCoast Studios for the opportunity to view this special film!
Finding Santa is available on a range of digital streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video. Click the image below if you are in the Christmas spirit!