When his devious head elf, Sparky (Kattan), tells him that he must "keep up with the times" no matter how materialistic Santa Claus (Goodman) resists, fearing that the holiday has become far too commercial. Convinced that ... more »no one believes in him anymore and that people have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas, Santa decides to take the year off and not deliver any gifts, much to the dismay of his two closest elves, Jingle (Suplee) and Jangle (Griffin). When Santa tells them that he doesn't think there are any children left who still care about the true spirit of Christmas, the two elves decide to prove him wrong. But their efforts are complicated by Heatmiser and Snowmiser, the two feuding sons of Mother Nature (Kane), whose help Jingle and Jangle will need if they want to save Christmas.« less
Save your time, money, and electricity and avoid this one at all cost. I had been saving this to watch with my six year old daughter, hoping it was a live action version of the classic Rankin-Bass film that I enjoyed as a boy. Well, the two films have the same title, and that's about it.
I turned it off after sitting through ten minutes of horrible acting, poor writing, and a poorly promoted film that does not earn it's claim to be "a live-action version of your childhood favorite".
It's a shame that this is what is considered "family entertainment" in the 21st century. What ever happened to good humor, quality writing and acting? I'll stick with the original and suggest that you do too.
Zanzibar McFate | Ohio, USA | 12/03/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The original version of The Year Without a Santa Claus may not have been one of the very best Christmas classics. It must not have been terribly popular -- given that it took quite a while to come out on DVD, and was packaged with a couple of other obscure holiday titles when it was eventually released. Still, it deserved better than this remake.
John Goodman as Santa was about the only good casting choice. Some (Delta Burke) others are okay. Others (Chris Kattan -- "Mango" as an elf?) are just awful.
Jack LaLanne plays a retired Hercules. He and some other non-Christmas-related mythical figures appear in the movie. Maybe it was an homage to The Santa Clause, which featured the mythological characters such as the Tooth Fairy.
Carol Kane (the abusive Ghost of Christmas Present from Scrooged -- "the b**** hit me with a toaster") plays Mother Nature, and does basically the same character. She abuses Heat Miser, Cold Miser, and Chris Kattan's elf character in the same way she abused Bill Murray's character in Scrooged. Come to think of it, maybe that was an odd homage.
Examples of "updates" to the plot and lines, from my notes hastily scribbled during the show:
* The plucky mayor of Southtown is faced with a couple of slick salesmen trying to sell a big retail center (read: WalMart or large mall) in the town, but refuses them because "this town has a history" (the shysters' reply: "ghost towns have histories, too"). The town must hold a Christmas festival to raise money for their "endowment," so that they don't have to let the retail center into town. ("Hollywood has no agenda," part 1)
* In the remake, Iggy is the neglected child of the too-busy Mayor. In the original, Iggy had a non-dysfunctional family and the mayor was unrelated. In the original, the snow in Southtown is for the sake of convincing the Mayor of the elves' sincerity; in the remake the snow is intended to shut down the town so that the Mayor will have to spend time with his son. ("Hollywood has no agenda," part 2)
* Jingle: "What are we doing here?" Jangle: "It's a school; it's where kids hang out. Don't you watch South Park?"
* Heat Miser (attacking Cold Miser): "How's that for Shock and Awe?"
* In the original, Heat Miser and Cold Miser's "minions" were smaller versions of themselves. In the remake, they're scantily clad dancers.
* In the remake, Jingle and Jangle end up in an arcade playing, among other things, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme. The elves can break the laws of physics -- jump high a la The Matrix, get astoundingly good scores on video games. In the original, they were lost and stuck, but in the remake their super-powers make it harder to believe that their predicament is dire.
* Heat Miser vs. Cold Miser in a boxing match.
* Instead of Mrs. Claus going to Cold Miser for help, Santa Claus confronts the Miser Brothers over shooting down his elves. Instead of going to Mother Nature as a last resort, Santa summons her into the boxing ring to deal with her problem children.
* When Santa goes to pick up Vixen from the dog pound... Santa: "I remember you from when you were young." Dogcatcher: "I'm still waiting for that BB gun, Santa." Santa: "You'll shoot your eye out." (An homage to A Christmas Story?)
General thoughts about the remake:
* The original plot is essentially gone. In the original, Santa proves he is real by making it snow in Southtown. The Mayor declares Christmas a holiday for Santa -- sanctioning him to skip Christmas deliveries for a year, as he wished to do. All the kids around the world send letters and presents to Santa, reversing the usual pattern. Santa is moved to not skip Christmas by this outpouring of Christmas spirit. In the remake, Santa is moved by the mention of how the kids in the homeless shelter will miss him. ("Hollywood has no agenda," part 3). Christmas spirit as a motivation is replaced by guilt.
* The second-best song from the original ("So You're Too Old For Santa Claus") is missing from the remake. The best original song ("Heat Miser / Cold Miser") is butchered. The best "borrowed" song (Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas") is missing as well.
* In the remake, Chris Kattan's elf character tries to take over Christmas delivery, in the absence of Santa ("Sparky was my slave name; I'm Extreme Santa now"). He's the head elf -- "the CEO" of the toy-making company. But he is picketed by several elves who demand the real Santa make the deliveries, and then threatens to fire all elves who don't cooperate with him. ("Hollywood has no agenda," part 4). Apparently the remake is not "The Year Without A Santa Claus" so much as "The Year With A Substitute Evil Elf Santa Claus." I wonder why they didn't go with that more honest title.
Who could have read this script and believed it was a good idea to get involved with this project? It was available on DVD within days of being broadcast.
Maybe I'm approaching it with the wrong attitude, and this was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek romp with homages to several different Christmas specials. But why sully the memory of the original by taking its title, and then not even having an actual year without a Santa Claus as the plot?
My recommendation: if you're looking for a DVD, buy the original version The Year Without a Santa Claus / Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey / Rudolph's Shiny New Year instead, it's a fraction of the cost (as of the time of this writing) and about a thousand times better. If you just want to listen to the Heat Miser / Cold Miser song, check out Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's version on the album Everything You Want for Christmas."
A Christmas Less Than Special
Edward Aycock | New York, NY United States | 12/12/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"A charmless live-action remake that is a waste of time. From the lackluster opening credits (really, they couldn't have done better than that?) to the unfunny attempts to be hip to a wasted cast (Delta honey, wake up, the cameras are rolling!), this TV-movie blows colder than the North Wind.
The worst thing this remake does is to fill the movie with all kinds of contemporary references and jokes. This will date the movie forever and will not allow it to age well although considering the DVD is available the day after the network broadcast, the powers that be seem to be hoping this will become a quick buy. Don't bother. And I find it ironic that Santa is horrified by all the new violent video games and toys out there when these are the types of gifts real kids will be wanting this year. A Christmas special really isn't isn't going to change anybody's mind.
One of the dumber moves is to have a scene where characters watch snippets of old movies/specials that feature Christmas such as "Auntie Mame" and the original "Year Without a Santa Claus." This comparison only shows how bad this new special looks. Do yourself a favor and buy those movies instead and skip this one."
If a movie deserved zero stars, this is it
octobercountry | the Land of Trees and Heroes | 12/12/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I went into this with high hopes, as I'm sure did many who grew up with the stop-motion original. But what a bitter disappointment. The tone was COMPLETELY wrong. I was hoping for something that would recapture some of the joy and innocence that the Christmas season can hold, but this film most certainly did not. The entire opening was very unpleasant in the extreme, with an adult, bitter, cynical tone. (If anyone wanted to know why Santa became disillusioned with the Christmas season, well, he probably watched this film!)
Also, with the first few minutes of the film featuring a very brief (but vivid) clip of a video game in which a character is decapitated amid buckets of blood, and a fellow singing a song all about how "Santa Sucks," I really don't think this film is appropriate for very young viewers---which SHOULD have been the target audience, for goodness sake. As for the bikini-clad dancers in the Heat Miser musical number----well, this isn't the sort of charming fare that brings the feeling of Christmas to the heart.
Again, I'm very, very disappointed. With the wonders that can be worked with modern visual effects, this could have been a totally magical story. Something that kids and adults alike could enjoy---but the tone seemed totally misdirected. I can't imagine ever wanting to watch this again.
About as bad as it gets
Michael J. Moran | Orlando, FL | 01/04/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Make no mistake we are in "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" territory here. This is about as bad as Christmas movies get. I don't know where to start. Th bad CGI effects, the sets that look like they were built for a middle school play or John Goodman playing "Jolly Old St. Nick" like a grumpy coke addict going through detox. Just say no!!"
Wow, is this bad
jcb | 01/05/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I love the animated version of this and when I saw there was a live-action one I thought, "hey--John Goodman, Michael McKean, Harvey Fierstein, how bad can it be?" Really, really bad. When puppets from the early 70s have more charisma than the actors do, something is really wrong with your movie. This could have been good but it never quite figures out if it wants to be an homage, a parody, or a "hip" update. Between that and Chris Kattan chewing up all the scenery--just spend your money on the original."