The Year Without A Santa Claus
John Goodman, Chris Kattan, Delta Burke
Made for TV
Originally aired NBC 2006
Warner Home Video 2006
90 minutes

The Year Without A Santa Claus is the made for TV movie live action version of the Bass Rankin 1974 stop-motion animated Christmas classic. If How The Grinch Stole Christmas has proven one thing it is that cartoon Christmas favorites do not translate well on the big or small screen as remakes. This version of The Year Without A Santa Claus starring John Goodman and which aired on NBC a day before its DVD release, which gives a new meaning to straight to DVD, is kind of painful to watch.

The premise of The Year Without A Santa Claus the 2006 DVD version is Santa is disillusioned about the holiday season and decides to skip it this year. He basically feels he is just the delivery guy for SantaCo and he does not matter. His assistant, Sparky (played by a distractingly pink-eyed and bad even beyond his usual bad can’t even do a good pratfall Chris Kattan) is basically the CEO of SantaCo and not helping at all. Leave it to two elves, Jingle and Jangle (Eddie Griffin and Ethan Slupee) to save Christmas day by finding a kid who still believes in the whole thing. Tossed in haphazardly are a musical number featuring Snow Miser and Heatmiser (Michael McKean and the aptly named Harvey Fierstein) to satisfy fans of the original, a few modern touches including video games, Dr. Laura (you’ve got to be kidding, not even Santa could give this shrew a remake), the WWF and some cheesy special effects. This makes for a mess.

What I did like about the live action version of The Year Without A Santa Claus is director Ron Underwood gives due credit to the original Bass Ranking version by making a lot of scenery around the North Pole very similar in style to that used in the stop-motion version. This is particularly obvious in the scene where Santa (John Goodman) and Ms. Claus (Delta Burke) go to the lookout to check on how people are handling Christmas.

The Spock-eared elves are low budget and weird looking but I liked the bit where they use the same trick as Spock so they are not noticed when out and about the big city while their wheels, the slay, are stolen, and Vixen gets impounded by the dog catcher. This made for TV movie Christmas DVD meanders. Jingle and Jangle are also a lot of fun most of the time. The kid in this remake is not bad and not cloyingly sweet.

I am not sure The Year Without A Santa Claus will entertain the very little ones and teenagers will dismiss it. Parents who have grown up on the original Bass Rankin version will be interested as well as kids below the tween set but perhaps not long enough to sit through the entire DVD.

You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch.


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