Sunday, December 27, 2015
Rifftrax Christmas #3: Kris Kringle Down
It seems every country has its own way of making a Santa Claus movie. We make one where he conquers Mars, or makes the Martians look like pompous fools. Mexico has him battle a demon while trying to reunite a rich boy with his parents and give a poor girl a doll taller than her.
What does France do? Have Santa and a "good fairy" get kidnapped by African warlords to grant a young boy's wish to get his parents back.
Could be worse. There could have also been a croissant bunny involved.
Rifftrax has found another holiday movie that, despite its attempt to convince kids to never give up on their dreams, makes even less sense than Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.
It's called I Believe in Santa Claus, although it's French title means "I Met Santa Claus". It's about a kid named Simon who's having a tough time. His parents disappeared somewhere in "Just Africa", and he gets tossed in a closet by a mean janitor who thinks he broke a window. Someone else did it, but his excuse is he's scared when he's in a locked room.
The only "cheer" he gets is from a singing teacher who's either trying to be a prototype for Celine Dion or the first member of a French knockoff of ABBA. Rifftrax tried to compare her to Brazilian singer Xuxa, but she had much better songs.
Simon writes a letter to Santa, asking him to bring his parents back, who supposedly were captured by African warlords. That was probably a way to create a holiday story ripped from the headlines of 1984. The kid also has a saying from his dad saying that anything can happen if you wish hard enough. Believe it or not, that idea works. During a field trip to the airport, Simon and his friend Elodie are mistaken for two kids booked for a flight to Finland.
So, after wandering around in the snow, Santa finds them, and they meet a good fairy named Mary Ellen, who looks like their teacher. Couldn't the movie explain their teacher is also a Good Fairy, which makes her a more whimsical version of Safety Woman? Maybe she knew the kids were missing and tracked them down...and gave Finnair a piece of her mind about grabbing kids and putting them on planes at any moment.
I know, "just repeat to yourself it's a kids movie that can't help from being dumb," but it makes Home Alone look better.
Anyway, her songs are schmaltzy. When she sings a song abut elves making toys, the Rifftrax crew thinks it almost sounds like "Coming To America" by Neil Diamond. She also tells Simon and Elodie not to head to the forest because that's where an ogre lives. He's mean and eats kids and dogs. Naturally, when Santa and the fairy head to Africa to save Simon's parents, the kids go to the forest.
Come to think of it, seeing Santa and the fairy walking somewhere in "just Africa" is a sight to see, especially when he cools off by jumping into a lake with his clothes on. They wind up getting captured by the African warlord, who won't release the parents until France denounces his country's government. He also thinks white bearded guys like Santa are CIA.
The warlord's kids are worried, though. Santa in jail means no Super Bowl t-shirts where the losing teams are declared champs (in the case of '84, Miami). So, they let him out by taking some of the soldiers' guns. When Santa and the fairy get back, they see the kids went to that ogre. This leads the fairy to disguise herself as Red Riding Hood, while singing something that's almost "The Winner Takes It All".
She does rescue the kids, and lets them help Santa on his Christmas ride. Of course, Simon's parents do get home, too. It's all as dumb as it sounds.
Simon writes his letter to Santa, wanting his parents back
A trip to the hardware store shouldn't take three years.
Simon and Elodie go through the airport lobby in Finland
By Finnish decree even the airport must look like a ski lodge.
Santa tells Simon what happened to his parents is due to politics. Simon asks what is that and Santa says "It's nothing you want in your Christmas stocking"
Unless you're George Will
The idea that warlords kidnapping Santa would make a great holiday story
It's A Wonderful Life could've used just a few more political kidnappings
The warlord asks "who let the guns be stolen?"
The Baha Men's unsuccessful follow-up song
There's also riffs on Anakin Skywalker, Klaus Barbie, Skymall, Wendy's, Planet of the Apes and Sally Struthers. Oh, and they came up with a new slogan for...well, you know.
It's likely this movie may be Rifftrax's Christmas show next year, but there are other possible strange holiday movies to mock, There's one where Santa may get evicted from his workshop for not paying his rent, or the one where a greedy oil company threatens Santa's workshop due to over-drilling. If they don't get these movies, the new MST3K might.
Until then. I Believe in Santa Claus is available at the Rifftrax website, along with other holiday classics.