Must Be Santa
directed by Brad Turner
(CBC, 1999)

If you are looking for a unique spin on the Christmas scene and visions of the North Pole, get Must Be Santa. You have never seen the North Pole like this.

Three days before Christmas, Santa (Gerard Parkes) pretends to croak, causing great commotion because he has refused to release his position to a replacement. Instead, he always finds something wrong with them, which is driving Tuttle (Dabney Coleman) bonkers. Tuttle is the manager of the Santa Claus control center.

After the croaking scare, Santa selects his replacement, an accountant named Percy Farthing (Peter Millard). To pass on the Christmas spirit and magic, Santa must whisper a secret word to the replacement while touching him. But before he reaches Percy, Santa is trampled by a petty thief, Floyd Court (Arnold Pinnock), and accidentally whispers the word to him.

The crew take Santa and his "mistake replacement" to the North Pole, where he learns that Santa's control center is run by angels and they are on Heaven Standard Time.

Two days before Christmas, their replacement Santa wants to resign because he promised his daughter, Heather, that he would attend her Christmas concert. They cannot find any files on him and Tuttle wants to put him back and select another. Santa's actions must be above reproach, so a petty thief is not a likely candidate.

Then the replacement Santa learns he will have the power to make a person feel love or hate, and he sees the chance to make his daughter love him. He swears in, then learns that he cannot use any Santa power for personal gain. If he uses the power for himself, there will be cosmic chaos.

Befriended by Ms. Fairlie (Deanna Milligan) and Carl (Brian Miranda), who wants to be Santa's No. 1 assistant, Santa assumes his duties. He has a long list of complications: Tuttle does not like him, Carl is jealous of Heather, Heather is mad at him and he feels guilty because he was never an active part of Heather's life. When he gets weak and makes a football bet, he sets the cosmic chaos in motion.

This is an interestingly odd movie. It is a great story with a unique plot. The North Pole is a strange, ethereal vision -- a fantasy carnival. Santa leaves on a rollercoaster and returns down a giant slide. This movie definitely shows you something new.

The acting is fine and the special effects are a knockout. The movie is visually intriguing and mentally stimulating. It offers action, suspense and humor rolled into a strong drama.

Children will be mesmerized by Must Be Santa. It is a real charmer -- a unique one.

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

20 December 2008

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