Monday, 30 November 2015

Santa's Little Helper

Title:  Santa’s Little Helper
Director:  Gil Junger
Released:  2015
Starring: The Miz, Paige, AnnaLynne McCord, Eric Keenleyside, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Maryse Quellet Mizanin

Plot: Dax “The Axe” is a fast talking and slick businessman who is in fact so good at his job that he manages to eliminate his own job. Now he finds himself unwittingly being put through a series of training exercises by elf Billie (Paige) in hopes of becoming the new Santa’s Little Helper.

Review:  After last year giving us a passable sequel to “Jingle All The Way” with their Larry The Cable Guy fronted and imaginatively titled “Jingle All The Way 2” this film now marks WWE Studios second attempt to cash in on the festive season with WWE Wrestler The Miz being given another lead role after seemingly becoming the face of “The Marine” franchise after he starred in part 3 and 4. This time he also joined by DIVA Paige who shows up as the devious elf Eleanor who feels she has earned the role as “Santa’s Little Helper”.

This film is also another of the occasional jaunts into more family friendly fare, with the company seemingly more happy to churn out action and horror films starring wrestlers from the WWE roster. No doubt this decision is largely based on the fact that most of their product is released for the DTV market with few receiving theatrical releases if any, while it could equally be down to the fact that none of these lighter movies have been any good with “The Chaperone” still haunting me now, more so when you have Triple H one of their biggest ass kickers being reduced to hamming it up in a kids caper movie.

Gil Junger doesn’t really give us anything groundbreaking from the usual festive fare, while in away highlighting how far he’s really fallen since making his directing debut with “10 Things I Hate About You” before moving onto directing mainly TV these days.  Here though he’s clearly working from a script which seemingly can’t decide who its audience is as it flits between family themed material and more adult jokes but never settling on either one leaving the film really at times feeling disjointed at best.

The main meat of the film is the usual arsehole turned good by the festive season fare with the recently fired Dax thinking he’s taking part in an interview and the tasks assigned to him by Billie being all part of the process. These tasks of course only getting more random as the film goes on as he starts by trying resolving conflict by ticking off a bunch of bikers before trying to cheer up some old folks which soon descends into him stripping for their amusement when they turn out to be more sexed up than they first seemed. For some reason Dax never overly questions any of these tasks, while constantly somehow managing to find a way to link them to various business moguls as he tries to figure out who he’s interviewing for.

Of course when Dax does find out the role he’s being interviewed for it does end up being a cringe worthy experience, as seemingly he could have been responsible for everything from curing the common cold to being an astronaut had his childhood been better. The fact that he’s so quick to accept the position and what it entails is only the baffling. Still in a change from the usual child actor gathering that tends to be every Santa’s workshop here all the elves are normal sized actors in their twenties while Mrs Claus constantly seems to be fixed on feeding everyone cookies.

Performance wise the Miz is surprisingly not too bad as an actor, especially when compared to some of the other performances we have seen from some of his fellow wrestlers over the years and here he has a very natural charisma even if some of Dax’s actions are far from believable. That being said his great chemistry with McCord keeps things fun even if none of the tasks seem to relate to anything remotely festive. McCord meanwhile is hardly being pushed here in the role of the bubbly pretty elf, who frequently makes reference to her deformity which is essentially an overplayed way of saying she has normal ears rather than the more traditional pointy ones, but the way it’s played here you would think it’s something much more drastic.

One of the main flaws the film has is the distinct lack of any kind of disenable threat, despite the film not throwing one but three potential villains at Dax. First we have the devious elf Eleanor played here also surprisingly well by fellow wrester Paige, who despite making a large number of threats about claiming he position of Santa’s Little Helper for herself fails to do very little outside of challenging him to an obstacle course race. Elsewhere the film tries to work in villainous turns from his former boss who wants to knock down the local community centre, aswell as the former centre manager who framed Dax when he was a teenager for stealing the Christmas donations. All of which ultimately fall flat and as a result leave the film with a disappointingly flaccid finale, even if it is kind of amusing to see Dax trying to take on a digger bare handed.

While the film doesn’t feel like a waste of time as a casual watch, its lack of substance and general plotting make it harder to recommend nor place it into the cult film bracket, but looking at the mountain of similar movies out there, it’s safe to say you could certainly do worse than this, while the Miz equally makes it a more bearable experience than it may have been with another member of the WWE roster.

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