Film Review: Saving ‘Saving Santa’


Note: this was previously done through Storify, which is shuttering in 2018.

Saving Santa, screenplay by Ricky Roxburgh; story by Tony Nottage (as Antony Nottage); directed by Leon Joosen and Aaron Seelman. Produced by Gateway Films. Copyright 2013. (Seen July 2, 2016.) Buy at

As most of you know by now, I have a thing for Martin Freeman. (Hell, I’ve written two articles about it.) So, as the note above mentioned, when I saw that Saving Santa was streaming on Netflix, I decided to give it a go in the background while I worked on something else. However, soon it was apparent that this was a movie I was not going to only pay half attention to.

I knew the film existed: I had run across the horribly autotuned “Do or Die” song when it was released. But considering it was very obviously ‘just’ for kids (unlike Pixar films, which are for kids and adults alike), I really had no desire to catch it. It looked like a movie that Freeman clearly did for his kids, and most of my #MartinMadness is focused on media where I can actually see the man’s face.

(Now, since this is more of a liveblogging than a review, there are technically spoilers in this. However, since the intended age range for this movie is for the younger range of kids, I don’t think there’s anyone that’s going to be upset at me spoiling it.)

The basic plot: Bernard (Martin Freeman) is an elf, currently in charge of … well, cleaning up after the reindeer.

He’s desperate to break into the inventions department (cleverly named Santech) and has a morning try out that he wakes up late to.

Meanwhile, we run into our bad guy:

Baddington (Tim Curry) is under pressure from his Mummy to cut the time down of their delivery service. This, of course, leads Baddington to investigate how Santa is able to travel the whole world in one night.

While talking to Santa (Tim Conway in the US version, and Tom Baker in the UK one), Bernard mentions his dreams of doing more with his life and asks about Santa’s secrets.

After showing off the sled ….

… the two discuss that Santa’s sled uses technology called a TimeGlobe to do all the delivering in one night. Of course, Baddington finally finds the North Pole and captures Santa, while Bernard hides from them. Bernard now needs to #TITLEDROP save Santa!

But first, this being a children’s holiday movie, we apparently need to sing.

The one thing I have to say, however, is that the henchmen in this film are hilarious. In their taking of Santa, they — of course — need to go on recon, and mention the need to ‘check out’ Pancake Palace (an IHOP/Waffle House expy). I was … a little excited at the name.

As Bernard attempts to figure out what to do, he talks to Blitzen — who he has given a reindeer translator he has built which doesn’t really work. But he somehow still is able to understand the reindeer in that ‘owner/pet’ connection type way. Blitzen gives him the idea to — not surprisingly — use the TimeGlobe to go back and try to warn the others before it happens.

However, as with all time travel storylines, there are some difficulties in his plan. First, Bernard isn’t exactly the best conversationalist.

(Actual quote from the movie, and the first time I gave an honest chuckle during the movie.)

Of course, Bernard is subject to the Cassandra effect, and no one believes him. When he approaches Santa, he gets tackled by a couple of secret service type elves that are guarding the jolly old elf, and Bernard is put under interrogation about his attempt on Santa. He tries to tell his story to Snowy (Noel Clarke) and Shiny (Ashley Tisdale) without much success.

There’s a bit of a commotion that gets Bernard free, and he runs into himself.

Meanwhile, Baddington continues his attempt at torturing Santa (well, as much is allowed in a kid’s film) for the secret to how he’s able to do all that delivering so quickly.

Baddington launches his attack on the North Pole, with his henchmen destroying everything they can.

Bernard, realizing he has missed his opportunity, goes back in time AGAIN, running back into himself and … himself.

After failing to stop Baddington again, Bernard decides to give up on his attempts to save the day … and is promptly captured AGAIN by the secret service elves.

This time, however, when Shiny hears Bernard has given up, she gives him a pep talk that he’s worth giving it one more shot. And, again, because this is a kid’s movie, she apparently needs to do it in song.

We’re about three fourths of the way through the movie by this point, and ready for the third act. I realize by this point that I’ve actually been somewhat entertained by the whole thing.

… Not that the movie doesn’t have it’s issues.

But again, it’s for kids and my standards are low. And there’s just enough humor that hits me just right to make me forgive its faults. Especially with the henchmen.

After a plan that actually works (I won’t tell you what it is — I want to leave you SOME surprises), there’s one more surprisingly adult joke before we get our finale.

Of course, Bernard does eventually save the day, and we are also (thankfully) spared him getting the girl as well, considering there was little scenes between the two. As a reward, Santa allows him on the sled.

If you’ve got young kids and are looking for a fun holiday movie, this is definitely something that will keep them entertained. But I’d rent it or watch it online rather than buying it, as it’s not one of those movies that are going to appeal past a certain age. It’s a good way to waste a little under 90 minutes. As noted above, the movie is currently streaming on Netflix, and is available on video on demand (note the Amazon link).