A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Get Santa is a British Christmas comedy about a son whose father, freshly released from prison, is determined to stay out of jail for good but finds himself tempted to break the law when the real Santa lands himself in jail and needs help. There are scenes about toughing it out in jail, divorced parents, childhood dysfunction that leads to a life of crime, some brawling, high-speed chases, a "hell" and an "oh, God" here and there, a punch or two, and a lot of rule- and law-breaking, all justified in the interest of saving the day. There's rude humor throughout, including reindeer who communicate exclusively by farting and a gun that shoots reindeer poop directly on a woman's face. Nothing terribly egregious, but the more mature themes and frequent prison setting probably make it best for older kids.
What's the story?
Steve (Rafe Spall) is just out of jail and determined to stay out. But when his young son Tom calls him up, insisting the real Santa (Jim Broadbent) has crashed his sled and is hiding in their garage, Steve wants to help. When Santa finds himself behind bars, it seems Steve is the only person who believes in him and knows how to get him out, but how can he and Tom pull it off without sending him directly back to prison?
Is it any good?
GET SANTA has an entertaining enough premise. The real Santa shows up in town to deliver presents to children around the world, but instead he crashes his sleigh, lands up in jail, and has to win the loyalty of his fellow prisoners while he plans an exit strategy. That strategy is, oddly enough, recruiting the just-out-of-prison father of a young son, who desperately wants to avoid repeating his mistakes. What follows is nothing but opportunities to break the law, all to prove to his son that he's a stand-up guy and Santa is real. A certain age of kid likely will find reindeer who communicate by farting a real gas, and there's a grittiness here that has fun with typical Christmas comedies without pushing it too far out of the family realm. Plus, there are some valiant attempts to soften and reframe the harsh stereotype of prisoner into an unfortunate adult who also was once a kid -- and maybe one who got a bum deal at that.
But there's no real consequences for any of the broken rules and damaged property in the quest to save Santa, and some of the heavier themes here -- divorce, imprisonment, the recidivism rate -- make this more suitable for youngsters able to grasp why dads sometimes go to prison.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about when breaking the rules makes sense. Have you ever had to break a rule to do the right thing? What was it? What happened?
How do you think you would know if you met the real Santa?
How does the movie show life in jail? Do you think it's realistic? Why, or why not?
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