A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is fine for family entertainment leading up the holidays, with cute kids and funny reindeer to entertain the children and an appealing if unbelievable romance to appeal to grown-ups. Big game hunting is depicted as evil and there are myriad scenes of lax zoo security in a thankfully imaginary zoo. Santa is depicted as real, even human, but there are no elves at this North Pole.
What's the story?
In the 2007 made-for-TV movie SNOW, Santa (Tom Cavanagh) has a decidedly human air, and faces a plausible dilemma. He's taken over Christmas from his father for the first time and wishing for a Mrs. Claus to help him with all the details of getting ready. But when one of his new reindeer goes missing, Santa must track him down and get him back in time for Christmas. Among the human helpers he meets while disguised as Nick Snowden, Sandy the zoo keeper (Ashley Williams) may be a candidate for Mrs. Claus -- if she can get past the jumpy and strange behavior of her bumbling new friend.
Is it any good?
This movie, made for the ABC Family channel, attempts to reach both kids and parents with its message of Christmas magic wrapped in light romance. Set in modern-day southern California, Snow is filled with sight gags of surreptitious reindeer antics and narrow escapes from discovery by Nick to keep kids laughing. Sights of a house festooned by Christmas decorations in an effort to woo one of its occupants also underlines the sweet, if shallow, message of the movie.
We know Nick Snowden is nervous, out of his element, and under deadline, but Cavanagh makes the character so very uncomfortable and twitchy that it's almost hard to watch. As young Hector says, "Who knew Santa was a dweeb?" It's not until his secret is shared that he settles down and viewers can begin to understand why Sandy might be interested in her new housemate. Williams, a lovely actress with the advantage of being shaped like a normal-sized woman, begins to seem like the perfect Mrs. Claus as her friendship with Nick grows, and when a curveball is introduced into the romance viewers may actually wonder "What happens next?" Not an easy feat with a predictable holiday movie, but an indication that at least some thought went into developing the characters.