It’s day six (halfway through this cockamamie project!) and we got roped into The Santa Con. Directed by 12 Days of Christmas Movies alum Melissa Joan Hart, this is a B-star studded extravaganza. You’ve got Urkle (though sadly Jaleel White is criminally underused in this film), you’ve got MJH herself, everyone’s favorite talk show host, Wendy Williams, and star Barry “7th Heaven” Watson. No, it’s not about the legendary, out of control pub crawls, it’s about a small time con man who makes a boy’s wish come true. Or does he?!?
Barry starts the film in prison, where he’s being held for impersonating a professor at Yale for two years (he even managed to get on the tenure track). He’s released with a good recommendation from super shady warden John Ratzenberger (see how star studded this gem is?) and gets a parole appointed job as….a mall Santa? Usually prisoners are released to jobs involving children, right? If Melissa Joan Hart says so it must be true.
Santa Barry promises, in a distracted moment, that he can get a curly blond moppet’s parents back together by Christmas. MJH, Barry’s suspicious sister and temporary caretaker, overhears the promise and gives Barry hell about it, throwing him out of the house she’s letting him crash at. Barry winds up wandering the streets and takes refuge from the rain in a church, pastored (pastorized?) by Wendy Freakin’ Williams. Williams may be one of the coolest pastors of all time, referencing the chest bursting critter from Alien in her words of wisdom about Barry’s problem.
Inspired to make good on his promise Barry tracks down the moppet’s mom, insinuates himself into her life as a contractor (con contractor, if you will), using his affable charm to cover for his complete lack of construction skills. If you take a drink every time he makes up a construction term (lancet nail, lancet molding, in fact, they all revolve around the word ‘lancet”) you’ll have a great time watching.
Anyway, Barry learns that the father has a drinking problem that’s come back with a vengeance, ripping the marriage apart. Undaunted, Barry sets his plan into motion, inserting himself into the life of the boy’s drunk father and trying to get the family back together. But are there sparks between Barry and the mom? Does the Dad stand a Christmas ghost of a chance of sobering up in time for Christmas? Will Barry and his lancet beams be exposed for what they are? Probably maybe some of those things will happen.
I give this movie 3.37 out of 5 Mall Santas. MJH’s direction is okay, and she does offer a much more subtle performance here than she did in Broadcasting Christmas. That said, MJH herself, Urkle, and Wendy Williams are all underutilized and I can’t forgive that. As for Christmasness I give it a 2.18 out of 5 Christmas sweaters. Other than a couple scenes of Santa, some bad CGI snow, that damn “Do you hear what I hear?” song, and the looming Christmas deadline there really isn’t that much Christmas to go around.
Drinking game suggestions: Drink whenever you see Jaleel, Wendy, or MJH (none of them are in the film too much), any time the kid plays piano, any time Barry says “lancet”, and any time the dad makes a scene.