Plot: Christmas is just around the corner, but the holiday is in danger of being canceled thanks to rising commercialism and entitlement. While Santa (Judd Nelson) insists the situation is being blown out of proportion, his board of directors is convinced the time has come to leave Christmas behind. But before the holiday is retired and he is fired, Santa has one last chance to prove Christmas should continue, one month to show the board the situation can be righted. So he adopts the persona of Kris Frost and with the help of his right hand elf Randal (Justin Landry), he sets out to rekindle Christmas cheer and the magic of the season. But when a few stints as a department store Santa spark a little too much belief in a real Santa, will the spirit overdose threaten to reveal the truth about Santa?
Entertainment Value: Although Hallmark Channel is known for its romantic Christmas cinema, Cancel Christmas drops the romance and focuses on humor, aimed at a younger audience this time around. The narrative is typical Christmas fodder, though the premise of a board of directors is interesting, especially given the movie’s condemnation of the season’s commercialism. The tone is light and over the top, with a lot of wackiness and a little sentiment sprinkled on top toward the finale. The humor is geared toward young viewers, so it isn’t subtle and sticks to direct, predictable jokes and veers often into outright slapstick. So I can see some grown ups being bored or cringing at times, but I think kids could have some fun with Cancel Christmas, as it is designed to entertain without asking much from the audience. The humor is a little hit and miss, but again, it is never meant to be incisive or demanding, so it is tough to be overly harsh since the movie doesn’t pretend to be more than fluff. So if you like Christmas movies and need a pick for younger watchers, this might fill that need, but Cancel Christmas is a rather lackluster movie overall.
This movie follows the usual Hallmark Channel approach to casting, with one central name with some star power, then a host of lesser known talents. In this case we have Judd Nelson, who is an odd choice for a movie aimed at kids, but will likely reel in some nostalgic parents. Nelson doesn’t seem too interested and while he isn’t phoning it in, he doesn’t make much of an effort to work the material. He goes broad and over the top from the first jump, which adds some humor since he is so ridiculous, but that’s the main appeal of his presence. The humor is enhanced by virtue of his outlandish performance, but the attempts at sentiment are dampened and a common critique is that he is so over the top, he seems creepy in some scenes. The creepiness is much more prominent with Justin Landry however, who tries to be wildly nice, but comes off like a eerie ice cream man you tell your kids to avoid. Again, some humor is there for the wrong reasons, but it is weird. The cast also includes Natalie Brown, Jean Yoon, David Keeley, and Tara Spencer-Nairn.