Santa Baby (2006)


USA/Germany/Canada. 2006.


Director – Ron Underwood, Teleplay – Garrett Frawley & Brian Turner, Producers – Tom Cox, Craig McNeil, Murray Ord & Jordy Randall, Photography – Derick Underschultz, Music – Misha Segal, Visual Effects Supervisor – Jon Campfens, Special Effects Supervisor – Jason Paradis, Production Design – Louise Middleton. Production Company – Mary Christmas Filmproduktion GmBh & Co KG Productions/Granada America/Alberta Film Development


Jenny McCarthy (Mary Class), Kandyse McClure (Donna Campbell), George Wendt (Santa Claus), Ivan Sergei (Luke Jessup), Tobias Mehler (Grant Foley), Lynne Griffin (Mrs Claus), Michael Moriarty (T.J. Hamilton), Richard Side (Gary the Elf), Tom Carey (Bob)


Mary Class is a high-flying business adviser in the city. As Christmas comes, she receives news that her father has had a heart-attack. She and her assistant Donna fly back to her home at the North Pole where Donna is startled to realise that Mary’s father is none other than Santa Claus. With her father recovering, Mary determines to take over organising Christmas this year. She starts coordinating the elves using business efficiency tactics, but soon finds that this is not what the childlike elves are used to. At the same time, she meets up again with Luke, her childhood boyfriend, and they renew their relationship. However, Grant, Mary’s assistant and boyfriend from the city, arrives determined to propose to her.

Santa Baby is one of the numerous Christmas-themed films that are usually made for American television around the Yuletide season. As with most of these Christmas films, it is a light and banal effort with a plot that runs through some variation on the idea of Santa or one of his relatives encountering the modern world.

Everything in Santa Baby comes with an eminent predictability. Jenny McCarthy is initially set up as a fast lane city girl executive – indeed, from the scene where she is first introduced, she has it written all over her that she will have to settle down and enjoy the quieter pleasures of life by the end of the film. Her choices are laid out for her without any real dilemma offered between the two – between being a go-getter city executive and accepting laidback tradition, between settling down with her jerkish co-worker boyfriend (Tobias Mehler) and the wholesome, ordinary hometown Guy Next Door (Ivan Sergei) – and the outcome entirely predictable. (Although you keep wondering what kind of Next Door neighbourhood there is at the North Pole for Ivan Sergei to come from).

Certainly, there is an amusing idea to the heart of the film – of seeing Christmas/The North Pole taken over by someone spouting modern marketing concepts, trying to organise the elves into production lines and create focus groups to test the new toys on. Alas, this does not end up being enough of a concept to the last the whole of the film.

On a less pleasant level, the film engages in numerous slapstick in the scenes with the elves. Here, in having all of the elves played by little people with minds that are simplistic and child-like to the point that all of them seem intellectually handicapped, the film treads a dubious line.

Both Jenny McCarthy and director Ron Underwood returned for a sequel Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe (2009).

One wonders what Ron Underwood, a director who once had a promising career with films like Tremors (1990), City Slickers (1991) and the afterlife light fantasy Heart and Souls (1993), is doing in all of this. Clearly, some of the flops that Ron Underwood has had in recent years, such as the remake of Mighty Joe Young (1998) and The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002), have dragged his career as a cinematic director down to where he is forced to take on instantly forgettable fodder like this. Around the same time, Underwood also made various other Christmas tv movies including the pitiful The Year Without a Santa Claus (2006), Holidays in Handcuffs (2007) and Deck the Halls (2011).

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