A Different Kind of Christmas (1996)

Shelley Long in A Different Kind of Christmas (1996)

Father Claus

It's a scorching hot June day, people are sunbathing, kids are running in and out of the garden sprinklers and there is a new neighbour moving in to the road, except he is no average Joe as he is Santa (Bruce Kirby). Well not quite as he use to be a barber but then he had an epiphany and he became Santa, bringing joy to everyone and now he is setting up base in this street where his home will celebrate Christmas 365 days of the year. But not everyone is so enthusiastic as the neighbours don't take kindly to everyone from children to the media descending on their street and so they complain to Mayoral candidate Elizabeth Gates (Shelley Long - Outrageous Fortune) and that causes her a problem as not only does her son believe that the old man really is Santa but she knows exactly who he is.

"A Different Kind of Christmas" starts in cracking fashion as we see Santa move in and his home is decorated to the nines with Christmas lights, reindeer and a snow cannon amongst other festive things. It is genuinely a fantastic start which continues for the first half as we have the amusement of Santa creating a media buzz and the neighbours moaning about the crowds forming outside his home, blocking the road and so on. There are plenty of fun scenes during this first half which lay promise to a cheesy but entertaining Christmas movie.

Bruce Kirby in A Different Kind of Christmas (1996)

But then "A Different Kind of Christmas" changes track or at least changes tone when we learn why Elizabeth knows Santa and this ties in with her friend, local reporter Frank also discovering the truth about Santa. In fairness it is a fun twist, although I say twist in the loosest sense as you can see it coming a mile off and if you have checked some reviews online they even mention it. But it does change the tone and the intention as it evolves into a family drama and a typical one at that.

Now whilst the shift in tone did little for me "A Different Kind of Christmas" still ends up mildly entertaining even if it lacks that spark which puts you in the Christmas spirit. It almost has it when the focus is on the fun of Santa taking over the neighbourhood but then loses it when the focus switches to Elizabeth and the family drama. The trouble is that Shelley Long has a certain style of comedy which at times shall we say feels forced and unfortunately it dominates the movie where as if she had someone stronger to work with on the comedy it might have worked better. But then Bruce Kirby certainly makes for an entertaining Santa and it is Kirby who gives the movie the charm it is lacking in other places.

What this all boils down to is that "A Different Kind of Christmas" is an okay Christmas movie which has its moments but failed to really entertain or put me in the Christmas mood. It's the sort of movie that if it was on TV you could watch to pass 90 minutes and then have forgotten about it the next day.

Tags: TV Christmas Movies, Christmas Movies