Kelsey's Christmas Cheer
When it comes to Christmas movies, especially those that are made for TV, you expect cliche as certain storylines tend to get used again and again. It's not usually a problem when they manage to conjure up some Christmas spirit and festive charm which makes up for their lack of originality. That brings me to "Mr. St. Nick" a 2002 made for TV Christmas movie which has a surprisingly recognizable cast lead by Kelsey Grammer. The trouble is that whilst "Mr. St. Nick" trades on those familiar storylines from Santa handing over to his son to his son finding romance it lacks the charm and spirit which makes the lack of originality acceptable. And that sadly means "Mr. St. Nick" ends up a walk through the familiar Christmas cliches, reasonably strung together but never once delivering the warmth which would bring it to life.
As the 100th year of his reign as Santa comes to an end King Nicholas XX (Charles Durning - The Judge) is not ready to retire and with his son Nick St. Nicholas (Kelsey Grammer - Toy Story 2) not ready to take over things are tense between them. The trouble is that whilst neither wants things to change they don't realise they have no choice as slowly King Nicholas XX starts to lose his Santa powers whilst Nick starts gaining them. And to make matters worse Nick is one of Miami's most eligible bachelors and has fallen for weather girl Heidi (Elaine Hendrix), unfortunately Heidi is in cahoots with a crooked businessman and are using Nick to pull off a scam.
In fairness the actual storyline to "Mr. St. Nick" is not bad, like so many other Christmas movies it appears to have cherry picked a few cliches and strung them together into this storyline. As such we have the old favourite of Santa's son taking over the reigns, we also have him unknowingly changing in to the rotund joy giver as he starts whistling Christmas tunes and so on and of course being a Santa son movie there has to be a bit about him finding a Mrs. Claus. All of this is reasonably well put together and with added elements of a couple of scam artists as well as an immigration agent trying to make life hard on Nick's cook Lorena it is enough for a Christmas TV movie.
And to be honest the casting and characters are not bad either with Kelsey Grammer doing an amusing job of playing Nick with Charles Durning once again showing why he is so good at playing Santa. In fact Elaine Hendrix's casting as the sexy and manipulative Heidi is spot on as is Ana Ortiz as Lorena who secretly grows fond of Nick.
The trouble is that "Mr. St. Nick" lacks that one thing to bring all of this together and it is spirit. It never fills you with any Christmas warmth as Nick slowly becomes Santa or realises that Heidi is no good and instead just tries to win you over with the jokes. But with out this spirit, charm, warmth or what ever you want to call it "Mr. St. Nick" ends up a Christmas comedy which lacks that crucial thing to stop it being just cliches put together in a reasonable way.
What this all boils down to is that "Mr. St. Nick" is just about okay, it has some fun moments and connects a few Christmas cliches together quite nicely. But because it ends up lacking heart and soul it ends up just Christmas cliches and comedy without the magic and warmth to make it come to life.