How Santa Became Santa
I've known of "Santa and Pete" for a long time but never fancied watching it as the DVD cover I saw made it look cheap and thought it was going to be another corny made for TV Christmas movie. But with a spare 90 minutes I thought why not and I was pleasantly surprised at this innocent, fun take on the legend of Santa and how he went from a Christian missionary to the figure we now know. I would be lying if I said it was great but it is well cast, with some fun lines and does a nice job of taking us on this journey where we basically see the Santa we now know come to be.
As Grandpa Nicholas (James Earl Jones - Clear and Present Danger) sets about decorating his Christmas tree with his grandson he finds himself telling him the legend of Santa (Hume Cronyn - Marvin's Room) and Pete (Flex Alexander - The Hills Have Eyes II). The story starts way back when Christian missionary Saint Nick ends up thrown in a Spanish jail accused of being a spy only to be broken out by friendly cook Pete. Travelling together they go all over the world and to the New World when they discover that many families have left Holland for a new life.
Now here is the thing about "Santa and Pete" it tells a series of little stories from how Nick met Pete when he ended up in a Spanish cell to an encounter with an uncaring Governor when they reached the New World. Now all of these stories have a purpose, they have messages to tell and morals to get across but they are not always that interesting, amusing yes but not always captivating.
But what is captivating is the transformation of Saint Nick into Santa as he and Pete travel together with scenes such as Pete finding a wagon for them to use which looks like a sleigh and their horses being taken only to be replaced by a reindeer. All of this is what makes "Santa and Pete" entertaining as well as the comedy of the friendship between Santa and Pete as Pete likes dried fruit and fruit cake but Santa is not keen on it.
Now this is all good fun but it is also charming thanks to the moral messages and the casting starting with James Earl Jones who is perfect as a widowed grandfather telling his grandson the story, he brings the scenes with his grandson to life not just because of his great voice but because his face and joy is perfect. But there is also Hume Cronyn as Saint Nick and Flex Alexander as Pete and they have this wonderful comedy double act going on which charms you just as much as James Earl Jones as the storyteller.
What this all boils down to is that "Santa and Pete" is both a charming and fun little movie about how Santa became Santa with the help of his companion Pete. This is one of those Christmas movies which is technically a children's movie but is as much fun for adults.