Sorbo, Santa and Scrooge
It's Christmas and the big boss of a toy business is behaving like a real Scrooge ... do you know what, I have lost count of the number of movies I have watched which are either direct adaptations of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" or take the Scrooge storyline as their base. And whilst I think the basic storyline is a good one it does become a bit tiresome when yet another movie comes along and delivers little more than a cliche update on the classis tale. That brings me to "The Santa Suit" a Christmas movie which technically is little more than a cliche update on Dickens's story, ghosts are changed to a magical Santa Claus figure but the heart of the movie which is about a man facing the past, the present and the future where he learns what people think of him is still tpresent. The only thing which stops "The Santa Suit" being just another forgettable Christmas movie is Kevin Sorbo, whose soothing voice and sincere performance makes it surprisingly heart-warming.
It's Christmas and Drake Hunter (Kevin Sorbo - Prairie Fever) is rubbing his hands as it means everyone will be buying his over priced and shoddy Hunter toys, a company which he took over from his Father and turned into a mega bucks industry at the cost of quality. But an argument with Kris Krandall (Derry Robinson), who dresses in a Santa suit, leaves Drake confused because when he looks in the mirror he sees Kris Krandall and everyone who looks at him sees Kris instead of Drake. No longer able to be who he is Drake is forced to stay in sheltered accommodation and work as Santa in Dobson's toy store where slowly he begins to regain the spirit of Christmas and realise what a mean man he has become.
So basically "The Santa Suit" is "A Christmas Carol" just with a lot of changes, gone are the ghosts and in comes Santa, I mean Kris Krandall, who with a touch of magic alters how everyone sees Drake. Out go the other ghosts and instead we get a sad girl called Gemma who Drake starts to worry for and through her is forced to face the past and the present, whilst through his assistant at Hunter Toys he faces the truth of the future as deep down she despises him. And as for Tiny Tim well that is Gemma again as her mother is struggling to provide for her and so she is a latch key kid. It's basically all there but switched around and re-imagined quite nicely so that it doesn't just feel like another version of "A Christmas Carol".
The thing is that whilst Dickens' story is cleverly updated some of the writing borders on the excruciating because it is either too cheesy or too sentimental. The whole aspect of Drake contending with wanabee actor Sebastian who is to play his elf is painful because Sebastian is a walking, talking camp cliche. And whilst by nature "The Santa SUit" is sentimental the whole series of final scenes is both too sentimental and too corny for words. It is a case it undoes some of what is good about the first half of the movie.
Now continuing on the cliche aspect is that there are a variety of cliche characters, Rosemary Dunsmore plays Drake's assistant Marge as typically loyal but also tired of his meanness whilst Derry Robinson has the perfect look as Kris Krandall. But truth be told "The Santa Suit" is all about Kevin Sorbo as Drake and it is Sorbo who makes it worth watching. Sorbo's soothing tone makes him so good as we watch him transform from greedy businessman to joy giver and there is real sincerity to the way he acts. In the scenes surrounding the latch key girl Gemma, Sorbo finds real emotion and for a TV movie it is surprisingly touching.
What this all boils down to is that for the most "The Santa Suit" is a bit of a cheesy, cliche re-imagining of "A Christmas Carol" which is entertaining but often goes too far. But thanks to Kevin Sorbo "The Santa Suit" feels special because he delivers a surprisingly touching performance, much more than you expect from a made for TV Christmas movie.