Director: Tommy Avallone
Starring: Mick Foley, Russel Spice, Jim Stevenson, Santa Claus, Bob Gerardi
I have to admit, when I decided to start the Decembextravaganza! I had a gap in the third week. Straining to find a unique offering in the endless archives of overdone Christmas films, I finally struck gold when I heard a special edition of the Hollywood Babble On Podcast where Kevin Smith interviews director Tommy Avallone and professional wrestler/Christmas enthusiast Mick Foley. What followed was a conversation that lifted me out of the holiday funk that I've carried for many years. I listened as three grown men discussed what it was like to visit Santa as a kid and the magic it instills both in ourselves but also, what it means to the men who keep that magic alive, real bearded Santas.
I Am Santa Claus (2014) takes a behind the sleigh look (mind the pun) at what it takes to become the embodiment of Christmas for wide eyed children every year. Not normally being one for documentaries, I went on nothing more than what had transpired during the interview. And I have to admit, this film is great. If there is an emotion to be felt you will feel it here. Following a one year period in the lives of five Santas as they go through the normal everyday ups and downs, I Am Santa Claus allows the viewer to grow attached to each of its greatly varied subjects on a very emotional level. Included in the festivities is Mick Foley, who decides to follow suit and walk in the big black boots himself.
There are moments of true realness, both joyous and harsh, that paints a portrait of these men each with a different brush. Director Tommy Avallone put a great deal of foresight towards his approach in capturing the essence of all of their situations, struggles, and family lives. At the same time, linking them through the common thread of how being Santa brings happiness to everyone, especially themselves.
The Santas stories run the gamut. The older Santa who depends on the money he earns playing St. Nick because he was laid off from his day job. A Santa who faced criticism of being a homosexual. A Christian Santa with an upbeat look at life. And Santa Claus, himself, a tattooed barbecue cook, who had his name legally changed to said monicker when he realized that being Santa makes him a better person all year long. Rounding out the bunch is Mick Foley, who becomes the perfect anchor point to the film. Being a newbie, he shows a perspective not found with the veteran Santas as he learns the ropes of being Claus. By the end of this one year journey, you see the commonality which links these completely different men once they don the red suit for the masses. That moment of levity puts a bow on this neat little package.
I Am Santa Claus has something for every emotion Christmas tends to evoke. Happiness, nostalgia, loneliness, togetherness, pain, love (feel free to add a few more words at your leisure). Not for younger kids (especially if they still believe in the Big Guy), it's got a few swears from ol' St. Nick and a bit of adult subject matter. Other than that, I cannot recommend this film enough. Being a Grinch during holidays past, it was refreshing to feel a bit of the magic that Christmas held for me in my younger days. I Am Santa Claus made me realize that I never lost the magic, I just had to be reminded that it's still there. So be good, for goodness sake, and watch I Am Santa Claus. You don't want to end up on his Naughty List.
|Big night. Santa's gotta carb up!