This festive flop belongs on Santa’s naughty list
Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year but for a lot of folks, it’s a time of woe and not gladness and joy.
There are lots of reasons why some people don’t feel festive at Christmas, from serious issues such as the high expense and crushing feelings of loneliness, to more trivial problems such as the arrival of bickering in-laws or the fake smiles of family members who secretly hate their gifts.
For Eddie (Ludacris), the protagonist of Tim Story’s latest movie, currently streaming on Disney+, it’s the memories of one particular Christmas that cause him to feel less than Christmassy. When he was 8 years old, he saw his father beating up a burglar dressed as Santa Claus. This was traumatic enough for the young kid but as his parents divorced shortly after, it’s understandable that he grew up dreading the holiday season.
What he needs is a miracle to make him believe in the magic of Christmas again. And lo and behold, a miracle does come along in the shape of a man claiming to be Santa Claus (Lil Rel Howery). When Eddie goes into his neighbour’s house to feed their cat on Christmas Eve, he comes across the red-suited guy acting suspiciously.
Could this really be Saint Nick? Or could he be a burglar? Eddie thinks the man could be suffering from mental health issues, which is a logical conclusion for him to make when listening to the man’s wild claims that he is Santa.
But Eddie doesn’t get a lot of time to determine whether the guy (who goes by the name of Nick) is Santa Claus or not. Shortly after meeting him, Eddie, his daughter Charlotte, and the supposed Santa are whisked away on a whirlwind tour of the city while being pursued by a group of shady characters who are intent on getting hold of an incriminating iPad that Nick has in his possession.
So, is Nick the real Santa Claus? Well, evidence points to the suggestion that he might be. He sweats glitter, his farts smell like cinnamon, and he has a Secret Santa pocket in his coat in which he keeps reindeer food and yak repellant! These aspects of his characterization are quite imaginative but don’t expect the rest of the movie to be so creative.
Dashing Through The Snow is not a good movie. It has an intriguing premise and a pretty good cast, including Oscar Nuñez as a crooked congressman and Teyonah Parris as Eddie’s estranged wife. But with lame attempts at humour (“this is ludicrous” says Ludacris at one point), an unoriginal crooks chasing the good guy’s plot (a common Disney trope), and several excruciating characters (just wait until you meet the overly-jolly Truckle family), you may be tempted to turn off this festive fiasco long before the end credits roll.
Adding to the movie’s woes are Tim Story’s uninspired direction – he rarely manages to evoke a feeling of Christmas magic – and confusing plotting, which may be as a result of important plot explainers being left on the cutting room floor.
The movie also wastes the talents of the actors playing the congressman’s “three stooges.” Ravi Patel (Ghosts), Mary Lynn Rajskub (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Marcus Lewis (Renfield) can be very funny, not that you would know it from watching this movie as it mostly requires them to keep their mouths shut while they wander around certain scenes looking clueless. Writer Scott Rosenberg (Venom) and Tim Story could have given them more to do and say, with funny dialogue and scenes of slapstick to reduce their one-note characterizations, but they seemingly couldn’t be bothered.
The bad writing isn’t only limited to the trio of crooks chasing down Eddie and co as several scenes in the movie are lazily plotted. For example, there’s a moment when Nick takes refuge in a bar full of Santa impersonators to hide from the congressman’s cronies. A good idea, right? Sure it is, but for some reason, Nick then takes to the stage to sing karaoke. Why? If he is trying to stay undercover, surely the last thing he should do is stand up in front of the crowd to perform a musical number!
For the most part, the movie is as welcome as an infuriating relative who turns up on your doorstep on Christmas Eve. But it’s not all bad. Some scenes will pull on your heartstrings, as every festive movie should, such as a moment near the end of the story when Eddie finds a Christmas letter he wrote to Santa as a child. There’s also a comical scene involving some CGI reindeer that provides the humour that the movie is otherwise lacking. So, this isn’t altogether a waste of time.
But as there are far better movies to watch during the festive season, there’s no need to dash through the snow to watch this one. It’s a Christmas turkey (and not in a good sense) and is up there with Christmas On Mistletoe Farm and Best. Christmas. Ever. as one of the worst movies our streaming services have to offer.
Read More: Dashing Through The Snow Ending Explained
Verdict - 3/10