Father Christmas Is Back is a Christmas film where the family’s surname is Christmas. Sisters Paulina (Naomi Frederick), Joanna (Elizabeth Hurley), Caroline (Nathalie Cox) and Vicky (Talulah Riley) are at each other’s throats. Can they figure out the family secret which ripped the family apart many moons ago?
The film opens with each member of the cast staring into the camera, like the end credits of Are You Being Served? being brought to the front, and early on, you can guess what’s going to happen when Peter is told to pick up one of two bags of presents, in that he’s bound to get the wrong one. I’m sure the plotting isn’t exactly The Usual Suspects or Tenet, but then again, it’s bound to make more sense than Dune.
The Christmases are an upper class family with a huge mansion and an even bigger tree. Ms Hurley’s character sleeps around so much that since she last confirmed she was coming for Christmas, she’s already changed boyfriends, Elizabeth (Caroline Quentin) has the hots for John Cleese, even though he’s a generation older than her, and an early joke centres around Beatles-obsessed Paulina having been working on her thesis for ten years as to why the Fab Four split. Young Vicky surmises, “We all know why – it’s because Robbie wanted a solo career”. Laugh? Erm…
Similarly, arguments lead to a discussion about some of them potentially running off to stay, instead, at a place called The Plough Inn – cue joke about ‘plowing’ in a sexual sense. Yes, that’s the level we’re at.
However, there is a reprieve, 23 minutes in, when Frasier turns up with his young, ditzy girlfriend, Jackie (April Bowlby), who’s about half his age and gives us the first decent joke, commending how wonderful the place looks before asking blindly, “How could Princess Meghan leave this?”
Well, Kelsey Grammer – as James Christmas – is the Father Christmas who is back, after 27 years away because he moved to America.
There’s also many jokes at Joanna’s expense because she claims to be 35, after it was suggested she was 45. In reality, Elizabeth Hurley is 56, although given the trailer for this originally came out in November 2020, she would’ve been 54/55 when it was filmed. Either way, she’s still got it.
Father Christmas Is Back is just another family reunion movie – they all split for some reason, they all get back together because it’s Christmas, and can they resolve everything? What do you think. As I said, the plot isn’t a complex one. It’s also one of those films which run out of plot very quickly, and so most of its running time is just filler.
Then again, it’s probably only been written to it sits as background noise on Christmas Day after you’ve eaten lunch, watched The Queen, and Strictly has finished early because too many contestants pulled out due to getting COVID19 symptoms.
For some reason, a knockabout comedy required TWO directors. Why?! That usually spells disaster, except when there’s several aspects to a film like some major animations, or an action film like John Wick where both Chad Stahelski and David Leitch worked closely together and did everything together, but originally credited just the former as the director, because two directors… looks odd.
Thanks to our friends at Netflix for the screener prior to release.
Father Christmas Is Back is on Netflix from Sunday November 7th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer below:
Running time: 105 minutes
Release date: November 7th 2021
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Directors: Mick Davis, Philippe Martinez
Producers: Alan Latham, Philippe Martinez
Screenplay: David Conolly, Dylanne Corcoran, Hannah Davis
Music: Bruno Brugnano
Joanna Christmas: Elizabeth Hurley
James Christmas: Kelsey Grammer
John Christmas: John Cleese
Caroline Christmas: Nathalie Cox
Peter Hope: Kris Marshall
Felix: Ray Fearon
Elizabeth Christmas: Caroline Quentin
Vicky Christmas: Talulah Riley
Paulina: Naomi Frederick
Jackie: April Bowlby
Reverend Jane: Katy Brand
Daisy Christmas-Hope: Amelie Prescott
Henry Christmas-Hope: Oliver Smith
Edna: Janie Booth
Gerald: Bryan Samson
Jean: Ania Marson
Ben: Jamie Roche
Jade: Lauren Dickenson
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.