Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Santa's Apprentice ★★★½

There wasn’t a pair of 3D glasses in the cinema; and not one CGI character danced across the screen.  Santa’s Apprentice is—dare I say it—an simple animation with no special effects.  

Looking around at all the children, waiting expectantly to be entertained at the nearly full preview screening, I thought, I wonder how long into the movie before we hear the I’ve-had-enough-shuffle?  My two veteran preview attendees the nine year old Mr-hyper-critic and the eleven year old Mr-I’m-bored,-too-much-talking, were already complaining they wouldn’t like it.  ‘It’s just a cartoon. Can we go if it’s boring?’
‘Eat your popcorn kids and be grateful you see so many movies,’ I said, whilst thinking, I do hope it isn’t boring.   After all, we have the quintessential Christmas movie on DVD at home with Polar Express.   How can you top that?
Then the lights lowered and the magic began.  I was back in my childhood with a sentimental tug pulling at my soft spot, that comes from a movie that doesn't need special effects because  it has heart.  There was very little shuffling throughout and my two didn’t ask to leave.  The miracle of a good Christmas story had occurred.
Santa’s Apprentice is an Australian animated tale of Nicolas, a seven year old Australian boy, who meets all the criteria to become the next Santa; a role the current Santa does not wish to relinquish but must according to Santa Law.  Swooped up one night, from his orphanage home, he is taken to the North Pole to an initiation in ‘Santa 101’.  His adventures, mishaps and ultimately his final understanding of the true magic of Christmas kept the audience, including my two, engaged and quite often laughing. 
It is so refreshing to hear Australian voices behind an animation and this film has the current crème of Australian acting talent which includes Shane Jacobsen, Delta Goodrem, Magda Szubanski, Hugh Sheridan, Max Cullen and Georgie Parker.
Santa’s Apprentice is a movie for the kids who still believe in Santa and for adults, with older children, who miss being quizzed on how Santa knows when they’ve been naughty. Don’t take your fifteen year old to this, but do take your younger children.  This year I won’t have to explain to my children how Santa delivers all the presents in one night, Santa’s Apprentice answered it beautifully.

Just like the secret to this movie’s appeal, the answer was made clear, ‘It’s the magic of Christmas’.