This year for the holiday season, I've been feeling a little bit of fatigue with the typical entertainment. I've enjoyed a few watches of A Muppet Christmas Carol (because it's a masterpiece) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but I'm not as excited for other classics or more traditional staples.
Instead, I've been craving--and finding--strange and atypical entertainment, for a weirder take on the season.
For songs, I've been feeling the pull of old-fashioned music like "Good King Wenceslas" and "In the Bleak Midwinter."
I'll talk about the cozy Christmas mystery I've been reading in a future post, but one bit of strange Christmas entertainment I've been wanting to experience was Netflix's I Believe in Santa. I heard about it from a favorite podcast, read the description with a bit of mounting glee, and was looking forward to a completely wild ride.
Per Netflix's description, I Believe in Santa tells the story of Lisa, who finds out that Tom, the man she's dating, is obsessed with Christmas: her least favorite holiday. The movie further reveals that Tom literally believes in an actual Santa Claus, which should have made for a whole lot of wackiness.
But as we reached the halfway mark, and then three-quarters, I lost a lot of my enthusiasm for the premise. What I was expecting was more akin to Disney's Noelle, a movie I love, but I Believe in Santa doesn't go nearly hard enough into the Christmas obsession.
This is not to say that the movie is in any way straightforward or typical, just that the source of the strangeness is elsewhere, somehow outside of Tom's Santa obsession.
One minor detail, near the beginning, is that Tom's law firm has a booth setup at a 4th of July fair, offering free legal advice. That has to be one of the most absurd ideas from this movie, right? Law firms wouldn't open themselves to that kind of liability, right? I would say lawyers, among all professions, are famously averse to just handing out advice. But that's probably a quibble, and likely the first among many.
Lisa and Tom both have best friends who seem to be plucked from a catalog of quirky rom-com pals. Lisa's is a sassy, excitable, and rotund Black woman named Sharon, who is an absolute delight. Tom's bosom friend is Assan, who is gay and Muslim and who, for the first hour of the film, I assumed was also Tom's roommate. But, no, Assan has his own apartment. He just spends an awful lot of time at Tom's place, and is also Tom's partner at the law firm. The fact that Assan is gay also gets revealed in exactly one (1) line of dialog, clearly a piece of ADR that was added later to disambiguate the men's relationship.
What about their living situation, Netflix?! What efforts are you taking to clear up that mess? Because for most of the movie it seems like these well-paid lawyers are sharing a two-bedroom place in downtown Denver.
These two friends are present for basically every date and interaction that happens between Lisa and Tom, another piece of evidence that Assan and Tom have a shared chore chart for their place; likely one that includes dusting the Santa sculptures and sweeping up pine needles. Why are you here, Sharon and Assan? You are their friends and coworkers, certainly, but Lisa and Tom are having a candlelit dinner on Tom's balcony. You both seem superfluous to this interaction.
I actually enjoyed the process of looking back on the movie to write this post as much as I enjoyed actually watching it. I'm not sure what that says about the movie, but I suspect that it's a reflection on this movie's potency. This blog process served as a kind of distillation, so I was able to experience the movie in a much more concentrated dose, and get some of that weird Christmas energy I've been after.
But as a movie experience, it felt a little bit watered down. It didn't have the kick that I really needed, and so my search for weird holiday media continues.