Now Available on DVD
Yes Trekkies, William Shatner is Santa Claus. Or rather, Shatner provides the voice of Old Saint Nick in this sharply animated new CGI holiday offering from Lionsgate. And as our brainy twelve year old main character, the chess club whiz kid Trevor promises right from the start of the '07 produced yet newly released title, Gotta Catch Santa Claus isn't your average Christmas special.
For although it manages to work in the genre mandates of musical numbers and a message to never stop believing in the man in red and is slated to have its world television premiere in ABC Family's popular "25 Days of Christmas" broadcasting block, and was released with colorful, kid-friendly packaging, it sets itself apart with a clever science fiction spin via a plot that will delight devotees of James T. Kirk and Dr. Spock.
Unaware that Santa's arch-enemy LeFreeze and his trio of sycophantic snowmen are ready to make good on a century long grudge against Claus, Trevor picks the wrong year to prove his Santa doubting sidekick and blossoming crush Veronica wrong by using their preferred method of scientific proof.
With his parents preoccupied over their discovery of a comet, Trevor and his group of friends decide to “catch” Santa not sliding down a chimney but with the aid of a laser guided capture to shoot the man out of the sky and into their neighborhood.
While obviously it sounds more vicious than it is-- it's not Bad Santa for tweens but more like a holiday version of Jimmy Neutron that would be ideal for children aged eight and up. And although predictably Trevor's mission nearly ruins Christmas for everyone -- not to mention give a potential upper hand to LeFreeze -- as expected, holiday cheer wins out in the end.
And despite its wildly ingenious and refreshingly intellectual plot-line that prevents it from being just another recycled holiday special, nonetheless it's still slightly harder than usual to warm up to the characters most likely due to the conscious efforts to build up the 66 minute story to the point that personality got a little lost in the shuffle.
Yet you can't fault a special for its decision to center on junior versions of Mensa members as it's a welcome idea indeed and one that made me think perhaps, the answer to audience investment would be in using the same group of kids and spinning them off into additional Lionsgate adventures.
While Shatner has a minor role and Mrs. Claus is played essentially as though she were an East Coast stereotype, the cameos of the adults and those characters could continuously rotate in favor of learning more about the youths. It's also of interest since it fills a marketing need for brainier fare for kids who are right around the middle school age.
And furthermore, much like some of Lionsgate's other recent titles for children, Gotta Catch supremely impresses in its theatrical level animation quality in this DVD review screener with eye-popping CGI that sparkles even more on an upconvert Blu-ray player.
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