Christmas Bounty director Gil Junger is infinitely less successful than the pair’s earlier holiday movie, which was released two years ago in 2013.
Upbeat and fast-paced cookie cutter Christmas fare baked with a variety of ingredients often seen in countless other direct-to-DVD and/or made-for-TV seasonal releases, Helper does receive extra points however for refusing to follow only one tried-and-true recipe.
Yet as well-intentioned as the film is, unfortunately it also serves as a painful reminder to screenwriters (and cooks) everywhere that while you can always add more sugar and spice to your final dish, you can’t exactly take it away.
Carved out of the familiar comfort food appeal of a Scrooge or Grinch style narrative centered around Mizanin’s coldhearted corporate businessman, although Santa’s Little Helper opens on a strong note, it loses the good will and momentum it establishes early on by spiraling out of control.
More like a collection of seasonal SNL skits than one cohesive work, while most contemporary holiday movies play pretty fast and loose with storytelling logic, Santa’s Little Helper spreads itself so thin that it waits until the last ten minutes of the movie to try and resolve multiple plot-points.
Attempting to serve up something for everyone (including the kitchen sink) in the hopes of satisfying all appetites ages six to sixty, Santa’s Little Helper moves awkwardly from one scene at a senior center where a shirtless Mizanin sweats to the oldies with some randy retirees to a third act “Hail Mary” North Pole style gauntlet that pits Mizanin against WWE Diva Paige.
Conveniently boasting a digital copy to entertain kids during this season’s travels, although most parents won’t be thrilled at the prospect of explaining a Magic Mike reference to their children, aside from a few spicy moments, Helper is best appreciated by grade school aged WWE fans eager to see Mizanin and Paige tackle an albeit short-lived Santa themed obstacle course.
Largely forgettable and disappointingly nonsensical to everyone else in spite of its charming cast (including a spunky Annalynne McCord), it’s safe to say that you won’t want to line up for a second helping of the overstuffed Helper.
However, those on the lookout for a fun, if admittedly hokey family-friendly action themed holiday comedy would be better off hunting down Junger and Mizanin’s previous collaboration via Christmas Bounty.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.