Three children and their father move from Los Angeles, California to Edmonton, Alberta. When they go shopping at West Edmonton Mall, they find counterfeit cash, inadvertently help catch crooks, and make a discovery about Santa.
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It's turning out to be a pretty rotten Christmas for the Saunders family. Having just moved to Edmonton, Alberta from Los Angeles, California, they have no friends, no money, and, with the exception of the bright-eyed Mary (Amy and Zoe Schlagel), no Christmas spirit. To make matters worse, their mother, Judy (Rachel Hayward), is stuck in Los Angeles, stranded by airline overbookings. So, the Christmas shopping duties fall on dad, Wayne (Patrick Swayze), and the gloomy kids. Things start looking a bit more like Christmas when twelve-year-old Brian (Matthew Knight) and six-year-old Mary find a satchel of money at the local mall and they launch a Yuletide shopping spree, that is, until the crooks who counterfeited the money chase them through the mall packed with holiday shoppers.Written by
I was warned by the reviewers on IMDb not to see this film, but I did decide to give it a chance for two reasons; Patrick Swayze and Tim Curry. My thoughts on watching Christmas in Wonderland were that while there were some good moments, the film could've been much better. It is a long way from being the best movie ever and from being a Christmas classic like Scrooge(1951), Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alones 1 and 2 and It's a Wonderful Life, but personally I do not think it's the worst ever either, Disaster Movie, Home Alone 4, NeverEnding Story 3, Cat in the Hat and Superbabies:Baby Geniuses 2 were much worse.
So what were the good things? Well the soundtrack was one. The incidental music was not bad, but I liked very much the song choices. Christmas in Wonderland is certainly memorable, same with Not So Zen. But my favourite is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, the timeless tear jerker, immortalised by Judy Garland in the musical Meet Me in St Louis. It was nice to see the West Edmonton Mall too. Also Mary's conversation with Santa twenty minutes into the movie was the closest to heartwarming Christmas in Wonderland got, likewise with the moralising between Wayne and the imaginary Santa in the bar. While I do agree that the writing was not very good at all on the most part, there are one or moments of inspired physical comedy. No I am not talking about the crooks chasing the kids on the escalator, I am chiefly talking about Carmen Electra's character Ginger after falling into the water having a hard time with the seal. That was funny, shame the whole film, while starting off ever so promisingly, didn't have the same kind of momentum.
Before mentioning the cons, I am going to talk about the performances and start with the good ones first. Most of the acting was terrible, and while the more decent performances were anything but outstanding, there were one or two bright spots in the cast, particularly the two lead kids. Matthew Knight is quite appealing as Brian, and his sister Mary is played by the adorable Schlagel twins Amy and Zoe. And Tim Curry, the wonderful and underrated actor he is, is actually quite entertaining as the memory-challenged McLoosh. Critics were divided on Curry's performance, others praised him as one of the few bright spots of the movie, others complained of his performance being full of sheer pantomimic excess. I would be inclined to agree with the former, while he does overact a bit, and his Scottish accent leaves much to be desired(though the accent is infinitely better than Jon Voight's German accent in Superbabies:Baby Geniuses 2), he at least makes some effort to make the most of the questionably meagre material he was given, and his facial expressions were priceless.
However, the other performers weren't that much better. Whereas in general I enjoyed Tim Curry's performance, I was disappointed with Swayze. Perhaps this movie would have been forgotten, if it weren't for the fact that it was one of Swayze's last performances before he sadly died. He wasn't terrible, but the script gave him very little to do so no matter how hard he tried it was a bit of a wasted effort. Cameron Bright as Danny gives a very lifeless and monotonic performance; there were times when I wanted to give him a kick up the backside. Chris Kattan and Preston Lacy step into their roles with enthusiasm but like Swayze they weren't given that much to do. That leaves Carmen Electra. While I wanted to see this movie for Swayze and Curry, I was hesitant as well because of Electra. Sorry, I can't stand her, I just don't think she can act, and a lot of the characters she plays are more of the same. She was marginally better than she was in Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans, both movies in which she was truly terrible, but that is not saying much.
Other problems I had with Christmas in Wonderland was that the script, no matter how physical-comedy engineered it was, was clunky and devoid of humour, and gave the actors little to work with- a lot of the "funny" lines just weren't funny. The repeated gag about McLoosh forgetting everyone's names was funny the first couple of times, but it got tiresome, an oft-danger with repeated gags. Then there's the formulaic and utterly predictable plot and the fact, it looks like in terms of camera work etc. direct to video quality. The direction from James Orr ranged from sloppy to non-existent, the love story between Danny and Shane was underdeveloped and out-of-the blue and the CGI I agree was rather fake and amateurish. All in all, has some good moments, heavy emphasis on the some, but it is mediocre. Showed good promise, but didn't deliver in most aspects. 4.5/10 Bethany Cox
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