Starring: Kelsey Grammer, Elizabeth Hurley, Nathalie Cox
Director: Philippe Martinez, Mick Davis
Running Time: 105 mins
Father Christmas Is Back is a British film about a wealthy family whose estranged father figure returns after years away in the United States, bringing his new partner with him, and creating tension as they all gear up for a major Christmas celebration.
A film filled with a bewildering cast of A-list names and a bunch of splendorous, extravagant sets, it seems like a lot of money was spent on Father Christmas Is Back. But despite that, there’s no escaping the fact that this film, with a bargain-basement screenplay, zero chemistry between its leads, forced drama and a total lack of laughs, is an overwhelmingly amateurish production.
I really didn’t enjoy Father Christmas Is Back. Even from the first moments and its painfully cheesy opening credits, the film delivers a sickly series of superficial character introductions that drag on for a seemingly interminable opening act, and do little more than to confuse you as to who everyone actually is, and why they all seem to hate each other so much.
Apart from the overarching arc where Father ‘Christmas’ returns (yes, he’s the dad of the Christmas family), it’s almost impossible to keep track of the plethora of random characters that appear throughout this film, who are not only at each other’s throats at every minute, but seem bored out of their mind to be there.
Kelsey Grammer is actually the best of the bunch in the role as the estranged patriarch, but the rest of the group, from Nathalie Cox to Tallulah Riley and especially a grouchy and seemingly exasperated Elizabeth Hurley, are no fun to watch at all.
And despite all of the money spent on the cast’s salaries and the pretty distasteful, extravagant sets, this is a film where almost no effort went into writing the screenplay. It’s a very dispiriting watch with a series of family arguments throughout, but it’s also never funny in the slightest.
This film could have been a generic, cheesy and one-dimensional Christmas movie, but that wouldn’t have mattered had it actually offered up some laughs. However, in the midst of so much tedious storytelling and rancorous arguing, there’s never a moment that will make you chuckle at all, making for a painful slog of a film from start to finish. So, that’s why I’m giving Father Christmas Is Back a 4.8 overall.