Yes, we're in the middle of October and this is a review of a Christmas special. But you can't walk through a retail store without knowing Christmas is coming fast and furious. So what's the deal with Gotta Catch Santa Claus featuring William Shatner in the title role?
Take a few parts of the game Mousetrap, a bit of the skepticism of A Christmas Carol, and the kids of Scooby-Doo and you have a few of the ingredients that went into this entertaining holiday program. As I watched with my girls, ages 4 and 8, I know they enjoyed it and I have to admit that I did too.
What's it about? Santa Claus of course! Twelve-year-old Trevor is a believer. His good friend Veronica is a skeptic however and chooses to only believe what she can see. So when Veronica challenges Trevor to get proof that Santa is real, Trevor of course accepts and sets out to not only prove that Santa exists, but to capture him and hold a press conference.
Santa himself is of course preparing for his yearly round-the-world, record-breaking journey from the North Pole delivering toys to good little girls and boys. Mrs. Claus, updated from the dowdy older matriarch to a thin, health-conscious and supportive wife, tries to keep the big guy's sweet tooth in check. The elves are also helping with the preparations, making sure that everything goes smoothly.
And then, as if Trevor and Veronica weren't enough trouble, Santa has to deal with the bad guy of the film, LeFreeze. LeFreeze is a frozen giant with a grudge. Santa wronged him sometime in the past and now LeFreeze wants to exact his revenge. LeFreeze is aided by his three snowman henchmen ready to help their boss.
Clocking in at about 66 minutes, this isn't the longest holiday animated feature I've ever seen but it was long enough to keep the kids entertained and present a solid beginning, middle, and end. A couple of the musical numbers were a bit much for me, but again, the kids seemed to enjoy them.
For me, the believer vs. skeptic battle worked beautifully. I can't say that I've seen science worked into a holiday special quite the way Gotta Catch Santa Claus does. The skeptic in me appreciated the scene where Veronica worked through the math of why Santa couldn't possibly deliver all those toys to all those people in a single night. What was Trevor's answer? Magic, of course!
In addition to the movie itself, there are a few extras including two sing-alongs, a few deleted scenes, and a "Santa Behind-the-Scenes" feature. The deleted scenes were of unfinished animation for the most part, including the original opening for the movie which would have had Trevor as the skeptic and Veronica as the believer. But I recommend that you watch the "Behind the Scenes" feature simply because you get to hear William Shatner try, and fail, to sing "Deck the Halls" a few times as his animated alter ego. It's worth watching just to see Shatner get a bit flustered.
If you're looking for a new Christmas special to add to your holiday DVD collection, Gotta Catch Santa Claus is definitely worth checking out. Ask for it at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar retailer before Santa makes his yearly visit!