Just in time for the holidays, Anchor Bay Entertainment has released the Blu-ray + DVD combo pack of Saving Santa, a fun British-made animated tale featuring Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Sherlock) as a little elf with a big dream — he’d like to work for the big man himself, Santa Claus (Tim Conway), as one of his inventors. But as is typical for the elf, one of Bernard’s slightly eccentric inventions goes very, very wrong, and he is suddenly put in the position of having to rescue Santa, and Christmas, too. Time travel and an evil villain named Neville Baddington (voiced by the always wonderful Tim Curry), pose constant challenges for the determined elf to set things right.
Some well-known actors round out the voice cast: Joan Collins (Dynasty) plays Neville’s even more evil momma, Vera Baddington. Pam Ferris (Call the Midwife, Luther) plays Mrs. Claus, Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody) plays Shiny, and Noel Clarke (Doctor Who, Star Trek Into Darkness) plays Snowy.
Saving Santa is directed by Leon Joosen, who was one of the animators on The Little Mermaid and The Swan Princess and Aaron Seelman, who worked as an editor on Barbie: A Perfect Christmas. The Blu-ray also features some extras the whole family will enjoy, including a featurette entitled “Why Saving Santa?”, a music video, “Some Kind of Miracle,” sung by Ashley Tisdale, and some “behind-the scenes” content featuring the actors during voice recording sessions. The film has a running time of 84 minutes, with captions and subtitles available.
Saving Santa looks great, especially on a widescreen, high-definition television. The CGI animation by Prana Studios (Hoodwinked!, Tinker Bell, Planes) is colorful and sharp. While the film has a Groundhog Day approach to time travel, young children should find the déjà vu-ing more amusing than confusing. Some musical numbers (Bilbo sings!) peppered throughout keep things moving along nicely. While the film’s holiday message is predictable, the engaging cast, especially Freeman, make this quirky tale a fun, if slight addition to this year’s crop of holiday-themed films.