REVIEW: “A gingerbread episiotomy is no joke kids.”
Unfortunately, most of the japes, zingers or one-liners deliberately pushing the buttons and limits of Amazon Prime Video’s new Christmas-themed animated ‘comedy’ Santa Claus Inc. (now streaming).
that of Alexandra Rushfield (Acute, Parks and recreationThe eight-part stop-motion sitcom is designed to be a parody of the mid-century Rankin / Bass holiday specials (1965s Rudolph the red nosed reindeer being the most famous) and, visually, it is successful.
But take a Team America-An esque approach to script and dialogue (swear words and sexual overtones abound) only succeeds in making you question the taste levels of everyone involved.
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Candy Smalls (Sarah Silverman) is the # 2 Executive Vice President of Santa Inc. She’s the elf that keeps Saint Nicholas XIX (Seth Rogen) shining, making sure everything that happens the night before. Christmas is going off without a hitch.
This year, he is launching, carried by the news that “more American children believe in you than in the vaccine or in the Holocaust”. With even a planned anti-Christmas pigeon attack thwarted and the Junior rockstar reindeer (Craig Robinson) actually pulling his weight, everything is such a success that Candy is given a “hotel room to throw” as a reward.
Boxing Day, however, is a different story. After arguing with her inept brother and her disapproving mother, Candy arrives at work to find that Santa Claus (real name Llewelyn Fartini) has called a meeting.
“Something happened in Seattle that left a lump of coal in my heart,” he told the gathered crowd of employees. It turns out that waiting Santa Brent (Tim Meadows) was poached by Jeff Bezos.
“Let’s be happy for him, even if he fucked us without even a warning,” pleads Santa Claus.
Although shocked, Candy also senses an opportunity. There have been female presidents, CEOs, and “even a female mechanic,” but Father Christmas has been mostly a white man’s game. However, even though her friends and allies fear that she will “hand out tampons instead of candy canes” and “instantly fall in love with the sleigh,” pleading her case will not be an easy task.
Yes, Rushfield and his company make a lot of pointed and insightful remarks about corporate culture and outdated opinions, especially towards women (which may explain why the series has come under vitriolic attacks on the net. from the start of the trailer).
But they’re rather awkwardly manipulated – for the most part – and buried in a sea of tasteless jokes and failed japes. Shocking value, rather than clever (or even silly) laughs, seems to be the order of the day, as evidenced by the bragging about three-way reindeer and elf porn and while Rogen’s progressive Santa Claus elicits a few laughs (when told he’s “a cupcake away from diabetes” he asks, “a donut so I’m not picky”), most of the time it’s grim and grim work that fails to even generate constant smiles or laughs.
Despite their censorious antics and sensitive viewers, Team America and Sausage festival successful because of their inclusiveness, both in terms of targets and preferences for types of humor. Even if one gag didn’t land with you, audiences were assured that another (often appealing to a different sensibility) would be imminent.
It’s not something you get to experience watching this relentlessly obscene and leaden comedy.
Santa Claus Inc. is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.