Christmas in Wonderland (PG)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarNo StarNo StarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner18/11/2009

One out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Traditionally dreadful Christmas comedy that's brought down by a combination of atrocious acting, terrible writing, cloying sentimentality and jaw-droppingly bad special effects.

What's it all about?
Directed by James Orr, Christmas in Wonderland stars Patrick Swayze as Wayne Saunders, who's relocated his family to Edmonton, Canada for a job, only to get laid off on arrival. On Christmas Eve, with their stuff still unpacked and their mother (Rachel Hayward) attempting to fly home in time for Christmas, stressed-out Wayne takes his three children – teenaged Danny (Cameron Bright), 10-year-old Brian (Matthew Knight) and six-year-old Mary (Amy and Zoe Schlagel) – to the enormous West Edmonton Mall for a last-minute Christmas shopping spree.

However, things quickly spiral out of control when Brian and Mary find a bag full of counterfeit money belonging to bumbling villains Sheldon and Leonard (Preston Lacy and Chris Kattan) and their bitchy boss Ginger (Carmen Electra). Thinking the money is a gift from Santa, the kids start spending it on extravagant Christmas presents, which puts both the crooks and a dogged detective (Tim Curry) on their tail.

The Bad
Christmas in Wonderland is the latest recipient of the give-it-a-brief-theatrical-release-then-rush-it-out-on-DVD treatment, presumably to cash in on Swayze's recent death (sadly this was one of his last films) and the fact that there aren't many Christmas movies out this year.

Swayze does his best, but he wears a “So it's come to this...” expression throughout that suggests he knows a straight-to-DVD effort when he sees one. There's also some atrocious over-acting from Curry, Kattan and Lacy that's so bad that you'll probably be able to smell it from the foyer.

The Worst
The biggest problem is that it just isn't funny, with the increasingly desperate script eventually resorting to fart gags and poorly directed slapstick. Aside from the derivative plot, the film tries to shoe-horn in a badly conceived Christmas miracle element with a series of twinkly old men (all played by Matthew Walker) who are meant to be Santa, though, curiously, a Santa who's decided to dress like Dumbledore. On top of that, there's a laughably poor special effects shot of some elves that has to be seen to be believed.

Worth seeing?
Ultimately, Christmas in Wonderland is less of a film than an extended commercial for the West Edmonton Mall. One to avoid.

Film Trailer

Christmas in Wonderland (PG)
Be the first to review Christmas in Wonderland...
01 Rurouni Kenshin 2: Kyoto Inferno (15)

Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Tatsuya Fujiwara

02 Annie (tbc)

Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis, Rose Byrne

03 Paddington (PG)

Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins

04 Get Santa (tbc)

Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis , Rafe Spall

05 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (12A)

Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Content updated: 27/11/2014 22:56

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (12A)

Jennifer Lawrence is back in the penultimate part of the spectacular Hunger Games series.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films