Father Christmas is Back (2021)

dir. Philippe Martinez and Mick Davis

Classic Christmas films, from It’s a Wonderful Life to Home Alone, are centred around the joy and warmth of family. After all, Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving, goodwill, and love. So why Father Christmas is Back decided to base a Christmas film around the most obnoxious, selfish, shrill, manipulative, deceitful and downright irritating family in existence is a mystery surely lost to the ages. Kelsey Grammer, clearly slowly killing his career before it can be offed once and for all by the Frasier reboot, plays the titular father. He brings his trophy girlfriend to meet his family – four sisters, each a more poorly sketched stereotype than the last (the uptight one! The rebellious one! The shallow one! The one who talks about nothing except The Beatles!), plus their mother, the titular father’s brother, and various romantic interests and children in tow. It is as though Father Christmas is Back specifically tried to suck out any chance of liking or respecting a single character. They lie, they cheat, they steal, they fly into unwarranted rages, they lounge around their impossibly huge castle-mansion and moan about how difficult life is, and then they all sing along and pub karaoke and wish each other a merry Christmas. Apparently the most cruel and barbaric emotional treatment can be forgiven if you don a Christmas jumper and go to the school nativity play. Indeed, the only halfway-likeable character is the sweet, enthusiastic trophy girlfriend, so naturally she’s subjected to mocking and undermining at every turn. Father Christmas is Back is an insult to Christmas, an insult to comedy, and an insult to humanity in general.

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