Dull, hollow 'A Boy Called Christmas' is a holiday dud

Phil on Film
Posted at 12:42 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 13:42:47-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — As soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, you may be looking for a Christmas movie snack.

If you consider Netflix's "A Boy Called Christmas," keep on looking. This one belongs in the back of the fridge.

Based on the Matt Haig novel, "A Boy Called Christmas" tells the story of Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) — nicknamed "Christmas: by his late mother — as he sets out on a journey into what's presumably Nordic Europe to save his father and find the fabled village of Elfhelm.

With his smarmy talking pet mouse (Stephen Merchant) at his side, and an ornery reindeer named Blitzen, Nikols encounters grumpy elves, a snarling queen, and a whole lot of bad CGI.

The cast is a solid lineup of UK all-stars, with Sally Hawkins, Maggie Smith, and Jim Broadbent checking in.

The ever-delightful Kristen Wiig represents the states but has too little material to work with. That goes for everyone here. This is a milquetoast story with little humor and an oddly grim tone.

Director Gil Kenan, a veteran of horror films such as the 2015 "Poltergeist" remake and the "Scream" TV series, seems out of his depth here. The film is a slog that never quite ignites. It's harmless enough to put on in the background at holiday gatherings, but don't expect it to hold your interest.

The core message is that Christmas is an opportunity to spread kindness and be our best selves.

Movies this lame, though, don't do much to spread holiday cheer.

RATING: 2 stars out of 4.

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