HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Santa's Little Helper
HTS Overall Score:69
Ever had one of those movies that completely surprised you with how great it was, despite the mediocre packaging and horrible trailers? I know I’ve had that happen quite a few times. I wince, bite my lip and hope for the best while preparing for the worst, but end of coming out REALLY entertained in the end. Well, this isn’t one of those times. In fact this is one of those moments where I was considering seppuku at one point during the film and wondering if noon was too early to break into the six pack I had in the fridge. “Santa’s Little Helper” is up there with watching a Larry the Cable Guy movie, with the joy of having a WWE films budget. Usually I can take the addition of professional wrestlers as action stars. I mean, they’re basically walking, talking stunt men already, but as a kid’s film? Those usually don’t end well, and “Santa’s Little Helper” proves that pattern right once more.
Dax “the Ax” (The Miz) is a slick talking businessman who’s living the high life until everything is taken away from him a few weeks till Christmas. He’s a cold hearted man with no friends, but PLENTY of enemies. With everything taken away from him Dax has to come to grips with the fact that he’s dumped by his girlfriend who’s just as selfish and conniving as he is, his business is stripped from him and he’s over spent on his house, which means that he is going to have it foreclosed on within the week. That changes when Santa (Eric Keenleyside) sends down his most trusted elf, Billie (AnnaLynne McCord) to test out Dax for the position of Santa’s right hand man. Of course Dax isn’t exactly allowed to know the job he’s applying for, and thusly has to pass all of the tests without knowing what he’s doing if for.
As you could have guessed, Dax turns from an egotistical jerk wad to a rather nice guy in a just a couple of days. He passes all of Santa’s tests and makes it to the North Pole. Problem is, he’s not the only one vying for the job. The daughter of the current right hand man (aptly labeled the “Ho Ho Ho”), Eleanor (WWE Diva Paige) is not going to let Santa’s choice go unopposed, and challenges the “normie” to a battle for the prize. Now Dax has to dig deep and go through one more test to prove that he’s worthy of Santa’s choice.
All I can say is that “Santa’s Little Helper” is painful. It’s aimed directly at kids, but I think I’d rather let my children watch “Barbie” or “Bratz” or “Thomas the Tank Engine” before I let them rot their brains with this one. Everything is ridiculously cheesy and feels much like the stupidity you would see in such classics as “Jingle All the Way 2” with Larry the Cable Guy, or “A Christmas Story 2”. Mike “The Miz” makes a semi passable action star in “The Marine 3” and “The Marine 4” because he keeps his mouth shut and blows stuff up. When he actually opens up his mouth and speaks you are very sorely reminded that he’s a WWE wrestler, NOT an actor! Same thing goes for Paige, who luckily doesn’t get a whole lot of lines in the movie besides smack talk, which actually works out pretty well for her considering the kind of dialog in your average WWE trash talk lineup.
The movie was obviously shot on the cheap, and it shows in the production values. Santa wears VERY obvious fake facial hair, so obvious that you can’t help but see where the glue marks are, even with DVD resolution. The same thing translates to the dialog, as it sounds like it was written in one night. I can’t say that there weren’t a few cute moments to the film, but overall it just wreaks of haphazard film making with WWE films trying to get into more niches besides the action genre. Personally I think I’d rather have the studio keep at the action genre, as they’ve proven themselves rather competent in that genre, but leave the family films to someone else please.
Rated PG for a comic fight scene and some suggestive humor
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=59977[/img]While “Santa’s Little Helper” is definitely a low budget film, as the wardrobes have proven, but with the use of modern digital cameras the DVD’s 1.78:1 MPEG2 encoded image looks wonderful. Colors are bright and cheery, with cherry reds and granny smith apple greens showing through in the north pole, as well as the metallic blues and steel grey’s of the Dax’s modern house. Skin tones and contrast levels look more than pleasing, with great looking black levels that are devoid of crush or washed out levels. The only “problem” I can see with the film is that it’s a bit digital “glossy” with that look that you see on sitcoms and soap operas. Still, it’s a VERY nice looking transfer that isn’t plagued with any digital artifacting that I could see.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=59985[/img]The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is certainly quite capable of handling everything the film throws at it. Modern audio mixing ability has come a long way, as has storage techniques, so making a rather pleasing audio experience isn’t hard. “Santa’s Little Helper” sounds more than adequate, with strong vocals locked up front in the center channel, and good use of the surrounds when necessary. The film is very dialog centric so there isn’t a whole lot of surround usage, but there is a goodly amount of ambient noises to filter in through the sides and rears. LFE is punchy and tight, without being a real standout in the mix. It’s job mainly being relegated to the throaty roar of sports car, or the bass in the punk rock score.
• The "Ho Ho Ho"
• Introducing Paige
• Holiday Cast & Crew
These scrooge like films based upon the holidays are a dime a dozen, and with so many good films and mediocre films put out surrounding the theme it really takes something special to stand out. Unfortunately being “special” in this case results to be so horribly bad that I visibly winced multiple times while watching. The film had it all. Poor writing, poor acting, poor budget, and thusly. Poor results. All I can say is. Stick to making action films! Audio is solid and video is excellent for a DVD, but those good points can’t overcome the obvious disappointments with the film itself, so I still heartily say to skip it.
Starring: Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, AnnaLyne McCord, Eric Keenleyside
Directed by: Max Joseph
Written by: Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 90 Minutes
DVD Release Date: November 17th 2015
Buy Santa's Little Helper On DVD at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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