20 December 2002 | BlackX
Of course, another movie is given no credit whatsoever and passed over for the fact that Walt Disney Co. has attached itself to it.
Despite being in Florida(well, Disney World, ironically) and having access to the Disney Channel(which wasn't really used because of the unpredictable scheduling of their holiday marathons) in 2001, I only watched this on the Canadian Family Channel when I noticed that Josh Zuckerman, who played Young Dr. Evil in Austin Powers in Goldmember(and is a very good actor) was in it. I would have probably watched it in 2001 if I had known that the man who plays Hal on Malcolm in the Middle was involved, I think his name is Bryan Cranston, who has taken a sidestep from his familiar role as the panicky, bad father role model, to a cunning, bad uncle role model.
Danny Wrigley(Zuckerman) has a younger brother, the kind who's dumb yet smart a.k.a. he will buy junk from Danny while "Christmas shopping", yet knows some things about computers and the outside world. He also has a younger sister, so smart she doesn't believe in Santa or Christmas. Danny spends a lot of time scheming, e.g. the Christmas shopping incident. Their parents are either doctors or lawyers, I can't recall, who, guess what, are called in to work on Christmas Eve night. Luckily, Uncle Nick(Cranston, who believe it or not isn't Santa despite having the name Nick) has dropped by for no apparent reason. But when the kids go off to bed, we find Nick has been a little naughty. He has to place a virus on his computer, but it also effects every computer for another 50 miles. Santa then comes by, using technology to shrink and unshrink presents, and freeze time. But whilst leaving, he gets knocked out cold, and is found by Danny and Nick, who then take his sleigh to save Christmas.
But Danny isn't the only schemer. Soon enough, Uncle Nick has conned him, too. Meanwhile, incredibly annoying sequences of Santa and the two younger siblings trying to bring down the new high-tech sleigh driven by Danny & Nick interrupt the latter's events, yet are unfortunately necessary to stop the movie from really going slow with 30 minutes or so of Danny and Nick just doing the same things over and over again.
The acting is the best job here. Cranston is great, and Zuckerman is going to grow up to be great, but he needs to work on his sadder emotions. The story and writing has points taken off for not coming up with a more enjoyable sub-plot. Casting is strong, there couldn't really be anyone else fulfilling the characters in this movie, but if I had to choose one guy I didn't like, it was Santa himself. The effects, well, they probably meet the budget. Some great props and computer stuff was the detail in the shrunken and unshrunken objects. Just look at the car, or the piano.
It's definitely something to watch in the holidays, but not one to cash out $10 American for an official VHS copy from Disney, especially for the measly hour-and-a-half you can watch it for on commercial-free TV(which is probably the only stations it may show up on). And though it's easily passed over, I enjoyed it, and you probably will too.