Thursday, December 24, 2015

#1,956. Stalking Santa (2006)

Directed By: Greg Kiefer

Starring: Chris Clark, Daryn Tufts, Lisa Clark

Line from this film: "Zoom right in on that belt. If it's plastic, we got a fake"

Trivia: Won Best feature Film - Comedy at the 2007 International Family Film Festival

So is there a Santa Claus, or isn’t there? Ask Lloyd Darrow (Chris Clark), founder of Tangible Evidence Real Discoveries (or TERD for short), and he’ll tell you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Santa is 100% genuine. What’s more, he intends to prove it. Aided by his (unpaid) intern Clarence (Daryn Tufts), Lloyd has dedicated his entire life to uncovering clues that Santa does, indeed, exist. With Christmas just a few days away, Lloyd and Clarence are intensifying their investigation, cruising the malls to expose phony Santa’s in the hopes they’ll weed out the imitators and, eventually, track down St. Nicholas himself.

Though he has the support of his beloved wife Barbara (Lisa Clark) and daughter Kylie (Sierra Squires), Lloyd’s only son Keith (Simon Taylor) believes his dad is cracking up, and wants him to call the whole thing off. But Lloyd has no time to listen to naysayers; he knows in his heart he’s closing in on the truth, and is convinced he’ll soon have concrete evidence that Santa Claus, his reindeer, and his elven assistants are, in fact, the real deal.

Produced as a mockumentary and narrated by William Shatner, 2006’s Stalking Santa has some genuinely funny moments, many of which involve its two lead characters, Lloyd and Clarence, cruising department store parking lots to secretly videotape “fake” Santa’s (“Zoom in on that belt”, Lloyd tells Clarence as the two drive by a Salvation Army Santa Claus. “If it's plastic, we got a fake”). In addition to their storefront research, the pair also explore other avenues they believe support their hypothesis that Santa exists. The cameras are there when Clarence pays a visit to the Destry family farm, where owner Ben Destry (Jake Suazo) has uncovered a crop circle in his corn field. According to Lloyd, crop circles are, in reality, alternate landing pads for Santa’s sleigh, and are usually found next to houses that don’t have a chimney (leaving Jolly ‘ole St. Nick with no choice but to bring the sled down in a safe place and walk through the front door). It’s proof like this that Lloyd believes will eventually validate his entire theory (he scoffs when told that some think crop circles are the work of aliens from outer space, a notion he finds completely ludicrous).

As good as Lloyd’s investigation is, it’s the film’s “historical evidence” that impressed me the most. Relying on images from olden times (including a papyrus dating back to Ancient Egypt which shows a large man in red & white with a reindeer standing behind him); audio clips (when played backwards, a wax cylinder recorded during a 1893 séance offers further confirmation that the big guy is real); and, of course, the Garner Expedition Film of 1947, when two North Pole explorers captured actual footage of what might be Santa Claus, strolling through the snow. Taking a page from such TV shows as In Search Of and Unsolved Mysteries, Stalking Santa conjures up a bizarre reality (complete with a conspiracy theory) that's as clever as it is hilarious.

Featuring interviews with actual kids, saying what they think of Santa Claus, and containing practically no offensive material whatsoever (the movie was rated PG by the MPAA for “Brief Mild Language”), Stalking Santa offers something for parents and children alike, and is a nice holiday alternative that the entire family can enjoy.

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