A holiday movie best described as 100 minutes of sheer boredom, “Christmas in Wonderland” shows how far writer/director James Orr has fallen from grace. Once a Hollywood mover and shaker who helped bring such projects as “3 Men and a Baby” and “Father of the Bride” to the big screen, Orr took a hiatus from the movie industry and returns with a less-than-mediocre Christmas-themed film.
“Dirty Dancing” Star Patrick Swayze Plays the Dad
Patrick Swayze is Wayne Saunders, a Los Angeles resident who moves his family to Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta, Canada. Saunders relocates to another country to take a new job, but, unfortunately, after settling into their new house, he finds out that, thanks to a corporate merger, his position has been eliminated. Despite his family’s dismal financial outlook, Saunders decides to take his children, Brian (Matthew Knight), Mary (Amy and Zoe Schlagel) and Danny (Cameron Bright), to the West Edmonton Mall on Christmas Eve.
Chris Kattan and Carmen Electra Are Counterfeiters
While their dad heads off to buy special Christmas presents, the kids wander through the mall on their own and at the ice skating rink, Mary finds a satchel filled with money. Thinking it’s a gift from Santa, she and her brother Brian go on a shopping spree, buying numerous toys and luxury items. Unfortunately, the money, which is counterfeit, belongs to three thieves (Chris Kattan, Carmen Electra, Preston Lacy) who had planned to spend the fake cash at the mall during the holiday rush.
“Christmas in Wonderland” is More of an Extended Toy Commercial than a Movie
Unoriginal and tedious, “Christmas in Wonderland” celebrates consumerism and spending more than the Christmas spirit. Director James Orr’s script also borrows heavily from other, more successful holiday films such as “Home Alone” and “The Man in the Santa Claus Suit.” Orr also gives a lot of screen time to various toys and products, making this more of a commercial for the West Edmonton Mall in Canada than anything else.
Chris Kattan, Patrick Swayze and Carmen Electra Look Out of Place
Chris Kattan, who hasn’t done as well as his former “Saturday Night Live” co-star Will Ferrell after leaving the popular series, tries his best in the role of an inept thief, but even someone as funny as Kattan can’t do much with James Orr’s script. Patrick Swayze and Carmen Electra look equally out of place as Kattan in two thankless adult roles.
“Christmas in Wonderland” Contains Unrealistic Situations
Director Orr, who wrote the 1995 Chevy Chase comedy “Man of the House,” puts his characters in unbelievable situations. When his siblings can’t be found, older brother Danny spends his time flirting with a hot mall chick instead of contacting the police or, at the very least, heading to the mall security office. Young Mary, played by twins Amy and Zoe Schlagel, also does her best Macaulay Culkin impersonation on the roof of the mall.
The Bottom Line: “Christmas in Wonderland” is Dreary but Kid-Friendly
Despite its countless flaws and a bit of naughty language, “Christmas in Wonderland” is family friendly, although it will have the adults checking their watches every five minutes or so. In a holiday film season dominated by mature movies, this is one film that is safe for kids.
“Christmas in Wonderland” is rated PG for rude language.