This classic film is known to be so bad that it’s good! Actually, I thought it was quite funny in spots and it manages to make a good point, that kids — and even adults — need to remember to have some fun now and then. Sure, the special effects don’t equal those of today (this premiered in 1964) but it has one of the best actors to play Santa Claus I have ever watched, namely John Call. When he goes “Ho, ho, ho!” he has a twinkle in his eye and you really believe him.
The premise is that the children of Mars are stoic and without laughter. It’s stated in the movie that they have had devices placed on their heads since birth, with a constant stream of knowledge being fed to them. The leader, Kimar (Leonard Hicks), plots to go to Earth to kidnap Santa Claus and bring him back so he can teach laughter and mirth, and how to have fun, to the children of Mars. However, opposing him is Voldar (Vincent Beck), who wants nothing to do with Earthlings and believes the Martians are superior. The Martians do go to Earth and kidnap two children, Billy and his sister Betty, and head to the North Pole to pick up Santa before warping back to Mars. Voldar plans to stop Santa and the two kids from ever making it that far.
The movie opens with a TV reporter interviewing Santa in his workshop at the North Pole and the reporter exclaims, “Whew! It’s cold up here. There’s only one direction you can go from here … and that’s south!” So, they couldn’t be any more north even if they tried. The viewer gets a glimpse of the elves working feverishly, preparing the toys for Santa to deliver on Christmas Eve. Is it possible Santa could use a rocket sled this year? No! “We’re going out the good, old fashioned way,” he says, “with my reindeer-Prancer and Dancer, and Donder and Blixen … and Vixen and Nixon. Where did I get Nixon? Confound it, I get those names mixed up!” When Mrs. Claus realizes she’s on TV, she declares, “Oh, my hair’s a mess!”
There’s humor on Mars too. When Dropo, a Martian, is caught sleeping at a task, the Chief, Kimar, tells him that he’s the laziest man on the planet. Dropo replies that he had forgotten how to sleep so he was just practicing!
Earth programs are considered ridiculous according to Chief Kimar, but yet if some knowledge from Earth can be found, he is willing to listen. He is obviously a devoted father, another nice theme in the film. The wise elder of Mars, Chochem, had told Kimar and the elders in a special council meeting that Christmas brings a peace and joy to the children and that it is now early December on Earth. In another comedic moment, Voldar says, “Bah!” just like Scrooge himself. The chief is convinced, though, that the kidnapping of old St. Nick is necessary. Santa Claus is willing to help but is shocked when he learns that they plan to keep him on Mars … permanently! “Ho, ho, ho” he says dryly.
Kimar’s timing is great, as the kids of Mars are beginning to have rebellious attitudes. They definitely need a bit of Christmas joy and cheer. When they first arrive to pick up Santa Claus, they spot many department-store Santas and they are somewhat confused, until they learn these other Santas are his helpers and he, the real Santa, lives exclusively at the North Pole. As Voldar says, “All this trouble over a fat, little man in a red suit!” Young Betty, upon seeing the Martians, wonders if the antennas on their heads help them with reception as they watch TV! As stated before, this classic film contains some humorous and funny scenes and lines. And older viewers will enjoy catching the moment when an old coil toy called a “Slinky” is referenced.
At one point, Voldar believes he has jettisoned the Earth children into space, only to find out they are still on board. He and Kimar go back and forth in their opinions and actually come to blows in a couple of scenes.
This funny film is a pick-me-up for laughter at Christmastime, or any old day a few laughs are needed. When a freezing machine is used on Mrs. Claus, Santa remarks that he can’t recall a time when she was silent for so long!
This film is fun for the whole family and we are happy that the filmmakers held to family-friendly virtues and that we can award it our Dove seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
Christmas, fun, and laughter all go together and this movie certainly has all of that going for it, and it’s a fun watch!