Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mrs. Santa Claus (1996) or "Sing it, She Wrote"

So another score for the HOOPLA app that I mentioned in a previous posting. I found this Christmas TV special through it. I was instantly drawn to it because I have a deep appreciation for Angela Lansbury, primarily because I love love love love, no LOVE the television show "Murder, She Wrote." When I saw she was in it I said "I am there hunty!"

I was pleasantly surprised as well because I really had no idea what to expect from this film. The film revolves around Mrs. Claus deciding she needs to go see the world by herself because Mr. Claus has stopped listening to her. She ends up in New York City! This is because one of the reindeers ends up hurt (poor reindeer) and she cannot fly back home. She is worried that she may not get back before Christmas, but there is also a part of her that does not care at the beginning because she is a bit miffed still at her old man. Does she end up getting back home? It was a TV special so it should be obvious. If it isn't go watch the thing!

The description mentioned that there would be a lot of social issues from the time period that the film was set. The main two examples from the special are child labor laws and the suffrage movement. 

Both of these issues were excellently handled. If anyone knows how the suffrage movement went it feels pretty accurate, if it is still a TV special representation. The reason I say it is a good representation is because it starts with a small ripple in one voice, but then Mrs. Claus has to help that voice. Once this occurs then others start to listen to the first voice. I feel that this is what happened during the suffrage movement. People were shouting for the right to vote, but they had to learn how to approach the people they wanted on their own terms. I also loved in the film that when people were dissenting about the vote for women in front of Mrs. Claus she would mention that a woman should have the right to vote. It was a great way to show that she had different views of what should happen in the world, even if she was from the secluded place of the North Pole. 

Mrs. Claus is taken into a sweat shop by a fellow boarder of the place she is staying at. She ends up working there as a supervisor. This is where one of the plots comes from and is also where we see the unfair child labor practices. Mrs. Claus doesn't think it is fair the way the children are treated and wants to do something about it! She tries to do several things, but ultimately it does not do much. The funniest thing is that the place that the kids are working is a place called Tavish Toys, run by Augustus Tavish. 

Terrence Mann as Augustus Tavish

The child labor practices of the time period is also handled very well. They constantly mention how there was little heat in the building and how they could have long hours that were beyond their control. The children also mention that they are scared that they will be replaced by other children in the area, which is a real concern for other workers even in our modern age. It does have a peaceful resolution in the film, but it did make me remember an important piece of our history. It made me remember why certain laws have been passed in our country because people are and will always be willing to exploit others in the belief that they deserve more than they actually do. 

Another element that I enjoyed, that in other films I do not always enjoy, is that there was music and singing. One of  my favorite songs is when Mrs. Claus first arrives in New York. She meets a character named Marcello, who tends to her hurt reindeer, and introduces her to the street that she is on. This leads to him singing the song "Avenue A." 

The reason I was so drawn in by this song was because it felt like I was watching a Broadway show. It was so theatrical! The dancing! The joy on the faces! The music! It was just a great number. There are several other great songs in the film. One including the little girl that she works with at the factory as well. That particular song though is a little more fun and cheeky, as you can tell from the following picture.

Lynsey Bartilson plays "Nora"

With all the good that is in the film it was hard to say that there was anything wrong or done badly in the film, but there is one thing that is mishandled. That is how Mrs. Claus knows that it is time to go home to Santa; Santa writes a letter saying he is sorry that he has mistreated her. The letter, as far as I could tell, was never delivered to her, but still she knows that it is time to return home. This leads into another song about it being time for her to leave and return home. It just felt like a bit of a cop out of the overall plot of the special and hurried. I understand though that these types of specials only are allotted a very specific amount of time, so I am not that critical of this particular aspect of the film. Had it not been there though this film would have definitely received a five Christmas tree review because it is a fun, feel-good Christmas movie, which we definitely need this year. 

Reason: There was so much good in this film (i.e. social issues and the music) but that hurried ending hurts the overall film. 

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