Copyright 1999-2002 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.

3BC
Bams' review of
Call Me Claus
3BC

Claus

Call Me Claus (2001)
Not Rated; running time 120 minutes
Genre: Comedy
Official site: http://www.tnt.tv/Title/Display/0,5918,342122,00.html
IMDB site: http://us.imdb.com/Details?0272018
Written by: Paul Mooney, Sara Bernstein, Gregory Bernstein, Brian Bird
Directed by: Peter Werner
Music by: Garth Brooks
Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Nigel Hawthorne, Taylor Negron, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Victor Garber, Frankie Faison, Jazmn Guy, Alexandra Wentworth

Turner Network Television (TNT) World Premiere December 2, 2001 8pm Eastern


Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2001


(click here to skip to this movie's rating)


I admit it: I have given Whoopi Goldberg a hard time in the past. My review of Kingdom Come noted Ms. Goldberg's overall non-involvement in the goings-on around her. And my review of Girl, Interrupted was even more critical of the Whoopster; including phrases like "Yet Another nanny figure" and "wetmaid for Missy's Young'uns", I continue to wonder Why, Whoopi, Why?

Yes, I've been hard on Whoopi Goldberg; but, in my view, for good reason. I don't subscribe to the typical critic's misgivings about her level of talent. 'Git them; they don't know what they talkin' 'bout, Willis - and most of them are just trying to be Tragically Hip, anyway. And I'm sure that it's difficult for her to come by good roles. I mean, let's face it: Hollywood barely knows how to write for the Halle Berry's of this world; what they gon' do with someone who's happy she's nappy? (I can say that, because I'm just as happy).

No, my distaste for her performances lately stems from the fact that I've seen my girl be absolutely, positively bloody brilliant before - starting when she first hit with her bloody brilliant one-woman show on HBO, and following up with her bloody brilliant performance in The Color Purple. But these days, just when I think there's a real chance things will turn around, Yet Another Whoopi Movie lets me down again. Like, say, Call Me Claus.


THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
As a young child, little Lucy Cullins (Tinashe Kachingwe) believed deeply in The Magic Of Christmas. And more than anything, she wanted her father to come home from Vietnam; she even asked Santa Claus to Make It So. But when she and her mother got the bad news on Christmas Day, she stopped believing in Christmas.

Fast-forward to cranky and cynical Lucy as an adult (Whoopi Goldberg). Christmas being still a difficult time of year for her, she studiously ignores her mother, brother Dwayne (Frankie Faison), and niece Aiesha (Jazmn Guy). Now a producer on a TV shopping network, she and set manager Taylor (Victor Garber) have been told by creepy network boss Cameron (Brian Stokes Mitchell) to audition for a Saint Nick to come in and sell their crap (Taylor's word) for Christmas. Coincidentally, a Nick (Nigel Hawthorne) who looks remarkably like the Santa who Lucy saw years ago at the local 5 And Dime [raise your hand if you remember those], drops in to see Lucy during auditions.

But even though Lucy doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he believes in her. Head Elf Ralph (Taylor Negron) is pressing Santa to find a replacement for himself, before the "Or Else" factor kicks in.


THE UPSHOT
To be honest, I didn't actually have High Hopes for Call Me Claus. Well, not all that high, anyway. I mean, come on: any movie populated by Taylor Negron and Bruce Villanch, can't be all that good to start with. Well, Bruce, anyway. I'm joking. Mostly.

Seriously though, there wasn't a whole lot to expect here. The "Christmas Carol" bit has been Done before, and Bill Murray's twist on the theme (Scrooged) was the last one I'd hoped to see; it was tolerable, but it cried out for Closure. And sure, Call Me Claus wasn't strictly a variation on the theme, but maybe it would've been better if it had been. At least Scrooged had some genuine focus, a point; I'm afraid I can't say the same for Call Me Claus.

Punny without being really funny, but not serious enough to be All That, Call Me Claus could be forgiven as standard Kiddie Christmas Fare, if not for some of the more adult-oriented humor scattered throughout. What it can't be forgiven for, however, is its criminal under use of a decent cast.

Though I riffed on Taylor Negron earlier in this review, I actually enjoyed the interplay between he and Goldberg more than most of the rest of the cast. This is - for the most part - no dis on the cast members, a strong and talented bunch which included Nigel Hawthorne as an amiable Nick, Victor Garber as set manager, and Frankie Faison as her brother Dwayne (though the less I say about Brian Stokes Mitchell's goofy performance, the better). It's just that, except for Negron and Hawthorne, the rest of the cast wasn't given anything remotely resembling work to do.

In the end, what doomed Call Me Claus was its indecisiveness. The story elements in just didn't have a chance to gel; it's as if its creators started down one path, failed to explore it fully, then turned down another. When I think about all the Issues that went unnoticed and unresolved, or for that matter, all the fun that Goldberg really could've had playing a dreadlocked Claus, well, it makes me long for he woman who came out on stage singing "Around the world/in eighty muh'f**kin days..."

...but that's Another Review For Another Time.


BAMMER'S BOTTOM LINE
One of these days, Whoopi's gonna shock us all by recalling her brilliant younger days and giving the performance of her life - again. I know you have it in you, Whoopi; I've seen what you can do with a simple t-shirt standing in for Long, Luxurious Locks.

I'll be waiting, girl.


CALL ME CLAUS:

yellow

As Ralph himself said, move along folks; nothin' to see here.

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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2001
EMAIL: bams@3blackchicks.com    ICQ: 7760005
http://www.3blackchicks.com/

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