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Gil Junger
Cast: Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, Paige, AnnaLynne McCord
Writing Credits:
James Robert Johnston and Bennett Yellin

After getting fired from his job, a slick, fast-talking businessman is thrown into an elf competition to become Santa¹s next second-in-command.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $22.98
Release Date: 11/17/15

• “The Ho Ho Ho” Featurette
• “Introducing Paige” Featurette
• “Holiday Cast and Crew” Featurette
• Sneak Peek


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Santa's Little Helper (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 1, 2015)

When I last saw Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, he starred in Marine 4: Moving Target. That “R”-rated action flick seemed like the kind of effort one would expect from a muscular pro wrestler like Mizanin.

Perhaps inspired by the comedic success of wrestling predecessor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Mizanin branches out with the family flick Santa’s Little Helper. Slimy businessman Dax Ardwick (Mizanin) treats everyone terribly and shows no compassion for others, even in the midst of the Christmas season.

This comes back to haunt Dax when he loses his job, a firing that occurs largely because no one likes him. Dax’s girlfriend also dumps him and the company even repossesses his beloved sports car.

In the midst of this, Dax receives a visit from Santa Claus (Eric Keenleyside). Santa wants to help redeem Dax, and Saint Nick also needs a new “Head Office Herald of Holiday Operations”. Santa launches a competition for the position and Dax gets a shot. We follow his professional and emotional journey.

As I alluded at the start, I get the impression Mizanin wants to model his career after Dwayne Johnson’s. Unfortunately, I find it hard to believe Mizanin will follow a similar path due to one major difference: talent. Johnson proved himself to be a skilled actor years ago, with a particular affinity for comedy, though he handles action just fine as well.

I’ve only seen two Mizanin movies so far, but neither gives me the impression he boasts any real skill as an actor. In Marine, he seemed stiff and flat, whereas in Helper, Mizanin tries too hard to go the other way. Mizanin shows precious little comedic charm or timing, so he blunders through the movie with no ability to pull off his character.

That becomes an even bigger issue given the uninspired nature of Helper. For the most part, the film does little more than offer a collection of random comedic episodes without real purpose.

Sure, the film intends to show Dax grows and matures, but the movie doesn’t really care about that. It just wants to put a muscle man like Mizanin in goofy circumstances – how it gets to those seems irrelevant.

At times, I couldn’t quite figure out the intended audience for Helper. Obviously it looks like something meant for young kids, but it comes with moments that don’t fit that audience at all. We get a tacked-on romance between Dax and sexy elf Billie (AnnaLynne McCord) as well as a weird sequence at a retirement home that presents Dax shirtless and alludes to Magic Mike while horny grannies hoot at him.

Admittedly, I wouldn’t refer to any of this as “adult” – the movie stays firmly “PG” without naughty language or the like. Still, Helper feels oddly sexual for a Christmas movie apparently intended for pre-teens.

In truth, Helper never becomes a bad film, as it provides the occasional moment of mild mirth. Unfortunately, it lacks much clarity or purpose, as it meanders from one uninspired comedic moment to another. Helper could’ve been worse, but it remains largely flat and forgettable.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D

Santa’s Little Helper appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For SD-DVD, this was a solid presentation.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. At times, wider shots tended to be a little soft, but those examples weren’t terribly intrusive. Much of the film appeared pretty accurate and concise. No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained minor. Source flaws also failed to create problems.

In terms of colors, Helper veered toward a pretty peppy palette to reflect the holiday environment. This meant we got a fairly broad range of hues that tended to appear lively. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows showed good delineation. Overall, this was a pleasing presentation.

Similar thoughts greeted the good Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Helper. I felt the soundscape delivered an involving experience in which the various fantasy scenes offered a nice sense of impact. Overall, the mix filled out the room in a satisfying manner, especially when it involved magic.

Audio quality was positive. Speech came across as natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music showed good range, and effects offered a good sense of impact with reasonable punch and clarity. This was a positive soundtrack.

Three featurettes appear here. The Ho Ho Ho lasts four minutes, 39 seconds and offers comments from director Gil Junger, and actors Mike Mizanin, AnnaLynne McCord, and Paige. They cover story/character elements as well as cast and performances. No substantial information appears here.

Introducing Paige runs five minutes, 21 seconds and features Paige, Mizanin, Junger and McCord. We learn about Paige’s WWE career and her movie debut here. Like “Ho”, nothing interesting emerges, but I like the shots of Paige in her skimpy wrestling outfits.

Finally, we get the two-minute, 50-second Holiday Cast and Crew. It includes notes from Mizanin, McCord, Paige, Junger, production assistant Jodi Henwood, assistant location manager Aleksander Stirajs, and assistant prop master Kenny Gibbs. All involved provide Christmas memories. This becomes another forgettable reel.

The disc opens with ads for The Peanuts Movie, Jingle All the Way 2 and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. These also appear under Sneak Peek along with promos for Russell Madness, Home Alone, Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Tales and The Sound of Music. No trailer for Helper pops up here.

At no point does Santa’s Little Helper threaten to become a terrible holiday movie, but it also fails to develop into anything memorable. Burdened by a poor performance from its lead actor and a general lack of inspiration, the film seems mediocre at best. The DVD offers pretty good picture and audio but lacks meaningful supplements. I can think of worse Christmas entertainment, but I can also find many superior efforts.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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