Film Reviews

Review: Father Christmas is Back. How to survive your family’s quirks

  • Release year: 2021
  • Director: Mick Davis and Philippe Martinez.
  • Producers: Alan Latham and Philippe Martinez.
  • Screenplay by: Hannah Davis, David Conolly and Dylanne Corcoran.
  • Cinematographer: Ross W. Clarkson.
  • Music by: Bruno Brugnano.

Synopsis: a woman tries to plan the perfect Christmas to celebrate with her family, unfortunately, her sisters seem determined to frustrate her goal.

Shotgun Commentary: a young Dolores Umbridge prepares Christmas for her family and you get to watch her try to keep it together.

Fig. 1. Caroline (Nathalie Cox) about to pop a vein from how tightly she’s smiling.
Source: Father Christmas is Back (Mick Davis and Philippe Martinez, 2021).


As far as Christmas sitcoms go, Father Christmas is Back is quite entertaining. The technical part is pretty standard and the plot won’t blow your mind, it’s quite simple and borderline cliché, but the cast is strong enough to create an enjoyable experience.

Fig. 2. The whole Christmas family shocked at the unexpected guests’ arrival.
Source: Father Christmas is Back (Mick Davis and Philippe Martinez, 2021).

Everything starts with Umbridge, or Caroline Christmas-Hope (Nathalie Cox), as she’s called in this movie, and her obsession with planning the perfect Christmas to heal her daddy issues. Her character is quirky and amusing, as one might expect from a Christmas sitcom. However, Cox overacts to the point it stops being a funny caricature and turns into an annoying feature of her character despite the comical special effects that accompany her performance.

Blessed tidings

Regardless, the indisputable pillars of the film are Peter Hope (Chris Marshall) and John Christmas (John Cleese). Their hilarious comments and perfectly-timed quips are the engines that keep the story running and the spectator present. Both of them in very different roles, Peter being Caroline’s good-natured husband and John being their neighbour with a secret, approach comedy from very different positions, yet they both are absolutely flawless.

Fig. 3. Peter yelling in anger outside the house. Source: Father Christmas is Back (Mick Davis and Philippe Martinez, 2021).

The elder sister, Joanna Christmas (Elizabeth Hurley), and the girls’ mother, Elizabeth Christmas (Caroline Quentin), are also very charismatic characters. Albeit from the simplicity of a Christmas sitcom, they both portray strong, independent women who know what they want and go for it, but also have their own insecurities.

The depth of these roles is surprising for this type of movie, and the actresses who perform them enhance their complicated personalities while never betraying the humorous aspect of the feature. This makes you want to see more of them and look forward to their interventions on scene.

Fig. 4. Joanna (Elizabeth Hurley) making a dramatic entrance. Source:
Father Christmas is Back (Mick Davis and Philippe Martinez, 2021).

Cursed tiddings

Regrettably, not all characters are charming or even mildly interesting, the other two sisters of the family are so plain you forget they exist until they show up on screen again. Vicky Christmas (Talulah Riley), the youngest of the bunch, is a free-spirited girl with no manners or shame who does whatever she wants without a care for the repercussions. As far as younger sister roles go, not groundbreaking.

The other sister, Paulina Christmas (Naomi Frederick) is a lesbian who likes The Beatles. That’s it, that’s her whole personality. As far as role writing goes, they didn’t rack their brains with this one either. Following this pattern of neglect, their partners and lovers are even simpler and more boring. So much so, that Caroline’s exaggerated acting is almost welcome in comparison.

Merry and Bright

For their part, James Christmas (Kelsey Grammer) and Jackie (April Bowlby) are great additions to the film. Of course, an actor like Grammer has more than enough experience in comedy to make any role compelling. However, it is his interactions with the other characters, especially his girlfriend, that makes him appealing.

Fig. 5. James Christmas and Jackie’s arrival at Peter’s house. Source:
Father Christmas is Back (Mick Davis and Philippe Martinez, 2021).

When they are first introduced, it is easy to judge James and Jackie’s relationship due to the context set previously and their age difference. Nevertheless, the more you get to know them and watch their amazing relation, the more you realise that they are the perfect representation of second chances and finding love at an advanced age. They challenge the spectators’ prejudices through humour and add a layer of sweetness to the story at the same time.

All in all, Father Christmas is Back is a good choice for a hot-chocolate-and-blanket Christmas plan. It will make you laugh and leave you in a nice mood, what else can you ask for a Christmas sitcom really.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • Check the voltage difference between countries before setting up the most energy-demanding decorations ever known by men.
  • Talk before assuming, the main advice of all sitcoms really, but still valid and useful.
  • Know your boundaries, car and clothes stealing is not just something you let go, regardless of who did it or the genre of the film. Have some nerve, people.
Fig. 6. The Christmas family unit formed by Caroline, Peter and their kids.
Source: Father Christmas is Back (Mick Davis and Philippe Martinez, 2021).

What’s your take? Are you a fan of Netflix Christmas movies? Have you watched Father Christmas is Back? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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