15th Nov2021

‘Christmas Thieves’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Tom Arnold, Michael Madsen, Lorenzo McGovern Zaini, Mia McGovern Zaini, Douglas Dean, Gabriele Greggio, Katie McGovern, Esmeralda Spadea, Mark Thompson-Ashworth | Written by Mario Bellino, Ferdinando Dell’Omo, Andrea Fazzini, Andrea Iervolino | Directed by Francesco Cinquemani

A Christmas heist movie? Two burglars try to steal from a house that happens to have a couple of kids there too. You’d be forgiven for thinking you might have seen this all before but Christmas Thieves is nothing at all like Home Alone.

I don’t mean in quality either – I don’t expect any movie, let alone a Christmas movie, to be as great as Home Alone but this movie just goes off in all kinds of directions and is not at all what I expected.

In Christmas Thieves ,Frank (Tom Arnold) and Vince (Michael Madsen) are ready to take presents from houses on Christmas Eve when they happen upon a house with two children and no adults in sight. Still wanting to take the goods but not get caught the two burglars end up reading stories and keeping the kids happy while pretending to be Santa and one of his elves.

The reason this becomes a slightly odd watch is that when the stories are read from the children’s book, we see those stories in animated form, as Frank and the kids talk through the animation. This might not be quite so odd as a one-off but there’s more than half a dozen of them and we get a kids cartoon with some sort of moral to each story. Once you get used to this (and the fact that this is a family movie of sorts led by Arnold and Madsen) it’s fine but then there’s thirty minutes or so where we don’t get any animation.

It did make me wonder exactly who this film was aimed at. I think going into it I was expecting a more adult-orientated movie but as soon as these cartoon scenes started appearing I realised this wasn’t the case. It turns out to be a very family-friendly Christmas movie for the most part, it’s just not what I was expecting.

Tom Arnold is the star of the show here and without him the movie would have been a lot worse off. He shows some really great comic delivery and makes lines a lot funnier than they should be. Madsen alongside him very much struggles to do the same while the two young actors are fine but have little to do. Somehow, the story scenes fail even Arnold who becomes almost robot-like in his delivery. These cartoon stories then become narrated with little to no emotion.

Despite the weird mix of genres and ideas, the film-makers do perfectly hit the heart-warming Christmas movie ending. It almost feels a little out of place somehow but you get the family altogether, all happy, exchanging gifts on Christmas day and you can’t help but smile.

I’m not entirely sure children will love Christmas Thieves and its cartoons because they’re a little too odd and although adults might get a kick out of seeing Madsen and Arnold as this oddball crime duo, even Arnold’s entertaining performance isn’t quite enough. Not only is this a tough film to categorize, it’s also a difficult film to rate as my thoughts when it finished were ‘what have I just watched?!’

That said, at just under 75 minutes, I think fans of Christmas should give it a go…

Christmas Thieves will be available on Digital Download from 29th November

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