Something about Kevin Sorbo in “The Santa Suit” haunted me… A review
The fact that I have this blog demonstrates that I’m an avid Kevin Sorbo fan. I’m also a freelance writer with many years’ experience in the industry. When I write articles of an impersonal nature to post here, such as interviews, previews, and reviews, I try to remain objective.
I watched both airings of the Hallmark Channel’s “The Santa Suit” starring Sorbo on Thursday, December 2. The first time was to enjoy his work, and the second, to form an objective opinion. I realized, however, that the two were synonymous.
Initially, I wanted to write this that night, but, my instinct said to wait. I was glad I did. While outlining a story and constructing my words the next day, something nagged at me inside. Sure, the new two-hour Christmas Special offered universal themes like good triumphs over evil, helping people versus greed, and ultimate redemption. But, there was something more… something in Sorbo’s expressions, gestures, emotions, voice… something called passion.
Sorbo exudes passion throughout the movie with every glance, movement, sentence, and silence. He brings to the screen an honesty rarely exhibited by today’s “big Hollywood stars,” demonstrating that not only has he outlasted his action hero stereotype, but, that he has transcended it to great heights.
As a modern counterpart to Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge in a A Christmas Carol, Sorbo’s character, Drake Hunter, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hunter Toys, all but says, “Christmas, humbug!” in the film’s beginning. He’s an unlikeable character for the most part, feared by his employees, disliked by his fellow executives, and abandoned by friends. He has no family, girlfriend, or anyone who cares when he disappears.
And disappear he does only to assume the image of Santa Claus when the real Father Christmas desires to teach him lessons in humility, humanity, and reaching his inner Christmas spirit. Although viewers see Sorbo as Hunter, some great editing provides glimpses of what those around the CEO witness: Santa Claus.
Naturally, Hunter is in denial as he goes to jail then finds himself in a homeless shelter, a far cry from his silk Armani suits and personal table at a local upscale restaurant. He begrudgingly accepts his lot and takes the advice of the shelter’s social worker (Jodie Dowdall). The mighty Hunter becomes a toy store Santa.
He befriends his off-beat elf assistant Sebastian (Darrell Faria), an aspiring actor with dreams of glory, but, an approach to his role more like Night of the Living Dead than a happy children’s character. Hunter’s first act of redemption is saving the young man’s job when the store owner discovers Sebastian’s “dark elf” make-up that scared away potential Santa seekers.
Kevin Commins’ fine script continues in this manner, culminating in Hunter caring for a young “latchkey kid” (Briana D’Aguanno) whose single mother struggles to earn a living, ironically, at Hunter Toys. He and the social worker visit the girl’s house, which is Hunter’s childhood home, where he learns of the child’s Christmas wish.
After much soul searching, Hunter acquires it for her and almost lands in jail a second time. The real Santa Claus intervenes. But, to find out more you’ll need to watch it!
Sorbo aptly weaves his acting magic throughout the movie. He drags viewers to Hunter’s nasty depths, and through sheer pathos and determination appeals to the humanness in us all. Then he shares his awakening as if arousing from a deep slumber to find Hunter transformed. This metamorphosis is one of the oldest literary motifs with Hunter as the proverbial Jungian archetype, and Sorbo plays it extremely well.
Why did his performance haunt me? Was it his portrayal of the bad guy turned good, his finely honed skills, his sultry voice, his breaking away from a stereotype that has followed his career?
No. Sorbo’s passion reached into the depths of my soul and said, “I will find the beauty behind the pain,” which I believe is the underlying, yet amazing and uplifting message of “The Santa Suit.”
(Photos courtesy of The Hallmark Channel)