The holiday film genre has a way of lowering our standards for what can be considered a great movie. Ridiculous plots, overused jokes and less-than-impressive performances by young actors are less knocks against a film and more staples of the genre. (This applies to all of your favorites, you know it’s true). So, when Disney+ releases a new Christmas movie, you may find yourself just happy to be watching something that celebrates the season.
Dashing Through the Snow tells the story of a divorced social worker for the Atlanta police department who despises Christmas due to a painful childhood memory. When sent on a call while spending Christmas Eve with his daughter, he inadvertently evokes the wrath of a local politician, but meets a man who helps him understand the joy and magic of Christmas.
Dashing Through the Snow is far from the next Christmas classic. The film has plenty of heart and delivers a few good laughs, but it feels like an overused story pieced together by some phoned-in performances. There are moments in the film that might have you wondering if some of the cast was ever even actually in the same room together. But, with that being said, we’re grading on the holiday movie scale, and while it hits all of the cliche negatives, it also hits some of the positives of that genre.
For example, there are plenty of laughs. The shining star on the top of this tree is without a doubt Lil Rel Howery, who delivers a fresh performance as Santa Claus. Up until his arrival in the film, it feels like a made-for-TV movie that you might put on in the background of your next holiday party. Once he shows up though, the energy of the movie changes and you can expect a few good “Ho Ho Hos” every time he’s in a scene.
Opposite Howery, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges delivers a fine performance as the leading man. There are moments where it can be very difficult to believe him in this role, with some seemingly forced responses to the absurd situations unfolding around him. And yet, in the very next scene, he’ll deliver either a convincing heartfelt speech or a hilarious reaction to those same absurd situations. It’s a bit back and forth, but in the end, it’s more nice than naughty.
The film does also check that warm, heartfelt, family Christmas movie box. It may be a story that’s been told countless times, but that’s because it works. The closed-off lead character has to learn the true meaning of Christmas by helping a fish-out-of-water character from the North Pole. It’s done every year and it’s done well enough here to make it worth a watch with your family this holiday season. It also leans into a younger audience, with plenty of humor for them to enjoy.
Overall, Dashing Through the Snow is that box of Christmas pajamas under your tree. You’re going to open it because it’s Christmas and it’s there. But will you remember to wear them around this time next year? We’ll see. Maybe after you wear your The Santa Clause and even Noelle pajamas.
Dashing Through the Snow is now streaming on Disney+.