Directed by Francesco Cinquemani and written by Mario Bellini, Ferdinando Dell’Omo, Andrea Fazzini, and Andrea Iervolino, Christmas Thieves follows two bumbling burglars, Frank (Tom Arnold) and Vince (Michael Madsen). They are robbing a magician’s house on Christmas Eve while dressed as Santa and an elf. Unfortunately, right as they’re swiping an ancient, leather-bound book, the cops arrive, so the two flee into the neighborhood.
Down the street, Emma (Katie McGovern) is trying to find a last-minute babysitter for her kids, Olivia (Mia McGovern Ziani) and Liam (Lorenzo McGovern Ziani). Her husband, Peter (Douglas Dean), is stuck on an oil rig, and work has called her in. The agency sets her up with a new babysitter her kids don’t know yet, so Emma tells her kids to lock the door until the babysitter shows up. Officer Emma then starts scouring the neighborhood with her fellow cops for the costumed thieves who broke into the magician’s house.
“With delightful cartoons by the fistful, will Frank and Vince ever get the kids to sleep and evade the law?”
The children didn’t lock the door because they are kids and in waltzes Frank and Vince, who introduce themselves as a babysitting team extraordinaire. While elf-dressed Vince looks for stuff to steal, Santa Frank sits down with Olivia and Liam to read them a bedtime story from the stolen magician’s book. Thanks to Christmas magic, this mystic tome contains the animated adventures of the lovable CGI Italian cartoon characters, the Arctic Friends.
From the animated dud Arctic Dogs and its spin-off series Arctic Friends, these characters are Swifty the arctic fox, his fox lady Jade, and their big buddy P.B. the polar bear. They are starting a package delivery service in time for the holidays. But watch dastardly puffins, the henchmen for the wicked Ollie the Walrus (who is the spitting image of Bletch from Peter Jackson’s immortal Meet the Feebles), aim to stop them. With delightful cartoons by the fistful, will Frank and Vince ever get the kids to sleep and evade the law?
This live-action/animation hybrid approach has Italian roots in Bruno Bozzetto’s classic Allegro Non Troppo, also known as the Italian Fantasia. Like in that film, Christmas Thieves has a live-action wraparound to contain the cartoon sequences. Clips from Arctic Friends, which have no dialogue, are shown with Frank and the kids’ voices making comments over them. Imagine It’s a Wonderful Life with the hour’s worth of flashbacks replaced by Woody Woodpecker cartoons. This will exclusively work for small children or adults blasted on weed, as the movie keeps slipping into the animation out of nowhere. However, one brilliant section recreates one of Frank’s Christmas memories into the style of a child’s scribblings.
"…prior to viewing, eat pot brownies..."