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The story of young Nicolas (voice of Jack Versace), a 7 year old Australian boy and his adventures as he struggles with the ups and downs of being trained as the next Santa Claus. It's a big responsibility that would scare even the bravest boy. Nicolas wants to be the best Santa ever and will learn a few lessons along the way. But Christmas has a way of making even the biggest mishaps alright and thanks to his loving mentors, Santa (Shane Jacobsen) and Waldorf (Hugh Sheridan), Nicolas learns the true meaning of Christmas.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Did you know that after 178 years a Santa has to find a successor before stepping down? Well, you do now. And the successor has to have all the right qualities, not least being pure of heart. There is training for the lucky apprentice, on the job as well as in simulation sets, just like fighter pilots.

To select such a singular boy, the Santa council consults a miraculous force which searches the globe for just the right boy - and finds him in a Sydney orphanage. The first requirement is that he be called Nicolas, and there are two at this place. The one we have met who seems most suited is a standard issue little boy (voice of Jack Versace) but the other is a tubby bully (Shardyn Fahey Leigh) who is most unsuitable - yet one of the elf helpers mistakes him for the chosen one.

The story unfolds as Santa intervenes and the right one flies away in Santa's sleigh, and begins his apprenticeship. The film is intended for 8 year olds (or thereabouts) and the story is easy to follow, with simple, old fashioned animation to match.

Nicolas has to try and overcome his fear of heights - a definite disadvantage when flying above the houses - and he makes a new toy with unintended consequences that backfire - literally.

Good hearted, well meaning and innocuous, Santa's Apprentice also has a couple of messages, one involving the bully and his need for parental love as a way to correct the nasty behaviour. Nerida Tyson-Chew's score is fitting and helps lift the film, although there might have been a few more cues to fill in some gaps and lulls.

The voices are all excellent, with Shane Jacobsen solid as Santa and Magda Szubanski great as Santa's long time housekeeper, Beatrice. And there is a cute coda involving a young Beatrice (Delta Goodrem) at the orphanage who takes a shine to Nicolas.

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(Aust/France/Ireland, 2010)

VOICES: Shane Jacobsen, Magda Szubanski, Delta Goodrem, Hugh Sheridan, Georgie Parker, Max Cullen, Jack Versace, Shardyn Fahey Leigh

DIRECTOR: Luc Vinciquerra

SCRIPT: Alexandre Reverend

EDITOR: Celine Kelepikis

MUSIC: Nerida Tyson-Chew

RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 10, 2011

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