This past weekend, I watched a rather unusual Christmas movie called Hogfather.  It’s a two part movie/mini-series from 2006.

I must say, I rented this with some trepidation.  I happened to see a trailer for it, while watching a different DVD, and it caught my interest.  It looked…well, weird.  “I like weird stuff,” I thought to myself, so I decided to give it a shot.  I was not disappointed.

Hogfather takes place in an alternate universe known as “Discworld”.  Discworld is a universe which has wizards, and gnomes and all sorts of other interesting creatures.  Apparently there is an entire series of comic fantasy books featuring adventures based in Discworld, by author Terry Pratchett.

The plot to the movie begins on a holiday known as “Hogswatch” which, as the narrator tells us, is remarkably similar to our Christmas.  In fact, it’s like Christmas in every way, except instead of Santa Claus, presents are brought by a mythological figure known as The Hogfather.  The Hogfather even looks like Santa Claus—except he has the face of a wild boar and tusks.

But there’s a problem.  The Hogfather has disappeared… and no one is quite sure what has happened to him.  So, in this moment of crisis, Death (the Grim Reaper) decides to fill in for the Hogfather.  At this point, I was hesitant, because I thought it could quickly devolve into a rip-off of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

But, I was impressed.   It did NOT turn into that.  Instead, it became so much more.  As always, with any movie review, I don’t divulge much of the plot—but from this jumping off point, it becomes a fairly interesting tale.  (Think A Christmas Carol cross-bred with Lord of the Rings and you might be on the right track).

At times, the story did seem to stray from the main idea, and ramble a bit, but overall, I would say it was successful enough.

By far, the stand out acting performance was Marc Warren, as Mr. Teatime, a paid assassin who is searching for, and attempting to kill The Hogfather.  His portrayal is both disturbing and bizarre—as well as utterly hilarious.  Which is a difficult combination to pull off– to maintain his threat as a villain, while still being humorous.

I think that was the one thing that appealed to me most about this movie.  It was funny.  It wasn’t hilarious, but there was quite a bit of humor throughout.

Two small complaints to speak of.  It has a fairly long running time, at 185 minutes.  But, it’s divided into two parts, therefore it’s great for watching in two nights.  And of course, one should keep in mind it’s a made for TV movie, therefore, the production values are a little sub-par.  So, if you’re looking for spectacular special effects, look elsewhere.

But, TV movies are not what they once were.  They do seem to make a fairly quality product these days.  This is the third made-for-TV production I’ve watched in the last six months or so, and I have been impressed with all of them (the other two being Dune and Tin Man).

So, if you’re looking for an unorthodox Christmas movie, this might be something to check out.  Certainly, it’s not for everyone.  But if you have an off-beat, quirky sense of humor, and enjoy the fantasy genre, this could be for you.

Title: Hogfather
Year: 2006
Rating: NR (made for TV)
Advisories: Several people get killed, and a Santa Claus-like figure is portrayed by a giant walking skeleton—this could be unsettling for younger viewers.
Running Time: 185 minutes (in two parts)