The App That Stole Christmas – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A successful app developer creates an app that eases the burden of shopping over Christmas. Unfortunately, his busy lifestyle sees him neglecting everything in his life because of the business. When he has an accident and falls unconscious, he wakes up in Santa’s warehouse and is tasked with making one hundred toys. 

Is it any good?: The App That Stole Christmas is fucking awful. The story is A Christmas Carol meets Wizard Of Oz-esque story, without the meanest of the central character or the sweetness. The story is not the problem. The telling of the story is. 

The acting is uniformly poor, the script is rubbish, the directing is crappy. It manages to at least be in focus and the music is okay but for a film that is only sixty-four minutes long, The App That Stole Christmas is a real chore of a watch. 

I had to watch the film in three parts, that is how much of an abomination I found this film. Even my computer stuttered at the awfulness of this film.

Spoiler territory: company CEO, Felix Rhome (Jackie Long), is on a business call whilst his PA, Merry – haha, very droll. No. (Mellissa Macedo), follows him with a clipboard and a document she needs him to sign because he is an important guy and needs to sign off on stuff. He goes to his office, no idea why he was walking around the conference room. Better acoustics maybe? 

Elsewhere, his wife, Ellen (Diane Howard), is receiving reflected praise for her husband’s app. His Bomazon company – I see what you did there. Jeff, please sue them! – have created an app that is brilliant for Christmas shopping. Yes, really. 

Ellen, who is in a socially distanced hairdressers, is chatting with effeminate (yawn) hairstylist, Jaiden (J. R. Taylor) and two other stylists, Samantha (Genevieve Helm) _ who is white so they really pushed the boat on names in this script – and Carly (Elise Neal).

A third stylist is cleaning up, Jessie (Amber Cornish). The two stylist leave after a brief conversation about who the best stylist is. Don’t care. 

Ellen leaves almost immediately afterwards, giving the keys to Jessie to lock up. So that scene was pointless. Back at Bomazon headquarters, Felix is giving Merry – haha, that never gets old. 

Except it does – orders about some such over the phone’s intercom. As soon as he has finished that conversation, literally the next second, Merry – haha…argh! – is in the office telling Felix there is someone to see him. It is JayQ (Jayq – that’s what it says on IMDB, maybe he is a rapper as well), about the app. 

JayQ comes into the office. JayQ tells him that his app is stealing quality time. They have been watching him and his company. None of this psychobabble seems to alarm Felix at all. 

He just defends his app as though this were a normal conversation. People love his app. JayQ tells him that that night, life as he knows it will change forever. 

Felix is still not at all alarmed by this. Nada. Nothing. This does not strike him as a usual remark. Anyhoo, Merry – ha. That’s all. – comes into the office to tell him he is needed. Felix gets up to leave and tells her to get rid of JayQ, not in a mafiosa way, unfortunately. 

The security guard (Torae Carr) is getting told off by Ms Booker. Felix walks past and they exchange a few words. Felix goes home and gets into a disagreement with his wife because….it serves some purpose? 

He wants to know where his son, Ben (Jalyn Hall) is. He is playing a video game. Felix goes to talk to his boy. 

The sullen little fuck, is playing games with his friends online – no cliché there then – his grandfather, Gramps (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.), thinks he should be outside. Gramps and Felix getting into an argument about that. So there is that. 

Dinner gets delivered. Around the dinner table – everybody comes to the dinner table – Gramps complains about everybody’s obsession with apps.

Felix tries to restrict Ben’s access to his phone at dinner. Later, whilst in bed, Ellen and Felix argue about his constant busyness. Ben picks up his phone to play and Santa Claus is on the screen. Ben is shocked. Hmm. 

The next day in the salon, everyone is still raving about the Christmas app. What world is this?! As inane conversations continue, we see that the app is addictive. People keep shopping on it! Wow! 

In a board meeting at Bomazon – stop him Jeff! Stop him! – everybody is happy with the profits from the app and predict bigger profits the following year. Yippee. 

Felix walks past the security guard again and the guard bemoans his struggle to get gifts for Christmas. Felix, the magnanimous and generous boss that he is, tells him to get the app. Thanks, Felix! 

You can get anything you want on the app. What a great idea. Felix tries to get the details of the visitor he had earlier, JayQ, from security. There is no record of JayQ. 

Merry – fuck off – comes in and talks about another problem. They need another factory for some bollocks or stuff. Who knows, nothing is clear. Felix rings his wife. It is supposed to be date night but Felix is working. He has a business to run. Maybe he should employ a few managers….

Ellen goes to her no customers salon and waits all day. She bemoans Felix’s lateness as darkness falls. Felix manages to get a new factory. He sees that he is late for his date with Ellen and rushes out of the office. He crashes into the security guard and is knocked unconscious. 

Felix wakes up in Santa’s workshop. He sees JayQ and Ray (Ray J – names are not a creative consideration). Ray recounts his day to him, to see if he remembers anything. Felix does. 

It is late, Ben asks his mother if his dad is back yet. She tells him he is stuck at work. Back at the workshop, Felix is being told by JayQ that they know everything about him and he has been missing quality time with his wife and family. 

Ray reminds him how he used to make toys with his father but now he has created an app that steals time and makes people buy more stuff. Felix argues that his app has improved lives and made Christmas easier. He wants to see his son. Not worried about his wife then? 

Ellen calls the police, unable to get in contact with her husband. They tell her it has been less than forty-eight hours, so they cannot do anything. 

Back in Santa’s house, Santa (J Anthony Brown) tells Felix that he has to work making toys. Ellen is at the hospital. Felix is in a coma having been knocked unconscious at work. The doctor tells Ellen and Gramps he is dreaming. He can tell by the eye movement. Wow, wow, wow. 

Santa is telling Felix they need him to make toys. He hands him over to JayQ even as he protests. Ellen takes Ben home. 

He not hungry when she offers to make lunch. She offers him a cookie and he succumbs. Forgets his father for a cookie, bleedin’ kids. 

Felix is having a tantrum at Santa’s house. Santa tells him they just want him to make toys. Ray takes Felix to the workshop. Gramps waits by his son’s bed in the hospital. At home, an excited Ben runs to his mother, saying he heard his father’s voice in Santa’s workshop. 

Back at the workshop, Santa tells Felix he needs to make one hundred toys. Felix tells them he needs to call his family. They give him a phone but it does not work. 

JayQ gives him a useless pep talk. In the hospital, the doctor (Kenny Rhodes), who is, frankly, an embarrassment to the profession, tells Ellen of the multiple things that could be afflicting Felix but he has no idea which it is. They just have to wait. 

Felix tries to escape from Santa’s world and keeps running into invisible walls. He asks Ray how can he get out. Ray tells him that he will get out when it is time. Okay, very helpful. 

Felix enlists the help of Ray to make up his quota of toys in the hope of getting out of Santa’s world. 

Ben talks to Santa. Ben tells Santa he wants his dad back. They talk about other stuff but as I’m suffering this film for the second time I cannot be bothered to recount it. 

A morose Ben is consoled by his mother, reminding him of the time he got a telescope in time for a meteor shower. Sometimes things happen. Okay…then. 

Back at Santa’s house, Felix is woken up by Toc (Anthony McKinley). Felix tells him why he stopped making toys and how making the app made him successful. Toc tells him that he needs to spend more time with his family. I see a theme here….

Ben sees Santa again. Ellen walks past his bedroom and sees Santa on his phone. She watches the Santa’s house Livestream with him and sees Felix on the phone. 

Ellen tells Ben to get his clothes on. They head to the hospital. Back at Santa’s house, Santa tells him it is time to return home. After an unnecessary speech and heart to heart, Santa shakes Felix’s hand. He wakes up in the hospital. 

Felix wakes up and is contrite about his fast lifestyle – he works a lot, we get it – and tell everyone he is going to be different now. Felix leaves the hospital. Immediately. Beds are not cheap even if one is a millionaire. 

At home and it is Christmas Eve. Felix and the family have everyone come around for a party. Felix kisses Ellen. The end. Thank fuck. 

Final thoughts: The App That Stole Christmas is easily the worse Christmas film you will ever watch. It is so bad that they even get one of the actors name in the credits wrong! 

There is nothing at all to recommend this film. Even the fact that it is short does not save it. The acting is bad, the script is bad, the framing is bad, the….you get my drift. 

It is not as though a Christmas film has to be a masterpiece, all one expects is a bit of festive cheer; a middling rom-com with a couple of attractive people; a lonely child who gets loved in the end; a lonely person, man or woman, who is saved and has their faith renewed by Christmas, it’s not hard! 

Four people were involved with the writing of this crap – four! Jennifer Rapaport and Monica Floyd wrote the story – ha! – and Peter John and Miriam Bavly, the screenplay. Floyd is on directing duties. 

I can only assume this was the first draft or that they had a deadline by which to spend the production money because there is no way anybody, any single person, reads this screenplay and thinks it is ready to go. 

The app angle is so overused that when it is employed it needs to be done well. That is not the case here and the premise is bullshit. An app that has everyone shopping at Christmas? Really? Nothing like that exists and if it did, would anyone use it? The words “close the door” and “horse bolted”, come to mind. 

The App That Stole Christmas is a disgrace of a film and even a student filmmaker would be embarrassed to have made it. I can only think the production company behind it are laundering money but that may be because I watch too many telenovelas. That being said, unless you want to ruin your Christmas, I suggest you avoid this film. Awful. 

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