Joulutarina (Christmas Story) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Joulutarina (Christmas Story) Reviews

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December 20, 2014
Enjoyable Christmas story to help explain how Santa Claus came to be from childhood to adult.
September 25, 2013
A wonderful movie about Christmas
February 6, 2013
An origin story for Santa Claus, with medieval rural Finland, lots of snow and majestic landscapes. The story imagines what it would have been like if Santa had been born as a normal human child and what events would have led him to become the mystical spirit of Christmas. It's an admirable idea and the first half of the film, dealing with Nikolas' (Otto Gustavsson) childhood is very believable and told well. Unfortunately the second half of the film is more of a hit and miss.

The first half works because Nikolas is still a child and a very sympathetic and believable character. Essentially he's just a boy, but you can see the potential in him. He's very kind and mindful of his fellow villagers, but he's also a bit of an outsider due to the events at the beginning of the film. I also like the way they make him interact with the village as a whole. The framing story for why he goes from house to house reflects the harsh conditions of the time period, yet you can still see that people were people even back then. The characters are also written well and their actors do a good job of portraying them. Kari Vššnšnen as the curmudgeon carpenter is especially delightful in his role. As a whole I liked this part of the film very much.

But then Nikolas grows older and Hannu-Pekka BjŲrkman steps into his shoes and he pretty much blows it. He plays the character way too goofy, which kind of works, because when you think about it, you have to be kind of messed up to suddenly decide that you will dedicate your remaining life to making and giving out toys. So yeah, I can see why they went with this portrayal, but I still think that it doesn't work. The character of Santa Claus needs to be dignified. You can play him jolly and merry, in fact you kind of have to. But you cannot portray him as pitiful or mad, and that's exactly what this film does. Nikolas more closely resembles the village idiot than Santa. There are moments here and there where his true character shines true, but then you see him covered in saw dust, his eyes bulging out and with a goofy grin on his face, and the illusion shatters once again.

In addition the inclusion of magic into the film has some hiccups and the story isn't as captivating as it was at the beginning. The character of Aada (Laura Birn) also has some problems. She's supposed to be the proto-elf, kind of, but the way he interacts with Nikolas is a bit too detached for that to work. Instead she falls back to a general support role with no mythos.

Still, I think that this is a good film. Had they allowed Santa more dignity, I think it would have been a lot better, but this version works as well, just not as well as it could have. The high production values shine through, the film looks nice, the music is pleasant and most of the actors do a relatively good job. I've seen better, but I've seen worse as well.
April 7, 2012
Nice heartwearming film.
April 5, 2012
Good enough for family viewing but not quite as magical as one would hope.
December 26, 2011
Good enough for family viewing but not quite as magical as one would hope.
December 8, 2011
Its a great movie! That is all to it! Its GREAT to me!
December 7, 2011
my children's favorite Christmas movie. we happened upon it two seasons ago, and now it is a must watch (several times at Christmas!)
November 25, 2011
Loved this...the 'original' Home Alone...
½ October 11, 2011
Okay, this film is visually very pleasing. It has this nice feeling of realism and antique. There are no elves or huge factories full of glittering presents. Instead it's just one rather loony guy, a small workshop under the floor and wooden carvings as presents. (Although, because of this the ending is kind of weak. It doesn't fit the realistic feel that the rest of the movie has, plus it's rather banal in any case.) So yeah, the film has some merit to its name, but on the other hand the acting is rather lackluster at time - especially in case of child actors - althought there are some really good performances as well. But the main problem is that the whole film just doesn't have that extra shine in it that a Christmas movie needs to have. It's rather meek and boring at times and you don't feel the connection to the characters. Plus there're way too many obvious jokes. So yeah, an average film, which is a shame, because it had potential for more.
January 11, 2011
A quiet, quaint alternative to the same-old, same-old that gets watched every December.
January 1, 2011
Olin etukäteen kuullut tämän olevan aika ahdistava ja kamala elokuva. No, ehkä tosiaan tavallaan olikin, mutta toisaalta se oli myös hyvin koskettava ja hyväsydäminen tarina. Puolet ajasta itketti, ja mietitytti miksi lasten elokuvan tarinan pitää olla niin synkkä, mutta toisaalta joulupukin kasvutarina kurjista lapsuuden ajoista epäitsekkääksi joululahjojen tuojaksi sopi oivasti suomalaisen jouluelokuvan aiheeksi. Parasta elokuvassa oli ehkä kuitenkin puitteet: mahtavat, upeat maisemat, hienot lavastukset ja mielikuvituksellinen puvustus, kaikki erittäin laadukkaasti toteutettuna ja kuvattuna. Kaikesta tosin paistoi läpi elokuvantekijöiden taka-ajatus viedä leffa ulkomaille, ehkä erityisesti Amerikkaan. Varsinkaan vaatetukset eivät jotenkin sopineet ollenkaan suomalaisuuteen ja taivaalla porojen kanssa lentelevä pukki ei ole sitä perinteisintä suomalaista uskomusta. Kari Väänänen oli loistava roolissaan, söpöyspisteitä leffa saa Mikko Leppilammesta, Mikko Koukista ja Antti Tuiskusta ;)
½ December 31, 2010
Cut the last minute and you're good to go.
½ December 28, 2010
The other recent Santa story from Finland... Beautiful scenery and sappiness combined.
December 27, 2010
Makes "Santa" look like a psychotic creeper who wants to commit suicide at the end. Terrible movie.
½ December 24, 2010
Fantastic Christmas story. It's not Hollywood, so my guess is that it will be overlooked by the mainstream movie going public. What a shame.
December 24, 2010
Hat mir sehr gut gefallen :-)
December 24, 2010
Santa is a carpenter!
December 23, 2010
This movie had a clever way of explaining the back story of Santa Claus. Is this really where the myth was born? This movie was fantastic... until the ending. Instead of continuing to work on its wit and cleverness, it took a stupid and lazy turn on the writer's part. Rather unfortunate but still enjoyable.
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