Picks and Pans Review: Off Season
Age is just a number after all. Hume Cronyn may be 90, but this refreshingly different Christmas movie proves he still has what it takes to bring a character to life.
Jackson (Rory Culkin, 12, Macaulay's youngest sibling) is a recently orphaned 10-year-old living with his Aunt Patty (Sherilyn Fenn from Twin Peaks), who tends the bar and resides at a tacky Florida hotel. The boy has a habit of concocting wild stories about the hotel guests, and he decides that elderly hat-company owner Sam Clausner (Cronyn) is Santa Claus on summer vacation. After some scoffing, Sam admits to Jackson that he really is Santa but asks to remain incognito. Unfortunately, the hotel manager (Tom McBeath) spreads the Santa rumor and bids for media attention with a tasteless "Christmas in July" stunt.
Cronyn, alternately tart and twinkly, couldn't be better as the mystery man. Adam Arkin is likably ambivalent as a guest who falls for Patty but may bring trouble for Sam. Bruce Davison, directing his first feature-length film, doubles skillfully as a seemingly inept child psychologist. Though Patty's singing ambitions are beside the point, Off Season is clever, surprising and satisfying.
Bottom Line: Hume for the holidays