They Wore the Red Suit
Director Larry Peter is a Santa-centric documentarian on a mission to shed light upon the elusive lives of year-round Santas. “They Wore the Red Suit” explores what it takes to don the red suit and the tight-knit community that exists amongst these eccentric, jolly, fat men.
Part history lesson and part exposé, the documentary journeys forth into various incarnations of Santa Claus from his ambiguous beginnings to the current state of affairs for mall Santas. Peter’s love affair for his own childhood Santa, Jim Yellig, is the driving force of the film and the inspiration behind his childlike thirst for yuletide knowledge.
What is meant to be an inspirational tale comes off as trite and corny at times, but all in all, Peters’ heart is in the right place. The rather secluded life of the 12-month Santa has been shrouded in secrecy up until now — or simply too mundane to warrant further inquiries. In any regard, “They Wore the Red Suit” pulls back the curtain and lends a behind-the-scenes perspective on an otherwise mysterious profession.
Unfortunately, once the curtain is pulled back, there are more questions than answers. The dedication needed to be a full-time Santa is described as “grueling” numerous times throughout the movie, but with no substantial evidence to support what appears to be little more than a two-month gig, it’s hard to fully quantify such a claim. Nevertheless, the documentary holds a certain quirkiness throughout that is unnervingly endearing.
Perhaps I’m too far removed from the mysticism of Santa Claus to have fully embraced what the film embodies. However, by movie’s end, I found myself acknowledging the simplicity of the film. Simply put, “They Wore the Red Suit” is one man’s fondness and dedication to his childhood hero — a plot so naively humble that even the biggest Grinch will find himself humming “Jingle Bells” by the time the credits roll.