Hogfather is the two-part film adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel of the same name. Assassin-in-training Mr Teatime (Marc Warren) is assigned the job of inhuming the Discworld’s Father Christmas, the Hogfather. Teamtime, as thorough and experimental as he is crazy, takes the round-about path to finding a way of destroying a mythical figure: destroy belief as a whole. Thankfully, the grim reaper, Death, is there to step in as Hogfather and keep belief alive, even as Teatime ransacks the Tooth Fairy’s castle, looking for discarded teeth. Suspicious as to why her grandfather is parading around in a false beard and pillow tucked under his coat, Death’s granddaughter Susan sets out to investigate the goings-on at the Tooth Fairy’s castle where Teatime’s inner child meets Susan’s inner babysitter.
On one hand, the moral of the story dictated to us by Death in the end is beautiful: That we must believe the little lies in order to believe the big ones–like justice–and make them become reality. On the other hand, the end of a straightforward narrative unravels in the final act of this three-hour film, and we find ourselves either back in time or in a timeless space where we witness the birth of the Hogfather. It’s metaphorical, but it’s also real at the same time, and it’s all a little blurry. Luckily, you have jokes, primarily by Sir David Jason playing Albert, to keep you somewhat on the ground…or in the sleigh.
The pacing, as is true with all the two-part Discworld movies, is very slow. They could have done the book in two hours or less, but they milk it for viewing figures, as they split it over two nights on Sky. It moves the pace a book moves, but if you’re into that, it’s not so bad. You get all the jokes and sideplots that you get in the book, which usually get taken out for films. It’s really for the fans.
For being a TV movie, and therefore fairly low-budget, the film does look good. It has the Victorian look to the clothing, and makeshift appeal to technology, like the complicatedly analogue computer machine Hex.
Personally, I liked the casting. Michelle Dockery makes a perfect Susan. Ian Richardson is the one and only voice of Death, as far as I’m concerned. I think they like to just stick David Jason in wherever possible, but he is a better Albert than he was a Rincewind. I’m a big Nigel Planer fan and thought he was a stupendous Mr. Sideney. I’m also a big fan of Marc Warren. The Johnny Depp voice caught me a little off guard, mostly because Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was still brand new, but he was a creepy Teatime certainly. Other great surprises include David Warner as Lord Downey, Black Adder‘s Tony Robinson as the mall chief (Robinson has narrated some Discworld audiobooks), and of course Terry Pratchett as the toy shop clerk. All the wizards were well-cast and well-played, particularly Ridcully and Ponder. And I don’t care what anybody says, I loved Nicholas Tennant as Nobby Nobbs.
It’s a good movie to watch with your family over the holidays, ideally before you’ve filled up on turkey, as the pacing may drag you down.