Review: Where is the Big Book of Saint Nicholas? (2019)


Directed by: Armando de Boer | 64 minutes | family | Actors: Carlo Boszhard, Irene Moors, Wilbert Gieske, Vic de Wachter, Maaike Martens, Mila Borgers, Soy Kroon, Anouk de Pater, Beryl van Praag, Florus Hoogslag, Job Bovelander, Rutger de Bekker, Aimée de Pater, Wim Schluter, Piet van der Pas, Bart van Roosmalen, Ronald Vledder

Sinterklaas is not only a typical Dutch tradition, but of course just an ordinary commercial party. Retailers, whether online or not, benefit from parents trying to spoil their children as much as possible. Supermarkets are useful to this with an extensive range of confectionery, chocolate and speculaas, which is already on the shelves before there is an R in the month. Of course, TV and film producers also want to get their money’s worth, and so, in addition to the “institute” that the Sinterklaasjournaal (NTR) has been around for twenty years, a proliferation of Sinterklaas programs and films has arisen. The largest ‘franchise’ besides the Sinterklaas news is the Club van Sinterklaas, created in 1999 by the production team behind Telekids. For ten years, a soap series about Sinterklaas and his helpers was broadcast between the end of October and the beginning of December. Each season ended with a pop concert. Since 2012, the Club of Sinterklaas has released a film every year. In the film series Wilbert Gieske (GTST) takes on the role of the saintly man and is assisted by, among others, Coole Piet (Job Bovenlander), Testpiet (Beryl van Praag), Muziekpiet (Wim Schluter), Profpiet (Piet van der Pas) and Junior Piet (Soy Kroon). Special guest in the eighth film, “Where is the big book of Sinterklaas?” (2019) is the presence of none other than Santa Claus.

In all films and TV programs in which Sinterklaas is central, the arrival of Pakjesboot 12 or the holiday itself threatens to fall into the water. Sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances, but in the films of the Sinterklaas Club it are actually always villains who try to stop the children’s party. It is no different in “Where is the big book of Sinterklaas?” Here, too, a supervillain appears who tries to get rid of Christmas Eve. The villain is Guus Slim (Carlo Boszhard), a toy salesman who has great difficulty with Sinterklaas giving away free toys. He sees all those children as potential customers. And so he devises a nefarious plan: he steals the big book from Sinterklaas. Because that is of course packed with useful information that he can use to earn as much money as possible. When Sinterklaas discovers that his big book is gone, he finds himself with his hands in his long white hair. Because now he has no idea which child to deliver which gift. It turns into a drama, because the parcels are delivered to the wrong children. Teens don’t like baby toys, of course! As a last resort, Sinterklaas decides to call the only other person in the whole world with a book as useful as him: Santa Claus (Vic de Wachter). But just when you think rescue is near, it turns out that Guus Slim has stolen his book too!

Where the Sinterklaas journal is full of winks at current events and subtle jokes that the watching parents can also laugh about, the films of the Club van Sinterklaas focus mainly on the youngest target group. That means fat acting performances, funny guys who make silly jokes and often fall back on slapstick. The Petes all have a gimmick; Superpiet, for example, is super strong, Danspiet lets the legs speak frequently, well: fill in the rest yourself. Carlo Boszhard is a master of characters and goes for it here too. It is all not subtle, but that is how it is clear to the youngest viewers who the villain in this story is. Boszhard’s colleague Irene Moors can also be seen in a supporting role as a journalist. The story has little to do, but for children of about five or six years old, you shouldn’t make it too complicated either. For them, the threat of Christmas Eve falling into the water is exciting enough! That Santa and his loyal horse (confusing that it is still / again Amerigo, while the NTR has let him go with a horse pension and nowadays appeals to Ozosnel!) Being accompanied by Santa Claus and his reindeer is a nice thing, but not more than that. As long as parents do not feel obliged to also pull their wallets at Christmas!

“Where is the big book by Sinterklaas?” Has little to do with content and the actors turn on their roles as muddy. However, the young target group will not be concerned about this and will know how to handle the antics of the Petes, the threat from villain Guus Slim and the encounter between the Saint and that other old man with white beard!

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