By Emily Hewitt
Disney+ is decking its platform this season with a new original Christmas comedy, Dashing Through the Snow, which premieres today on the streamer. The film follows Eddie Garrick (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), an Atlanta social worker who goes on a Christmas Eve journey that will restore his faith in the yuletide season. At the request of his wife Allison (Teyonah Parris), he takes his estranged 9-year-old daughter, Charlotte (Madison Skye Validum) to work with him, when they meet a mysterious man in a red suit named Nick (Lil Rel Howery).
“[Eddie] is the lovable curmudgeon who doesn’t believe in Christmas and wants nothing to do with it and [Nick] is the exact opposite. He’s all about Christmas,” Will Packer, a producer of the Disney+ Original film, tells D23.com. “So it’s a fun dynamic to play with.”
Although Packer has worked on several comedies, this is his first Christmas film.
“There’s nothing that is quite more stressful, high pressure, high stakes yet amazing than the holidays, especially for families,” Packer says. “There is no time that is more magical. There’s no time that more things could go wrong, and also not a time where you hope [more] for all these things to go right. So it creates a great backdrop upon which to create content.”
Congressman Harf (Oscar Nuñez) is the antagonist of the film and of course makes everything go awry. Packer says that he adores when a bad guy plays their part differently than what is typically expected of an antagonist. “He’s our congressman that is immoral,” Packer says. “That is on the take. That is greedy. That is all those things that you want in a good movie villain, but he’s also goofy… He’s not just over there twirling his mustache. He’s also the guy that missed out on his own childhood… He didn’t get this one particular toy that he wanted. He’s always been kind of mad and angry about it.”
Packer said it was important to portray Santa, aka Nick, as a Black man. “[Santa] looks different all around the world,” Packer says. “We should be making movies that are reflective of what the world looks like… It gives us an opportunity to project images out there for our next generation of kids who hopefully can enjoy seeing themselves on screen [which is] something that I didn’t have growing up.”
With the help of Nick and Madison, Eddie comes to believe in Christmas again, which Packer hopes inspires others to remember the true meaning of the season. “The spirit of the season has nothing to do with gifts, has nothing to do with clothes, outfits, commercial things,” Packer says. “It’s all about those loved ones that you’re closest with. [Eddie] finds it within himself. Each of us have that. You just got to unlock it. You got to let go of some of the negativity, some of the challenges that you’ve had in the past.”