Photo courtesy Gravitas Ventures

Few places are as dark and sinister as children’s television. Ok, so maybe that seems a bit extreme, but talk to me after you’ve endured a marathon of “Caillou.”

“Kringle Time” takes us behind the scenes of a small town public access kids’ show aiming to get some darkly-comedic laughs at the seediness of the whole affair.

Our “hero” is Jerry (Benny Elledge), the station manager who garners zero respect from anyone and suffers verbal abuse at every turn. Jerry endures these slings and arrows because of his love for the long-running children’s show “Kringle Time” which stars a cowboy snowman named Kringle.

When the surly host of the show and man behind the snowman Herb (Vernon Wells) dies from a heart attack on-air, Jerry seizes the opportunity to take the show he’s loved since he was a kid in some bold new directions.

While there are a few laudable moments, writer/director Matthew Lucas struggles the most with finding the movie’s tone. At times it’s an absurdist office comedy, other times it puts off some raunchy “Bad Santa” vibes and then when it’s feeling really bold it fancies itself a grim satire, a la “Network.”

Other times it feels like we’ve dropped into a completely different movie, most notably the glimpses into Jerry’s marriage to Herb’s alcoholic daughter Layla (Gigi Edgley).

What probably best describes “Kringle Time” is that it is a poor man’s “Death to Smoochy,” which is already starting off behind the eight ball. (And if you don’t remember/never heard of “Death to Smoochy,” that tells you all you need to know right there.)

And at least “Death to Smoochy” had Robin Williams, Edward Norton and Danny DeVito to fall back on.

“Kringle Time” gets some credit for taking some bold swings, but maybe everyone would be better off if it had just stayed in the dugout.

“Kringle Time” is not rated but features adult language and some sexual content.

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