The Santa Clause is my favorite Christmas movie. I justthink it hits every note just right. It’s sentimental, sweet, funny, and just apleasant film to watch around the holidays. However I have discovered that noteveryone necessarily agrees with me on this. They think Eric Lloyd was annoying(ok but he never bothered me) and find the story sappy and corny. My answer tothat is, it’s a Christmas movie! And a Disney one at that.

I am just kidding of course, if you hate the film that’scool. I love it. I think Tim Allen is great; it’s amazing how he goes from ajerk in the start to a very convincing Santa in the end. The make-up for Santais just remarkable. I like the concept, and the way the process of Scott turninginto Santa is played out is done very well.

 

So today I decided to take a closer look at the film and discuss why I love it. And in the interest of fairness, I will also discuss thenitpicky things that even I find a tad annoying. This film is basically brokendown into three acts, so I decided to look at each one separately. And therewill be spoilers if somehow you still have no seen the film.

 

The first act of course sets up the characters andsituation. We meet Scott Calvin and his estranged wife Laura. She has a newhusband, a dull psychiatrist named Neil. And of course we meet Charlie, Lauraand Scott’s son. It starts off like any other family film, until Scott andCharlie hear a commotion on the roof. They rush out and end up causing SantaClaus to fall off the roof. Then Scott puts the suit and proceeds to take overthe job as Santa. The first act just gets better and better, the gags work andthe whole thing is fun to watch. We even get new details on how Santa workwhich are a part of the legend to this day including how he manages to get intohomes with no chimneys, can carry all the toys in one sleigh, and deliver tothe world in one night. Ok the last I first saw in Santa Claus: The Movie but Ilike the idea of time slowing down for Santa, it just works.

 

Then they get to The North Pole which is amazing. This isone movie which really makes The North Pole work, right down to the greatcasting of the kids. David Krumholtz is great as the head elf Bernard, whoexplains to Scott that he is the new Santa. Of course Scott refuses to believethat the experience is anything more than a dream, but the whole scene is justgreat. The best gag is the moment where Scott tries on a tool belt. An obviousnod to Home Improvement.

Ok, first nitpick. I could never understand why Charlieexpected people to be so accepting of the fact that his father is the newSanta. Yeah I know he was a kid, but it still seems a bit far-fetched.  And why don’t the kids in school tease him atall? His father has to point it out. Small problem but still worth noting. Ialso think Laura and Neal were needlessly worried at first anyway, what’s wrongwith a good imagination?

In act two the movie goes back to feeling like an averagefamily film. Of course that can’t be helped; the whole thing takes place duringthe time between holidays. The whole act is basically seeing Scott deal with anew symptom of his transformation followed by worrying about Charlie and hisobsession over Santa. Scott puts on some weight…we’re worried about Charlie. Scottworried his co-workers while kids start lining up to talk to him….We’re worriedabout Charlie….Scott gets the huge list….Charlie is finally taken away fromScott. Thankfully the gags and jokes work and keep the audience interested.

Second nitpick. The time span during act two goes by awfullyfast. It skips over a lot and I wondered what happened during that time? Ialways get annoyed when movies skip ahead like that because I wonder about thestuff we missed. Did Scott accept what was going on at times? Did he see moredoctors? Did he just ignore it for weeks and resume his life? Did he lose hisjob (we get one scene where his co-workers are concerned but that’s it). Thisis a problem with kid’s movies sometimes we don’t really know how our main characteris dealing with what is happening to him. All we know is he is in denial, andworried about his son. The one scene that almost does this is after Charlie istaken away, we see Scott depressed and walking in the snow.

The third act begins with Scott finally accepting that he isSanta. The make-up is just amazing; if it weren’t for Tim Allen’s distinctivevoice you’d never even know it was him. But of course the performance is notjust make-up, Allen really sells the role. Since there is more time to fill weget Charlie being whisked away with Santa and the whole story of the policechasing him. This could have ruined the movie, but it works pretty well here.Mostly because it is short, and again the kid actors were very good. At lastCharlie is reunited with his mother, and everyone accepts Scott is Santa. Ilove the scene where Laura finally accepts it, the actress did a great job youcan almost see the little girl inside her cheering.

Final nitpick. They do one thing in the end which bugs me.We learned that Neal and Laura stopped believing in Santa when they didn’t geta gift they each wanted. In the end of the film, Santa provides those giftsalong with something special for Charlie. Here is my question. If Santa knewthis then why didn’t Neal or Laura get they get them when were young? Was Nealor Laura on the naughty list? Was there another reason? Another Santa Claus moviedid this same kind set-up but provided an explanation why the kid in that filmdid not get his wish originally. Here it really makes no sense.

Well despite my griping the end is a very satisfying one asSanta flies off and Scott’s character transformation is complete. One of thecoolest touches in the original is that throughout the movie there are elveshiding in certain scenes. All these elves come together at the end and smile asif to acknowledge a job well done, before skipping off into the distance. Thatwas a nice touch giving the impression that everything happened as it wassupposed to.=

The sequel did not have quite the heart of the first but itwas still decent. The plot is that Santa needs a wife and I admit it ispredictable. We know the second we meet Elizabeth Mitchell as the principal ofCharlie’s school how the film will end.  However, I liked the love story. It is thepart of the film that comes closest to feeling like the original, and there isjust enough chemistry between Tim Allen and Elizabeth Mitchell to make it work.The scene with the faculty party is probably my favorite one in the film asScott gets play Santa quite literally.

 

The stuff with the toy Santa which goes out of control isn’tbad, but the final fight goes on a tad too long. Tim Allen does a lot moremugging in this one and you could also criticize why Bernard is so much wimpierin this one.  In the first movie he takesno crap, but here he is nervous and lets the toy Santa just take over withhardly a fight. The movie also has problems including plot holes like thewatch. Bernard says once Santa’s magic is gone he can’t return to The NorthPole, and yet he does. I also think the director cut out a bit too much. If youcheck out the DVD you’ll see what I mean, and his cuts hurt the story a bit.

Another thing I liked about the sequel is the story arc for thecharacter of Charlie. In the first film he was kind of star struck, and was soinfatuated with the whole Santa Claus thing he didn’t realize the downside. Bythe time of the sequel he has aged, and realized there is a price to keepingsuch a secret. But in the end he discovers that while it causes problems, thebenefits far outweigh them and knowing isn’t a curse but a blessing. This moviealso has Santa go from fat to thin, but this is done with less fanfare then thefirst which is understandable. I do like the end when Santa gets married, andin a flash he is restored to glory.  Greatmoment!  And yes the council of legendaryfigures was a cute touch.

 

I already talked about the third film. What a wasted opportunity that was! To make this complete, here are my thoughts again. This sequel was just lousy. I am also a fan of movies whichlook at events from a different perspective, which is kind of what this moviedoes by revisiting the 1st movie. So I had high hopes. First of all, the wholemovie is setting up this plot by Jack Frost. When we finally get to it thewhole thing takes about ten minutes, then everything is reset and the movie isover. Too much beginning and not enough ending. I also can’t believe how bad AlanArkin and Ann-Margaret are in this film. They were truly phoning this in. SantaClaus comes off as a jerk and an idiot, and his top elf Curtis is just useless.Why would Santa make the laziest elf top elf? I could go on and on nitpickingthis film. I did like Elizabeth Mitchell and Martin Short, but they weren’t enough to salvage this mess.

 

So The Santa Clause is not a perfect movie, but it is a verygood one. It’s a nice holiday film to watch with your family, and really whatmore can you ask for?  Of course the bigquestion this movie presents is does Santa deliver the toys or not? I alwaysbelieved that Santa brought the special gifts. Any kid can figure out thattheir parents bought things from a store, but maybe it was Santa who providedthe bike or the stuffed animal. Of course the real meaning of Santa isn’tgetting gifts, it’s about believing. That is the underlying moral in the firstmovie. Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.  So if the moral of the first film was about believing,then what was the moral of the second? I think it is similar but more aboutfaith. Believing in something is fine, but what if that belief is tested? Thatis when faith takes over, to remind you to keep believing.

Belief,faith, hope, kindness…these are all things that weneed every day in life and Santa is a nice little way of reminding us of that.That’s why despite my age, I still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus.

 

So there you have it, my favorite holiday movie. If you didnot like please let me know I would love to hear why.

By richb

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