The Santa Clause (1994)

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A seasonal treat starring Tim Allen that comes from the House Of Mouse itself and isn’t full of cloying moments that will suffocate you, can it be true? Well, yes it can. The Santa Clause is certainly not without it’s faults, and moments of overdone sweetness, but it’s a very good Christmas movie that has a nice selection of wisecracks, a great central premise and one moment of twisted comedy that sees a number of Santas being rounded up by the police.

The story is all about Scott Calvin (played by Allen), a busy and cynical man who is haphazardly trying to be a decent father to his son (Charlie, played by Eric Lloyd), when his ex-wife (Wendy Crewson) brings him over for visits, while also trying to maximise the profits of the toy company that he works for. This all changes when accidentally causes Santa to fall off his roof and puts on the suit to invoke The Santa Clause, meaning that he has to take over the duties of the big man. His son loves this, but grows frustrated by the fact that nobody will believe his father is now Santa, and everybody else just starts worrying about Scott and his sudden increase in weight and white facial hair.

The Santa Clause starts off well enough. It certainly doesn’t hang around and it gets straight to the fun stuff. When Scott Calvin takes over the Santa duties and has himself one crazy adventure with his son it’s a great, magical Christmas time. Then there’s the fun of discovering the base at The North Pole and what will be expected of Scott when the next big day is imminent. Things then dip for a while as we get an annoying mix of emotional family drama and the usual problems that separated families in Disney movies have: the humorous jibes that Scott makes at the expense of his ex-wife’s new man (Judge Reinhold), the problems that Charlie has with everyone as he tries to share the pride that he has in his father’s role, the battle for affections and level-headedness, etc. Then it all picks up again with a great middle section that really wrings out the laughs as Scott begins to change in preparation for his upcoming job. No matter how much he shaves the facial hair grows back thick and fast, the weight is piling on almost as quickly and children queue up to tell him what they’re wanting to receive on Christmas morning. Of course, this alarms the people in Scott’s life and things inevitably worsen as he tries to deal with the overwhelming changes. Will he be up to the task or will Christmas be ruined?

It’s got cutesy reindeer in there, a typically syrupy Disney ending and a bit of overemphasis on the pleading, puppy eyes of Eric Lloyd but The Santa Clause also has a fine central performance from Tim Allen, snappy enough direction from John Pasquin and a bunch of elves who are cute and adorable but also wise beyond their youthful appearances and just as prone to sassy one-liners as the man who’s reluctant to be Santa. There’s an annoying and pointless group shot (in the style of The Right Stuff) accompanied by the completely inappropriate tune “Gimme All Your Lovin” but even that then moves on to a better sequence that mixes some action along with the pacy rock to redeem itself. That’s ultimately what this movie does. It takes the sweetness and overindulgence of Christmas, it treats us to the candy canes and plays all of the carols while decorating around us with every tacky Christmas ornament available but then, somehow, always redeems itself.

This is, in no small part, due to the script by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick that uses all of the seasonal staples and twists some of them while adhering to others. How can you hate a movie that properly explains some of the magic tricks and shows us how Santa gets into homes with no fireplace? You can’t.

Heck, the comedy value of the sweaters worn by Judge Reinhold in this movie at least guarantee a few extra points of entertainment value and that’s why I happily rate The Santa Clause at 7/10.

DIRECTOR: JOHN PASQUIN
CAST: TIM ALLEN, ERIC LLOYD, MARY CREWSON, JUDGE REINHOLD, DAVID KRUMHOLTZ
RUNTIME: 97 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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