Four merry holidays films have made it into my 12 Films of Christmas series, and it’s high time for a fifth. This particular film is one I’m quite familiar with, as it was pretty much a staple of my childhood. Plus, they show it on TV about 17,864 times throughout this month. It might not be perfect, but I think this film has become a sort of modern classic. It’s a unique story that captures the magic of the season in a way that so many live-action holiday films today can’t. In my book, that equates mad respect. That said, let’s just pretend the two sequels to this don’t exist, okay? For the fifth film of Christmas my local library gave to me…The Santa Clause!
The Santa Clause (1994)
Synopsis: “When a man inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.” –www.imdb.com
The Holly Jolly:
- Tim Allen. If I’m not mistaken, this was his first venture into the world of film, and it’s a very solid debut. His transformation from Calvin Scott, a snarky businessman and crappy dad, to the warm-hearted Santa we all know and love is surprisingly smooth and charming.
- The premise. The idea that anyone who accidentally knocks off Santa Claus must then become Santa Claus is pretty darn interesting and quite funny to boot. Watching Calvin panic as he literally transforms into Santa throughout the year is great. Needless to say, the physical changes have quite an effect on his career and personal life.
- The North Pole. Gorgeous and thoroughly imagined down to the last detail, it might be my favorite rendering of Santa’s workshop to date.
- Bernard the elf! David Krumholtz’s sassy, no-nonsense head elf Bernard isn’t afraid to tell Calvin what’s what. I don’t know if I’d call him a tough guy, but he talks like one, and it makes him surprisingly lovable.
- The cute kid. With his oh-so-nineties bowl cut, his pouty face, and his loyal belief in the magic of Santa, what’s not to love about little Charlie (Eric Lloyd)?
The Lumps of Coal:
- The abrupt switch from denial to acceptance. It happens with Calvin, his ex-wife (Wendy Crewson), the ex-wife’s douchy husband (Judge Reinhold). For months and months they deny the existence of magic and reindeer and elves, but all of the sudden they believe and accept. It’s like they just had to flip a switch. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. Shouldn’t there be some kind of freak out scene?
- The effects. Though some of them are very cool (i.e. stretching fireplace and shaving scene), others are clearly dated. I cringed at certain shots of the reindeer flying. We’ve come a long way in 19 years, folks.
- The ending that sorta leaves us hanging. Though he’s mended his relationship with Charlie, how often will Calvin/Santa actually get to see his son? It’s a gig that will keep him busy—perhaps busier than when he was a businessman. You can’t help wondering if everything’s really going to be okay. Also, Calvin is kind of a fugitive, so…
- Where’s the laugh?! Okay, this is me being nitpicky, but you’d think Allen would’ve tested out Santa’s signature “Ho! Ho! Ho!” before signing off. It just doesn’t seem right to have a Santa film without the laugh…
In a Nutcracker’s Nutshell: Parts of the plot might be a little thin, but that doesn’t keep The Santa Clause from being a delightful holiday film. The story is unique, Tim Allen is great, and there’s a lovely, old-fashioned dedication to magic and wonder that you can’t help admiring. Unless you’re a Grinch. 😉
My Glad Tidings: B+
Five down, seven to go! I have a pretty movie-packed weekend coming up, so expect a couple new reviews soon plus (hopefully) another Christmas film. Happy Hump Day, everybody! Also, TWO WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS! There’s still time to get off that naughty list if you try hard enough… 🙂