a critiQal film review The Santa Clause (1994)

Plot: After Santa slips off his roof, Scott Calvin (Allen) - after some convincing by his son Charlie (Lloyd) - dons the red suit. Eight reindeer pilot the duo to the North Pole, where they soon discovers that by wearing the suit, Scott has accepted all of Santa's duties. Over the course of the next year, a surprised Scott grows a Santa-sized tummy and beard, causing his friends, family and co-workers to think he's lost his marbles - all that is, except Charlie, who thinks his Dad is perfect for the job!

661 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 18s)
  • ...this imaginative film will be sure to perk up the whole family's Christmas spirits year after year!

Wrapping up our Christmas Movie Marathon this year, we decided to go with another of our perennial faves: The Santa Clause.

So, this Christmas, surrounded by shredded wrapping paper and with our presents tucked just out sight, we sat down, grabbed a big glass of egg nog, and settled in to watch The Santa Clause.

Disney loves Tim Allen. After finishing his stint on the popular show “Home Improvement” (TV), Tim Allen jumped eagerly into Disney films, starting with Disney/Pixar’s classic Toy Story (1995). While Tim has since gone on to make some rather ridiculous bombs (Jungle 2 Jungle, The Shaggy Dog), his first live-action film, The Santa Clause still holds a special place in viewer’s hearts.

Watching it again, it’s easy to see why. His Scott Calvin character seems more fully developed than anything he’s tried since, for one. That may be in part due to Tim bringing a bit of his sarcastic TV character he’d gotten so comfortable with to the role, but that’s not all there is to it. While he seems to work diligently as a voice character, he usually tends to seem to just be going through the motions on-screen. But, The Santa Clause was his first live-action film, and he seems to know how much is riding on him turning in a good performance. Thankfully, he’s up for the task, and delivers, much to the viewer’s enjoyment.

While most of The Santa Clause rests solely on Tim Allen’s shoulders, he does get a little help where needed from the rest of the cast. Whether it’s Judge Reinhold’s doubting psychiatrist, Wendy Crewson’s loving mom, David Krumholtz’s wise-cracking Bernard or cute kid Eric Lloyd, the rest of the cast help add their bits to the mix. True, none of them would garner an Oscar® for their work, and their characters are, for the most part, rather simplistic, but they come through when needed to help the film roll on.

The plot, unlike most Christmas films these days, is a truly imaginative one. What does Santa do when he’s not delivering presents? What would happen if he were to fall off a roof? The film takes these questions and delivers a whimsical year-long journey through the eyes of Scott Calvin, a hard-working exec who finds himself suddenly pushed into being Santa – whether he wants to or not.

Sure, the entirety of The Santa Clause isn’t all goodness and light, since it does try to mix real-life with the magical. As Calvin turns into Santa more and more as the year goes on, his ex-wife and her new psychiatrist worry about the effect it’s having on Calvin’s son, Charlie. As most adults, they refuse to believe this is all just happening, and suspect Calvin of changing his appearance just to make his son like him. This eventually leads to some hard choices for them, but even though they seem to be the evildoers of the film, the audience can easily see themselves in their shoes, and can’t really fault them for any of their decisions.

Most of the film, however, is filled with comical interludes during Calvin’s year-long transformation, including a scene where children begin lining up to sit on his lap and tell them what he wants as he tries to mind his own business during his son’s soccer game. Eventually, of course, this leads to a magical finale that brings The Santa Clause to a holly, jolly close.

Unlike his future live-action films, Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause is truly memorable. While the words “instant classic” are tossed around a bit too much these days – and that doesn’t even bring into account the fact the phrase is an oxymoron – The Santa Clause falls into that category easily. With it’s Christmastime cheer, and a fun and imaginative plot, this is one film that should be included on everyone’s Christmas Movie Marathon year after year – and a wonderful way to end ours this year.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

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