Monday, December 15, 2014

Movie Review: "The Santa Clause" (1994)

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Movie"The Santa Clause"
Director: John Pasquin
Year: 1994
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 37 minutes

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a divorced father who works in marketing at a toy company. He is a busy man, which leaves him with less time than he would like to spend with his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd). His ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her husband Neil (Judge Reinhold), who is a psychiatrist, believe they should tell Charlie that Santa is not real. Scott thinks they should let Charlie believe in Santa for as long as possible. On Christmas eve, Charlie and his dad hear a noise on the roof. When Scott goes to investigate, he sees Santa Claus standing on the roof, so he yells to him. This startles Santa and causes him to fall off the roof. Scott finds a card in Santa's pocket instructing the finder that, if anything happens to him to put on his suit and the reindeer will know what to do. At the insistence of his son, Scott complies, but by doing so, has unwittingly entered into a contract and has become the new Santa Claus. 

Some people really love this movie, and for us, it's more of a guilty pleasure film we can enjoy once every few years. While it is not our favorite Christmas movie, it does manage to have a lot of sappy heart and it did make us laugh quite a bit. It has definitely aged, though, even since the last time we watched it about 5 years ago. 20 years later, some of the 90's-centric humor and bad CGI reindeer graphics make this movie seem like it was made so long ago. The beginning and end are pretty strong. It starts with a bang, setting the tone by not only establishing Charlie and Scott's relationship and their shared fondness for Christmas, but with the broken relationship between Scott and his ex-wife Laura and their struggles to cope with having a young son after getting divorced. Charlie is put in the middle of his parents and their feud, with Scott wanting to let Charlie believe in Santa and get into the Christmas spirit, while Laura pretty much caves to her new husband Neil's anti-Santa Claus sentiments. It's similar to the plot of "Miracle on 34th Street," just with more fart jokes. The end sees Laura coming around to accepting Scott as Santa Claus for the greater good of Charlie, with a touching scene at the end of the film. that might make some weak-hearted fools like me cry. Though we wouldn't call ourselves fans of Tim Allen, he does a cute and convincing enough job as Santa Claus in this movie. He has a lot of humorous dialogue and quippy one-liners and comebacks throughout the film. He and Eric Lloyd have great and believable chemistry as son and father, as do Tim Allen and Judge Reinhold, who exude a great amount of tension as ex-husband and new husband to Laura.

The idea for dealing with how Scott becomes Santa Claus is a rather great one. If someone happens upon an incapacitated Santa Claus and they put on his suit, they are bound by The Santa Clause and must take over the job as Jolly Old St. Nick. This is a neat explanation for how Santa can live on for all eternity. The reluctance of Scott to take on his new found position is where the movie begins to go downhill for us. Scott begins to turn gray, gains weight rapidly and grows a beard even after shaving, which sets the movie up for numerous fat gags and a slew of old people jokes, which encompasses most of the middle portion of the film. Beyond these jokes, there's was point in the movie where we began to get angry at Laura and Neil for wanting to take away Scott's visitations rights to see Charlie. Neil had a bias against Santa from age 3 and let that bias and hatred for Santa impact Laura and her parenting of Charlie. Who cares if a 6 year old still believes in Santa? I remember believing until I was about 10 years old! Who said there was an age limit on the magic of Santa Claus?! We still have presents under our Christmas tree from Santa each and every year and we are in ours 30's (well, almost, for some of us)! Just because a kid wants to believe is no reason to take away his visitation rights. And technically, the kid ain't wrong! This part made us a little bit angry, and it's obviously an over-analyzed point on our part, but in the end, it didn't impact our overall thoughts of the movie as it is good enough film and one that kids will especially enjoy. It definitely has the ability to get you into the Christmas spirit!

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Home Alone"

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