Friday, December 23, 2016

25 Days of Christmas: THE SANTA CLAUSE

Welcome to Day 23 of our 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS series, where we will be taking a look at holiday classics each day in the lead up to Christmas. Today, we'll be reviewing the 1994 Tim Allen Christmas comedy, THE SANTA CLAUSE.

It’s hard to believe that The Santa Clause was released into theaters twenty-two years a go back on November 11, 1994. However, when you look at some of the special effects, especially the animatronic reindeer, you know it’s true.  In those twenty-two years, The Santa Clause has gone from being a brand-new Christmas movie to earning its place among the classic Holiday movies we love to watch with family and friends.

The Santa Clause was written by Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick with director John Pasquin at the helm. The story they weave is one of a timeless tale of honoring the child in all of us by keeping that small spark of magic and imagination alive. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a divorced dad working as an ad executive in a large toy manufacturing company.  He has a very young son named Charlie (Eric Lloyd) who lives with the boy's mom, Laura (Wendy Crewson), and her new husband, Psychiatrist Dr. Neil Miller (Judge Reinholt). Both Laura and Neil are very practical and pragmatic people who decide that Charlie needs to know that Santa Claus isn’t real, but Charlie refuses to believe that.

While Charlie is staying at his dad’s house on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus comes to drop off toys. Things don’t go well for Santa and when Scott startles the jolly old Kris Kringle, the red suited man falls off the roof to his demise. Charlie comes out to find his dad standing over the body. “Dad, it’s Santa Claus and you killed him!”

Scott searches the fallen man for identification and, instead, finds the card that holds the ‘Santa Clause’: whoever puts on the suit becomes Santa. That becomes a fate that Scott Calvin grudgingly comes to accept as his son Charlie never falters from believing that his dad is Santa, even when mom and stepdad try to convince him otherwise.

The Santa Clause is a charming and gentle movie. Even though you can tell that the weight the character ‘gains’ as part of his physical transformation is nothing by latex prosthetics and that his white beard is obviously glued on to his face, Tim Allen gives the character of Scott Calvin the right amount of world weariness that makes his transformation into the embodiment of the Christmas spirit of Santa believable. When he really delves into the role and his eyes sparkle, you cease to see the flaws. The movie is filled with witty, sometimes sarcastic dialog between the adults that stays just shy enough from being too trite or too sour. Allen is a master of this kind of delivery and was perfect for this role.

The ‘North Pole’ set designs for The Santa Clause are sort of cheesy and they look like they were created for a Rogers & Hammerstein musical rather than a movie. Yet, that too lends to the magic of the movie as the viewer is encouraged to stop denying their inner child. Speaking of children, The Santa Clause is populated with many child actors in the roles of Santa’s elves from the assistant, Bernard (David Krumholtz), to Judy the twelve-hundred-year old head of the house staff (Paige Tamada). Krumholtz and Tamada bring an adult-like dignity to their roles as they deal with ‘the new guy’ and help him along the way to accepting his role.

My favorite part of Santa’s elves is the E.L.F.S; Emergency Liberation Flight Squad, who are sent on a mission to rescue Scott/Santa when he is captured by police for being wanted in connection with supposedly kidnapping Charlie. Of course, all ends well with Laura and Neil coming to accept that Scott really is Santa Claus and that childlike wonder and a sense of magic and mystery should always stay alive in all of us.

Marla’s Score: 9/10

Be sure to stay tuned throughout the rest of the month! We're posting a new Christmas review every day, both old and new! Check back to see what movie we'll have you singing carols next!

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