This is the tenth in a series of posts, The Twelve Days of Christmas Movies. Each one will review/talk about a different Christmassy film and the whole thing spans 12 days – one film per day. You can read the original post about it (which also lists all 12 days of movies) here.
Well, here it is: the Day 10 movie post. I said I would write it today, and I have. Thankfully, the world chose not to end today. That might have stopped me if it had, but luckily it didn’t. Congratulations to everyone for surviving the Mayan world-ending! I knew you could do it! We survived the rapture and now we’ve survived this! Looks like we’re sticking around for the long run.
Still, it’s great being alive and everything, but we have some movie business to get back to. Today’s film was The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin (initials, initials), a man who is forced to take on the role of Santa after he accidentally “kills” its previous incumbent. When this happens, he visits the North Pole, meets the elves, and gets fatter and grows a beard. The biggest issue, however, is the fact that his son, Charlie, knows that he is Santa. Problems arise when Charlie tries to tell his mother and her psychiatrist husband (Charlie’s parents are divorced), along with other adults, about Scott turning into Santa and their trip to the North Pole.
This sounds like quite a drama, which it is somewhat, but the film is very much a comedy. As with Home Alone, I was reluctant to watch The Santa Clause because I had last seen one of its sequels. In this case, it was The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. The Santa Clause 3 is, just as side note, an awful film and one that I highly suggest you do not watch. The original The Santa Clause is an entirely different matter, though. It’s a very funny film, with a mix of different humour types. There are some more obvious physical jokes in it, along with some sarcastic remarks that I hadn’t noticed when I was younger. In that respect, you can appreciate this film more when you are a bit older – although that’s often the case with kids’ films. Some of the comments Scott makes about his wife’s new husband, Neil, are especially funny. As an example, when Charlie is talking about all the things Neil can do, Scott replies “Yeah, and you should see him walk on water”.
The one part of the film that I didn’t really like was the fact that there was some crude humour. This came, in part, from the presence of Comet the reindeer. Comet doesn’t talk (thank goodness), but the way he is presented is just one step above talking. I didn’t really think he (she?) was a necessary edition to the movie, just like reindeer Ted in Jingle All the Way. Comet’s not in it much, though, so it’s easy to ignore that aspect of the film.
I enjoyed the portrayal of the North Pole in this film. It was one of the more fantastical versions and really quite an indulgent one for children to believe in, being run by child-like elves and full of cool gadgets. The later, updated version of Santa’s sleigh in this movie features tools like a hot chocolate and cookie dispenser – it’s called a CD (cocoa/cookie dispenser) in the film, but this doesn’t really translate if you call it hot chocolate. The practicality and logic of belief in Santa is also addressed in an interesting way during The Santa Clause. On one hand, we have people (such as the elves) advocating belief in Santa based on trust. As said in-film: “Seeing isn’t believing; believing is seeing”. It’s basically said that you don’t need to have witnessed something – a million dollars, for example – to know that it exists. However, as Charlie’s mother and step-dad try to convince him that it’s illogical to believe in Santa, they question the plausibility of certain aspects of Santa’s job. For instance, Neil asks how it is possible for Santa to travel around the world in time for Christmas. Charlie responds by talking about time continuums that Santa could be disrupting. This exchange mirrors one that happens earlier in the film between Scott and Charlie, in which it is the latter wanting explanations for Santa’s magical abilities, like how he fits down chimneys and how the reindeer can fly. Although a lot of these answers are attributed to magic, I like how the characters question these issues and we are able to see them try to figure it out.
In the end, this isn’t really a ground-breaking film. Most parts of it have been done before, possibly better. But this has been a classic in my family for some time, so I have a particular fondness for it. I genuinely also think that it is a good film. The technical points – acting, casting, plot, and so on – are all sufficiently adequate for the rest of the film to be enjoyable, and there are plenty of jokes for people of all humour types. The Santa Clause is one of those films that, while nothing really special in terms of production, has a certain magic about. Like when you take all the pieces of Christmas apart and they don’t mean anything, whilst you can put them together and create something amazing, The Santa Clause is great in a way you can’t put your finger on. This film is warm and light-hearted, as well as being funny, so it’s a perfectly pleasant, likeable movie to watch at Christmas. While I don’t believe in Santa Claus any more, I haven’t yet lost my faith in The Santa Clause.
Overall rating: 7/10
Christmassy-ness rating: 8/10
Mary’s parental guidance rating: PG (the issues with people not believing Charlie and Scott might upset some children, but other than that it’s a very family-friendly film)
Tomorrow’s film: The Snowman