‘The Santa Clause’ is an interesting take on Saint Nick’s origins
This week’s Christmas themed Throwback Thursday is probably the newest film I’ll be reviewing this month… and it came out in 1994 so really it isn’t even that new. (I am terribly sorry for pointing that out. I also sometimes feel like the 90s weren’t that long ago and I barely existed in the decade.)
“The Santa Clause” is one of my favorite Christmas movies.
It stars Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, a cynical toy salesman who is just trying to have a decent Christmas with his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) before he goes back to his ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her new husband, psychiatrist Neal Miller (Judge Reinhold).
Late on Christmas Eve, Charlie hears a noise coming from the roof. He wakes Scott who goes outside to investigate and finds Santa Claus himself.
Mistaking him for a burglar of some kind, Scott accidentally causes Santa to fall from the roof and well… Santa goes boom and disappears, leaving only his suit behind. I’m trying my hardest as an adult to not think too deeply about the implications behind how Scott becomes Santa so the movie isn’t ruined for me. Of course if I can enjoy watching Rudolph get bullied in his movie I guess I’m sociopathic enough to just brush over this little dark part of “The Santa Clause.”
My uncomfortable realization aside, this unfortunate incident leads Scott down a new career path. One that he didn’t apply for and definitely didn’t want.
With urging from Charlie, Scott completes Santa’s route with the reindeer leading the way. Instead of being dropped off at their home in Lakeside, the reindeer take father and son to the North Pole where they meet head elf Bernard.
Bernard explains to a skeptical Scott that he fell into the Santa Clause. When he put on the suit to deliver presents he became the new Santa.
Of course Scott won’t come around to this new reality soon. Bernard sends Scott and Charlie back to their home, saying Scott has 11 months to “get his affairs in order” before taking on his new role.
The rest of the movie focuses on Scott’s transformation into Jolly Old Saint Nick. From the weight gain, white beard and love of cookies, to the innate ability to know whether kids or bad or good he takes on all of Santa’s classic tropes.
Meanwhile he’s also trying to convince Charlie, whose spiraled into this new Christmasy world, that he isn’t Santa in an effort to continuing sharing custody with Laura. Both his ex-wife and her husband shockingly find it hard to believe that Scott’s sudden transformation isn’t on purpose (I mean who could blame them?).
The ending is quite a ride and I’ll just say this: there’s a “kidnapping,” a large police presence, a special group of elf operatives and — of course — a happy ending.
Allen, also known as Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story” and Tim “The Toolman” Taylor on “Home Improvement,” was definitely a good choice to play Scott/Santa. He balances Scott’s less than desirable nature — his jabs at Neal and general sarcasm — with a genuine warmth and love for his son. His transformation into Santa is relatively smooth too.
Obviously his performance is at the heart of the movie and for good reason. It shows why the 90s were a very good decade for his career.
Since being released, “The Santa Clause” has become a go-to Christmas movie for many and even got two sequels which did relatively well for themselves.
“The Santa Clause” is rated PG and can be viewed on Disney+ with a subscription or rented from iTunes, YouTube, Google Play and Vudu.
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Laura Jameson is a staff reporter for The Express.