Christmas movie review: The Santa Clause

2 December 2011

Written by: Matthew Smith

When The Santa Clause was released in 1994, like the movie’s child character Charlie (Eric Lloyd), I too was approaching that age where I was beginning to question whether Santa was legit.

While I knew Tim Allen – at the height of his career as Tim “the tool man” Taylor in sitcom Home Improvement – wasn’t Santa, seeing this movie restored my faith because as Charlie said, ‘Just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.’

Reliving the film 17 years on, I can’t say it had quite the same effect, but it certainly has kept its Disney charm with a feel-good story and jokes for all ages – from farting reindeer gags to witty one-liners.

The story centres around the ‘Santa Clause’ which Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) inadvertently gets caught up in, after causing Santa to fall off the roof and die on Christmas Eve.

After being pressured by his son Charlie to put on the suit and deliver the rest of the presents, Scott arrives at the North Pole and is told by chief elf, Bernard (David Krumholtz): ‘you put on the suit, you’re the big guy.’

Like all adults in the film, Scott no longer believes, and spends the majority of the film denying he is now Santa. This is despite growing facial hair at a rapid rate and, as his Boss (the late Peter Boyle of Everybody Loves Raymond fame) points out, ‘starting to look like the Pillsbury Doughboy.’

Contrastingly, Charlie is obsessed with his dad’s new gig, much to the horror of his mother (Wendy Crewson) and step-dad (Judge Reinhold) who think he’s too old to believe in Santa. This leads to Scott losing his visitation rights and neglecting his Santa duties.

The Santa Clause has some striking parallels to Miracle on 34th Street, most obviously the ‘child meets Santa and has to convince adults it’s really him’ angle. Perhaps this was intentional, with an early scene featuring a television voice-over announcing the original Miracle of 34th Street starring Natalie Wood will be on later.

Regardless of originality, this movie still has plenty going for it that has seen it become a Christmas classic spawning two sequels. Tim Allen is amusing as Santa and the ensemble is well cast. While some of the sets could have been more realistic, this is easily forgiven considering it was made in the early ’90s.

It is a family-friendly offering sure to get you into the festive spirit.

Stephanie Kenéz has recently completed a Bachelor of Media Studies at La Trobe University and will be undertaking Honours in Health Sciences next year. You can follow Stephanie on Twitter: @stephk89

upstart will be reviewing Christmas movies in December 2011. Full details for contributing and a list of Christmas movie reviews are on this page.