There are few Christmas movies that do a truly amazing job at world creating when it comes to a Santa Claus existing. In many cases, movies just assume his existence regardless of whether or not people believe in him and do little to actually set up the Claus Mythos. Fortunately, Tim Allen’s Christmas classic The Santa Clause created a great back story of Claus and answered a lot of questions regarding how he does his job. It’s one of those movies that, even being as old as it is, hasn’t lost its viewing power yet… at least for me.
Divorced dad Scott (Tim Allen) has custody of his son (Eric Lloyd) on Christmas Eve. After he accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, they are magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf explains that Scott must take Santa’s place before the next Christmas arrives. Scott thinks he’s dreaming, but over the next several months he gains weight and grows an inexplicably white beard. Maybe that night at the North Pole wasn’t a dream after all — and maybe Scott has a lot of work to do.
Surprisingly, a big thing I noticed less of when I was a wee child, is that the movie is a lot more about divorce than most movies of the genre. Scott Calvin has many grown up jokes about divorce and, who he believes to be, his leech of a wife. On top of that, there is a custody battle that looms of the entire film as when Scott takes the mantle of Santa, everyone thinks he and his son are insane. And that’s one thing that bothered me watching the film as an adult and that is the fact that Scott’s ex-wife is way to quick to presume that her own son is going insane. Especially when you consider the fact that all he is doing, from an outside perspective, is pretending. Their shift from “he’s a normal boy” to “Oh, my god my son is going insane!” just felt a little too unwarranted and abrupt for me.
Now, I never felt this way as a kid but, I have heard and read in blogs and other reviews about this movie that it may not be the best film to let your kid watch. Scott Calvin and every other adult talks about Santa not being real so much that a lot of parents out there had to console their children. I never had much of an issue with it but I could also see how this would be a problem for parents who don’t want the illusion shattered for their kiddies.
I absolutely love the rules of this world though…as you may have guessed this movie is called The Santa Clause… as in a clause in a contract. If you do not know, a contract clause is a “specific provision or section within a written contract. Each clause in a contract addresses a specific aspect related to the overall subject matter of the agreement. Contract clauses are aimed at clearly defining the duties, rights and privileges that each party has under the contract terms.” And in this case, the Clause of this movie, and governing rule for this world’s Santa, is:
In putting on the suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all right to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus, in perpetuity to which some time the wearer becomes unable to do so, by either accident or design.
But on top of that I absolutely LOVE how the North Pole is set up! The whole place– even as an adult– has a magical feel to it. But the film doesn’t shy away from modern technology and when Charlie comes to the North Pole the employ new tech and designs to protect Santa while he is out in the field. Additionally I think a lot of children will really connect with the elves because they too are children and, while the acting suffers a bit because of this, it allows children to dream about working in the North Pole. And I love that a movie FINALLY answers how Santa (1) gets around the earth in one night (2) goes down chimneys and (3) goes down places without chimneys Just saying… I think it has bothered everyone since the Claus myth came into being.
I am of the opinion that this is a great family movie even without the Christmas vibe. It is a bit true that there are a solid amount of grown-up jokes and problems but I think kids will take away the magic of the movie rather than the cynical nature of the grownups found within. I personally still want to try that little elf-girl’s hot chocolate to this day! It always looked so good!
Trivia (by IMDb)
Tim Allen has a criminal record and Disney has a no hiring of ex-cons policy. An exception was made in this case.
The movie reveals that Santa Claus’s favorite snack is cookies, and favorite drink is hot chocolate. The DVD released bonus material contains 3 recipes on how to make Santa’s favorite pizza, cookies, and hot chocolate, and short videos demonstrating the cooking procedures.
When Scott and Charlie are leaving the North Pole in the sleigh and pass by the moon, the moon has a distinct Mickey Mouse logo on it.
When the kids scream, “Let him go! Let Santa go!” that is a reference to Miracle on 34th Street (1947).
The role of Scott Calvin/Santa Claus was written with Bill Murray in mind.
This was the only Santa Clause movie that didn’t feature a villain. (The Villain was age!!!!!)