Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: The Santa Clause (1994)

Director: John Pasquin
Starring: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson

With all the countless movies made for families about Santa Claus, with their jolliness, holiday cheer and just a little bit of risqué jokes for extra measure…this film is another one. The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen, tells a heartwarming story of a man who became Santa Claus and was briefly estranged and alienated by his family and friends before becoming accepted…as being Santa Claus…okay, okay, it’s a weird-ass, schmaltzy flick without much common sense, sue me.

This film does have some problems. I mean, the whole idea is that whoever puts on the Santa suit after Santa is dead or incapacitated in any way becomes the new Santa, right? Well what if a Jew or a Muslim or a Scientologist became Santa? I guess the elves would make due, but all I’m saying is, they should be grateful that Tim Allen was so reasonable about it. Hell, what if nobody put on the Santa suit in time for Christmas? Seems like that’d be a pretty big fucking deal. Maybe they have some secret back up plan that the movie isn’t telling us about?

But fortunately for the elves, Tim Allen puts on the suit and although he’s initially suspicious and apprehensive, he grows very quickly accustomed to the idea and makes a 180 turn in terms of morals and thoughts about it. Too fast, I think. I mean we’re barely given any time to accept this whole thing in the first place, and yet with the movie’s quick editing it seems like Allen barely has a second thought about it, going straight from Scrooge-esque disgruntlement to immediate acceptance in the bat of an eye. Not really convincing, movie.

After Allen’s rendezvous to the North Pole, along with his incredibly annoying little boy, the kid starts to tell everyone about his dad’s new job. Why does Allen keep letting him though? This is the kind of thing I’d like to call the Idiot Effect, a snowballing of events that propel the film’s plot forward, but could have very easily been avoided if the characters just had a little more intelligence. Why does Allen keep letting the kid blab to everyone and thus flush his self image down the drain? It could all be solved by just one sentence of dialogue: “Hey, listen, don’t tell anybody about what happened last night.” That’s it. That is all that is needed. Then none of the problems in this movie would have happened, and maybe we could have spent our time better actually delving deeper into the whole Santa mythos that this movie obviously put time into. It seems like the film has a priority issue here, that’s the main problem.

My last issue with the film is that it’s just resolved all too quickly, the whole entire thing. Allen comes to term with his being Santa and decides to give it his full effort, but his ex wife and her new husband are afraid of him and think he kidnapped their son. He brings the kid back, escapes the police with the help of his James Bond-style elves (I know, just go with it) and everything is pretty much fine, resolved quicker than you can count to three on one hand. Give us some more conflict! This just is not enough, and I know there could have been more effort put into it.

Really, this is just a decent film. There are a lot of little plotholes and things they could have fixed if they just tried harder, but it is a charming film. I like the way the elves have all that futuristic technology and I like the way they set up the Santa mythos. Tim Allen does OK, even though the kid playing his son pretty much sucks. But what can you expect? It’s a kid’s movie, a dime-a-dozen family flick from the 90s that pretty much went through the motions. It’s fun, but it’s unspectacular.