Certain films thoroughly capture and capitalize on a comedian’s unique voice; Bill Murray had Groundhog Day, Dudley Moore had Arthur, Steve Martin had The Jerk, and Tim Allen had The Santa Clause. Full of all the deprecatory wit of his hit TV series Home Improvement (which director John Pasquin had previously produced), Tim Allen is at his comedic best in this modern Christmas classic. It’s unfortunate that the humor seems to normalize Charlie’s dysfunctional broken family, but some later scenes showing the impact of a judge’s court order lends some reality to the pain of divorce and the nuclear family’s disintegration. The filmmakers couple this comedy and heart with some Christmas spirit that is at once revisionist and faithful, creating a film that remains as entertainingly original today as it was in 1994.
Tim Allen steals every scene, from his abortive turkey meltdown early on to his constant disparagement of Neal’s snazzy sweaters, which my VC actually admires. Allen’s fat suit for gradually transforming into St. Nick never looks fake, and if the likes of The Nutty Professor and Norbit can earn Best Makeup Oscar nominations, The Santa Clause certainly should have. Wendy Crewson of Air Force One and gentle-voiced Judge Reinhold of Beverly Hills Cop provide sympathetic foils for Allen’s drollery, and their disbelief and concern for Charlie’s well-being are entirely understandable. Indeed, though Allen releases a number of snide remarks, the film’s strength is its lack of negativity. No character possesses any ill will, and everything hinges on discovering belief rather than some good/evil conflict, much like The Polar Express.
Though the sequels featured a major Lost alert in casting Elizabeth Mitchell as Mrs. Claus, they fell short of the original Christmas favorite. With clever effects and a wondrous vision of the North Pole, The Santa Clause ranks among the best Santa movies, reinforcing everyone’s inner child.
Best line: (Scott, flying into the sunrise after his first night of toy deliveries) “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! When I get home, I’m getting a CAT scan!”Rank: 53 out of 60
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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