At the height of Tim Allen’s power, he was tapped by Disney for this family comedy. Surprisingly, it is not simply a transplant of the Tim Taylor character into a movie. Scott Calvin is, in fact, a very effective toy executive. But as a father, he is not so successful. When his ex-wife and her husband drop Scott’s son Charlie off for Christmas Eve, Charlie asks if he has to stay. Scott struggles to make the night fun for Charlie, but he does a pretty terrible job. Fatherhood feels like a distant skill for him.
Later that evening, there is a sound on the roof, causing Scott to run out side. He sees someone on the roof and calls out. Startled, the person falls off the roof. They disappear, leaving behind a Santa suit and business card. Scott carelessly puts on the jacket and find he and Charlie taken on a wild ride delivering presents. Their night ends in the North Pole where Scott and Charlie find themselves meeting elves and having fantastic hot chocolate. Speaking with Head Elf Bernard, Scott finds out that he is bound by a contract…the Santa Clause. Should something happen to Santa, reading the card and putting on the jacket makes the wearer the new Santa Clause.
Scott of course, convinces himself this was all a dream, while his Ex Wendy and her Psychiatrist husband Neil are becoming increasingly concerned with Charlie’s insistence that Scott is Santa. As the story continues, Scott finds it hard to ignore his new role as he instantly grows a white beard and is rapidly gaining weight. And children are drawn to him, lining up to tell him their Christmas wishes.
The Santa Clause is all about faith in things unseen, there is a line in the film that Believing is Seeing. It is a very non-religious faith, as Christmas is really about Santa in this film. There are no real ties to the Christian vision of Christmas as part of the film’s mythology. It even has a subplot about Wendy and Neil learning to embrace the joy of Christmas. Which is to believe Scott Really is Santa Claus.
The mythology of the film is quite a bit of fun. The North Pole is quite high tech, with a “science” all it’s own. There are things like Hot Chocolate dispensers in the Sleigh and Santa’s hat has a two way radio. There is even a Navy Seal-like team of Elves. The elves are skilled makers of the most popular toys. How does Santa enter a house with no fireplace or chimney? One magically appears when needed.
All in all, this is a pleasant and fun film for kids and parents. Allen actually is entertaining as a guy who is trying to deny his calling. The attitude laden Bernard is a fun presence. The effects are, of course a bit dated, but not so much so that they ruin enjoyment.