Love of Santa Clause Pt 3 (The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, 2006)

santa-clause_3_posterDisney decided to make the series a Trilogy.  Well, at least until they come up with a Santa Clause 4 or maybe a series reboot with Chris Hemsworth as Scott Calvin.  In this film, we are introduced to Jack Frost, who feels like the most under appreciated of the Legendary Figures.  He schemes to find a way to be famous and sets his site on the throne of Santa Clause.

Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Clause are bringing Mrs. Claus’ parents to the North Pole.  Of course, they have no idea Scott is Santa Claus, only knowing he is a toy maker and they never see their daughter.  The In-Laws both take digs at Scott, though in different ways.  While his father-in-law Bud is direct, his mother-in-law Sylvia is passive aggressive.  Yet again, the film relies on a deception themed plot.  Scott and the elves try and convince the In-Laws that they are in Canada.  All the while, Jack Frost is busy trying to undermine everything so he can convince Scott to take the Escape Clause.

Frost is successful, taking over a Santa.  This results in an “It’s a Wonderful Life” sequence.  It is, frankly not very successful, because Scott finding how life is super different without him as Santa is highly compressed into about five minutes.  It just does not give us enough time for emotional resonance.  The resolution comes quickly, almost to easily.

While there is a good cast here (Short, Anne-Margaret and Alan Arkin are all entertaining), the film feels like there is still a missing element.  One of those elements is Bernard.  Krumholtz and Allen had a fun chemistry, and while Spencer Breslin’s Curtis is a likable character, his ascension to the main elf is not quite the same.

While not a absolute failure, this is not a strong ending for the series.  It feels rushed and has a somewhat unsatisfying resolution.

Love of Santa Clause Pt 2 (The Santa Clause 2, 2002)

santa_clause_2_posterThe Santa Clause 2 takes place about eight to ten years into Scott’s run as Santa Claus.  He is informed that somehow a Clause has been missed.  The Mrs. Clause.  Scott needs to find a wife before Christmas.  And to top it off, his teen son Charlie is on the naughty list.

Scott, Bernard and Curtis (the elf who discovered the missed rule) work to deceive the rest of the elves by creating a fake Santa (who is made of plastic) to run the show while Scott goes to find a wife and check on Charlie.  Charlie has made the bad list because he is rebelling against his Principal who does not like Christmas.  Astute watchers of comedy movies will realize that high jinks with follow.  Charlie becomes upset when Scott falls for his Principal.  Scott is really just upset that he has had to keep the secret of Santa for years.  But he does have a little sister now, who is the film’s doorway to “The Belief of Children”.

The film has a few repeat messages.  In the first film, a big deal is made of when the adults stopped believing in Santa, and this film carries that through again.  At a Christmas party for the teachers, Scott impresses Carol by providing all the teachers with gifts-vintage toys they all wanted or loved as kids.

For the Elves, the plans backfire as Fake Santa becomes obsessed with the rules and takes over under the notion that all kids are naughty and should not be cut any slack.  He creates an army of giant tin soldiers and locks up Bernard and the other elves, while Curtis flies to get Scott’s help.

The film has some rather large plot holes.  Specifically, the whole premise of the Mrs. Clause.  Afterall, Scott is not the first Santa.  Have none of the other previous Santas taken wives?  Have they simply stopped being Santa before the issue came up?  If they did have Mrs. Clauses, what happened to those wives when the new Santa came along?

This is not to say that the film is not fun.  They expand on the Santa world mythology, introducing the other Legendary figures… Mother Nature, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, Father Time, Cupid and a scene stealing Tooth Fairy.  They cast character actor Art LaFleur, who is a pretty imposing size, but with small and dainty wings.

The film also is not burdened with explaining all the laws of Santa (only really adding the Mrs. Clause).  And there is a certain fun in Wendy and Neil being in on the secret that Scott is Santa.  For one, it makes them far more likable.

Overall, this is a fun film, though not quite as strong as it’s predecessor.  I however, give them credit for coming up with a story idea that is not a total rehash of the original.  Of course, it also relies on the issue of keeping the Santa identity a secret all over again.  But as a fun holiday diversion, the Santa Clause 2 if certainly still a fun way to pass the time.


Love of Santa Clause Pt 1 (The Santa Clause, 1994)

santa_clause_posterAt 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.


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