Christmas Fantasy
The Santa Clause
Dir: John Pasquin
Star: Tim Allen, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, Judge Reinhold
Cert / Year: U - PG / 1994
Format: DVD R2

Whilst spending Christmas Eve with his son, divorced toy company businessman Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is awoken by his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) who hears a clattering on the roof. Rushing outside to investigate, Scott startles the portly and red-garbed chap on the roof (I wonder who that could be) who promptly slips and falls off. Whilst he searches the rather inanimate looking individual for identification, Scott finds a small card that indicates that the bearer of the card is indeed Santa Claus and should anything happen to him then don his garb and climb aboard the sleigh as the reindeer know what to do. A little bewildered by this, Calvin ventures onto his roof where he discovers a sleigh and a team of reindeer. Convinced he is dreaming he joins his son on the sleigh which promptly takes off and soon Scott dons the red suit and delivers the presents, not realizing that in doing so he now fulfils an obligation and a small printed contract meaning that he must now accept all of Santa's duties and become Santa Claus himself! It is only ten months later when he suddenly piles on weight, grows a white beard and things suddenly start to change..... Drastically!

A delightful and enjoyable Christmas movie complete with that certain magical quality and definitely one for all the family, especially those BIG kids amongst us. Although at times it is a little too warm and fluffy in a typically Disney way, but it is Christmas after all so what else do you really expect.

There is some good humour and pleasant direction by John Pasquin, nothing excessive or too cheesy just a nicely presented film in every way. Pasquin of course has a long standing working relationship with star Tim Allen as he directed Allen's hit TV series Home Improvement and later Allen's other fearture film Jungle 2 Jungle. The story courtesy of Leonardo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick who were responsible for the dreadful Space Jam, is a modern tale of a divorced family. The mother who has remarried and the workaholic father trying to regain a modicum of respect and even love from his young son but failing miserably. Then of course he falls foul of the "Santa Clause" of the title and suddenly he is the coolest dad ever, even if it is only in his son's eyes and not to the court who then decide to cancel all of his visitation rights. The broken home angle affords this film a wider appeal to include that particular market, who were probably feeling left out of the "feel good Xmas movie" genre. That said, this is an unexpectedly good film and not as kitsch as you would originally think even though this is of course terribly predictable. Yes, it has that distinct Disney warm and cuddly feel to it but it is also a good old fashioned bit of make believe with plenty of Christmas spirit and a great sense of fun too. The usual and age old arguments like the absence of chimneys, the size of Santa's sack and his means of entry to homes are easily explained by some good writing and clever use of CGI.

Tim Allen is hilarious and successfully makes the transition from TV to film, even managing a couple of nods of the head to his TV show Home Improvement. Not really my choice for this role but he does make a good grumpy Santa and is surprisingly good in both personas. He displays some good timing and is quite funny, but his experience as a stand up comedian is more evident here than any acting talent. Judge Reinhold puts in a typical performance in a very Billy Rosewood from Beverly Hills Cop way, playing the shrink stepfather. Despite his modelling some hideous woolen wear you can't help but take an instant dislike to him as he handles Christmas in a very clinical manner, not to mention being annoying and you tend to join in with Tim Allen's verbally abusive barrage of his ex-wife's new husband. The set pieces where Charlie turns his psychology around on him are very funny but ultimately by the end of the film you do kind of pity him.

The Santa Clause is a touching, heart warming and light-hearted Christmas story with an original twist ensuring that this is bound to hit the spot with all ages, delivering far better than you expect. Another one of those "nicey, nice" feel good family films that you can enjoy watching for years to come.


Seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Widscreen good crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Marvellous
Features Very cool snowglobe animated menu complete with button to disturb the snow
"Making Santa snacks" - series of small kiddies recipes for Christmas treats complete with cooking instructions
Santa's Helper game - worth playing just to get to the classic Disney "Silly Symphony" cartoon "The night before Christmas"
"So You wanna be an Elf" - quaint little "Making Of" featurette from an Elf's perspective
Advent calender screensaver (DVD-ROM feature)
"Letters to Santa" with automated replies (DVD-ROM feature)
Theatrical trailer for Santa Clause 2
Verdict A good disc with some nice extras. A worthy gift to make it under any Christmas tree, especially for kids but not exclusively ;)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home