Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the seventeenth of December! We are now only eight days away from Christmas which means seven days till Christmas Eve! Today's installment in the Kulture Shocked Christmas Movie Marathon is The Santa Clause, directed by John Pasquin and starring Tim Allen. As with most of our movies this month, the focus is on the unconventional Christmas stories. We've had a Satan spawned Santa, a Krampus-style Santa, and we've even featured films that don't have a Santa but their stories take place during the holiday season. The Santa Clause takes an unconventional twist on the Santa Claus mythos and uses that to tell a fun and heart-warming tale about belief and the human condition.
As much as I enjoy this movie, especially during the Christmas season, I have to admit that this film was made about ten years too early. This film is 20 years old and is beginning to suffer the fate of quite a few films that incorporate the mediocre, non-practical special effects that came out in the late 80s to mid 90s. It's approaching "So-Bad-It's-Good" territory and that is truly unfortunate. The actual story and performances by Tim Allen and Eric Lloyd are pretty damn good, but I can't endorse the Reindeer, bad green screen, and cheesy CGI liberally sprinkled throughout. They tread the line of taking me out of the movie at any given moment. The SFX are going to become a larger distraction as the movie ages, which will cause its popularity and watchability to steadily decline which is unfortunate since no one will watch it unless we make our kids watch it during Christmas ten years from now.
This film could be called one of the founding pieces of the horrible Hollywood machine that we discuss a lot here at Kulture Shocked. I would be willing to argue that the premise for this movie was one of the more original ones to come out of the Hollywood machine in the mid 90s, however, the pattern for producers from big studios to not take chances on their films is set here. In 1993 Universal Studios released Jurassic Park, a film that some would label a paragon of excellent 90's cinema. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park set the gold standard for perfectly mixing digital and practical effects in a believable fashion. However, a year later, Disney released The Santa Clause, using lame non-practical effects to produce a visually mediocre film that simply rode Tim Allen's talent to be financially successful. Its the true Hollywood Machine at work.
Enough tearing down this movie though just on the effects; why do I think you should watch it? Despite the numerous tropes that I can't stand, the single dad versus the ex-wife with a douche-canoe "doctor" second husband for starters, I enjoy the tale of this film. The idea that there is a binding clause that dictates who wears the red suit and delivers toys to millions of kids is both clever and amusing. It takes a different spin on the mythos and adds a dose of "reality" that makes the story seem just a tiny bit plausible if you have enough Christmas cheer going on. Also, you can't help but have your heart slowly melt over the course of the film as Charlie morphs from detesting his father to not being able to spend ten minutes without him (take that douche-canoe "doctor" second husband!).
The exploration of child-like belief and wonder is equally refreshing. Today's world is filled with negative emotions, strife, and grief, so having a film that you can sit down with your family and enjoy is incredibly nice. It's almost like that splash of cold water to your face. It just gives that perfect amount of "pick-me-up" that I think everyone can benefit from (unless you’re the guy in the family pointing out all the bad effects going on).
I have to say that this is a winter-time staple, especially as we get ever closer to Christmas. So, get the family together, bake some cookies, pour some eggnog, and enjoy a fun and unconventional Christmas tale.
Final Say: Watch it