Gini’s Christmas Classics | The Santa Clause (1994)

The Two Gay Geeks and our Staff are taking a much needed break from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. But, we still wanted to have content for you to read during that time. As such we got busy and watched all of our favorite holiday videos. Some are classics and others are off-beat and loosely associated with the holidays. We hope you enjoy our offerings and that you holiday season is safe, sane, and satisfying.

The Santa Clause

By Gini Koch

The Santa Clause is a live-action movie starring Tim Allen. In the vein of movies like Liar, Liar and Night at the Museum, it’s about a divorced dad who learns how to actually be a good parent to his son due to magical happenings. I saw it when it was first released and enjoyed it so much that I bought the DVD. But, do I still enjoy it and, more importantly, is it a Christmas classic?

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a successful salesman for a large toy manufacturing company. On Christmas Eve he’s late getting home to take his son from his ex-wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her husband, Neal (Judge Reinhold) due to an office party, not the bad traffic he blames.

Scott’s son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), knows he’s an afterthought and would rather be with his mother and stepfather, but custody rights mean he has to spend Christmas Eve with Scott. Scott, Laura, and Neal – who’s a psychiatrist – get into the Santa Isn’t Real argument, with Scott supporting the idea of Santa and the other two wanting Charlie to keep his feet on the ground. Charlie’s somewhere between kindergarten and second grade.

Scott has, of course, not actually prepared a meal and, after the turkey he tries to cook catches fire, he and Charlie end up at Denny’s, in the room that seems reserved for sad divorced dads and their sadder offspring.

This movie, possibly unintentionally, makes a case for both parents in divorce getting remarried. Though, this is a Disney film, so it’s probably not unintentional at all. The only people in this Denny’s on Christmas Eve are a huge group of Japanese businessmen and those sad dads and kids. There are literally no women there other than the waitresses. Intentionally. More on this later.

Later that night, after Scott’s read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to Charlie, they hear a noise on the roof. Scott goes outside and finds a man in a Santa suit on his roof. The man loses his balance and falls off the roof to his death. Scott finds a card that says this is Santa Claus and if anything happens to him, put on the suit and the reindeer will do the rest. Due to a variety of things – reindeer and a sleigh actually being on the roof being only one of them – Scott does indeed put on the suit and ends up doing the rest of Santa’s deliveries.

Once they’re done, the reindeer go back to the North Pole, where Scott and Charlie meet all the elves, including the head elf, Bernard (David Krumholtz). Bernard tells Scott that he’s got a year to get his affairs in order because, due to the Santa Clause – written in tiny print on the card Scott took from the dead former Santa – Scott is going to turn into Santa by the next Thanksgiving.

Scott and Charlie go to sleep in Santa’s bed at the North Pole but when Scott wakes up the next morning he’s in his own bed in his own house, and the only difference is that he’s still in Santa’s pajamas.

Scott believes he’s had a vivid dream, but Charlie insists it’s real. This creates issues for Charlie at school and for Scott with Neal and Laura. But that’s not all. Scott’s gaining weight, even though he remains healthy as a horse, and his hair goes white and, no matter how much he shaves, he has a full white beard almost immediately.

As Christmas Eve approaches, Charlie’s belief becomes stronger while Scott looks more and more like Santa, which forces Laura and Neal to ask for, and get, sole custody of Charlie. However, Christmas can’t be stopped, and Charlie is able to remind Scott of the truth – he is Santa and he has a duty to all the kids who celebrate Christmas, therefore.

This is a Disney movie, so the ending is happy, with Scott accepting that Neal is part of their family and Neal and Laura realizing that Scott has truly become Santa Claus.

One of the best things about this movie is that Neal is not shown to be some sort of awful loser. He’s a loving father – when they think Charlie has been kidnapped by a delusional Scott, Neal is as upset and missing Charlie as Laura is. He’s shown to be a sweet, decent person all the way through, not just at the end of the movie.

It’s Scott who goes from self-centered jerk to the most loving guy on the planet, and the transition is believable. Literally, from the moment he put on the real Santa suit, he can’t stop himself from turning into Santa Claus and by the end of the movie, he relishes the role and loves what his life has become.
Tim Allen’s comedic timing is never in question, and neither, frankly is Judge Reinhold’s. This is not a slap-happy comedy, but it is funny and requires the right touch for the characters to all come off well. It’s managed throughout – never, at any time, do you question that every adult involved just wants what’s best for Charlie.

Eric Lloyd is one of those rare child actors who isn’t too precious or too fake. He’s worked since he was a toddler, but I’m still amazed he doesn’t have a longer resume. He’s one of the rare child actors who just seems a hundred percent real on the screen.

Speaking of child actors, the elves are all played by kids who have to have the air of both being childlike and fun while also being hundreds to thousands of years old. Any one of them with a speaking role nails it, which is harder to do than it sounds.

There are two sequels to this movie, The Santa Clause 2 – where, sure enough, Santa has to get married due to the Missus Clause (told you that Denny’s scene wasn’t unintentional) – and Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. I don’t own them (which makes me sad and is causing me to add to my Christmas list) but I’ve seen both and I enjoyed them, too.

The Santa Clause is a sweet, loving movie that embraces the spirit of what Santa Claus represents as well as the reasons people “stop believing” and how that belief can be brought back just by a snow globe and a little magic. It should be added to your Christmas movie rotation, because it’s definitely a classic.

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