SHOULD “THE SANTA CLAUSE” COME BACK TO TOWN?

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Claudi Puig (USA Today), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Michael Medved (michaelmedved.com), Matt Gochman (popkornjunkie.com), David Cornelius (amazing-colossal.com), Richard Roeper (“Ebert & Roeper & the Movies” – Buena Vista TV), Brian Orndorf (modamag.com), Terry Lawson (Detroit Free Press), Cathy Edsey Collins (reelmoviecritic.com), Steven Isaac (Focus On The Family, family.org), Holly McClure (crosswalk.com), MaryAnn Johanson (flickphilospher.com)

4 out of 5 stars

Why in the name of St. Nick did “The Santa Clause 2″ open the day after Halloween? This is a Christmas movie for crying out loud! It’s also been eight years since the original movie. Should this Santa Claus come back to town?

“The Santa Clause 2″ brings back Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) who transformed into Santa Claus after finding a magical jacket in the first movie. To retain his Santa powers, Scott must now find a Mrs. Claus by Christmas Eve. His “de-Santification process” (slowly losing powers) has already started and in desperation, he creates a clone toy Santa to take his place at the North Pole, allowing him to get away to search for a wife. While he’s gone, the toy Santa (also played by Allen) becomes a dictator, commanding an army of toy soldiers to take over Santa’s factory. Will Scott make it back in time to save Christmas?

Claudi Puig (USA Today) said, “If you value your time and money, find an escape clause and avoid seeing this trite, predictable rehash. The 90 minutes could be better spent doing holiday shopping.”

Well then, Claudia. You should have gone out and bought me a bag of coal. In fact, you can throw in some lighter fluid and matches so I can dispose of your Grinch-like review! I think “The Santa Clause 2″ is a surprisingly, delightful holiday story – especially considering it’s a sequel. Perhaps it’s better for director Michael Lembeck that this project was not a rushed sequel. Father Time is on this movies side and the critics that liked it would agree:

– “The Santa Clause 2″ is more of the same tinsel-draped malarkey that made the original film into a big hit, but it’s more engaging, assured and funny, and I liked it more.” Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)

– “This counts as that rarest of movie sequels that in every way outdoes the original hit that inspired it: “SC 2″ is more than twice as funny, imaginative, and emotionally rewarding as the mildly entertaining original film.” Michael Medved (michaelmedved.com)

– “‘The Santa Clause 2′ is an extremely amiable charmer that is nearly impossible to hate. It would be even more appropriate if it were released around Christmas time.” Matt Gochman (popkornjunkie.com)

Luckily the writers came up with an interesting plot and great characters – including cameos featuring Cupid (Kevin Pollack), Mother Nature (Aisha Tyler), Tooth Fairy (Art LaFleur), Sandman (Michael Dorn) and the Easter Bunny (Jay Thomas). The story confronts normal family issues (Santa’s own son is on the naughty list!) and some touching moments of generosity laced with Christmas magic. The militant toy Santa, however, practically steals the show and Tim Allen’s performance really shines here.

David Cornelius (amazing-colossal.com) said, “Allen is at his funniest as Toy Santa, who begins his existence by acting slightly drunk (his response to really good cocoa: ‘Wooooo!’) and winds up a crazed dictator bent on a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to naughtiness, deciding all children should receive coal, since they’re all filthy, sticky menace-makers.”

Richard Roeper (“Ebert & Roeper & the Movies” – Buena Vista TV) disagrees, “There’s no reason for the Santa clone…this isn’t scary or funny…just plain creepy.” Claudia Puig adds, “This is the most ridiculous plot point of all: The substitute Santa is a cruel despot who mobilizes his own SS-like army of toy soldiers. A Hitlerian dictator as Santa, even a replacement one, seems far too twisted for mass family consumption.”

For the love of God! You BOTH deserve coal for Christmas. Makes me wonder if “The Nutcracker” had mistaken your heads for a nut! The bottom line here, folks, is that this movie would not be near as good if wasn’t for actor Tim Allen.

Initially, it was hard for me to imagine Tim Allen playing Santa Claus before these two movies came out. Granted – he was great on the TV series “Home Improvement,” but “Tool Time” Tim as Santa? This “Santa Clause” movie franchise allowed Tim to prove he has a wonderful gift to entertain children and bring out the “inner-child” in adults. He really makes us believe he is Santa Claus:

– “‘Santa Clause 2′ allows Allen to return to arguably his best role, making the most of his comedy and rather deadpan sentiment.” Brian Orndorf (modamag.com)

– “The bulk of this film’s success can be credited to Allen, eager to replace warm and fuzzy with warm but clever.” Terry Lawson (Detroit Free Press)

– “Allen’s relaxed Everyman charm is the simple key to the success of this two-film franchise. Like his popular TV show character, Allen maintains a low-key goofiness that endears him to his audience.” Cathy Edsey Collins (reelmoviecritic.com)

Steven Isaac (Focus On The Family) said about the film, “It just refuses to acknowledge God. Santa is not the reason for the season, and kids need to be taught who is.”

Indeed, Christmas is too commercialized (the opening date of this movie is proof) and Santa Claus is without a doubt – the shopping mascot. However, Steve, I think Christians should rely on church and family to teach the “real” meaning of Christmas to kids, not some Hollywood movie about Santa Claus and the North Pole. Holly McClure (crosswalk.com) got it right: “This story makes the world of Santa fun and imaginative without a strong emphasis on ‘believing’ in Santa…it sort of ‘humanizes’ the character and makes him less ‘magical’. The real focus is on believing in parents having a good relationship with their kids and the strength of family and love.”

MaryAnn Johanson (flickphilosopher.com) summed the movie up best: “It’s bigger, it’s warmer, it’s funnier, it’s meaner, it’s everything better than the original, which was highly entertaining in its own right. Christmas has come early this year.”

It’s been eight years since “The Santa Clause” arrived in theaters, yet Disney still manages to bring us “The Santa Clause 2″ one month too soon. Regardless, I’m delighted this Santa Claus came back to town.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight…God Bless!

CRITIC DOCTOR




Posted on December 25, 2002 in Features by
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