The Santa Clause (1994)

Should you see this movie?  Probably not-- not unless you're under the
age of ten.  Based on the (de)merits of story mechanics alone, THE SANTA
CLAUSE should be unwatchable.  The trouble is the star.  Tim Allen, of
TV's "Home Improvement," has leaped to the big screen with his talent
intact.  He's witty, he's charming and, thanks to a *fantastic* make-up
job, he's the life-presever for a movie that should sink.  Plot holes
can't swallow him, sentiment can't drown him; the comic even gets away
with a decade-old ZZ Top gag.

The other cast members should be so lucky.  Two child actors are good--
Eric Lloyd and David Krumholtz-- but the rest of the rest are
bargain-basement at best.  What can you say about a film where neither
Judge Reinhold nor Peter Boyle are funny?

THE SANTA CLAUSE looks like a made-for-TV movie and that's no good.
With the exception of Allen's exceptional make-up, the special effects
consist almost entirely of blue screens and flying wires.  Both of which
can be tolerated, but avert thine eyes at the cheesy arctic soundstage.

The story is sanitized-- thank you Mr. Disney-- so most of the gags are
of the warm, fuzzy variety.  The tone is tame, but a divorce subplot ala
MRS. DOUBTFIRE provides a slight reality check.  What's really needed,
though, is a narrative device to help chart the passage of time.

THE SANTA CLAUSE chronicles one year in the life of Scott Calvin
(Allen), a busy businessman who just happens to be the big guy.  Over
the year his weight increases, his hair turns grey, and he develops a
taste for cookies and milk.  Because there's no framing device to count
down to the big day, the entire midsection sags.  Does dad gain all his
weight in one week?  Does his beard appear in July?  Sigh.

The film wraps with a super-silly finale that should've been left on the
cutting room floor.  Who wants to see Santa and a SWAT team in the same
frame?  Oh, what John Hughes could've done here.

BOTTOM LINE:  Sappy, sloppy Santa story that's strictly kids fare.  Even
Allen fans may get bored.  Ho ho HO!

Grade: C-

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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