by Jake Sproul Rating: (out of )
After 8 years, Tim Allen puts back on the big red jacket, and black boots. When I first saw the trailer for Santa Clause 2 back in the summer, my mouth literally dropped to the floor. My reaction was one of distain. I figured that the chance of a sequel died out years ago, and a minute chance for a revival laid only in the world of straight to video film. However, The Santa Clause is surprisingly good for a sequel about 6 years late. But its not good enough to garner a recommendation. While SC2 is far from as bad as it could have been, it is far from original, fresh, or creative.
When I first saw the original Santa Clause, I myself was only 8 years old, and still held some hope that Santa Claus did exist. Now, as a 16 year old, a lot of the whimsy surrounding Santa Claus has disappeared. However, I do own the original Santa Clause, and I do watch it now and then, and it has held up surprisingly well. This new version I suspect will not hold up quite as well. All charm has disappeared, and so many of the jokes are of a physical and childish nature, that at times, its painful to watch.
While a lot of the jokes do work in this new Santa Clause (especially at the end), I felt the formula was not only tired, but it simply didnít work. Tim Allenís expression of unbelief surrounding the North Pole is gone, and now when I watch him take it all seriously, I am in unbelief. I just thought his adventures at the North Pole were too cutesy to enjoy.
In The Santa Clause 2, there are two stories unfolding at the same time. The first involves Scott Calvinís/Santaís quest for a Mrs. Clause, and the second involves an imposter Santa Clause, taking control on the North Pole while Santa is away. Curtis, the number 2 elf, has over looked a very important Clause, the Mrs. Clause. It states that Santa must get married, by Christmas Eve, or he will no longer be Santa. So, with only 20-some days remaining until Christmas Eve, Scott Calvin goes back to mainland, if you will, to find a bride. (Sorry if that sounded Frankenstein-ish).
One of the things I admire about The Santa Clause 2 was how successful they were in recruiting the entire cast back to this sequel. While going on dates, and trying to meet possible candidates, he stays at his ex-wifeís (Wendy Crewson, reprising her role) house, her second husband Neil (Judge Reinhold, still wearing those horrible sweaters), and his son. Charlie, now 16, (still played by Eric Lloyd), is a frequent guest in Principal Newmanís office, at school. When Scott and Carol Newman first meet, their dislike for each other is obvious. But they soon begin to realize their feelings for each other.
While Santa is away, Curtis and head elf Bernard (who you will remember from the original) have developed an imposter Santa, a robot, who has the thinking capacity of the real Santa. This Santa seems to be the perfect idea, and works quite well. That is, until he checks the naughty/nice list twice, and comes to the conclusion that EVERY child has been naughty. Imposter Santa develops an army of huge toy soldiers to do his bidding, imprisons Bernard, and forces the elves to produce coal, instead of toys. Its now Scott/Santaís job to not only find a Mrs. Claus, but to stop this imposter Santa from delivering toys to every kid in the world.
Scott/Santaís quest for the future Mrs. Claus works very well. It includes a lot of puns, and a sweet and an amazingly tolerable courtship. Both Tim Allen and Elizabeth Mitchell do a well enough job with the romance scenes to make this part of the story believable and charming. The added tension between Charlie and his principal only makes the story more favorable.
My groans were audible when the story shifted the way of the Imposter Santa tale. It is so hard to swallow, that it single handedly turned this tale of love, Christmas style into a farce tale, that should be being played on Cartoon Network, rather than the Multiplex. There are some funny moments to this plot line, including Imposter Santaís General-esque garb, however, the story line just didnít work.
As I mentioned, all of the cast from the original Santa Clause returned for this second installment in the now classic Christmas series. Tim Allen, reprises his role as Santa/Imposter Santa/Scott Calvin. He does all to great success. However, when he is Scott Calvin, I sincerely hope he was wearing a fat suit. Because if not, he has certainly packed on the pounds since SC1. Tim Allen also plays his imposter at the North Pole, and it is in this role, where he gets to be more openly funny. The Imposter Santa talks like a robot on Prozac. As for the rest of this returning cast, they are all acceptable. Elizabeth Mitchell is genuinely charming as Principal Carol Newman. As are Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson is their surprisingly small parts. I was most surprised when I heard that Eric Lloyd would be returning to this film. There are only traces of the 8 year old Charlie left, however, 16 year old Charlie is suitable, but more importantly, likeable.
As I recall, The Santa Clause 2 has the earliest release date of any Christmas film ever. SC2 has been released November 1st, which, in my opinion is simply too early. Its obvious that releasing SC2 so early is too get its two big weekends in before the behemoth Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets hits theatres. While this has been financially lucrative for Disney, and will likely make SC2 surpass the (un-inflated) gross of SC1, it has left SC2 stranded at Christmas time. Due to its very early release date strategy, there have been very few showing at Christmas. But the bottom line is, the financial success of SC2 proves that you donít need to release a holiday film during that particular holiday season to be lucrative. Just look at Halloween: Resurrection, which was released in the middle of July.
In conclusion, it seems that one good plot line, cancels out the bad plot line, and has left us with a mediocre film. A movie that kids will no doubt adore, and however bad one half of the plot may be, The Santa Clause 2 makes for average to above average family fair. Be on the look out for Santa Clause 3 in 2010, just kidding...I hope...
© 2002 Jacob Sproul
Rating: (out of )