Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 12/23/00
The Santa Clause
1994 (1998) - Disney
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/D
Specs and Features
97 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided,
single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu
screens, theatrical trailer, scene access (17 chapters), languages:
English (DD 5.1), French (DD 2.0), subtitles: None
"Not too hot.
Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred."
Some people have said Hollywood just doesn't make classic movies
anymore. I'd beg to differ and The Santa
Clause is one reason why. Now, before you go throwing
things at me and start asking where my sanity went, I'll tell you
why I think this movie is a classic. You see, it's not just a
classic. It's OUR classic - a true tale of our times.
It's a Wonderful Life was
great (and still is), but times have changed. Divorce is as much the
norm as happily married parents celebrating their golden
anniversary. Cynicism pervades our culture, even down to eternal
icons like Santa Claus, and that's a bit sad. You see, I'd be
willing call The Santa Clause
the ultimate postmodern Christmas flick, but it isn't. It's a
beckoning call to return to our roots, to learn our lessons and to
live together with peace on Earth and goodwill towards men. It says
all that in a very modern kind of way. It's the post-post-modern
Christmas flick, and it's cool man. Oh yeah, very cool!
Let's start with the story. Tim Allen (of Home
Improvement fame) is Scott Calvin, a divorced father who
works for a toy company, ruthlessly marketing their products to
kids. His son, Charlie, is spending Christmas Eve with him, and
neither of them is terribly excited. When Santa shows up, however,
things go a bit awry. First, Santa slips and falls off the roof, so
to make his son happy (and shut him up) Scott tosses on the Santa
suit and climbs up on the roof to check out the reindeer. An "oopsy"
here and an "uh-oh" there lead to father and son
delivering all the toys for the fat guy. What Scott Calvin doesn't
know, is that putting on the suit made him subject to the Santa
Clause (as in contractual obligation). Seems that he's the new big
guy... and boy does he start showing it. How does gaining 45 pounds
in a week sound to you? Of course, all of this is not what our
tool-man planned on and he's about to lose any chance to see his son
again, because everybody thinks he's gone loco!
The bottom line is this movie is a bit formulaic, but it's damned
cute and pretty funny to boot. Tim Allen shows why he's a well-paid
comedian, and the premise is played out perfectly. We even get very
clever and amusing gags and explanations of all the questions your
kids have about Christmas. Like, "How does a fat guy get down a
chimney when the house has no chimney?" No, it isn't a classic
in the way Miracle on 34th Street
is a classic. But it still manages to take all the cynicism and
telltale signs of our post-modern age and turn them on their head in
an honest plea to learn to live with and love each other. It even
manages to be light and fully digestible in getting the point
across, and you won't have to work off the pounds after the New
Not to mention that it looks pretty decent on DVD. It doesn't look
great, but it's still quite watchable. The colors could be more
vibrant at times and there is a little bit of artifacting here. The
film also is a little on the warm side, meaning that the transfer
might have been color timed a little bit better. But on the whole,
the video holds up quite well throughout. The magical atmosphere of
Christmas (and the North Pole we all dream of) is perfectly conveyed
in the richly textured sets. The sound is solid too, delivering a
nicely mixed soundtrack and decent 5.1 sound effects. It could be
better, and it certainly won't knock you out, but it's sufficiently
spatial to get the job done. And the kids will love the music.
And then we hit the extras. This is a Christmas flick, so we're
looking for all sorts of stocking stuffer goodness, right? Well,
this must be Charlie Brown's stocking then, 'cause all you get here
is a trailer and some suggestions as to other titles you might like.
In other words, a stocking full of rocks. Oh, did I mention the
trailer? I guess Santa laid-off a few elves or something.
Still, don't let the dearth of extras deter you.
The Santa Clause is a great
little Christmas film, that I believe will stand the test of time.
So rush out into the snow, climb up your "Arose suchac"
ladder, hop in the sleigh and call upon your reindeer to get you to
the nearest video store. This is definitely a good DVD stocking
stuffer. Just remember - if you see a fat guy laying in your yard,
don't try on his suit.