Written by: Leo Benvenuti & Steve Rudnick
Starring: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, Peter Boyle
Finding out the truth about Santa Claus comes at a different age for many kids as it nearly represents at what point they hit a stage in their development where they can handle the truth. It becomes a time when their sense of magic gets substituted for the reality that will dominate much of their existence from then on. This belief and how it shifts serves as one of the many threads in the still-humorous and enjoyable The Santa Clause.
Partially disconnected from his young son due to work commitments following his divorce, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) gets to spend Christmas Eve with him. On the night, he sees Santa Claus on the roof and his calling out causes Santa to fall to his death. After putting on the coat, it appears Scott will turn into Santa Claus due to the contract clause involved with wearing it.
Of the many reasons why Scott would become Santa because of the events transpiring in the movie, the idea it comes as part of a clause in a contract referenced in the name of the mythical figure never gets old. Something so clever but leads this man into quite the journey both physically and emotionally in connection with his son. I guess that would happen to anyone who found themselves in this situation of suddenly becoming Santa Claus where they go from persona non grata to the person every kid wants to hear from.
As this transformation begins, the narrative asks the question of what would happen if someone were to turn into Santa Claus out in the open without anyone knowing the truth. Scott’s sudden weight gain certainly catches the eye of many including the very fatphobic coworkers who judge his lunch choices. The most impactful of the issues arising from this change comes from Scott’s ex-wife and her new husband. His transformation into Santa Claus gives the appearance of him trying to win over the favor of his son. Certainly, something appearing damning and not developmentally helpful except for Santa Claus being real in this world.
This whole battle then becomes quite silly because, in a world where Santa Claus actually exists, these parents should realize there are presents under the tree not purchased by them. Something this film never feels the need to address nor does it need to but it certainly gives you something to think about. The entire issue of Charlie (Eric Lloyd) believing in Santa Claus becomes a focal point of the story, which becomes silly as it becomes an affront to these parents that Charlie would still believe at his age as if it’s a crime to do so with Scott further enabling it.
With this venture into turning into Santa, we get an introduction to the North Pole and how it actually works. The elves have the appearance of children but have aged into the hundreds, which makes them older than Santa Claus funnily enough. They all have a sweetness to them as one can expect as they dedicate their elongated lives to building toys for children. A smoothly operating machine one could say, which goes along with the answers this film wants to present to how Santa operates. Questions like, how can Santa actually deliver gifts to all children in one night or how does he get down very thin chimneys or houses not having one? You’ve got questions, well this film wants to supply the answers.
Despite many of the silly things occurring in this feature, it all comes down to a lovely father-son story filled with plenty of heart. You have the cynically cold heart of someone like Scott completely melt away when he sees the magic of Christmas and how it impacts his son so positively. This remains the lasting legacy of this movie, which the later films completely lose sight of and suffer because of it.
A seminal Christmas film to watch during the season, The Santa Clause speaks on the power of believing and the magic still exists with Santa Claus no matter your age. It certainly has some aged comedic moments but much of it still lands very well because the characters care for each other and thus so do we. Truly magical in every sense and still very much enjoyable all of these years later.