The Santa Clause: Parent Review

The Santa Clause | PG | 1 hour 37 minutes | Comedy, Drama, Family, Christmas | November 11, 1994

When Scott Calvin startles Santa into falling off his roof, the magic of Christmas forcefully recruits him to take the fat man’s place.

The Santa Clause: What parents need to know

The Santa Clause is not a terrible Christmas movie. Tim Allen was at the top of his manliness prime when it came out in the 90’s. And it’s refreshingly not totally saccharine like Noelle and Hallmark Christmas movies are.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t leave you with things to think about as a parent. As with other movies of the 90s, there were things in The Santa Clause that movies today would not include, such as:

  • drinking references
  • a comment about an attractive woman being very “nice”
  • a reference to Tim Allen’s previous drug use

The horror! How could I let my 5 year old watch such insanity? I’ve already caught her sneaking booze and cat calling women… so much for a fun family film.

But what is truly perturbing is a small, neglected detail of the film. Why does not one elf seem to give a crap about the fact that Scott Calvin inadvertently killed Santa? And what did they do with that Santa’s Mrs. Clause (a point explored, of course, in its sequel The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause)?

Why don’t the elves care that Santa died?

Seriously, it’s pretty perturbing that not one tear is shed for the previous Santa. Did they not like him? Was he a prick?

The elves all pretty much take the death in stride. Which begs the question: how many Santa’s have you sick elves gone through? Your boss just died and its business as usual, minus the clear inconvenience of having to train a new Santa?

The nerve of some people! Dying unexpectedly and leaving a rookie to take over. Honestly, Bernard (the head, clearly dead inside elf) seriously just seems pissed that he has to go through the hassle of on-boarding a newbie. But hey, maybe he’s like many folks and wishes his boss was dead – only this time it actually came true.

Then there is the scene where Scott is literally asking the head tech guy if the new suit has a safety feature to keep him alive if he falls of the the roof. The scene is meant to be funny because they largely ignore his worry.

But maybe that’s a sick game the elves play. Get a new chump each year to become Santa and see how long he lasts. Like a Christmas Eve Hunger Games or some other messed up premise.

What happened to Mrs. Clause?

Perhaps more perturbing then the elves not caring about the dead Santa is the thought of what they did with the deceased Santa’s wife. In theory, he must have had one if it is one of the clauses that Scott Calvin had to abide by in The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause.

So where is she? What did they do to her? Is that part of their sick game? Do they take her out back and put her down like a lame horse?

And do any of the elves get attached to her and give her the White Fang treatment? “Go on! Get!” as they shove her ass out into the bitter cold of the North Pole with or without limited supplies.

Though, in fairness, maybe this guy was only on the job for a year or so because that’s as long as any Santa has ever lasted. Maybe the Mrs. Clause hadn’t kicked in yet.

The Santa Clause: Parent Review
Tim Allen Disney's The Santa Clause

Movie title: The Santa Clause

Movie description: When Scott Calvin startles Santa into falling off his roof, the magic of Christmas forcefully recruits him to take the fat man's place.

Date published: November 11, 1994

Country: United States

Duration: 1 hour 37 minutes

Director(s): John Pasquin

Actor(s): Tim Allen - Scott Calvin, Judge Reinhold - Neal, Wendy Crewson - Laura, Eric Lloyd - Charlie, David Krumholtz - Bernard, Larry Brandenburg -Detective Nunzio, Mary Gross - Ms. Daniels, Paige Tamada - Elf-Judy, Peter Boyle - Mr. Whittle, Judith Scott - Susan, Jayne Eastwood - Waitress, Melissa King - Little Girl, Bradley Wentworth - Elf at North Pole, Azura Bates - Elf in Hangar, Joshua Satok - Elf-Larry

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family, Christmas

Overall
2.8
  • Plot
    (3)
  • Characters
    (2)
  • Watchability
    (3.5)
User Review
  • Plot
    Sending
  • Characters
    Sending
  • Watchability
    Sending

Dad's Take

As family Christmas movies go, The Santa Clause is not that bad. At least the first go or two of it anyway. Its high point is adding to a new origin story, of sorts, for Santa to the genre.

It also mimics better story telling not often expected in a Christmas movie. You have Scott Calvin go through a definitive character arch. Largely from one stereotype working, divorcee to a stereotypical Santa. But, you know, there is still an arch there.

The story is also mostly amusing for an adult and seems to entertain a 5 year old with the “fantasy” of how a new Santa is created. Never mind that the reason is incredibly morbid and completely ignored. But I want to know why no one cared that the last Santa died.

My best theory still is that the elves hold a sort of silent, unspoken Santa Games – a jolly Yuletide tradition of seeing how long the next Santa can last before coming to an unfortunate demise. My guess is they record the deaths and have secret viewings of them. There is probably a whole underground gambling ring dedicated to taking bets on how long the Santa can last and how he will die…

And then there are parts in The Santa Clause that are so cheesy they are instant classics for just how stupid they are. For example, later in the movie when Scott is arrested, the elves deploy – ready for this – E. L. F. S. (otherwise known as Effective Liberating Flight Squad) – to save Santa. I can’t make that crap up, but apparently Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick, the movie’s writers, can. 

Guess that’s why they write movies and I just watch them, over think them, and then write half-assed reviews on them. Seriously though, The Santa Clause takes a good detour from Christmas movies that you can find on Hallmark, is not another adaptation of The Grinch, is worlds above movies like Santa Buddies, and is not a claymation special. 

Chances are also good that if your child believes in Santa Clause, they will find the fantasy element engaging. Though you could mostly guess the plot from the title alone and it pulls literally zero curve balls, it still is a mostly entertaining Christmas movie with some adult oriented humor to keep the parents happy-ish. 

Pros

Tim Allen has a decent, dry sense of humor

Plot is interesting enough

Some genuinely funny parts, even if they are not intentionally funny

Kids seem to get caught in fantasy element

Cons

Re-watching it time and time again is not as enjoyable

If you are a sensitive person to having your precious child exposed to mild sexuality, drug references, and drinking, you probably should avoid The Santa Clause

We never find out why the elves do not care that the previous Santa died

Nathan

Nathan is not a published author, professional movie critic, or avid fan of most children shows. He is a caring father (when he's not banging his head against the wall), a movie connoisseur of sorts literally able to have full conversations in movie and TV quotes, and dedicated to helping other parents avoid starting a show with their small children that they will soon regret. In his free time, he does nothing. He has two small children. Free time does not exist.

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