J.D. Lafrance
Santa Claus: The Movie DVD Review

Santa Claus: The Movie

May 1, 2005

Director: Jeannot Szwarc,
Starring: Dudley Moore, John Lithgow, David Huddleston, Burgess Meredith, Judy Cornwell, Jeffrey Kramer, Christian Fitzpatrick, Carrie Kei Heim, John Barrard, Anthony O'Donnell, Melvyn Hayes, Don Estelle, Tim Stern, Peter O'Farrell, Christopher Ryan, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Christmas is a time of year that seems to stimulate many a good scribe to churn out a script based around the holiday season. Television will be bombarded with crap Christmas Specials of successful sitcoms, somewhere ‘The Snowman’ will be broadcast again, and if you’re really unlucky, the family will be inspired to sit down together and watch ‘Jingle All The Way’. Unlike most high-spirited Christmas movies ‘Santa Clause: The Movie’ really embraces all aspects of what Christmas could mean for the modern viewer of any age group. All the magic that you felt as a child waking up to find that presents had appeared around the tree is contained within this movie, and without mentioning the birth of Jesus Christ once.

We open some time around the 16th Century, with an old peasant man braving a bitter snowstorm to deliver hand carved wooden dolls to local children on Christmas Day. Armed with his sleigh pulled by two reindeer he manages to get lost and wakes up in the enchanting world of the elves who grants him everlasting life and in return he must deliver toys to children all over the world. Thus the legend is born and the customary events begin. But that’s just the first half of the movie……..

Now we fast-forward to the end of the 20th Century, 1985 to be exact, and toy stores and greeting card shops have taken over the scene. Leading the charge is John Lithgow’s grinch-like character B.Z. – a toy manufacturer who is about to go bust for selling defective toys and is on the verge of selling a new vision to the public, a sequel to the festive season, Christmas 2!!!!!!! This second Christmas is to take place in March and have consumers buying B.Z. candy canes laced with the magic dust that enables Santa’s reindeer to fly, provided by Dudley Moore’s ex-Santa’s little helper called Patch.

Although released in 1985, the story still holds true, perhaps even more so in today’s modern society. Children will marvel at the amazement of seeing the legend of how the position of the jolly bearded present giver is filled. The scrooges amongst an audience will revel in the homeless boy trying to find shelter and food through out the cold winter nights and the older, wiser generation will find humour in how the story comments on the commercialism and how the money hungry tycoons manipulate the season’s good tides. So something for the whole family to enjoy wrapped in a truly magical adventure.

The magic is brought to us through the combination of the writers and director, whose previous work just screams ‘magical’ and ‘adventure’. The writers David and Leslie Newman made a name for themselves with scripts for ‘Superman I, II and III’ and also the smooth criminal segment in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. The experience pays off in ‘Santa Clause’, as the two-part structure seems to work almost seamlessly and the wondrous pace never lets up and crams as much ‘action’ into a relatively short space of time. On the down side, you could pick holes in the story till the reindeer came home, but given that the target audience is pre-pubescent teens and families, we can easily overlook the flaws without damaging the product. Whereas Director Jeannot Szwarc experience with special effects on ‘Jaws 2’ and ‘Supergirl’ really helped to bring the charm of flying reindeer to life.

You can’t imagine anyone else but David Huddleson as Santa after seeing this movie, he really becomes the character, but it’s not strong enough to hold the entire film. Neither is Dudley Moore’s best ever performance and it comes to John Lithgow to inject the acting life needed, but he has limited screen time.

All this talent attached to one movie and no one manages to really shine. Still, this is the best Christmas movie ever made and probably always will be. No sign of Rudolph though.

Special Features

The extras are pretty weak and that goes for the menu screen as well. There are two Trailers that look really dated – unlike the film, but you can laugh at the sheer eighties-ness of them. Finally there’s a pretty good and informative Making of, lasting for fifty minutes and introduced by Dudley Moore. This feature will take you through the process of creating the special effects including the animatronics for the reindeer and the training for the real reindeer.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 61%



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