The Santa Clause
directed by John Pasquin
(Walt Disney, 1994)

Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, a divorced toy designer who doesn't get along with his ex-wife, Laura, or her new husband, Neil. He doesn't even get along particularly well with his very bright son Charlie. Scott is dismayed to learn, however, that Laura and Neil have just told Charlie that Santa Claus does not exist. Scott spends the rest of the night trying to convince Charlie that there is a Santa.

Later that night, Charlie is awakened by a clattering (and a thumping and bumping) from the roof and he awakens his father in excitement. Upon investigation, Scott finds on his roof an intruder dressed all in red and white, who slips and falls off the roof when Scott startles him. All he carries for identification is a card that proclaims him to be Santa Claus and solemnly advises that if anything happens to him, whoever finds him should put on his suit. The reindeer know what to do.

Needless to say, Charlie and Scott end up in the sleigh, with Scott wearing the suit. And that's when he finds out the answers to some age-old questions, including, "How does Santa get into houses that don't have a chimney?" That's when he also learns that he is expected to fill Santa's very large suit and become the new Santa Claus.

The Santa Clause is an unexpectedly sweet movie that is not only about Christmas, but about a father's love for his son. Tim Allen is surprisingly good as a man struggling to keep his son's sense of wonder alive and yet still keep him grounded in reality, while trying to make sense of changes to himself in the wake of his new commitment (the beard that grows in one day, the forty-five pounds he gains in one week, the hair that goes first grey, then white, and will not be dyed).

This is a great family movie, not too cloying for adults and it doesn't talk down to children. It's also great for people who, like me, have no children (unless one counts the kitten who likes to paw at the television screen). Go rent or buy it and give it a try.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]

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