The Santa Clause 2 (2002) Walt Disney Pictures
1 hr. 45 mins.
Starring: Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Eric Lloyd, David Krumholtz, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Peter Boyle, Michael Dorn, Molly Shannon, Spencer Breslin
Directed by: Michael Lembeck

The Santa Clause 2



Photo: Walt Disney

So the remaining question is this: will audiences say “Bah, humbug” to the immensely popular Tim Allen holiday hoot in the form of highly spunky The Santa Clause 2? It has been nearly a decade since the then hot commodity Home Improvement television sitcom star Allen won a load of box office Christmas cheer when he appeared as the put-upon replacement for Old Saint Nick after killing off the big guy in the original high-spirited and top-grossing seasonal flick. Now pot-bellied protagonist Scott Calvin (Allen) is back once again to ensure the happiness of his youthful charges by donning the big red suit in hopes of recapturing that same movie magic that previously propelled Allen as a bone fide big screen hot shot. After a string of recent forgettable snoozers in the likes of disjointed ditties such as Who Is Cletus Tout? and Big Trouble, Allen hopes to rebound with the same merry-making formula that gave him considerable birth to a promising movie career back in 1994.

Well, in director Michael Lembeck’s half-hearted and spotty charming follow-up, the innocuous film wants to engage the audience in its anemic giddiness and silly-minded doses. But The Santa Clause 2 never lives up to the genuine quirky energy or snappy spontaneous surge experienced in its pleasingly profitable predecessor. Instead, this assuredly lame retread stocks itself with unoriginal and cheap slapstick violence, cloying performances from the movie’s players looking like they’d rather be in a fifth grade production of The Three Wise Men, and ridiculously forced sight gags and smirking jokes that wouldn’t melt a snow flake on a Sears hotplate (anyone feel like cracking up over a farting reindeer?).

The running premise is still in tact as Calvin continues to fulfill his obligation of playing the jolly ole’ big guy courtesy of some cockeyed contract that binds him to this confining role. Apparently Calvin is under scrutiny as he has to ensure the swift conveyor belt mentality of making certain that his busy-as-a-beaver elves led by both Bernard and Curtis (David Krumholtz and Spencer Breslin) are ready to take on the hectic toy-making endeavors just before the Christmas season gets underway.

Among the other matters at hand that Calvin has to contend with is his Santa-related “clause” that’s dangerously in violation. First Calvin is mysteriously losing his needed weight. Then he’s abruptly reminded that he needs to search for a bride—a Mrs. Clause if you will—by the approaching deadline of Christmas Eve. And as if this isn’t enough to get Rudolph’s nose more of a fire engine red, Calvin has to deal with the fact that his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) has been added to the infamous “naughty” list thanks to a host of rebellious hostilities that he’s routinely acting out. Obviously all this turmoil has Calvin more perplexed than your crazy drunken uncle Al getting spiked by some nasty-tasting egg nog!

And so Calvin is off on his mandatory field trip to smooth things over by killing two birds with one stone—first he has to investigate his troubled son’s recent bout with delinquency then secondly look for the ideal gal to fit the role of his desired wife. Enter stone cold high school principal Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell), a rigid but attractive woman who seriously needs to loosen up some. Carol is looking to put the squeeze on bad boy Charlie in the discipline department. And how convenient that the emotionally distant Carol became so hardened ever since her parents made her cynical about the non-existence of Santa Claus? Hmmm…you don’t have to be as cozy as a mitten on a frostbitten hand to see where this predictable merger of a beleaguered father/Santa Claus wannabe and edgy educator with a St. Nick hang-up complex is going to end up at.

Meanwhile, back at North Pole headquarters, the devious pair of Bernard and Curtis has an evil-minded Santa cloned so that the rest of the elves are under the impression that Scott Calvin’s Santa Claus is still running the show while the real man is back in the States taking care of his unfinished personal business. Strangely enough, the phony task-master Santa Claus will probably remind movie audiences how fun it is for the lead star Allen to portray duel roles of good and bad Father Christmas (a la Mike Myers in the Austin Powers film series taking on several naughty personas with abandoned glee). Anyway, it doesn’t take long for the Evil Cloned Santa Claus to wreak havoc and manipulate the disillusioned elves to his unwarranted and ill-advised philosophies in exploiting Christmas for his selfish gain.

The Santa Clause 2 chugs along and gets as much mileage as it can from the trimmed down and shockingly trite material. Interestingly enough, there’s a string of exasperatingly attached scenes that follow one another in thudding methodical fashion. For the most part, the kiddies will succumb to the feel good themes of this jolly fable meant to tap into the commercialism of the holiday spirit. And Disney, the distributor for this particular movie, definitely knows about capitalizing on its commercial success through ambitious product placing tactics. This whole showcase doesn’t feel as much a frolicking family film as it does an elaborate marketing scheme. Hey, why not go to the well one more time? If the first film sparked an incredible financial frenzy (to the tune of $145 million dollars) in the mid-nineties, then why can’t the filmmakers count on lightening striking twice in the millennium-released sequel?

One can probably see why Allen would find returning to this cinema safety net a sure thing. And it’s not a bad gamble considering one gaining back their artistic respectability in an expressionistic but limp kiddie comedy with the potential to do some major damage at the box office before the actual holiday season gets into full swing. Some scenes pack a decent punch in The Santa Clause 2 (see Allen have a wicked time as the sinning Santa) while others play like some silly-minded surrealistic sideshow (when Santa meets fellow clichéd icons Mother Nature, Cupid, the Tooth Fairy, Father Time, the Sandman, and the Easter Bunny). The film felt glaringly boorish and the love connection of Allen and Mitchell had all the romanticism of a choo choo train without batteries.

Why The Santa Clause 2 felt that it could offer more joyous laughs in an otherwise flat-out perfunctory puff of wind is beyond my comprehension. This is more or less an inert gem looking for its shiny dimensions. Consequently, this particular Santa left me coal in my stinking stocking!

Click here to comment on this review or post your own thoughts.

Frank Ochieng


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