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The Santa Clause 2
Reviewed by Jason Myers, © 2002

Format: Movie
By:   Michael Lembeck (director)
Genre:   Fantasy/Christmas/Comedy
Released:   November 1, 2002
Review Date:   October 30, 2002
Audience Rating:   PG
RevSF Rating:   6/10 (What Is This?)

Does the world really need another movie about Santa Claus? Well, probably not. But as Santa Claus movies go, you could do a lot worse than The Santa Clause 2. It's a garish red and green stocking stuffed with well-worn chestnuts like toy workshops, giant tin soldiers, elfin children (and elves played by elfin children), snow, sleigh rides, and lessons about keeping the true spirit of Christmas. But if you're the type of person who's going to be a BahHumBugger about it, then what are you doing watching this movie in the first place?

I didn't see the first The Santa Clause, way back in 1994. As I recall, there was an attempt at a holiday extended-Myers-family trip to the movies that ended up with those over 40 opting for The Santa Clause, while those under 40 went to Star Trek: Generations. And I had no urge to see the sequel. But I've got this person in my life who bounces up and down and says "Christmas! Christmas!" just as Cindy-Lou-Whoish as you please, every time she so much as sees a holiday-themed commercial, or, frankly, anything that has to do with snow, because, being from California, she doesn't realize that snow is not a commodity that belongs solely to December 25th. And so, at her request, I took this person (she's my age, and I like to get her under the mistletoe) to see The Santa Clause 2

And I enjoyed it. From the pitch-perfect silent-running submarine gag at the beginning to the dancing Santa bit that runs with the credits.

Tim Allen plays this average Joe named Scott, who, eight years, ago, through some bit of holly jolly legalese mumbo jumbo called The Santa Clause, wound up inheriting the mantle (and beard, and bowl full of jelly belly) of Kris Kringle. Now he finds out that there's a bit of fine print called The Mrs. Clause, which states that, if he doesn't get married, he'll lose his Santa powers.

The romance rings surprisingly sweet and true, given the genre, and the whole "you have 30 days to get married" set-up. And there's a scene in which Santa teaches a bunch of mirthless grown-ups the sheer joy of regressing that had me grinning like a kid on Christmas morning. But wisely, the movie alternates some of the "Spirit of Christmas" stuff with scenes that focus on the wacky happenings up North (No, not Canada - the arctic spot with a big barber-striped pole sticking out of it), the details of which I'll not spoil for those good little boys and girls who know that rooting around in your parents' closet in late December is just not kosher.

And unlike some wacky holiday movies, The Santa Clause 2 is actually funny. Not squirt-milk-and-cookies-out-your-nose funny, but walk-out-of-the-theater-with-a-smile-on-your-face funny, maybe even in the "Bring on the yule tide, dude, 'cause I feel like-surfin" way. It's also cute, which is a word I usually use like a swear, but most of it works -- from the massive "We gave PCP to the guy who makes those expensive limited edition Christmas houses and then turned him loose" Santa's Workshop sets, to the very muppety reindeer, the slightly creepy (but funny) cherubic elf Curtis, the slightly creepy (but funny) grown-up elf Bernard, and the pixie-ish little elf who brings Santa his hot cocoa (there's a lot of cocoa drinking in this movie, and, really, who doesn't like cocoa?).

Though most of the sweet in The Santa Clause 2 is light and airy like a frosted cookie, there are some moments that set my teeth on edge, but the taste was usually washed away by the spiced apple cider of a well-timed visual gag or a wise-ass remark. Even cartoony bits that could have been nauseating were often saved by good players or smart writing. The meeting that Santa has with Mother Earth, Father Time (Peter Boyle), the Easter Bunny, Cupid (Kevin Pollak), the Sandman (Star Trek:TNG's Michael Dorn), and a tooth fairy who'd rather be called "The Tooth Guy" was a lot of fun, though it could have so easily been an excruciating experience (imagine the same scenario, but with Whoopi Goldberg, Carrot Top, Delta Burke, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, and Little Richard).

I have some of the usual complaints. Lots of pretty predictable stuff mixed in with the pleasant surprises. Also, Scott's family, though obviously not the main focus, were as flat and stale as a batch of month-old gingerbread men. And I don't care that Molly Shannon is trying to be annoying on purpose. Please, for the love of God, make her stop!

Overall, though, thumbs up. Not the best present you'll find under the tree this year, but not an itchy sweater or pack of tidy whities either.

RevSF Film/DVD Editor Jason Myers knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you've been bad or goodÖ 'cause he's sitting in a wheelchair with a telephoto lens.

 
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