I know I may seem like a bit of a Christmas Grinch with my first bit of Christmas reviewing, but fear not, for it is time to switch gears. I decided to do a bit of a nostalgia trip with this one, which I haven't actually watched since its initial video release in late 1995, making me 13 at the time.
I was just starting to lose some of that Christmas magic, but this movie came along and reinvigorated the spirit within. I remember loving it at the time, feeling like a kid again (as far as that can go at 13), and even going so far as to imagine how lucky the kid in this was to have Santa as his Dad and be able to visit the North Pole etc. I may have been the age I was, but I could still appreciate what Christmas magic was to a younger kid.
What's truly heartwarming to see is that this film, since its release, has become a Christmas classic in its own right. At the time of its release, friends and I avoided seeing it in theaters based on it getting pretty terrible reviews. And though the film is by no means perfect, such reviews were a little too harsh for this one, based on what it was trying to be - a simple, heartwarming story, mostly aimed at kids with a few adult gags to keep an adult audience captivated. From my perspective, it sorta bridged a gap between childhood and adulthood, and I still say it's a great, harmless family flick.
The story, for those who may not have seen it, involves toy maker and businessman Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) who has been separated from his wife Laura (Wendy Crewson). He still manages to spend time with his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), but also has to deal with Laura's new man in her life, Neal (Judge Reinhold), who we all love to hate. Neal feels that Charlie is too old to believe in Santa, and seems to want to take the illusion away. He's also a child psychologist, so that makes absolutely no sense to me, and makes me hate him so much more. And oh yes, Scott interjects enough to mention that a kid having an imagination is a great thing.
On Christmas Eve, while Charlie is visiting his Dad, he hears a clatter on the roof and wakes his Dad up. Scott goes to check it out, finds Santa, scares him, and causes him to fall off the roof to his death. As a result, Scott must now take Santa's place, as part of the "Santa Clause". Somehow or another he manages to finish Santa's work that night (I think?) and makes it to the North Pole where he meets head elf Bernard (David Krumholtz). He wakes up Christmas morning believing it all to be a dream, but as the next year unfolds leading up to Christmas, Scott transforms both in physical body and spirit, becoming the next Santa Claus.
Going back and watching this as an adult, it's a little more difficult to get through, and some of it feels dated, especially when it comes to the early CG effects. But with that said, I'm thankful to say that I could look past anything kinda bad about this movie, and realize that is has some great heart to it. It's more about two things here, Charlie's chance to have a normal childhood in believing in Santa, and giving Scott a chance to grow as not only a human being, but a loving father. It's a film that goes to show that there's absolutely nothing wrong with believing in the magic of Christmas, whether you're a kid or adult.
It's not without a few issues, but I feel like the heart of this movie overshadows any problems it may have, and it has since become one of the more spiritual Christmas movies out there today. I see several people adding it to their Christmas list of annual movie binging, and I'll probably revisit it a few times more now. Even if it doesn't make my list of regulars, it's a nice reminder of what Christmas is about when you're a kid, and so much of it is about the only mysterious, bearded man you'd ever actually want breaking into your house. I had lots of fun watching this again for the first time in about twenty-four years.