Santa Clause 2, The (United States, 2002)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

The Santa Clause 2 is a worthy successor to the original 1994 film – that is to say, anyone under age 10 will be enchanted; anyone over age 10 will have trouble stifling their boredom. The movie has a laudable quality or two, but overestimating the audience's intelligence is not one of them. Even the so-called "clever" moments of satire (such as the opening segment, in which Santa's workshop must avoid detection from a nearby plane) are too juvenile to be considered suitable for adults.

The movie begins with Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), the newest Santa Claus, preparing for his annual rounds. This year, he has two problems – his teenage son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), is on the "naughty" list, and his head elf, Bernard (David Krumholtz), has informed him, that, in order to keep the waistline and the beard, he has to find a Mrs. Claus. That's right, it's the "Missus Clause." (Ho! Ho! Ho!) And he only has four weeks. Once Christmas Eve arrives, if he isn't hitched, neither will the sleigh be, and greedy, materialistic children everywhere will be left weeping and gnashing their teeth. So, leaving the North Pole in the care of a facsimile of himself, Santa Scott heads south, and sparks fly the moment he meets Charlie's attractive-but-repressed principal, Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell). Wonder with whom Santa is going to choose to spend all those cold, lonely North Pole nights?

As a sappy, family-oriented romantic comedy, The Santa Clause 2 isn't too bad, but, figuring that kids might not be too interested in Santa smooching, the filmmakers felt the need to introduce two frighteningly bad subplots. The first involves the plastic-and-rubber Santa stand-in who turns out to have dictatorial tendencies. The second is a painfully trite bit of character building that wallows in Scott's angst at being an absentee father. Charlie is misbehaving at school; it must be Scott's fault because he's away "on business" all the time.

Tim Allen, who has largely been out of the spotlight since the conclusion of his TV series, "Home Improvement", plays Scott as an infinitely more likable guy than in the first film. Elizabeth Mitchell has no problem with the simplistic role of the Scrooge who learns to listen to the ghosts of Christmas past. Eric Lloyd, as the result of 8 years of natural aging, looks nothing like he did in the original The Santa Clause. Also back for return engagements are Wendy Crewson as Scott's ex, and Judge Reinhold as her new husband.

The director is Michael Lembeck, a TV veteran who is making his feature debut. He clearly wasn't given much of a budget to work with. The special effects are bad enough to be embarrassing. When compared to the imaginative majesty of Whoville in Ron Howard's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa's North Pole looks nothing short of cheesy. Whatever money Disney invested in this project must have gone to pay Allen and the small army of writers employed to develop the so-called screenplay.

The Santa Clause 2 is entirely inoffensive, so it makes for perfect family fare – but only if the children are young enough to be indiscriminating about what they're seeing. Most parents are used to making sacrifices for their children. Electing to accompany them to a showing of The Santa Clause 2 is just another of the joys of being a mother or father.

Santa Clause 2, The (United States, 2002)

Run Time: 1:40
U.S. Release Date: 2002-11-01
MPAA Rating: "PG" (Nothing Offensive)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1