The Santa Clause is a 1994 film that spawned two sequels and stars Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson and David Krumholtz. It was written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick (Space Jam) and directed by John Pasquin who also directed Allen in many episodes of Home Improvement.
Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a successful toy designer in Lakeside, Illinois who is set to have his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) stay at his house on Christmas Eve. His ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her boyfriend Neal (Judge Reinhold) aren’t very happy about it and Charlie isn’t too thrilled either. Scott ends up burning dinner and the two end up with all the other single dads at Denny’s. When Scott reads The Night Before Christmas to Charlie, Charlie asks what a “Rose Suchak Ladder” is and Scott tries to explain. Despite all of his flaws, he still tries to help Charlie believe in Santa, much to Neal and Laura’s dismay.
During the night, Scott hears something on the roof and goes to investigate, spooking Santa and causing him to fall off the roof and die. Charlie convinces him to put on Santa’s suit and Scott eventually gives in, causing both he and Charlie to go house-to-house delivering toys as Santa. Eventually, they arrive at the North Pole where head elf Bernard tells him about The Santa Clause – Scott is now Santa and has 11 months before he has to be back at work again.
Scott wakes up and thinks it is just a dream but Charlie knows better. He tells Neal, his mom, and his class that Scott is Santa which lands everybody in the principal’s office. Eventually, Scott convinces Charlie to keep it as their secret, but as the year progresses, Scott gets fatter and starts growing facial hair daily. Scott now has a full white beard and white hair, weighs over 192 lbs and Laura is convinced he is doing all of it just to make Charlie like him more.
Neal and Laura take Charlie to see a judge who terminates Scott’s visitation rights, but on Christmas Eve he goes to Neal’s house where he is arrested. The elves send a rescue team and Scott is able to continue giving out presents, eventually going back to Neal’s house where he gives both Laura and Neal the Christmas presents they never received as children. Laura burns the judge’s papers and Scott takes off, but later comes back when Charlie shakes the snow globe. Laura says Charlie can go with him the rest of the night and they take off to complete the rounds.
This is the first Christmas film Eric Lloyd appeared in, with the second one being A Christmas Memory which I also reviewed. He would go on to do other Christmas movies including The Santa Clause 2 and 3 reprising his role as Calvin. Judge Reinhold would also go on to do an uncountable number of Christmas films with his last being Four Christmases and a Wedding.
While it received a fairly good reaction during its initial release it has since gone on to become a family classic. It was even released in 1,581 theaters in 2020 grossing another $711,000. Tim Allen was the familiar Tim Taylor-type of character from Home Improvement, even belting out his “Ho Ho ho’s” in the film like his TV character. The entire film from the writing, acting, editing and musical score complement each other wonderfully making it a film the entire family can enjoy together.
Apparently, there is some controversy with the film, however. In the theatrical release, Laura gives Scott a note with Neal’s phone number on it and Scott says “1-800-SPANK-ME.” This was a real sex-line number and a child from Washington State called it and received a $400 phone bill. In the Disney+ and TV broadcasts, the number was changed to 1-800-POUND.
A great Christmas film, I can recommend it without question. Right now you can stream it on Disney+ or purchase it from iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon Prime.