Dating Santa
Santa Clause 2
Review by Ross Anthony

Just as Tim Allen (as Santa) toggles between plump and skinny, "Santa Clause 2" toggles between uninspired and magical. The holiday events transpire at two locations: Santa's underground (undersnow?) toy factory up at the North Pole and generictown, USA. Generally speaking, whenever the filmmakers take us up to the North Pole, the film descends in entertainment value. Despite great pains in set design, elf extras and special effects, this winter wonderland feels concocted and un-Christmassy. However, with Tim Allen back at home as Scott (Charlie's dad) the film soars, as if carried by flying reindeer.

It's my feeling that the script itself has been overly manipulated and compromised in an attempt to entertain kids, parents and even single teens/20's. The whole "battle over the elves," sort of a good Santa/bad Santa deal feels forced as to appease younger viewers. But this is a Christmas film, why play the so-oft used battle card? Apparently, cognizant of this nuance the film tries hard to underplay the bouts with snowballs etc., but elf power tools look like guns and Elf-Con 1 is reached in the first five minutes. Still, dangerously unmerry, this story line could have been redeemed; instead, the conflict resolves in Santa to Santa hand to hand combat. How unfortunate, especially when there were so many many creative Christmassy solutions.

But Christmas happens in the home and that's where this production finds its heart. Due to the "Mrs. Santa Clause" which states that Santa must find a wife before the 25th or the de-santification process will take away his beard, belly and vocation, Santa (as Scott) returns to his hometown reluctantly searching for a mate. Again, here, many many juicy opportunities for laughs abound. But instead of a chain of hysterically failed dating attempts, only one such is included, thereby forcing the true love option to progress too fast.

Fortunately, Elizabeth Mitchell, as Charlie's tough-skinned principal, performs powerfully, creating potent chemistry with the always amusing Tim Allen and making up for many cut pages of script. She's able to convey a range of emotions and develop artfully changes in moods in very short periods of screentime. In fact, the romance here, though limited in duration is as good as in a any other good romance film. And when Tim Allen spices up a dreary faculty Christmas party (an excellent scene) or a wee girl stops him in the park to tell him what presents she wants (as if he's Santa ... wink wink), well these are the kinds of moments the film should have showered itself with instead of the witless Santa-clash.

Besides the abbreviated love story line, Charlie's "acting out" problem has been unimpressively simplified and almost pushed to the side all together. Oh and lastly, this "Holiday" film plays host to a whole lot of lying -- by Charlie, by the Elves, by Santa. Unbecoming.

Despite these major Claus flaws, the film's major successes are truly magical and inspired. I don't care if you think I'm a wimp, but I got all choked up more than once and even shed a few tears of joy. That's what Christmas is about! So, I'll be content to mentally rewrite this production in my head, and remember it fondly (as I do the first one).

Note: Another recent film falling prey to this same unimpressive mix of Christmas + military is "Santa vs. the Snowman 3D." Could I be thinking a bit too conservatively here? Write in and let me know your thoughts:

  • Santa Clause 2. Copyright © 2002. Rated G.
  • Starring Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, David Krumholtz, Eric Lloyd.
  • Directed by Michael Lembeck.
  • Screenplay by Don Rhymer, Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio.
  • Story by Leo Benvenuti & Steve Rudnick.
  • Produced by Brian Reilly, Bobby Newmyer, Jeffrey Silver at Disney/Boxing Cat.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:53:21 PDT