Movie Review – ‘Santa Clause 2’

Tim Allen does it again. He not only plays Santa Claus convincingly, but is warm and funny without being saccharine or sappy. In "Santa Clause 2" the jolly elf in the red suit appears with a cast of children and puppets and makes something magical.

The viewer doesn't have to have seen the original "Santa Clause" to catch up to the sequel.

It’s set in the North Pole workshop, where the elves are busily making toys and Santa is helping with any production problems. Every once in a while they all go out and play touch football, just for fun. There is a busy, festive, productive atmosphere where humor and good fun are encouraged, but they do good work, also, because it’s about the people they are there to help. Sort of like an ideal church office.

The drama starts when one of the chief elves discovers an obscure clause in the “Santa Clause” contract: Santa must be married by midnight Christmas Eve, which is only a month away. How can he be two places at once? The clever and industrious elves manage to manufacture a fake Santa, kind of like a combination between Frankenstein and Hal the computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” He looks almost real, but his lack of true humanity prevents him from becoming anything but a caricature of humanity. And the caricature is the “dark side,” the evil, sinister and cynical side.

Meanwhile, our happy-go-lucky Santa is “de-Santa-ized.” He loses his bear, and his glowing red complexion. His hair turns dark again, and he loses weight like crazy. In other words, he turns back into — Tim Allen. He tries a blind date, but it’s a disaster. He has to work with his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), because Charlie’s been “acting out” at his school, and his principal, Mrs. Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell), has no patience. She’s a strict disciplinarian and a hard taskmaster, just like that manufactured Santa Claus has become. In fact, the fake Santa’s become so determined to control everything that he’s made some huge wooden soldiers as a private “security guard.” And he’s decided that the children of the world are all so naughty that they’re going to get coal. He gleefully begins to convert the elves’ toy workshop into a coal bin, which darkens not only the elves’ hands and faces, but their spirits, too.

Will Santa find a Mrs. Claus in time to meet the deadline of the Mrs. Clause? Will the Nazi Santa take over the North Pole? Will Christmas be ruined? Will anybody ever believe in Santa again?

Of course we know the answers to all those questions before we even begin. But the fun is in the journey. Despite the bad jokes about reindeer gas, there are some genuinely comic moments in this film. There’s even a gentle parody of the Jedi Council, except this time we have Father Time, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Cupid and Mother Nature. And best of all, here’s an optimistic view of the world: where gifts are lavished freely, like grace; where children are loved and valued by people other than their parents; and where fairy tales are more than true — they carry an authentic ring of truth.

Posted Dec. 13, 2002

Ron Salfen is pastor, Westminster church, Dallas.

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