Directed by Michael Lembeck (Directorial Debut)
November 1, 2002
For the past eight years Scott Calvin has been Santa but when his magic unexpectedly starts to fade, he learns that there is one clause he has missed and now Scott must find a Mrs. Claus.
Tim Allen returns to the role of Scott Calvin/Santa Claus. Allen is once again great in the part that gave him a film career. Added though to his Christmas repertoire this time around is the dual role as the film’s villain-the replacement Toy Santa. He is delightfully deranged as the duplicate created to fool the elves while he goes searching for a wife. This Toy Santa goes all Christmas themed control freak. In that regard this film is a bit more absurd than the original film. It is a bit bizarre and dare I say surreal watching a mini dictatorship brought about by military takeover at the North Pole. It is a military coup in Santa’s workshop! I love dark or twisted humor in Christmas movies that takes a friendly jab at things.
Allen as Toy Santa is a nice contrast to his central role as the real Santa Claus here. While one is mad with power and rather high strung, the other is even tempered and rather charming. Scott is much more what you would expect in a traditional Santa depiction. I never really thought Allen could pull it off so well, but he kills it in the role. He has the warm smile and a twinkle in his eye during his entire performance.
The rest of the original film’s central cast returns. Eric Lloyd comes back as Scott’s son Charlie with Wendy Crewson returning as his mother as Laura and Judge Reinhold also showing up as her current husband Neal. David Krumholtz also comes back as Head Elf Bernard. They fall pretty well back into their roles. My only complaint here really is that there seem to be fewer barbs traded between Neal and Scott. Sadly there is no return of Judy the Elf whose appearance in the original was all too brief but very funny. Her character had humor potential and if the actress was too grown to return, I cannot see why she could not have been played by a different actress.
Added to the cast is Elizabeth Mitchell as Principal Carol Newman who runs Charlie’s school and who is the eventual Mrs. Claus. Charlie is a seriously troubled kid now (at least by Disney standards) and has been acting out because of the weight of keeping the biggest secret of his life from everyone he knows. Really?
Somehow, I just cannot fathom keeping the secret that your dad is Santa Claus as that big of a deal. It is nothing deep or dark or very disturbing. Apparently it bothers him that he cannot tell his friends what his dad really does. This weighty bit of information causes him to tag the school and so forth? I do not get it, but it does allow a good in for the new school principal character and Scott to connect during his quest to get hitched.
Also new to the series is Spencer Breslin as Curtis the Elf whose mad scientist style mechanizations lead to the creation of the film’s toy nemesis. Liliana Mumy (daughter of actor Billy Mumy from the original Lost In Space) joins the cast as Charlie’s half-sister Lucy Miller. Her purpose in the film seems to be little more than two weakly emulate some of the dynamics from the first film because by the end she must also keep the secret that not only is Santa Claus real but Scott is the real Santa Claus.
We also have the brief appearance of a handful of other legendary characters such as Mother Nature (Aisha Tyler), the Easter Bunny (Jay Thomas), and Cupid (Kevin Pollak). Also along for the ride is Art LaFleur as the Tooth Fairy who is looking for an image change and Star Trek vet
Michael Dorn as the narcoleptic Sandman. Peter Boyle returns for the sequel, but this time he plays Father Time. Previously he had briefly appeared as Scott’s boss at his company.
Parts of the finale are well telegraphed to the audience. The resolution with the fake Santa is hinted at early in the film as is the involvement with new reindeer Chet (voiced by Kath Soucie). It is very obvious when you toss in a quirky new character that the quirky new character will be significant to the finale. Chet is a young reindeer in training that is better at crashing than flying. Comet (voiced by Bob Bergen) gets a bit more of a personality. In the last film he just reacted to events but here he is a bit of an a-hole and the focus of friendly jabs by Scott.
The concept of the Mrs. Clause introduced here raises a question for me and that is: what happened to the last Mrs. Claus? Seriously. It is logical to assume that the last Santa had to get a wife in order to keep being Santa just like Scott Calvin must in this movie because this is apparently an inviolable rule, So then we must ask where was the widowed wife at the beginning of the last film? After all the last film began on Christmas Eve and immediately after the death of the previous Santa and they made it to the North Pole that evening. By the time Scott got there and was in the official Santa Claus quarters it was definitely a room for an individual person and not a couple. Even by this movie it is still appears to be a single occupancy bedroom. Did they clear her out the moment Santa croaked? Try not to focus too much on it but it is a legitimate topic to consider.
We get to see much more of the North Pole in this outing than in the previous film. In the last film there was a great deal either implied or stated by the characters about the environment of Santa’s realm but not seen when there. Here they out and out show you. Honestly the stated portions in the last film felt like heavy exposition to avoid special effect shots (which is what they probably were). I have developed quite a problem with that over the years.
Mitchell and Allen have good chemistry on screen. The relationship starts out as adversarial but once she sees Scott in action doing his thing with children, she realizes he is not quite what she thought he was. And from that moment the film takes a brief turn into a very effective Christmas romance film. It is sweet and tender and dare I say cute. Carol is at first portrayed as a mean spirited school master but is revealed to just be a tough administrator that expects the best from the children in her care.
Director Michael Lembeck in his directorial debut does a good job. The direction of the film is much more feature film and much less television episode. The last one felt like it belonged on TV a bit but this one is definitely crafted more with being a feature film in mind. There are more big shots in it and the environment is larger. They go headfirst into fleshing out the environment.
The Santa Clause 2 is a worthy follow up to the original film. It is just as entertaining and funny as the original. Watch it!
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