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Humor pleases kids, irks adults in The Santa Clause

The Santa Clause

Directed by John Pasquin.

Written by Leo Benvenuti and Steven Rudnick.

Starring Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, and Peter Boyle

Loews Copley Place.

By Teresa Esser
Staff Reporter

When Tim Allen walks out of his house on Christmas Eve "to see what is the matter," the last thing he expects to find is Santa Claus and eight tiny reindeer. The appearance of Father Christmas surprises him so much that he begins a vocal protest in his front yard. Unfortunately, this protest causes Santa to slip off the roof and fall down dead in a pile of snow.

When Allen walks over to investigate the red-suited carcass, he finds a business card in the front pocket which states that "If anything should happen to Santa Claus," the reader should "put on the red suit, get in the sleigh, and start delivering presents."

What the card doesn't say is that whoever puts on the suit and climbs in the sleigh automatically becomes the next Santa Claus. The Santa Clause in this legal contract is that the condition is irreversible. Whoever slips on the fake fur long johns is magically obliged to be the new Santa until "something should happen to him."

Not only does Allen feel a moral obligation to deliver toys, his body undergoes a miraculous transformation on its own, changing him from a fit businessman to an obese, geriatric elf. Allen's hair turns white, his beard grows uncontrollably, and he sprouts a gigantic pot belly. He also develops an irrational craving for cookies, milk, and hot fudge sundaes.

The movie scores high in its examination of the way adults view children's imaginations. The central character, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), is torn between his mother's warning that a belief in Santa Claus would remove him from reality and his father's living proof that Santa Claus existed. Charlie's mother Laura (Wendy Crewson) is backed up by her psychiatrist boyfriend Neil (Judge Reinhold) and the entire Chicago police force. Tim Allen is supported by child sympathizers, Comet the reindeer, and a slew of scrappy elves.

The two sides eventually face off in a thrilling action-movie sleigh-chase that makes children scream and adults grind their teeth. The special squadron of green flight-suited "elves with attitude" is almost too much to take, especially when they saw through iron bars with their super-strength magical tinsel.

The Santa Clause contradicts itself more than once in the area of technology. On the one hand, Tim Allen's Santa Claus character protests when his toy company brings out its new line of "Panzer-Tank Santas," saying that the camouflage tanks go against tradition. However, at that very moment, his own elves are hard at work designing a vertical takeoff for the sleigh and installing brand new, state-of-the-art hot cocoa dispensers.

It seems that Allen's version of Santa Claus appreciates technology if his side is in control of it, but not when it is in the hands of "rational adults." His elf squad uses Star Trek-like "Beam me up" tricks to avoid capture, but when the police force tries to use their squad cars to respond to kidnapping charges the neighborhood children are united in their moral indignation. The movie seems to say: Adults are bad; rationality is bad; only children understand the way things really are.

This film was obviously made for children between the ages of one and 11. Although the acting is mediocre, the special effects are first-rate, and the underlying message that "believing is seeing" is appropriate for the Christmas season. So, if you must see this movie, take a young child with you.

Mary Obelnicki '98 contributed to this review.