Christmas has become exactly what it never should have become and that’s overly commercialized. It is no longer just about being together with family and friends, giving to others, and enjoying the spirit of the season. Christmas has grown to become about receiving gifts, spending the most money, and buying the most lavish presents one can find. Trees are decked out in ornaments and lights you can’t touch because they’re too expensive. The stockings hung by the chimney were hung with care but only because they are made of fine silk. Children don’t even care anymore what’s in the present boxes but how many of them there are. Let us not ever forget, though, who brings all of those gifts to us and fills those stockings. The main man himself…Santa Claus.
Long before he was known by the name he’s saddled with today, a man was loved by many in his village far out in the forest. Every year he would venture out even in the harshest blizzards with sleds full of toys to deliver gifts to everyone’s children. One winter though he heads out into a blizzard that not even the big hulking man can get through and ends up almost freezing to death. But through the magic of Christmas, he is whisked away to the North Pole amid much confusion. Here he is brought through a glorious workshop and confronted by numerous little people as he starts learning that this place is his new home and he has new duties to fulfill every year on Christmas Eve. One other thing he learns is that he will now be known as Santa Claus.
After getting accustomed to things and learning his new role, Santa is introduced to his head elf who keeps everything in the workshop in order and makes sure all is ready for Santa’s yearly run. Patch soon starts coming up with ideas to speed up production and make twice as many toys in half the time, but that kind of ingenuity doesn’t always work. Patch’s idea proves to be a failure after most of the toys see wheels coming off or breaking before the kids even get a chance to play with them. Feeling unappreciated and depressed, Patch leaves the North Pole and gets wound up with a conniving and evil toymaker/businessman named B.Z. He puts Patch’s ideas to work and soon the world is forgetting about Santa and shouting for B.Z. instead. But as always, greed doesn’t bring joy and it’s up to Santa Claus to save the season.
Ok, it has been a really long time since I last saw Santa Claus: The Movie, and even though I still enjoy it. It’s not nearly as good as it used to be when my childhood days were still around. The film manages to do some decent things like first of all the origin story on Santa Claus. How many times do we actually get to find out how Santa became Santa in the first place? Even though it is rather farfetched as to how it all happened; it’s still not a bad start to a film that is centered on the jolly old man. All of that happens at the beginning and proves to be rather enjoyable. The other part of the film that’s fun is the ending when a cool chase scene (with bad and early CGI) takes place to have Santa be the hero.
Sadly, everything else in between the beginning and the ending is not so jolly. To put it bluntly, it’s rather dull and boring. Weird how I began remembering that all of that was quite as unentertaining even when I was younger. Virtually everything that happens after Patch leaves the North Pole until the time Santa Claus goes after him is just long and drags out so badly. There is the rare humorous moment here and there when people start eating the tainted candy canes, but not much else. This upsets me greatly because Santa Claus: The Movie provides a great message of not trying to change Christmas and keep it all about tradition and family, but they present it in such a blah fashion.
The film is shown in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and it’s really not all that great. There is a good amount of grain visible throughout the duration of the film along with the colors all being rather dull and drab.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and the tinkling of jingle bells along with every single bit of the musical score sounds great filling the room.
Audio Commentary – Director Jeannot Szwarc is with special projects consultant Scott Michael Bosco for this commentary track. Bosco is called the moderator for a reason because he simply asks questions about the different scenes throughout the film for Szwarc to answer. This track is very straight-forward with questions asked to Szwarc about the actors, filming locations, special effects, and other such things. He gives rather generic and to the point answers making this commentary very tiring and just uninspiring.
Santa Claus – The Making Of The Movie – Ok, well Santa Claus hosts this “making of” featurette as everyone stays in character for it. Cast and crew talk about the film, but it is kind of pointless actually since they never break character and always talk about David Huddleston as Santa. Obviously this is aimed at children more then anyone else. This feature runs just under an hour and do yourself a favor and don’t try to use the skip keys on your remote during it because it will oddly take you right into the speaker sound test.
Talent Bios – Text biographies for actor Dudley Moore and director Jeannot Szwarc.
20th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet – This twelve-page booklet has pictures from the film and set along with an interview with producer, Ilya Salkind.
Well, if this whole DVD reviewing experience didn’t just ruin what was a really vivid and good childhood memory for me. Jeez, maybe when I was younger and last watched this film I secretly told myself to not watch it again and remember the good times I had with it. Something had to happen to keep me from seeing it for so long but having these awesome memories of it and how good it is. How good it used to be that is. Santa Claus: The Movie used to be something I’d watch during the summer months when my pining for the holiday season was so unbearable. Now I don’t even care to watch it two days before St. Nick makes his way around the world. I doubt even today’s kids would be entertained by this because, let’s face it, candy canes are not the gift they are hurting for most. The special features don’t make things any better because the “making of” and the audio commentary continue the boredom theme this DVD has made for itself. Parents, rent this one night and give it a shot with your kids to see if they like it. I’m curious to hear any and all results from that little experiment so please comment or e-mail me with how they react to it.
Oh, and if you could all do me a favor and answer me another question, it’d be most appreciated. This film was released in 1985 right? Right. How then does one release a “20th Anniversary Edition” some twenty-three years later?
Anchor Bay presents Santa Claus The Movie. Directed by: Jeannot Szwarc. Starring: John Lithgow, Dudley Moore, David Huddleston, Judy Cornwell, Burgess Meredith. Written by: David & Leslie Newman. Running time: 108 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: October 21, 2008. Available at Amazon