The Santa Clause 2
USA, 2002. Rated R. 110 minutes.
Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Eric Lloyd, David Krumholtz, Spencer Breslin,
Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, Liliana Mumy, Kevin Pollack, Molly Shannon
|Grade: C+||Review by Frances Nicole Rogers|
ou have to hand it--whatever it is--to Tim Allen. When it comes to family entertainment, this man, who normally comes off as a general bonehead on screen, shines. If you didn't think Allen's voice over for Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story was charming, there's something wrong with you. Likewise, if his performance as The Best Santa Ever in The Santa Clause 2 doesn't make you want to sit on his lap (please remove your mind from the gutter) and unravel your six-page list of must-have toys, you need professional psychiatric help.
As Scott Calvin/Santa Clause, Tim Allen has generated a warm, charismatic performance that is the highlight of The Santa Clause 2. When various children run up to him and automatically assume that this man, who looks nothing like Santa at that point of the story, is old St. Nick, I never doubted why. Allen is just so appealing in Scott-Calvin-as-Santa-Claus (or vice versa) mode that those childish antics never came off as the heavy-handed plot device they really were (ok, so maybe it occurred to me that they were trying a wee bit too hard to show Scott as being The Perfect Santa).
The Santa Clause 2 is an unfocused sequel to 1994's wonderful (yeah, I said wonderful) The Santa Clause, in which semi-deadbeat dad Scott Calvin (Allen) kills the real Santa Claus and reaps the benefits (let's overlook the fact that this was all by accident, and Scott hardly thought highly of the "benefits" of Santa-dom as he got them). Eight years later, Santa satisfaction is at an all time high, and Santa must face what could be the most grueling task ever: How to stretch himself out through three plots. There's plenty of Santa to go around, yes, but now Scott, in Plot #1, must find a wife in 28 days because of a "Missus Clause" or risk losing his title as Santa forever. Plot #2 has Scott discovering his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), on the naughty list due to an unexplained turn as Upper Middle Class White Suburban Graffiti Artist. Plot #2, gets Scott out of his North Pole house and meets chicks, most namely his son's militant Hitchcock-blonde of a principal, Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell). Plot #3, which has no logical connection to the story whatsoever, has one of the most pathetic villains ever--a fake plastic Santa (also played by Allen)--replacing Santa in the North Pole, becoming a fifth rate dictator, and threatening to give every single child in the world coal for Christmas because they've all been "naughty."
The Santa Clause 2 barely manages to be a good sequel by the grace of its cast. Where the movie sags, the cast picks up. The performances from Allen and Mitchell make their characters and their relationship more understandable than they would have been otherwise. Plot #3 benefits from David Krumholtz and Spencer Breslin, playing elves Bernard and Curtis, who make those awful Plot #3 North Pole scenes watchable. Poor Plot #2 just can' t win, though, because repeat performers Lloyd, Wendy Crewson, and Judge Reinhold can't fly with the material they're given. Plot #2 comes off as a cutesy, overacted family sitcom. The talents of the cast can' t conceal the poor script--the writers foolishly give an equal amount of time to each plot (which makes me wonder if they ever heard of a subplot) and eliminate any clarity or conflict. The movie also lacks something very important--action. There are only a few moments (most notably a sequence where Scott literally works his Christmas magic to woo Carol) where the movie leaps off the screen. Otherwise, and most disappointingly during the lackluster climax, the movie is too static to be truly entertaining. For now, all you can do for some genuine cinematic family Christmas cheer is to bask in the glow of Tim Allen's Santa Claus… and wait for Home Alone to come on TV.
© November 2002 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
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