The Passion of the Santa Clause
aisling crabbe pays a visit to the dark heart of 1994's festive classic the santa clause
The Santa Clause can be taken as an allegory about how faith tests us.
The Santa Clause opens to a vaguely shit toy factory office party with members of staff slow dancing and laughing jovially. This is the first in a long line of plot holes/deviations from realism, as most office parties end with a burger balanced on a bin and growing realisation that you have become all that you loathe. This staff party also has a large ice statue of their most popular toy, The Do-It-All-For-You-Dolly. It is towering over the duck spring rolls like an effigy of Christ. This is terrifying. I am uncomfortable at the idea of this ice-child melting throughout the party into people’s hors d'ouerve and being ingested into their personality. This concept might actually make a better film. It also seems like quite a lavish expense that could be put to more wine. Most expenses that could instead be put towards more wine are ostentatious in my books.
Here we meet with Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), a modern (well, early 90's) Ebenezer Scrooge. Scott doesn’t much like Christmas or being a father. He resents his ex-partner, exists in a place of immediate gratification and has to shave nearly everyday to remain presentable. I identify with him a lot.
Neil (Judge Reinhold), the stepdad who the viewers are meant to perceive as the villain of the film seems to be the only copped-on realist that we can rely on for decent parenting. Deciding to gently ease Charlie (Eric Lloyd), the son of Scott’s broken marriage, into the idea of Santa being an idea or general feeling of festive giving, he then rightfully becomes indignant when Scott returns Charlie the next morning on little to no sleep and ranting about how his father was actually Santa. This is pitting parent against parent and it is an unfair position to paint Neil as the liar of the family.
Indeed, the most unlikable character is the one we are meant to root for the most. Charlie is the worst child in cinematic history, even worse than The Exorcist kid or that child that taps the fish glass in Finding Nemo. I hate him. I loathe everything he stands for and the child needs a fat grip. He is precocious, insolent and deserves no aspect of the Christmas joy he receives. He is awful. He is the Pontius Pilate of The Santa Clause, regularly outing Scott as the Santa Claus despite being implored not to. He then denies all responsibility for dictating the eventual crucifixion of Scott’s parental visitation rights by deferring the choice to the court. This issue could have all been avoided if Charlie had kept his mouth shut like he was told to. I hate him. He accepts no moral consequence for his personality shortcomings and yet it is implied he is the core idea of Christmas joy. He is the reason Scott is unable to get his affairs in order adequately to become Santa. In the next film he is put on the Naughty list. He will hopefully stay there, where he belongs.
The Santa Clause as a movie is decidedly un-festive and has a multitude of plot holes that give a peek into the seedy North-pole underbelly.
Death seems to be a regular feature, if not a guarantee of the Santa Clause job. None of the elves seem particularly upset or in grievance about the death of their old boss. So either the death of Santa is so common that they have learnt to become desensitised to it (in which case, would better anti-exposure regulations not be put in place, ‘elf and safety laws perhaps?). Or, the previous Santa was worse than Scott Calvin, who, let's face it, is pretty awful and more than a bit of a dope throughout the movie.
The Santa Clause waves a dark shadow at the immediacy at which we are expected to return to normal life after death has taken someone we love in the modern, capitalistic world. It looks at the idea of how quickly our fleeting lives can be changed and how little control we have over what area have to sell our labour for in order to survive. It is a movie of Christmas chills more than Christmas cheer.