The Santa Clause 2 review by Mike Long

Even before I became a parent, I was always weary of "family films", as the only family that most of them were aimed at were the Manson Family. While there are plenty of good "clean" films to be had, it seems that many recent "family films" were an odd combination of mature themes, violence, sexual innuendos, and gross-out jokes. I'm sure that most of this is done to appease both young viewers and adults, but it typically leads to confused films. The Santa Clause was a perfect example of this, as I found this holiday hit to be VERY depressing, and totally inappropriate for family viewing. With this in mind, I cautiously approached The Santa Clause 2, but was pleasantly surprised to find that holiday spirit actually found its way into this movie.

To recap, in The Santa Clause, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) inadvertently kills Santa Claus, and when he dons Santa's coat, he suddenly becomes the new Kris Kringle. As Scott begins to deal with the fact that he must now work at the North Pole and deliver presents, he also goes through a physical change, growing a white beard and gaining a lot of weight. This creates problems with his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd) and his ex-wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson). Eventually, Scott comes to terms with the fact that his life will never be the same. What fun stuff!

As The Santa Clause 2 opens, Scott has settled in as Santa and has the elves working very happily. The head elf, Bernard (David Krumholtz) is very pleased with Scott's progress and is relieved that things are running smoothly. That is, until the number 2 elf, Curtis (Spencer Breslin) delivers some bad news. It appears that the rules of the "Santa clause" state the Santa must take on a wife -- this is known as the "Mrs. Clause" -- and Scott has only 28 days to get married, or he will no longer be Santa. Even as Curtis explains the problem, the "de-Santafication" process begins and Scott starts to lose weight and lose his beard. So, Curtis and Bernard formulate a plan -- Scott will return to his original home to find a wife, while Curtis creates a robot Santa (played by Tim Allen as well) to oversee the workshop so that the other elves don't know that the real Santa is gone.

Once Scott returns home, he finds some problems. Charlie has been rebelling at school, and has run afoul of his principal, Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell), who doesn't allow any holiday decorations or festivities in her school. Scott is shocked by this and becomes determined to change Carol's mind about the holidays. Meanwhile, as with all machines, the Santa Clone becomes sentient and decides to change Christmas to suit his views.

Unlike The Santa Clause, which at times had me ready to slit my wrists, The Santa Clause 2 is a much more fun and funny film, with the only dark moments coming courtesy of the Santa Clone, who is more of a buffoon than a villain. The whole film has a much lighter tone, and this allows Tim Allen to really shine. Many of his lines sound as if they were ad-libbed and the movie has some very funny moments. The plot-line concerning Charlie's rebelliousness and Carol's feelings towards the holidays are serious in tone, but they have to be so that the film can have a happy ending. (Trust me, I'm not spoiling anything with that statement.) While The Santa Clause had a clever main idea, it sullied that notion with its dark themes. The Santa Clause 2 is able to run with the story of a normal guy "becoming" Santa Claus and open it up even further by introducing "The Legendary Figures", a group which includes The Easter Bunny (Jay Thomas) and The Tooth Fairy (Art LaFleur). These new characters add another level of whimsy to the film and provide some of the film's humor. The Santa Clause 2 is by no means perfect, as the story still feels stale at times, and the film doesn't always goes for big laughs when it could, but it is a fun holiday film which will appeal to children as well as adults. It's rare for Hollywood to wait 8 years to make a sequel, but in this case, the wait was actually worth it.

The Santa Clause 2 flies onto DVD courtesy of Disney. The film is being offered in two separate releases, one full-frame, the other widescreen. For this review, the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a fine amount of grain at times. The colors, which are abundant in The Santa Clause 2 look very good, and Santa's workshop is awash in a sea of reds, blues, and greens. The picture does show a slight amount of edge enhancement and there is some noticeable artifacting at times, but not enough to distract most viewers. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is very good, as it provides clear and audible dialogue, along with impressive surround sound effects. The woosh of Santa's sleigh fills the speakers when it flies by, and there is some nice bass response created by the leaden feet of the Santa Clone.

The DVD contains several extras, most of which aren't very impressive. We start with an audio commentary from director Michael Lembeck. This is a truly odd commentary, as Lembeck speaks as if The Santa Clause 2 were a documentary, which was filmed at the actual North Pole. He keeps up this charade throughout the entire talk, so we learn virtually nothing about the making of the movie. This would have been fine had there been a second, "real" commentary, but there isn't. Next up is "Inside the North Pole with Curtis", a 10-minute segment in which young actor Spencer Breslin gives us a tour of the set and shows us how he must endure special effects make-up and attend school on-set. Lembeck also provides a tour of the set in "Director's Tour of Elfburg", a four-minute video which Lembeck claims was made to appease the producers and show them that all was going well on the movie. Is this true? Lembeck also interviews some of the characters in "True Confessions of the Legendary Figures", a 3-minute talk which offers a few laughs. There are seven deleted scenes on the DVD, all of which are introduced by Lembeck. Most of them are throw-away scenes, and the visual quality is very poor. Also, there is a 7-minute gag reel which shows Allen cutting-up on the set. Finally, we have the "Save Santa Game" a set-top game which asks questions based on the movie.

7 out of 10 Jackasses

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