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Disney classic The Santa Clause is a must-see (again) 

Editor's note: Staff Writer Karen Garcia and Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood took over Split Screen while the Starkeys enjoy their holidays off.

There's always been an age-old question of how St. Nicholas becomes Santa Claus and delivers toys to boys and girls around the world in one night. Not to mention how he can eat so many cookies and wash them down with so much milk—does he take bathroom breaks? Director John Pasquin (Home Improvement, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous, Roseanne, Last Man Standing) takes a whack at answering those questions by telling the unconventional story of how Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) becomes Santa Claus and restores adults' faith in the magic of Christmas in this 1994 classic. (113 min.)

click to enlarge SANTA'S SLAYER Scott Calvin (Tim Allen, right) takes his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd, left), out for a sleigh ride, roughly one year after they witnessed Santa Claus die in front of them, in Disney's The Santa Clause. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DISNEY
  • Photo Courtesy Of Disney
  • SANTA'S SLAYER Scott Calvin (Tim Allen, right) takes his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd, left), out for a sleigh ride, roughly one year after they witnessed Santa Claus die in front of them, in Disney's The Santa Clause.

Caleb He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. On paper, the premise of Disney's The Santa Clause sounds like a draconian nightmare. One fateful Christmas Eve, divorced father Scott Calvin (Tim Allen, Jungle 2 Jungle, Toy Story, Galaxy Quest) is forced to serve a lifetime of penance after an old man in a Santa suit drops dead from his rooftop. Under contractual obligations, enforced by supernatural forces beyond his control, Calvin's body gradually transforms into the bearded man he's blamed for killing (even though it technically isn't his fault, he just yelled, "Excuse me!" at a strange man on top of his house in the middle of the night, and the guy slipped and fell to his death). An onslaught of Kafkaesque body horror ensues as Calvin grows thicker and wider, gaining excessive weight and white facial hair within days of the manslaughter. Once a slim and successful advertising executive, Calvin is forced to throw out his suits and start wearing sweats at the office. His boss (Peter Boyle) pulls him aside at one point during a lunch meeting just to fat-shame him for ordering a hot fudge sundae with his mainstay Caesar salad. Calvin even loses custody of his child by the middle of the film, but we'll get to that later. I'm gravely misleading anyone who hasn't seen this masterpiece, which is a lot more gleeful than I'm letting on, and, inarguably, one of the best Christmas movies ever made.

Karen I have to chuckle at your remark, Caleb. The fat-shaming scene is only the tip of the iceberg in laughs you'll have watching this movie. Disclaimer: This film also happens to be one of my top holiday favorites as well. Calvin's story is heartwarming, as you might have already guessed, which is a must in order to be a Disney classic. He's a successful advertising executive but isn't as successful in the parenting department. Actually his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), reluctantly stays with his dad on Christmas Eve, the typical divorced-parent-holiday-visiting-rights situation. Influenced by the bedtime story The Night Before Christmas, Charlie encourages his father to climb a ladder that magically appears near the deceased St. Nicholas, and inspect the roof for possible reindeer. Calvin, being the logical adult he is, doubts such an animal even exists, until he follows Charlie up the ladder. And so begins the adventure of literally filling in Santa's red suit to deliver toys to sleeping children. You'll definitely get a kick out of Calvin earning the ability to squeeze down any size fireplace with the magic of Santa's red bag. It's hard to miss the growing connection between Calvin and his son; the connection between Calvin and his empathy for others. I mean Santa's round tummy isn't just filled with sweets, he's plump with kindness, compassion, and the magic of Christmas.

Caleb It's no surprise The Santa Clause ended up getting two sequels (nowhere near as great but they exist), because who wouldn't want to revisit this world and these characters? And I'm not just talking about the major players. The supporting cast includes Bernard the no-nonsense "Head Elf" (David Krumholtz), who helps Calvin get situated into his new role as Father Christmas, and Charlie's mother and stepfather (Wendy Crewson and Judge Reinhold, respectively), who share a very touching monologue about the moments they stopped believing in Santa Claus as children. My only quibble with this classic is something that confused me as a kid. I never understood why Charlie seemed so bummed out during that Christmas Eve dinner (Calvin takes the boy to Denny's after burning the turkey at home). What inherently makes Denny's such a negative alternative? Am I the only person who loved Denny's growing up? I was always stoked to go to Denny's. Cheer up, Charlie!

Karen Something that always puzzled me about the film was what would happen to Calvin if he fell off a roof. Would that person go through the trials of being a jolly man in a red suit. It's not an easy feat, as we learn through this film, but it has its benefits, such as getting hot chocolate that's been perfected by an elf named Judy (Paige Tamada) who worked on her recipe for 500 years. Yes, you read that correctly—that little lady is more than 500 years old. The magic of Christmas is happiness, so maybe it also equals the fountain of youth? Either way, whatever age you are and whether you decide to watch The Santa Clause for the millionth time or for the first time, you'll definitely feel the childlike magic of the holidays. Δ

Split Screen was written by Staff Writer Karen Garcia and Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood this week. Comment at [email protected].


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