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The Santa Clause (1994)
The Santa Clause is a 1994 fantasy-dramedy film directed by John Pasquin. It is distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. and starring Tim Allen. In the film, Allen plays Scott Calvin, an ordinary man who accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall to his death from his roof on Christmas Eve. When he and his young son, Charlie, finish the late, legendary St. Nick's trip and deliveries, they go to the North Pole where Scott learns he must become the new Santa and convince those he loves that he is indeed Father Christmas. The film was followed by two sequels, 2002's The Santa Clause 2 and 2006's The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a 38-year-old divorced father and advertising executive for a toy company in the fictional city of Lakeside, Illinois with a young son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd). On Christmas Eve, Charlie comes over to spend the night with Scott before going back to his mother and stepfather's for Christmas Day. Scott attempts to assure Charlie of Santa Claus' existence, while in full disbelief himself. That night, they are awakened by a clatter on the roof. Going outside to investigate, they can see someone on there.
Credit that to a clever script that has Santa falling from a roof on Christmas Eve (and presumably dying in the process -- be ready to explain that to the kids) and Allen's Scott taking up his job after donning the Santa suit. Scott then has a year to prepare to take over the job full time. This mainly works out to Scott's putting on a ton of weight and growing a Santa-style beard, all the while denying he is becoming Mr. Claus.
Eventually Scott accepts that he is becoming Kris Kringle, but of course, no one else on earth does, resulting in a series of misadventures with the cops, his estranged wife (Wendy Crewson), her new agey husband (Judge Reinhold), and his long-neglected yet hopeful son (Eric Lloyd). In the end, we're all happy with our new Santa and a new version of how the Christmas holiday works.
To be sure, this is a kids' movie, and in fact it's the adult parts of the story that tend to weaken it. A divorce and child custody battle do little to endear Allen's version of Santa to the audience -- it's his misadventures with a newfound sweet tooth, instant-growing beard, and goofy elf army that make the movie so much fun. The remaining cast (head elf David Krumholz notwithstanding) is forgettable. Even Reinhold, normally used as comic relief, practically plays the straight man. Kids won't notice, of course.
Reissued on DVD in time for The Santa Clause 2, the extras are thin -- a silly video game and a kind of making-of short featuring Krumholz and his elves. Kids old enough to enjoy the movie won't find the bonus material worth their time.