1994's "The Santa Clause" was a sweet and pleasant, albeit minor, family film that became a surprise seasonal hit when it was released. Surely, if a sequel was to be made, it should have been done five years ago, but I digress. "The Santa Clause 2," directed by television vet Michael Lembeck ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), is cheerful and cute enough but, like most sequels, was only made to needlessly cash in on its predecessor's name.
For those who have understandably forgotten, "The Santa Clause" told the story of Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), a divorced father who accidentally killed Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Due to a clause, his decision to put on the sacred red suit anointed him the new Santa Claus. The follow-up begins eight years later, with Scott now happily the new Santa Claus at the North Pole. With Christmas approaching in less than a month, head elf Bernard (David Krumholtz) discovers further fine print on the Santa clause that states Scott must find a new wife by Christmas Eve, or lose his powers and risk disappointing children around the world. As Scott begins his search for a Mrs., he must deal with his now-teenage son Charlie (Eric Lloyd), whose name has ended up on the "naughty" list due to some troubles at school.
"The Santa Clause 2" is inoffensive entertainment for the undiscriminating, but lacks a fair share of the magic of the original. The blossoming romance between Scott and Charlie's stern principal, Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell), who for some reason has lost the holiday spirit, is gentle and enchanting. The writing between these two characters is very good because they seem like real people getting to know and like each other, rather than pawns at the service of the plot.
Where things get bogged down is in a humorless subplot set at the North Pole in which a militaristic robotic replica of Santa Claus is created to help out while Scott is gone on business. These scene come too frequently and are an annoyance to the central plot that slows everything down. This is the kind of overblown addition that sequels too often are made of.
Thankfully, most of the original cast has returned for this second offering, but only some are used to their strengths. Tim Allen (2002's "Big Trouble
") is an agreeable hero as Santa/Scott, and Eric Lloyd, as son Charlie, has startlingly but understandably grown up a lot in eight years. As Scott's ex-wife and her new husband, Wendy Crewson (2000's "What Lies Beneath
") and Judge Reinhold have nothing to do but stand around most of the time. Fresh to the series is Elizabeth Mitchell (2000's "Frequency"), a standout as Scott's possible new wife who brings depth and warmth to her role. In a welcome cameo, Molly Shannon (2001's "Serendipity
") is her usual exuberant self as a zany blind date of Scott's.
"The Santa Clause 2" has a warmth and an innocence to it that will, no doubt, make it a solid time-waster for children and parents. There are certainly scenes that workespecially those between Scott and Carol, and Scott and Charliebut the rest of the material has a hollow core. It is safe to say that "The Santa Clause 2" is a motion picture that didn't need to be made, and the final product only solidifies this notion.
©2002 by Dustin Putman