Apart from the North Pole, much has changed since the original Santa Clause. Calvin's son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), has become an embittered teenager who rebels against society by spraying graffiti on the walls of his school. Charlie's mother and stepfather (Wendy Crewson and Judge Reinhold), blame his misbehavior on Calvin's absence, but Principal Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell) doesn't care about the reasons behind the misbehavior, she just wants it to stop.
With warnings of a school suspension on the horizon, it's no surprise that Charlie finds himself on Santa's "naughty" list this year, much to Calvin's dismay. Desperate to find both a Mrs. Claus and help for his son, Calvin heads back home, leaving a clone substitute Claus to watch over things at the North Pole. It's only a matter of time, however, before the fake Santa creates his own list of naughty or nice, putting Christmas in grave danger.
The Santa Clause, a 1994 box-office smash, remains a holiday favorite, perhaps even a Christmas classic behind A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, and It's a Wonderful Life. The film beautifully captures the spirit and wonder of Christmas, shining a memorable and humorous light belief in Santa Claus. Every time I watch it, I want to take out a pencil and paper and scribble a letter to the North Pole. It goes without saying that The Santa Clause 2 comes with substantial expectations. Tragically, it doesn't quite live up to them.
According to Tim Allen, this movie began as a tool to sell merchandise. He forced his involvement in the project, however, and it took eight years for Disney to satisfy his demands. Kudos to Allen for not allowing The Santa Clause 2 to become another Scooby-Doo franchise, because SC2 contains much charm and many inspiring, memorable performances. Unfortunately, the film tries too hard and overloads itself; the three or four subplots just don't enlighten or entertain, unlike the sheer simplicity of the first film.
The SC2 script, developed by six desperate writers, feels as if it's merely going through motions. If Calvin needs a wife to continue reigning as Santa, why has it taken eight years for the elves to inform him? Charlie's misbehavior doesn't go anywhere; it only exists as a reason for Santa to leave the North Pole and introduce Calvin to the future Mrs. Claus. Everything feels so scheduled that, despite a $65 million budget, the North Pole doesn't even feel magical; it just looks like an extensively decorated set at a studio soundstage.
In spite of the perfunctory script, Tim Allen and Elizabeth Mitchell breathe so much amusing life into SC2 that this might be one of the few bad sequels actually worth seeing. As always, Allen (in a dual role) brings such captivating warmth to Scott Calvin, it's no wonder the studio met his demands; few actors could produce such delightful chemistry with their surroundings. Mitchell, making her mainstream debut, highlights the film as the sinister principal; her character transformation feels so magical and tender it completely flows against the downstream momentum of the script.
The Santa Clause 2 lacks the overall magic of the original, but it makes up for the bad filmmaking with enchanting performances. Now all we need to see is Mr. and Mrs. Claus on their honeymoon...
Alas, the SC2 DVD doesn't have that tidbit, but it does offer deleted scenes, gag reels, and commentaries galore. Kids won't care, grown-ups may.
Bid on the set at santaclause.com! It's the perfect Christmas gift!
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st November 2002
Box Office USA: $139.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $139.2M
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 62 Rotten: 51
IMDB: 5.5 / 10
Director: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Tim Allen as Scott Calvin / Santa Clause, Elizabeth Mitchell as Principal Carol Newman, David Krumholtz as Bernard, der Elf, Eric Lloyd as Charlie Calvin, Spencer Breslin as Curtis, Judge Reinhold as Dr. Neil Miller, Wendy Crewson as Laura Calvin Miller, Kevin Pollak as Cupid, Aisha Tyler as Mother Nature, Molly Shannon as Tracy
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