There must be a rule in the movie-making handbook that says a sequel to a blockbuster hit cannot be as good as the original. Perhaps it’s referred to as the sequel clause. While a few movies have bucked this trend (The Empire Strikes Back and Toy Story 2 come to mind), the majority of sequels find themselves in the abyss of just OK.
The Santa Clause 2 may not be the bottom of the barrel, but it definitely falls short of the first installment, The Santa Clause (released in 1994), which introduced a whole new generation of children and adults alike to a new definition of Santa Claus.
Tim Allen embodied the jolly old elf with a new kind of sensibility and old sentimentality. The combination spelled success for Disney, Tim Allen and the movie overall.
Allen is as charming as in the first go around, but unfortunately, he is one of only a few highlights here. And with the exception of Elizabeth Newman, who plays Mrs. Claus, Allen’s supporting cast doesn’t quite rise to the challenge.
In the sequel, the audience finds Santa’s alter ego, Scott Calvin (Allen), eight years later suitably adapted to the North Pole. But when his No. 2 elf, Curtis (The Kid‘s Spencer Breslin), discovers an additional clause in the Santa Clause, Calvin suddenly is forced to find a wife or risk losing his tenure as Jolly St. Nick. With the clock ticking – 28 days – he needs to hurry up and find someone before the “de-Santafication” process begins. Santa begins losing his belly, gray hair and beard, plus his magic, as the days go by. It is fortuitous then when his son, Charlie (an older Eric Lloyd), gets in trouble with the hardened school principal, Carol (Newman), who later becomes the object of Calvin’s affection.
The acting problems start with the 10-year-old Breslin playing a 900-year-old elf. The young actor’s slight lisp and cherub cheeks don’t quite fit in this instance.
The returning cast of Wendy Crewson as Santa’s ex, Judge Reinhold as her new husband and Lloyd all play their minor parts with aplomb.
But the transformation that Newman goes through – she becomes a warm, loving woman who the audience can envision as Mrs. Claus – provides the best performance of the film.
The downfall of the movie isn’t the plot, which comes off as quite entertaining. It’s the overall vision. The original Santa Clause had a magical quality that allowed audience members to suspend their disbelief and enter a world of sleighs, reindeer and elves.
The Santa Clause 2, rather, gets too wrapped up in looking like a toy, thus becoming a kid movie rather than a treat for the whole family. The sequel won’t be a tradition for the holidays.
Disney released The Santa Clause special edition DVD this week, and that is the movie that adults will rush out to buy. Moms and dads may make it a point to take their kids to see The Santa Clause 2, but they won’t want to see it again.
It seems the sequel clause holds true.
Contact Megan Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org
‘The Santa Clause 2’ opens Friday and is rated PG.