December 19, 2011

Eyes on Christmas: Santa Claus - The Movie

Dipping back into some seasonal fare has led me to the modestly entertaining Santa Claus: The Movie. This is a product of the 1980's but is in no way, shape, or form in the same league as Die Hard and Gremlins. Of course, this is an actual seasonal film that centers on Santa Claus, duh, and doesn't just use the setting of the season on which to hang its story. It is a movie that does what it needs to and tries to have a heart while it goes about doing it.

The movie stars David Huddleston as the jolly big guy in the red suit, but he doesn't start that way. You see, this movie actually starts way back in the past and follows some of his journey from the early day on up through modern day, well the modern day of 1985 anyway.

As the movie starts we are at some undefined point in the past. It is winter and everyone is huddled around the fire and the kids are anxiously awaiting the return of one of the men who has been out chopping wood. He does indeed return and comes bearing gifts. The kids are ecstatic and they all wonder where he gets his energy. Anyway, he and his wife head out in the cold snow to deliver toys to more kids only to get caught on the snow. The couple are rescued by else and he becomes Santa.

He is assisted by an elf named Patch (Dudley Moore) and we watch him on his inaugural journey. However, Patch has some forward thinking production ideas for the workshop,but when they do not work out too well, the frustrated elf leaves. It is this that sets up the conflict for the second half of the movie.

In the real world we meet a couple of young protagonists, a street smart homeless boy named Joe and a parent less rich girl named Cornelia. They strike up something of a friendship starting with her leaving food out for him in the cold. Their involvement becomes more important when we meet the girls uncle, a ruthless toy tycoon played by John Lithgow.

It is with the toyman that the naive elf hooks up with as he looks to prove his skills and show Santa that he is really good. Ganged, nothing goes as it should and it is up to Santa and the children to save the day.

It is not really a bad movie, the performances are effective if flat. I believe the problem for me lies on the way each act feels like an act, the flow from one story to the next is not all that good. I would have proffered one chunk be used for the whole and allow the characters to Gina little bit more traction. Of course, the animatronic deer are a little bit creepy on their own.

I could recommend this is a one time seasonal watch. It is not one I foresee becoming an annual tradition, but it is non offensive and has some familiar faces chewing up the scenery, Lithgow in particular seems to relish the over the top nature of his toyman.

Mildly Recommended.

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