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The Santa Clause is a 1994 American Christmas fantasy family comedy film directed by John Pasquin. It is the first installment in The Santa Clause trilogy and it stars Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, an ordinary man who accidentally causes Santa Claus to fall from his roof on Christmas Eve. When he and his young son, Charlie, finish St. Nick's trip and deliveries, they go to the North Pole where Scott learns that he must become the new Santa and convince those he loves that he is indeed Father Christmas.
This was Pasquin and Allen's first movie collaboration after they both worked together on the TV series Home Improvement. Pasquin and Allen would later work again on the films Jungle 2 Jungle and Joe Somebody, and on the TV show Last Man Standing.
The film was followed by two sequels, The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006). In comparison to the original, the former received mixed critical response while the latter was panned by most critics.
Scott Calvin is a divorced advertising executive, who is also a father to his son Charlie. Charlie's mother, Laura, is now married to psychiatrist Neil Miller. Charlie spends Christmas Eve with his father, who burns the Christmas turkey, forcing them to eat at Denny's. After Scott reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to Charlie on Christmas Eve, he and Charlie are awakened that night by sounds on the roof. After confronting a man on the roof, who inadvertently falls off when Scott startles him, then vanishes leaving his Santa Claus outfit behind, they discover eight reindeer on the roof and Charlie convinces Scott to put on the suit and finish Santa's work for him. As the morning comes, the reindeer return to the North Pole to Santa's Workshop, where the head elf Bernard explains that, due to a clausical contract written on a card Scott found on Santa, in putting on the suit and entering the sleigh he has accepted the "Santa Clause" and has agreed to the responsibilities of that position. He tells a skeptical Scott that he has eleven months to get his affairs in order before reporting to the workshop at Thanksgiving permanently.
Scott awakens in his own bed on Christmas morning and believes the night before having been a dream, but the enthusiastic Charlie recounts several events he had not told him and leaves him in doubt. After Charlie proudly tells his class that Scott is Santa Claus, Laura and Neil confide their concerns and ask Scott to put a stop to what they believe is a delusional fantasy. Not wanting to break Charlie's heart, Scott tells him to keep the North Pole and everything they saw a secret. However, over the course of the year, strange things begin to happen to Scott. The first thing to appear is a beard, which always re-grows, even immediately after shaving. He also develops a fondness for dessert items, primarily cookies. The taste for these newfound treats cause Scott to gain an inordinate amount of weight seemingly overnight and he balloons to 192lbs, which at first he thinks he is just bloated. He also begins losing the coloring of his hair, turning it stark white. Scott's doctor says his weight gain is just fluctuation, even when Scott insists that gaining 45lbs in a week is not right and the changing of his hair color is because he is middle aged. During a meeting with his company, Scott disrupts the meeting to call out their idea of promoting a television advertisement of Santa riding a toy tank. Scott's boss Mr. Whittle takes him aside and asks him to get some help. He also begins to recount 'naughty' and 'nice' children by name after getting his "list" of children in the mail, as well as his own suit. These changes prompt further concern from Laura and Neil, who subsequently call to have Scott's visitation rights removed. Laura confides that she stopped believing in Santa when she was only eight, when he failed to give her a board game Mystery Date for Christmas, while Neil, at the age of three years stopped believing when Santa did not give him an Oscar Mayer Weenie Whistle he wanted. On Thanksgiving night, Scott arrives to say goodbye to Charlie. As Neil insists to Charlie that Scott is not Santa, Charlie hands Scott a magical snowglobe he received from Bernard, which finally convinces Scott that he is Santa. As Laura and Neil steps out of the room for a moment, Bernard comes and takes Scott and Charlie away to the North Pole, leading Laura to believe Scott had kidnapped him.
On Christmas Eve night, Scott begins delivering presents, and is arrested when entering Laura and Neil Miller's house, leaving Charlie stranded in the sleigh on the roof. The E.L.F.S. (Effective Liberating Flight Squad) is called and rescues Charlie and frees Scott from custody. Scott returns to take Charlie home, and manages to convince Laura and Neil of his new identity by giving them the gifts they asked for as children. Bernard shows up to thank Laura for the cookies and disappears into thin air. Laura destroys the court order against Scott and tells him that he can visit Charlie anytime he wants. After a very public departure, Charlie attempts to use the snow globe to summon Scott to him and he eventually arrives. After getting Laura's permission for a sleigh ride with his father, Charlie and Scott head out to continue the Christmas deliveries and Scott accepts his new life as Santa Claus.
- Tim Allen as Scott Calvin
- Eric Lloyd as Charlie Calvin
- Judge Reinhold as Dr. Neil Miller
- Wendy Crewson as Laura Miller
- David Krumholtz as Bernard the Elf
- Paige Tamada as Judy the Elf
- Peter Boyle as Mr. Whittle
- Larry Brandenburg as Detective Nunzio
- Jayne Eastwood as Judy the Waitress
- Kenny Vadas as the E.L.F.S. Leader
- Chris Benson as Fireman O'Hara
The film was mostly shot in Oakville, a town in the Greater Toronto Area, which also served as the city of Lakeside, Illinois. It was originally going to be released under the Hollywood Pictures banner, but was moved to Walt Disney Pictures after positive test screenings among children.
The Santa Clause grossed over USD $144 million in the United States and Canada, and over $189 million worldwide, making it a box-office hit. The film has since gone on to become a Christmas classic. Freeform and AMC have played the film during the holiday season with record ratings.
The film received generally positive reviews from the critics. The film currently holds a "fresh" rating of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 31 positive reviews from 39 counted and an average rating of 6.1/10. The consensus from the site is "The Santa Clause is utterly undemanding, but it's firmly rooted in the sort of good old-fashioned holiday spirit missing from too many modern yuletide films."
Note that songs listed here (and in the movie credits) cannot always be found on CD soundtracks.
- "Oh Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum)"; Arranged by John Neufeld
- "Carol of the Bells"; Written by Peter Wilhousky
- "White Christmas"; Written by Irving Berlin; Performed by The Drifters
- "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"; Written by J. Fred Coots And Haven Gillespie; Performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks
- "Think!" (Theme from Jeopardy!); Written by Merv Griffin
- "Jingle Bell Ride"; Written and Performed by Johnny Hawksworth
- "Gimme All Your Lovin'"; Written by Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard; Performed by ZZ Top
- "Jingle Bells"; Arranged by John Neufeld
- "Christmas Will Return"; Written by Jimmy Webb; Performed by Brenda Russell and Howard Hewett
- "The Bells of Christmas"; Written and Performed by Loreena McKennitt
The film's soundtrack was released on October 10, 1994 in the United States.
- Let's Go
- Believing Is Seeing
- Sash Completes the Ensemble
- Away to the Window
- Bells of Christmas
- Goodnight, Goodnight, Don’t Forget the Fire Extinguisher
- Rose Suchak Ladder
- Elves with Attitude
- Someone in Wrapping
- Near Capture
- Comfort and Joy
- Not Over Any Oceans
- Christmas Will Return
This film was first released on Home Video (VHS and Laserdisc) on October 20, 1995. The first DVD was released in 1999. The Santa Clause along with its sequels were released in a three movie DVD collection in 2007. All three movies were released as a Blu-ray set on October 16, 2012.
Towards the beginning of the film a brief exchange between Scott and Laura takes place in which Laura hands Scott a piece of paper with Neil's mother's phone number on it. Scott then exclaims "1-800-SPANK-ME? I know that number!". In the United States, the exchange was removed from the 1999 DVD release as well as the 2002 Special Edition DVD and VHS releases after a 1996 incident in which a child from Steilacoom, Washington called the number and racked up a $400 phone bill. On television airings, the phone number is changed to "1-800-POUND". The line remains intact on the 1995 VHS release.
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- The Santa Clause at Ultimate Disney