Seaton: The Problematic “Santa Clause”

Merry Christmas everyone!  Hopefully you’re reading this with a hot cup of your favorite beverage in hand after a visit from Santa. Speaking of that jolly old elf, he’s sort of the subject of today’s post. Imagine that. Topical humor from little ol’ me.

“The Santa Clause” trilogy of films are among my better half’s favorite Christmas movies. We watch them every year in a marathon session. If you’re not familiar with them, Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, a guy who dons Santa’s suit after an accident and becomes Santa Claus, frolicking his way through Christmas-themed adventures.

None of these films ever sat right with me. It can’t be helped. Law school changes the way you think. Let me explain why I consider these movies some of the most terrifying on film.

First, consider the premise that by donning a Santa suit the wearer immediately assents to leaving their old life behind and becoming Santa Claus. That’s a motherfucker of a binding non-negotiable contract if I’ve ever seen one. The protagonist doesn’t even get a say if he wants the gig. It’s borderline indentured servitude if you think about it.

Maybe the film’s structured this way as a means of exacting karmic justice from the man who KILLED SANTA. Who knows?

Anyway, Calvin grudgingly accepts his role as Kris Kringle, which doesn’t sit well with his ex-wife and mother to his son, Charlie. Laura, Charlie’s mother, is married to a psychologist who doesn’t believe in Santa. This asshole, played by Judge Reinhold, decides the best thing to do is yank Dad’s visitation rights with Charlie.

Scott Calvin shows up on Christmas Eve to say goodbye to Charlie despite court orders, and Charlie asks if he can take a quick ride in Dad’s sleigh. Dad agrees, so Mom calls the cops to file kidnapping charges.

This sends Lakeside Police into a frenzy of stop-and-frisks for anyone in a Santa suit. How no officers were subject to discipline as a result of their actions is sadly predictable to anyone reading this post.

We end the first film with Mom forgiving Dad for the errant jaunt, which anyone who’s ever handled a contested divorce with children will tell you NEVER HAPPENS. Everyone just accepts their new lots in life. Charlie’s the worst off in my book because he can’t tell anyone his Dad’s Santa Claus.

The terror of the first film pales in comparison to the second. You see, in order for there to be a Santa Claus, there must be a Mrs. Claus. Hence “The Santa Clause 2.”

Unfortunately the dating scene’s pretty scarce at the North Pole, so Curtis, one of Santa’s best elves, creates a robot Santa to oversee Christmas operations while Santa shtups Charlie’s school principal. Think about that: one of Santa’s elves created a combination of Skynet and Frankenstein’s Monster so Santa could get some tail.

Anyway, Carol (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) didn’t know at first that she was signing up for a gig that would force her to leave her entire life behind too. If that doesn’t enrage the blue haired Gender Studies majors, I don’t know what will. Worse yet is the essential forced isolation from friends and family, which we learn about in “The Santa Clause 3.”

Yes, dear readers, we find ourselves at the conclusion of our trilogy of terror. Mrs. Claus is now knocked up and living full time at the North Pole, teaching elves at school when they’re not making toys for children. Santa wants the in-laws present for the birth of his son, but they can’t give up the secret that he’s Santa Claus.

So with the help of the Sandman, Santa whisks his in-laws to the North Pole, which has been made to look like Canada, and the fat man tells his relatives he runs a successful toy factory.

Meanwhile, Jack Frost is running around butthurt that more people don’t take him seriously as a Legendary Figure. So Frost worms his way into the North Pole, finds a way to get Santa to say he wished he’d never accepted the role, and tricks Santa into becoming regular Scott Calvin again.

This forces Calvin to race to the North Pole, which Frost has since turned into a chintzy tourist trap of a resort. With the help of Charlie and niece Lucy, Calvin reclaims the mantle of Santa Claus and rejoins his family in time for the birth of his son, *Buddy Claus.

What’s not to be offended over this? Santa drugs and lies to his relatives. Two get frozen during their visit to the North Pole. Rampant commercialism in the second half. The whole film’s unnerving.

Sure, at the end of the film everyone’s happy and in on the truth, but it wasn’t without Santa, the elves, and Mrs. Claus—who didn’t want to lie to her parents but went along with her husband’s demands anyway—deceiving people close to them.

Hopefully you too now understand why these films represent the worst of humanity. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen the movies, hopefully I’ve convinced you to stay far away from them. If you’ve seen them and this post opened any old wounds, please forgive me. Consider it a late Festivus Airing of Grievances.

Regardless, happy holidays from your favorite Jolly Bastard. I hope you’re celebrating in your preferred manner and the season’s memorable. Next week will be the Simple Justice Year in Review, and then barring some event worthy of skewering, yours truly will be taking a couple of weeks off for a break.

We’ll see each other next year!

*I have long argued with my wife there’s a strong case to be made that Will Ferrell’s character in “Elf” could potentially be Santa’s son because of this. Dr. S. typically responds to my assertions by rolling her eyes so hard they might fall out of their sockets.

9 thoughts on “Seaton: The Problematic “Santa Clause”


    I’ve seen a couple of the Tim Allen Santa movies and would consider them exemplary examples of the genre compared to the most recent Santa Claus movie offerings.

    Of course, I’m speaking of the Christmas Chronicles, a trio of movies used as a vehicle to keep Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn employed past their “Use by” date. What a bunch of schlock. We saw the first one by mistake and decided to forego the sequels.

    And everyone knows that Die Hard is the best Christmas movie, ever!

    1. CLS

      I can’t stand the Christmas Chronicles, and I second your assertions regarding their use as a means of prolonging Russell and Hawn’s careers.

  2. Kathleen Casey

    Christmas brings out the worst in a lot of split families, not cheesy emotions that’s for sure. SC 1 just once was enough for me. The rest of the trilogy never tempted me. How can you stand it every year?

    Mike G. has good taste about Die Hard though the Christmas message gets overwhelmed doesn’t it? That’s the point, right.

    While You Were Sleeping is foolish but a charmer. The lawyer is played as dumb as dirt and I always think WT… .

    1. CLS

      How do I stand three SC movies every year? Easy. We make compromises.

      Who do you think had to sit through “Wonder Woman 84” with me today?

      1. Kathleen Casey

        It wasn’t “had to” she compromised. My compromises were Go ahead I’m staying home or Go ahead I’ll read a book.

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