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Movie Review

One good clause calls for another in this merry legal drama ... I mean ... Christmas yarn. Back in 1994, Scott Calvin stumbled on the "Santa Clause" and got himself rooked into becoming Santa when he put on the jolly elf’s coat. Now, after nearly a decade of successful Christmastimes making billions of children’s sugarplum dreams come true, his head elf helper confronts him with clause number two: Santa must find himself a wife. And he’s got to do it before Christmas.

There are more than a few problems with that. There are only 28 days to go before Christmas and Santa doesn’t exactly have much of a social life. Besides, he’s needed at the North Pole to supervise the making of this year’s toys. There’s nothing thin about Santa, so let’s just say he’ll need to spread himself pretty thick to keep the toy factory going while finding a soul mate back home in the U.S. of A. To help, one of his elves (the brainy one) figures out a way to clone him. The thought is to let the real Santa go find Mrs. Claus while the clone minds the proverbial candy store. It’s a good idea that goes bad in a hurry when the clone comes out of the machine looking more like a life-size plastic toy than Coca-Cola’s jolly St. Nick. But that’s not the half of it; "new" Santa comes equipped with a deep-rooted megalomania and a lust for coal. Santa’s obviously got his work cut out for him if he’s going to save Christmas once again.

positive elements: Santa’s (Scott’s) now-teenage son, Charlie, is acting out at school because his dad’s not around enough and he’s sick of keeping secrets from his friends. The moral of this subplot is that kids need their dads and that even superhero status won’t substitute for quantity time spent at home. At the same time, Charlie learns that he has to take responsibility for his actions, regardless of what motivates them. Good holiday cheer, keeping oneself on the "nice" list and off the "naughty" one, and neighborly good deeds all get thumbs up in the script.

spiritual content: In a word, Santa. And he’s so big and glorious that there’s no room for anything or anyone else (namely, God). Santa is presented as the only reason Christmas exists. His demise would leave the world’s inhabitants cold, mean and cheerless. Carol raises the question of Santa to a spiritual plane when she sighs longingly, "A person just wants something to believe in, you know?" Santa, of course, is what she’s offered as her solution. Later, Charlie steals from the New Testament when he remarks, "Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing." And for those fond of finding allegories in all the wrong places, Santa's comment, "This place is all about magic and love and wonder," firmly equates the North Pole with heaven. Also accepted as "truth" in this story are such legends as Father Time, Mother Nature (who claims power over the sacrament of marriage), The Tooth Fairy (whose dainty wings are used to hint at gender confusion), Cupid and The Sandman.

sexual content: While wooing Carol, Santa kisses her under the mistletoe. During the credits, SHeDAISY sings "Santa Has a Brand New Bag," a song with subtle sexual undertones (Think of it as a modern reimagining of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" with lyrics that include the lines, "I hope he gets here quick, I need a St. Nick fix/Oooo-eee, I just want him to be all wrapped up for me/Santa's never been this hard to resist/But Santa never used to look like this/... This Christmas, I'm wanting something I've never had/'Cause Santa's got a brand new bag.")

violent content: Most of SC2’s violence is goofy and well-suited for its G rating. The only cringe-worthy scene is one in which Santa/Scott tries to pull one of his teeth (he figures the only way to summon The Tooth Fairy is to put it under his pillow). Methods for extraction include tying the stubborn bicuspid to a door knob and a toaster (the appliance is then dropped over a second-floor balcony, pulling Scott down with it). Elsewhere, the fake Santa plays rough when he and the elves toss a football around. A "reindeer-in-training" named Chet crashes into buildings and knocks Santa down. An elf smashes into trashcans and a car while dangling from a rope held by The Tooth Fairy. A final battle between an army of gigantic toy soldiers and the elves involves snowballs, silly string and snowmobiles. Toy soldier parts fly through the air as they are beat to pieces. Santa and Santa go mano a mano in an airborne fight which culminates in a sleigh crash.

crude or profane language: One use each of "golly" and "heck."

drug and alcohol content: SHeDAISY’s song includes the line, "As he finds his Zen down on the kitchen floor/He lights a fat Cohiba from his humidor." Wine is served at a restaurant. And Comet’s habitual candy consumption could be interpreted as the reindeer equivalent to addiction. After one disastrous binge, Comet collapses in a heap, unable to stand, much less fly. Santa remarks that he feels a little "buzzed" after drinking hot cocoa.

other negative elements: Before falling for Charlie’s high school principal, Carol, Scott defies her efforts to discipline Charlie—and he does it in front of his son. The film also downplays the negative effects of divorce. Charlie tells his dad that there are "plenty of divorced moms" at his school who will "date anybody." The head elf, disgusted with another elf’s adherence to the North Pole Rule Book, quips, "Do you go pee-pee with that thing?" Oh, and reindeer don’t just fly like the wind, they also create it—loudly.

conclusion: Action and adventure have taken over Christmas! "Elfcon one! Go to Elfcon one!" yells Santa as a military reconnaissance plane zooms over the North Pole. "The target’s not slowing. Go to silent running." Santa raises the periscope (made from a giant candy cane) above the ice cap and peers at the intruder. Tension lies thick on the elves’ sweaty brows as they tiptoe about, hoping the pilots won’t hone in on their signal. Just then, blaring music shatters the stillness. Santa and the head elf rush to find the source of the noise before it’s too late. But it’s not an evil saboteur that they find, just an oblivious elf jamming to Christmas tunes. "How ‘bout a nice pair of headphones this year for Christmas," Santa says wryly after the song is silenced and disaster averted.

Not exactly classic Christmas lore, but it works nicely in this sequel. The G-rated SC2 (the original Santa Clause was PG) is fun, romantic, sentimental and warm, all the things a Christmas movie should be. It just refuses to acknowledge God. Santa is not the reason for the season, and kids need to be taught who is. A fact that begs the question: Does Santa Clause 2 deserve a stocking full of coal this Christmas?


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