The Santa Clause 2

2002, Movie, G, 98 mins


A reasonably entertaining sequel to 1994's surprise family hit that may strain adult credibility, not because of the flying reindeer, but by virtue of its suggestion that somewhere out there an icy, drop-dead gorgeous high school principal is waiting to be thawed out by a goofball who lives in the middle of nowhere and talks to elves. It's been nine years since Santa fell off divorced-dad and former toy-company executive Scott Calvin's (Tim Allen) roof, and Scott had the job of replacing the jolly old soul thrust upon him. Things have been going pretty well at the North Pole; in fact, the elves think Scott's the best Santa ever. Suddenly, however, problems arise: Scott's son Charlie (Eric Lloyd), now a rebellious teenager who lives with his mom (Wendy Crewson) and her new husband, has turned up in the naughty column on this year's "Naughty or Nice" list (in one of the picture's best sops to adults, Scott initially assumes the guilty Charlie is Charlie Sheen). Worse, Scott himself is mysteriously de-Santafying, losing his bowl-full-of-jelly belly and cheerful white beard. A bit of exposition later, faithful assistant elf Bernard (David Krumholtz) has discovered that if Scott doesn't get married before Christmas Eve, he'll stop being Santa forever — there's a "Mrs. Clause" in his contract. So Scott sets off for his former hometown, leaving a cloned Santa (Allen again) in his place so the elves won't panic and miss their Christmas quotas. Scott meets and falls in love with the aforementioned stunning Principal Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell) — who's also the wicked witch of the school system who's about to suspend Charlie — reconciles with his troubled son and, in a wonderful aerial re-imagining of the stagecoach chases from innumerable old Westerns, saves the North Pole from a hostile takeover by the increasingly authoritarian faux Santa. Obviously, veteran sitcom director Michael Lembeck's film is geared to the sensibilities of undemanding youngsters and parents whose diminished expectations are such that their only hope is that the film doesn't become terminally adorable. That their prayers are answered is mostly thanks to Allen, who's thoroughly likeable in an everyguy sort of way. The wonderfully imaginative, neo-Victorian art direction in the North Pole sequences is also an asset, and there's a very funny turn by Art LaFleur as the identity crisis-ridden Tooth Fairy. And really, you have to have a certain affection for any movie in which a stressed-out Mother Nature announces ominously, "Don't mess with me — I'm pre-El Niño." leave a comment --Steve Simels

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