Santa Claus: the movie

Director: Jeannot Szwarc. Cast: Dudley MooreJohn LithgowDavid Huddleston 

Santa Claus gets the “Superman treatment” in this 1985 movie (incidentally by the same writers and producers of Superman) which let’s be honest should really only be watched around d Christmas time and possibly by children alone, while the parents get some rest elsewhere. 

The first act is actually rather magical and somewhat promising: the introduction of Santa, the arrival of the elves, the amazing toy factory. The production design is warm, cuddly and detailed and makes you hope for a much better film than what you’re eventually going to get.

The story (if it can be called such… I’m using the term very “broadly”) goes through the numbers and gives children all they’re hoping see: Santa flying above the sky (aided by some ropey 80s effects) and delivering presents to children (all rather annoying and with terrible haircuts), the toys being build is the factory in North Pole… and so on… Then at some point the film becomes something else when one of the elves (a charmless Dudley Moore) decides to use automated machines to build toys. And just when you’re thinking “I’m not really enjoying this anymore” there’s another abrupt left-turn as a super-villain comes into the story, wanting to steal the spotlight (and the job) from Santa, by which point all the promises of the first few minutes fall apart and the parents who are still left watching this with their children begin to contemplate possible ways to flee the room to do something else instead. 

It is actually a jumble of at least 3 films stitched together at 80s pace (or rather the bad 80s). Slow, uneventful, unimaginative and turning the whole Christmas magic into a merchandising machine (not that far from the truth probably… ).

Worst of all Santa himself is one of the most wooden and empty characters of any children movies I’ve probably seen this year. He may look the part but that’s about it. The blame must be directed to the script which doesn’t really allow him to do much at all.  Children under 10 may probably love it but for anyone else it’ll be a test of endurance. 

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