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The Santa Clause 2

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
The Santa Clause 2

from Film Forum, 11/07/02

Santa is the box office champion this week at your local theaters, and it's not even mid-November yet. Tim Allen reprises his role as that jolly old elf in The Santa Clause 2, a sequel to the smash holiday comedy of 1994.

Religious media critics are making the usual criticisms about Santa overshadowing Jesus during the holiday season. About the film itself, they say this installment in the franchise is funnier than the first, but others complain that the film's message goes against everything the nature of the holiday's namesake.

Phil Boatwright (Movie Reporter) writes, "The Santa Clause 2 outshines its predecessor. It is a true delight … a nice lesson about faith."

But others see a problem. Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) argues, "The film actually suggests that if Santa Claus isn't able to deliver presents, it will mean no Christmas. Didn't Dr. Seuss teach us all a long time ago that even if you stop the presents, you don't stop Christmas?"

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) agrees: "Where the film goes astray is in its implied message. It would appear that to the large posse of credited screenwriters, Christmas is all about the gifts. Receiving them … not necessarily giving them. The film implicitly gives a selfish message directed to the 'me' generation. It may be wrapped in tinsel and glittering lights but when we open this package, it's empty inside."

Ed Blank (Catholic News) gives it a mixed review: "The picture makes a good point about adults cherishing the child in themselves, but, as in the original, the sequel is limited to a secular view of Christmas."

Movieguide's critic is troubled by something different. He calls it "one of the better-produced holiday-oriented family offerings from Hollywood in the last few years. The sets are colorful, the story is exciting, and Tim Allen is very funny. Despite positive messages about responsibility and grace, however, the movie contains some objectionable pagan elements, including references to Mother Nature, and an attitude that, were it not for Santa Claus, the meaning of Christmas is diminished."

(I would argue that it is encouraging to see a family film that groups Mother Nature in with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy as fantasy characters that we learn to recognize as mere fictions.)

Steven Isaac (Focus on the Family) calls it "fun, romantic, sentimental and warm, all the things a Christmas movie should be." Holly McClure (Crosswalk) likes the film's focus on "believing in parents having a good relationship with their kids and the strength of family and love. This is a great way to kick off the Christmas season with some funny reminders about how much fun it is (as a kid) to pretend that there's really a man in a red suit who brings us presents." Michael Medved says, "This counts as that rarest of movie sequels that in every way outdoes the original hit that inspired it."

Paul Bicking (Preview) claims it "doesn't quite live up to the magic and humor of the original film."

Most mainstream critics were unenthusiastic about the film, but Roger Ebert says that compared to the first Santa Clause, "it's more engaging, assured and funny, and I liked it more." Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly) says it's "as snappy and well reinforced as Santa's pajamas."

from Film Forum, 11/14/02Still Cooking

The Santa Clause 2 continues to divide religious press critics due to its sprightly humor and its unfortunate emphasis on gift-getting. This week, Mike Parnell (Ethics Daily) says, "A Santa Claus movie opening on All Saints Day. Isn't it bad enough that Wal-Mart puts up Christmas decorations before Oct. 15?" He calls it "a cute movie, but it lacks some of the very elements that made the first movie good. [It] has the look and feel of those Disney knockoffs that are coming out now. These are sequels that don't need to be made. One of the trailers shown preceding this movie was for The Jungle Book 2. Jungle Book does not need a sequel."