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Santa Clause 2, The

In this sequel, Santa Claus' life gets a little more complicated when he discovers there's an extra ''Mrs.'' clause in the contract--he has to find a wife or lose all Santa privileges forever.


I am not going to be the one who disses Santa. Even if The Santa Clause 2 was a real stinker (which, thankfully, it isn't), I can't, in all good conscience, slam an unassuming if sometimes too-sweet story about the man who brings us the spirit of Christmas. Sorry. Since donning the big guy's red coat in the first The Santa Clause, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) has thoroughly enjoyed being Santa Claus for the last eight years. His elves love him and, as Santa's Number One Elf, Bernard (David Krumholtz), points out, ''the kids are 83 percent happier since he's been Santa.'' But apparently there's another clause to being Claus. Scott has to find a wife in the 28 days before Christmas or he will be Santa no more. He finds this out on the same day he finds out his 14-year-old son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) has made the ''Naughty'' list. As the ''de-Santa-fication'' process begins, Scott has to leave the North Pole to help his son and find the perfect Mrs. Clause. In his place, to smooth things over until he returns, is a duplicate Santa who takes the job a little too seriously and ends up creating a police state at the North Pole. Can Scott reconcile with Charlie and win the heart of his son's jaded but beautiful school principal, Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell), all in time to save Christmas from a psychopath? Oh, you all know the answer to that. Clause 2 isn't going to go down as a children's classic, but its endearing enough to make an impression.


Tim Allen is one of those actors who pretty much plays himself in every film but even as himself, he is a fun guy to watch. The 1994 The Santa Clause was Allen's first foray into feature films after he had established himself as a television star in his hit series Home Improvement--and no one had a clue the movie would be as successful as it was, catapulting Allen into movie stardom. But with a string of recent flops, including Joe Somebody and Big Trouble, Allen needs a hit--this may be it. He doesn't get to show off his biting comic talents quite as much in Clause 2, but Santa's clothes fit him beautifully (OK, maybe not exactly the right fit but pretty close). Of course, playing the psychotic duplicate Santa is where Allen gets to have the most fun, with an incredible make-up job to boot. The supporting cast, Krumholtz, Mitchell, Lloyd and cherub-faced Spencer Breslin (The Kid) as a nerdy elf know-it-all, all do their jobs adequately. But the guys who steal the show are the cameos by other ''legendary'' characters, including Father Time (Peter Boyle), Cupid (an hysterical Kevin Pollak), Mother Nature (Aisha Tyler) and The Tooth Fairy (Art LaFleur), who is desperate to change his name to the ''Mole-inator.'' Apparently, they do all exist and have a great time together.


The best part of The Santa Clause 2 is the world it creates. The first Clause did a great job focusing on Scott and how he transforms into old St. Nick, but the North Pole was only touched upon. Now, in the hands of TV sitcom director Michael Lembeck, it's up close and personal. Lembeck takes his first trip into feature films and seemingly has a ball painting a vibrant picture of the North Pole, where the hustle and bustle of elves and snow and toymaking makes us believe it really exists. So real, in fact, that when a stray cargo plane comes dangerously close to discovering Santa's village, it sends the denizens of the town into an ''Elf-Con One''-alert status. The top priority is to always keep Santa's secret safe (which is one of the reasons Charlie has such a tough time--he can't tell the world what his dad really does). There are the reindeers too, of course, and thankfully, they don't actually speak English--just a kind of mumbled reindeer-speak only Santa can understand. Funny stuff. Sure, Clause 2 is a little cartoonish, a tad predictable and sometimes heavy-handed with the message about the spirit of Christmas, but it's also just pure fun.

Bottom Line

Parents get ready. Kids will have a great time watching The Santa Clause 2--and will get pumped up for the real thing.