The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause (November 1/02)
The Santa Clause 2 picks up a few years after the first one left off, with Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) now completely immersed into the role of Santa Claus. But after learning that he has to get married as part of the so-called "Mrs." clause, Santa must become Scott and find a wife within 28 days. Various characters from the first film return, including Scott's son Charlie (Eric Lloyd), ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her touchy-feely shrink husband Neil (Judge Reinhold). The Santa Clause 2 is an inoffensive time-waster that's directed mostly towards little kids, but it seems likely that fans of Allen will probably get a kick out of it as well. The movie contains several jokes and set-pieces that will no doubt fly right over the heads of most children, including a parody of submarine movies as the North Pole has to avoid detection by a passing airplane. The bulk of the story follows Scott's efforts to find a wife, a search that yields a reasonable prospect in Charlie's principal, Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell). That stuff was interesting enough, but the needless inclusion of a subplot featuring a clone Santa only slows things down. Also unnecessary was a climactic action sequence featuring the two Santas duking it out on board that famous red sled. It was more tedious than anything else, and took away from the characters - which have become surprisingly likable. Still, The Santa Clause 2 is enjoyable enough (though oddly cheap-looking; some of the special effects shots are grainy and obvious, giving the film a distinctly '80s feel), which makes it an ideal matinee for the whole family. And besides, how else are you going to get to see Judge Reinhold on the big screen?
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (November 3/06)
Although Tim Allen remains a personable and likable figure, there's little doubt that the Santa Clause series has finally run out of steam. The Santa Clause 3 - more often than not - comes off as an entirely superfluous piece of work, recycling the themes and plot points of its two predecessors. This time around, Santa (Allen) must prevent the sinister Jack Frost (Martin Short) from taking over Christmas and also ensure that his in-laws (Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret) remain oblivious as to his real identity. Were it not for the presence of folks like Arkin, Short, and Judge Reinhold within The Santa Clause 3's cast, the film would undoubtedly fare a whole lot worse than it ultimately does. Ed Decter and John J. Strauss' screenplay possesses an almost unreasonable amount of sentiment, and the inclusion of a subplot involving Santa's inability to make time for his family is egregiously familiar. And while the movie does pick up in its third act as various heartwarming elements start to fall into place, the viewer has to sit through more than a few instances of needless padding to get to that point (was Short's musical number really necessary?)
About the DVD: The Santa Clause 2 is thankfully presented in letterboxed form, in a transfer that's as bright and vibrant as the film itself. The film also comes equipped with a number of special features, starting with an informative commentary track by director Michael Lembeck. Also included is a 10-minute tour of the set (which is hosted by Spencer Breslin, who plays one of the elves and stays in character during the tour), a shorter (four minutes) tour with Lembeck of the outside of the Elf town, and a short gag reel. But wait, there's more. There's also a silly little extra featuring Lembeck interviewing the various fictional characters in the film (ie The Tooth Fairy), which is admittedly worth watching if only for Kevin Pollak (playing Cupid). Finally, the disc includes a game for kids and several Disney advertisements. Not surprisingly, The Santa Clause 3 also comes armed with a surfeit of bonus features - including a blooper reel, an alternate opening, an audio commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and much more.