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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Marry Christmas
by Betty Jo Tucker

Santa’s bachelor life must come to an end. No more spending all his time with a bunch of reindeer, elves, and toys. In Santa Clause 2, a "Mrs. Santa" clause is discovered in the "Santa Claus Handbook." What does this mean for the future of our happiest holiday? It could have world-shaking consequences, for Tim Allen’s Santa must find a bride by Christmas Eve -- or suffer the dreaded process of de-santafication.

This amusing and colorful sequel to The Santa Clause aroused my holiday spirit – even more so than the original movie. That’s quite an accomplishment: it’s usually after Thanksgiving before Christmas euphoria kicks in for me. I think most credit goes to those incredible North Pole sets and costumes. Visually, Santa Clause 2 is wondrously creative. During scenes in Elf Village and Santa’s Toy Workshop, every spot on the screen holds something fascinating to see.

"The overall design concept can best be described as elaborate, whimsical, and ornate," explains production designer Tony Burrough. "It’s inspired by the turn of the 20th century’s Art Nouveau movement. It’s a very decorative sensibility with lots of curves and swirls and embellishments."

And, oh, those darling elves! Over two hundred children were cast to play these little creatures – each with a different type of costume. Ingrid Ferrin, who designed the costumes, says the outfits for the elves evolved as she met the children and realized what their Elf world jobs would be. "We created distinctive costumes for Baker Elves, Workshop Elves, Naughty and Nice Elves, Stable Elves, and more," she reports.

If I were Santa, I wouldn’t want to leave the Elves or their marvelous village either. Imagine his dismay when he learns he’ll no longer be Santa if he remains unmarried. Hard to grasp at first, but as the Big Guy starts losing weight, beard, and gray hair, he realizes something has to be done. So, saddling up old Comet, Santa returns to his former home (remember, he started out as Scott Calvin, toy salesman), hoping for help from his ex-wife (Wendy Crewson) and her current husband (Judge Rheinhold). He also wants to discover why son Charlie’s (Eric Lloyd) name appears on the "Naughty" instead of "Nice" list this year.

When his dad shows a romantic interest in Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell), the no-nonsense school principal, Charlie’s not a happy camper. But I was. Mitchell and Allen share some delightful screen moments as their characters get to know each other. My favorite: the faculty Christmas party. Allen, as Scott again, becomes a "secret Santa" and livens up an exceptionally dull evening by giving each teacher a surprise toy he or she desired as a child. By projecting Carol’s wide-eyed disbelief and sense of wonder, Mitchell comes across as absolutely charming here.

Animatromic reindeer, especially a clumsy trainee named "Chet," evoked the most laughs from me in Santa Clause 2 – even though I couldn’t understand anything they said (subtitles for reindeer language, please). I also smiled a lot watching Bernard (David Krumholz) and Curtis (Spencer Breslin), the two chief Elves, argue about practically everything.

To me, the "Mrs. Santa" clause seems like a very good idea. Shouldn’t everyone realize how important it is to balance family and work? Even Santa.

(Released by Walt Disney Pictures and rated "G" for general audiences.)

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