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So I Finally Saw.. Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

Written by Zechs on Monday, December 14 2009 and posted in Reviews

You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout cause Zechs is going to tell you why with his review of this Christmas Classic.

I'm a lover of movies; in fact, I love all kinds of movies. Of them all, action movies especially. However, I also do enjoy sci-fi, drama, comedy, and horror. Romance? Eh, if the babe is hot and there are tits to go along with the show it might be deemed possibly watchable for me. Though even then, that so did not help me when I watched The English Patient (1996). Otherwise, I rather watch Batman & Robin (1997) for 24 hours straight than see a cheesy romance flick. Still, I cannot see every movie known to man when they come out, or only hear good stuff about them. Therefore, I'll put my behind down and review the flick. Enter this column, where I finally state was the movie truly worth the price of viewing or not.

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Ok, before I go into deep with my review of this film let me just first off confess that I did see Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) when I was a young child. However, this and One Magic Christmas where two movies that well, I’ve almost totally have left my memory.  All that remainds are some brief memories of certain scenes, though that’s it alas. I probably blame Godzilla: 1985 for the cause of it all. Being a strong Godzilla fan and that being my first (and only) big screen Godzilla experience why I can recall so much of my viewing experience from that then these films.  But enough of Godzilla, I could write over one hundred pages of that walking natural disaster.  This is about Santa Claus: The Movie.   

What I can recall was remembering Dudley Moore playing some elf who tries going into the real world with his entire toy making knowledge in selling to the highest bidder or something like that. Really of the two Christmas movies this one I remembered less of so this film was like a whole different experience for me. So it did surprise me that I did remember the B plot to this film, though completely forgot this had an origin story to start with. Which brings me to something I never though I compare a movie about Santa Claus too, a superhero film.

How so?  Everything about a superhero movie rules are all in here in this movie. You have the stereo typical origin for the first half of the movie on how he became such a grand hero then him going up against his evil opposite number for the other half.  Heck you have the annoying little young side kick and the cheesy Superman effects (surprisingly after writing this I looked at the Wiki entry on this and found out that the people behind this movie did the Superman films). All this movie was missing was an epic fight between Santa and B.Z. (played by John Lithgow) above New York’s skies.  They even have the villain have a real bad end (you’ll never want to be declared naughty by this Santa).

lithgow.jpgSpeaking of B.Z. he was about the only real character that actually caught my interest. I mean really Santa is what you expect. They follow whatever German or Eastern European Background then toss in Tolkien with the elves. Lithgow really hams it up but gives a nice miserly performance as a CEO of a toy company who wants to put Santa out of business, yet has to stomach with Moore’s Patch idea of free toys for but one Christmas season. Still, isn’t that always the case with 80s and 90s Superhero movies? The villain always steals the show from its central hero?  


Which leads me to my problem with this film, the atmosphere is just too bland. Sure the North Pole is full of colors and imagination, but there’s a real coldness and bleakness to New York in this film. It’s like day and night. I mean I get that Santa is supposed to bring a joyous light to the world but goddamn did the people behind this literally have to mean it? I almost expected Santa to foil some robbery and declare some criminals VERY NAUGHTY then delievering unholy justice upon them. 


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The effects are now also dated, but considering the time I won’t hold that against it.  Also the whole origin story was just too long for my taste. I know it hasn’t been told in movies before this, but come on the Santa Clause (1994) did a way better with a Santa origin then this, which was very quick and amusingly to the letter.  I don’t want to know every detail on how the reindeer fly, or how does Santa do what he do. I want to go straight to the B plot! Also everyone but Lithgow seemed to do this by the numbers for their check.  There’s somewhat of a sparkle to Dudley Moore but Huddleston as Santa and Burgess Meredith as some real old elf are just there and really don’t stand out. You’ll think to yourself wow they really wasted that role for that actor?

Speaking of Huddleston he's alright, but he by no means is Edmund Gwen caliber making you actually believe this dude is Santa or even the Santa in the next Christmas movie I'll review with that gleam in his eye. That's my main problem with Huddeston. He's just an face to me in this, and nothing more. He brings nothing to this role other than what's required.  

Still, I do remember I enjoyed this movie as a child even if I didn’t have a recollection of some things until I re-watched this film. So I’ll probably bet if you have children they’ll eat this up easily. Even with the dated special effects and by the books acting (save for Lithgow). I have better hopes for One Magic Christmas given I think it was done by Disney and recall a lot more things to it than this.

 2.5 out of 5

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About the Author - Zechs


Zechs is the lord and master of The Toy Shed, Character Spotlight, and Cartoon Reviews. He's also an aspiring comic book writer trying to get some of his works published on the Outhouse. If there's any greater quality to Zechs, it's that he's an avid fan of comic book characters and would defend them to the bitter end against the companies that use them wrongly. Zechs walks the lonely path in Chicagoland area.

 


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