JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Directed by: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall

Written by Bianca Garner

Like Burton’s Batman Returns; on the first watch Edward Scissorhands doesn’t jump out as a Christmas film. However; Edward Scissorhands is the perfect Christmas film because it promotes the strength and power of love and family, two things which are essential to Christmas. When asked about the where the concept of Edward Scissorhands came from, Burton explained it came from a drawing he drew as a teenager which reflected his feelings of isolation and being unable to communicate to people around him in suburban Burbank. The drawing was of a thin, serious-looking man with long, sharp blades instead of fingers. Burton stated that he was often alone and had trouble retaining friendships. “I get the feeling people just got this urge to want to leave me alone for some reason, I don’t know exactly why.”

The film begins in a fairytale-like fashion; with an elderly woman telling her granddaughter the story of a young man named Edward who has scissor blades for hands and the reason why it snows every Christmas. As the creation of an old Inventor, Edward (Johnny Depp) is an artificially created human who is almost completed. The Inventor (Vincent Price) homeschools Edward, but suffers a heart attack and dies before he could attach hands to Edward. Some years later, Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest), a local Avon door-to-door saleswoman, visits the decrepit Gothic mansion where Edward lives. She finds Edward alone and offers to take him to her home after discovering he is virtually harmless. Peg introduces Edward to her family: her husband Bill, their young son Kevin, and their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Edward must try and adapt to life in the suburbs, becoming a dog groomer and a hairdresser for the ladies of the neighbourhood, and a great show and tell for Kevin. Slowly Edward and Kim grow closer, but there’s one problem to deal with, in the form of Kim’s hot-headed boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall).

The element of Christmas takes a while to appear in the film, and it isn’t until the last act that Edward Scissorhands makes this shift into a Christmas film. However, this isn’t a time of celebration. Edward has become hated by the neighbourhood after being set up for a burglary that he didn’t commit.  Christmas is presented to us as this fake commercial act, where neighbours turn on neighbours and where it seems that bullies get away with their crimes. Burton is making a bold statement here. Instead of Christmas bringing this suburban community together, it has pulled them apart. The neighbourhood has become this place of competition and rivalry, where households seek to outdo each other in terms of who can ‘celebrate’ Christmas the most. As an outsider, Edward is unaware of how to participate in this rivalry and the act of Christmas, and we sympathise with him especially because he has become the scapegoat of all the issues to do with the community.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are moments where the happiness and warmth of Christmas shine through and reinforces what Christmas is really about. The scene where Kim goes out into the backyard to find Edward making an angel ice sculpture, which creates a beautiful sprinkling of snow, helps to show us how the world can be transformed by a little bit of magic. Snow is presented as this simple beauty which has the power to make the world stop and reflect. In this brief moment, all of Kim’s and Edward’s anxieties melt away, and they no longer care regarding other people’s judgements. It is a powerful and iconic scene, which is made more effective by Danny Elfman’s score. This is what Christmas is all about, loving each other and taking part in the small, simple moments.

The power of Edward Scissorhands is how it manages to perfectly capture that loneliness, isolation, and family awkwardness that emerges around Christmas season. To anyone who finds it hard to socialise with distant family members, Edward feels like a kindred spirit. Ultimately, Edward is banished back to the top of the hill, but he manages to escape a life of materialism and fake respect. Many would consider this a somewhat sad ending, but all Christmas films have a touch of sadness to them. Christmas isn’t all tinsel, turkey dinners and presents. It can be a time of isolation and heartache for many. Edward Scissorhands helps us realise that life goes on and that an outsider can still bring happiness in their own way, shown how Edward brings snow to the neighbourhood.

Often Christmas films feel overwhelming, and a film like Edward Scissorhands can offer an alternative. It is a family film which has a strong moral message at its core, which we can all reflect on. Edward Scissorhands reassures us that it’s okay to be different and that everyone is entitled to love. With its moving storyline, stunning and quirky mise-en-scene and beautiful score, Edward Scissorhands is an overlooked classic holiday film which is definitely worth seeking out this Christmas.

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JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli
Cast: Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor

Written by Jo Craig

If arguing the great Die Hard debate, rebelling against Saint Nicholas by siding with Krampus under the fairy lights, or hearing Catherine O’Hara scream “Kevin!” for the four hundredth time tickles your tinsel, then a slight change from the rogues’ gallery of festive films could still supply enough nostalgic comfort to put the cream in your cocoa this winter. Aside from hosting one of the more classic Christmas tunes that leaves no eye dry, Vincente Minnelli’s 1940 musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, remains a mother/daughter tradition in my house that can never be skipped in December, under the threat of no brandy trifle from said matriarch.

Judy Garland’s second big break after The Wizard of Oz puts Esther Smith and her siblings through the rollercoaster of large family dramas, social frivolities accompanied by infectious singalongs and melodramatic romances that oozes just enough glowing hyperbole to remind you of its time period. As a kid, I was convinced Minnelli’s first major directing gig ran for over three hours as – at that age – a 40’s family drama/musical wasn’t The Grinch and came as more of a duty to sit through. Nowadays, the runtime has cut by half in my mind and I’m always sorry to see the Smith’s story end.

Based on a book by novelist Sally Benson and her family experiences, St. Louis infuses the airy premise with strong flavours of family bonding and loyalty that are always enhanced around the holidays. With the story broke into four acts – summer, fall, winter and spring – we witness the Smith girl’s long hot summer and their dance with romance featuring the feel-good Trolley Song that on set diva Garland managed to nail in one take. It is still not known how they survived in those curtain dresses. A memorable autumnal act tells us the little-known tradition of children who throw flour into the faces of a feared neighbour on All Hallows Eve, emphasising Minnelli’s talent at saturating each of the four acts with the pertaining seasons defining features.

Minnelli also segregates the Smith family into parents, teens and children to tell their individual stories in the narrative and effectively joins them in their times of need to convey their unity. The parents focus on the responsibilities and well-being of the family, creating a cathartic arc in the story when they threaten their family’s stability by planning to move from St. Louis to New York against their children’s wishes. Meanwhile, the teens focus on their social and romantic status’ and generally remain footloose and fancy-free. The interesting perspective is the children’s, especially the youngest sibling, cheeky Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) who’s mischief is tracked with Minnelli’s low camera angles that allow the viewer to witness her adventures from a child’s height, particularly visible in the Halloween scene.

One year in the life of the Smith family has its laughs, theatrics and singalongs, but the real sucker punch to the feels is the famous scene when Garland’s Esther sings Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas before the family has to uproot and move town. Garland apparently protested for the final line of the song to be removed – as it previously read, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last.” – and while this poignant moment in the film is relevant to that closing statement, Garland thought this was just a touch too sombre.

If by the end of Meet Me in St. Louis you don’t feel festively fulfilled or compelled to interact or reconnect with your family, then you are simply not human and are genuinely missing out on the tenderness that this hidden gem holds. The Christmas sequence is a heartfelt and memorable moment in cinematic history that is renowned for warming each and every heart cockle, even if Garland’s headscarf will constantly remind you of bubble wrap.

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Directed by: Jeremiah Chechik
Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki, John Randolph, Diane Ladd

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 1989 Christmas comedy is directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik and the third instalment in National Lampoon’s Vacation film series. The film stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki.

With Christmas only weeks away, proud family man Clark Griswold (Chase) is determined to host the perfect family Christmas. It doesn’t take long to convince supportive wife Ellen (D’Angelo) and children Audrey (Lewis) and Rusty (Galecki) that he will have his work cut out with his vision far from reality.

Welcoming the family after a few slight hiccups, including finding a Christmas tree and getting the decorations to work, the Griswolds are united for a good-old-fashioned family Christmas. With bickering in-laws and clashes over who sleeps where things are going as expected.

But when Clark is under pressure to receive his annual Christmas bonus to fund the family swimming pool, and also welcome the surprise of his redneck cousin-in-law Eddie (Quaid) and family, the perfect Christmas soon starts to unravel in a series of chaotic, mad-cap and dangerous events that will test them all in sticking it out together…

From obtaining a Christmas tree out in the wilderness, to wiring up the thousands of decorative lights to the house and scheduling in the Christmas dinner all around the expectant delivery of his annual work Christmas bonus, events all seem to take an upside downturn and it just makes the family more determined than ever to soldier through and really make this Christmas the greatest ever!

Set around the Griswold home, this could be the greatest Christmas film ever. No need for fantastical special effects, sweeping magical stories or epic adventures; this is a film we all can relate to and provides all of the warm humour and comedy from situations we have experienced in setting up for the Christmas season, which is why it works so well. The Griswold’s are a likeable bunch and they invite you in from the start to share the holiday with them and experience every annoyance, irk and frustration we too have had over the years.

Working in the film’s favour as always is the straight delivery of some classic lines from the actors as they create the most memorable American family since the Walton’s, and they work together so well with a great festive script to seal the deal.

This is my perfect Christmas film for all the right reasons and with crackling comedy and a feel-good festive message running throughout, this is one you can’t help but love to re-watch every year and be thankful your Christmas holiday isn’t as disastrous as the Griswold’s.

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Polar Express (2004)

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Chris Coppola, Michael Jeter, Leslie Zemeckis, Nona Gaye, Eddie Deezen

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2004 American computer-animated Christmas fantasy is written, produced, and directed by Robert Zemeckis. It features the vocal and motion-capture performances of Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara, Eddie Deezen, Nona Gaye, Tinashe, Peter Scolari and Jimmy Bennett.

In the late 1950s, on Christmas Eve, a sceptical young boy (Sabara//Hanks) is whisked away from his street by a magical train called the Polar Express, overseen by a strict time-keeping but friendly conductor (Hanks). On board, the boy meets other children including a know-it-all (Deezen), a recluse (Scolari/Bennett) and a kind-hearted girl (Gaye/Tinashe) who all become friends.

The conductor sees something special about the young boy and girl and as the journey takes many dangerous and exciting routes across, through and over mountains, ice-plains and the countryside, all three of them keep an eye on each other as they rocket towards their destination; the North Pole.

Once at the North Pole with the promise to meet Santa Claus (Hanks), the quartet become separated from the train as they sneak a look around the workshop, and eventually make their way out to come face to face with Santa, and our young hero must decide if he truly believes in the spirit of Christmas once and for all…

The first ever fully motion-captured film comes from the imagination of director Robert Zemeckis, adapted from the novel of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. With such a creative and imaginative director at the helm, it doesn’t surprise you to see this is fantastical journey taken where laws of physics are ignored, and the thrills, danger and excitement is heaped on sequence after sequence where it is obvious in places this has been made to profit the 3D experience on the big screen.

However, this doesn’t lessen the enjoyment of top-quality animation and the creepy-realism of the locations, the train itself, the wisps of snow, smoke and ice and the characters themselves. All are all rendered via computer animation to the point they can be 99% real, but it allows the other 1% to be escapist, thrown into danger and fantasy with no real risk to anyone – except maybe young viewers.

It will capture the imagination on first, maybe second viewing, but gradually on repeated watches, you come to see that the first 45/50mins or so is basically one long, dangerous train journey. It is also quite scary, un-nerving and perilous for our young heroes – scary hobos appear out of thin air to be in your face with demonic laughs and grins. Scary puppets are present in the rear carriage of the train that seem to have a mind of their own. The train itself is a monstrous beast that thunders towards and over the screen, and also races along the edges of cliff faces, ice lakes and mountain peaks where, if you’re not totally at ease, can be more nerve-wracking for young viewers than intended.

It edges into Tim Burton-esque surrealism with creepy imagery, peril and lots of tense moments that fail to capture a magical train journey to the North Pole but rather a nightmarish and disaster-filled ride that easily demonstrates exciting animation but loses that festive spirit in the story. Even segments in the finale at Santa’s Workshop edges us into peril and disaster, offering visual thrills as we race towards a crash or collision but are saved at the last minute. The soundtrack saves the film in places it drags; a thrilling and enjoyable flurry of music that is exciting, rousing and very bombastic with a sprinkling of festive charm along the way.

Tom Hanks does a superb job in his various mo-cap and vocal roles to keep your faith present as best he can, but it’s the opening and closing moments of the journey and the finale at the North Pole where he shines brightest – that wry, warm and witty Hanks gives us characters that are likeable and heartfelt, and his range is clearly on show. Our other supporting cast of relatively unknown actors help lend innocence to the children in their discovery of faith, friendship and Christmas cheer, while the mo-cap performances are near perfect in rendition.

So while the journey is itself not as magical as it could have been, the finale offers a few tender moments, much needed calm and a feel-good cheer as we discover what it means to believe in Christmas and Santa Claus; much more than toys and treats, but more about simply believing in all that is good, decent and honest. The message in the closing moments does tug at my heart-strings as it’s a wonderful summary of what Christmas should always be about, and how important it will be to preserve the magic for younger generations to come in a society so close to destroying it with commercialism.

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Directed by: Joe Roth
Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Julie Gonzalo, M.Emmet Walsh, Cheech Marin

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2004 American festive comedy is directed by Joe Roth and stars Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Julie Gonzalo, M.Emmet Walsh, and Cheech Marin.

When young Blair Krank (Gonzalo) leaves for Peru in the Peace Corps after Thanksgiving, her parents Luther (Allen) and Nora (Curtis) agree to invest the thousands of dollars they usually spend in Christmas decorations, food and gifts to fund a luxury cruise; skipping Christmas in their local neighbourhood.

They start to become frowned upon by their neighbours, none more so than Vic Frohmeyer (Aykroyd), who takes charge in rallying everyone to decorate their houses to win the local prize for best decorations. Luther stands his ground after coming under pressure from Vic, community carol singers and even local children, all hoping for him to reconsider and keep the festive spirit alive.

But on Christmas Eve, hours before departing, Blair calls to reveal she is engaged and is en-route home with her new fiancé to spend Christmas at home once more. Nora is more than willing to drop the cruise and rally around for last-minute decorations, food and gifts to welcome her daughter home, but Luther will face more of a battle to convince others to help him before Blair arrives home to nothing…

Probably one of the few Christmas films that I think is ok every year before watching, but when I actually DO watch it I remember how poor it really is on the surface. It’s got everything you need for a basic, run-of-the-mill madcap seasonal film; the festive community, chaotic shopping sprees, decoration disasters, a picture-perfect happy ending with cranky neighbours and bitter families alongside slapstick chaos…but something about this film is done in a way that is more irritating and drab than others.

Most of the film spends time making you resent the community the Kranks life in, as the basis of the story revolves around how two parents, parted from their grown-up daughter, want to go away on a cruise for Christmas. Sounds nice. BUT we are introduced to cantankerous and creepy, stalker-ish neighbours, headed by a silly and wasted Dan Aykroyd, who spend a good portion of the time bullying, moaning and threatening the Kranks to make them stay around and decorate their home.

Basically, pushing them into something they have no right to participate in. The Kranks are a very irritating couple from the outset – frumpy Jamie Lee Curtis comes across as very screechy and very unstable. Tim Allen, who increasingly comes over like he is the King of Christmas Comedy (after his ‘Santa Clause Trilogy’), gurns, goofs and over-acts his way through this in a series of un-funny set pieces, dialogue exchanges and slapstick humour. 

With an irritating couple to start with, mixed with a creepy community, this doesn’t give you anything other than maybe a few chuckles as the mad-cap dash to escape Christmas ensues (it’s been done better), and then the finale of the film has it all reversed for a mad-cap dash to build Christmas (it’s been done better).

Very flat and clichéd supporting characters – the lazy cops, the grumpy old man, the cheeky children – give you something that is very un-memorable and rather un-funny unless you like your Christmas films to come over as very over-acted, very hammy and very tacky – festive films are usually a mix of all three, but there is usually a charm behind them. This has nothing like that.

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Deck The Halls (2006)

Directed by: John Whitesell
StarringDanny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth.

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2006 festive comedy is directed by John Whitesell and stars Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Davis, and Kristin Chenoweth.

Massachusetts Christmas patriarch Steve Finch (Broderick) has a seemingly perfect family and social life, with wife Kelly (Davis) and two children all set to celebrate Christmas. However, new neighbours arrive that immediately disrupts Steve’s idyllic neighbourhood scenario; Buddy Hall (DeVito) and wife Tia (Chenoweth) and two twin daughters.

After warming to many in town, Buddy decides to take on a mammoth task – to decorate
his house with enough Christmas lights to be seen from space. This is met with great excitement in the community, but Steve is furious at the growing “noise and light pollution” Buddy starts to create, followed by sleepless nights and many bickering confrontations.

Their mini-war soon escalates, each trying to better the other in the eyes of the community with Steve trying to sabotage Buddy, and Buddy trying to humiliate Steve. But as they clash, it soon takes its toll on the families, and soon the two men are left to choose what is more important to them at Christmas; family or pride… This mediocre festive film offers lots of cheese in respect of acting, plot and gags- enough to turn your milk sour but still be watchable to the point of how bad it is, but how good it is because of it.

It’s typically predictable, setting up two warring middle-aged men who will use Christmas as a battleground for many slapstick confrontations, fights and disasters and will then be won over by a loving community and even more loving family. Everything else is just very tepid.

Matthew Broderick seems to think he’s funnier than he really is, and many of his pratfalls and witty one-liners don’t ever take off and they all come over as very wooden. DeVito, however, is quite amusing with his taunts and slippery ways of humiliating his enemy. A few amusing put-downs here and there make him watchable, but surrounded by two big boobs (and Kristin Chenoweth), it’s quite distracting when his wife is on screen.

The action (if you can call it that) is slapstick, and a checkbox of festive disasters waiting to happen which doesn’t set the bar, but it’s harmless enough for this time of year for 88-minutes.

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

Directed by: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Liliana Mumy, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson with Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2006 American festive film is directed by Michael Lembeck and is the third and final instalment in the ‘Santa Clause’ trilogy. It stars Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Liliana Mumy, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson with Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret.

With Carol Claus (Mitchell) expecting her first child, Santa Claus/Scott Calvin (Allen) decides to unite the families at the North Pole to help boost her spirit as their secrets prevent contact with many in the outside world. Ex-wife Laura (Crewson), her husband Neil (Reinhold) and daughter Lucy (Mumy) visit with Carol’s parents Bud (Arkin) and Sylvia (Margret), but under the illusion that they are really in Canada, and Scott is a toy manufacturer.

Meanwhile, envious by Santa’s popularity, Legendary Figure Jack Frost (Short) pretends to help Santa prepare for Christmas, but really starts creating chaos by sabotaging many of the workshops and machines, sending the families into meltdown with the stress Santa must deal with.

Frost manipulates Santa into the “Escape Clause”, a series of actions that alters time to undo his career as Santa and effectively leaves the position open, which Frost intends to steal and change Christmas forever. Only with Lucy’s help can Scott unite his family and re-take his place as Santa before it is too late, and Christmas is lost forever…

The gags and general content from the original film back in 1994 have drastically changed over 12 years, and the final chapter shows the signs. With the shortest running time, this has a very thin plot and tired looking performances that don’t really have the passion the original did.

Its breath of ‘cold’ air comes from Martin Short as Jack Frost, one of the newcomers to the films cast, alongside the amusing and cantankerous Alan Arkin, to inject some fun into things. With an over-the-top but suitably creepy turn as our villain, he gurns and grins and sneaks his way along as only Martin Short can; camp and amusing for all the wrong reasons, but hard not to love.

Tim Allen is clearly devoid of new material and does a basic job, with little heart and passion, as a manic, bumbling and often inept Santa Claus; his turn as Scott Calvin is always better as he gets the chance to do a little more than run around looking stressed. But by now there is little real heart and meaning in the film and just focusing on slapstick gags and very thin sentiment.

The effects are a little cleaner and the set design is always improving film after film with the North Pole now a town rather than just a small underground workshop, and it’s cute and cuddly and Christmassy, but everything else is just a little lazy with no real meat to get stuck into.

It just about avoids being as childish as the second, but still comes over as tired and a little lost for ideas, and it certainly wraps up the story of Scott Calvin effectively with a sugar-coated finale that is eye-rolling naff, but still sums up what Christmas is all about when all is said and done.

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Directed by: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Elizabeth Mitchell, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz, Spencer Breslin

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2002 American festive comedy is the sequel to 1994’s ‘The Santa Clause’ and is directed by Michael Lembeck and stars Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Elizabeth Mitchell, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz and Spencer Breslin.

Eight years after taking on the role of Santa Claus, Scott Calvin (Allen) is finding it difficult to split time between his North Pole festive duties with elves Bernard (Krumholtz) and Curtis (Breslin), and being a father to Charlie (Lloyd) who is rebelling at school and finds his way onto Santa’s naughty list. To make things worse, Curtis reveals another clause overlooked in the original contract; the Mrs. Clause, in which Santa needs to find a wife before Christmas Day or he will stop being Santa and Christmas will be lost.

To help Santa spend time with his family and try to find a wife, Curtis and Bernard create a clone of Santa out of a plastic toy who takes over the running of the North Pole. Meanwhile, Scott starts to form a bond with Charlie’s principal, Carol Newman (Mitchell) and uses his magic to woo her as the two gradually fall for each other.

But when Toy Santa (Allen) takes the rules of Christmas too literally, he imprisons Bernard, creates an army of toy soldiers and puts every child on the naughty list to receive lumps of coal on Christmas Day. Facing a deadline to convince Carol who he really is and win her hand, Scott must also stop Toy Santa from destroying the magic of Christmas, all before it is too late for everyone…

A worthy sequel to the 1994 original, this time heaping on cartoonish comedy and slapstick, and featuring more fantasy and magic than the first time around. We have the manic, comical mishaps at the North Pole featuring an over-zealous Toy Santa taking over Santa’s workshop coupled with a more heartfelt setting in Chicago as Scott tries to win over a frosty school principal and fix his family.

This film works best with heart, and the segments with Scott and his family trying to repair the stress of keeping a secret like “My Dad is Santa”, and as he has fun with the likeable Elizabeth Mitchell to woo her over, are great to watch. They are witty, but humane and focus on just what you’d want from a Christmas film; heart and family and relationships, sprinkled with discovering the real meaning of Christmas.

It falls flat cut with the North Pole chaos, with an over-acting Tim Allen as a dastardly Toy Santa who takes over the workshop to effectively cancel Christmas. These moments are a little TOO silly with the overall story, and it detracts from the grounding of things. When both stories come together, it provides a few entertaining moments as the elves battle the toy soldiers, and a mini-revolution takes place. The added danger and confrontation to stand it apart from the first is welcome, it’s just handled a little sloppy.

Added with very irritating reindeer who now talk (with a god-awful Jar Jar Binks-esque voice) and fart, this makes me cringe also as it seems to lower the standard set in the first for something a little more stupid, and it doesn’t really need to do that to be effective, as we see in moments here.

Still, it does the job and continues the story with all the main cast returning for a decent sequel that tries its best and offers a good twist on things.

 

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause (1994)

Directed by: John Pasquin
StarringTim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson and David Krumholtz.

Written by Chris Gelderd

38-year-old Scott Calvin (Allen) is spending Christmas Eve with his young son Charlie (Lloyd), splitting time equally between his ex-wife Laura (Crewson) and her new partner Neil (Reinhold). While the celebration doesn’t go according to plan thanks to Scott’s dismissal of the season, that night they are woken by noise on the roof of their house. Investigating, Scott disturbs Santa Claus, causing him to fall and disappear into thin air, leaving only a set of instructions and the red suit behind.

To satisfy Charlie’s excitement, Scott goes along with wearing the suit and following the instructions which lead to the reindeer and sleigh. Once he takes a seat, Scott is magically whisked away on a journey to deliver presents around the world before he is taken to the North Pole and briefed on the situation by Head Elf Bernard (Krumholtz).

Waking up the next morning and dismissing the events as a dream, Scott starts a transformation over the year where he gradually becomes the new Santa Claus, complete with big round belly and thick beard and white hair. With Charlie trying to help him believe in the magic that has happened, Scott soon discovers the fate of Christmas rests on him accepting his new role and convincing those closest to him that what happened was real before it is too late…

One of the better mainstream Christmas films to come our way, now 20 years old and still retaining that schmaltzy festive magic, but with a decent story that relies on character, heart and humour rather than truckloads of slapstick and cheap visuals.

Tim Allen surfing the peak of this TV and movie career comes across, to me, a little over-confident in his ability as being funnier than he actually is. While the script isn’t awful, it’s not that funny, but Allen gurns and quips and groans over his puns and silly actions that I think he feels is laugh out loud funny, but really it’s a little cheesy. Yet with a decent supporting cast with young Eric Lloyd, the always-passionate Judge Reinhold and likeable David Krumholtz as our Head Elf, Allen is in good company.

With most of the story set in the everyday suburbs, it gives us lots of comical moments which see Allen slowly transform into our new Santa – this is fun to see and watch him and the people around him try to find explanations as to the increase in weight and excessive facial hair, yet also tugs on the heartstrings a little when he is seen as nothing more than a liability and neglectful parent.

With nothing offensive, crude or adult, this is easy festive viewing for all the family with plenty of heart-warming moments that focus on family and relationships, rather than just fantasy and adventure.