The Curator of Schlock #20 by Jeffrey Shuster
Santa Claus, The Movie
If you hate this movie, you hate Christmas
I took one look at Santa Baby 2 starring Jenny McCarthy and put my foot down. Enough made-for-TV Santa Claus movies! Even the Museum of Schlock has standards! It was time to watch something with a little more scale. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Santa Claus, The Movie, from two of the the writers behind Superman, The Movie!
I must have missed this one growing up. Released in 1985 and directed by Jeannot Szwarc, Santa Claus The Movie strives to do for Santa Claus what Superman, The Movie did for Superman: create an epic out of something that was typically reserved for children. It largely succeeds. We get an impressive origin story where we learn that Santa Claus (David Huddleston) was a woodcutter from the 1300s who used to carve wooden toys for the children in his village every Yuletide. After getting lost in a snowstorm, he and his wife get rescued by a bunch of elves (known as the Vendequm). They see him as their chosen one. The elves believe in a prophesy about an artisan who would deliver toys to all of the children of the world. Claus and his wife agree to this destiny and he sets to the task of bringing comfort and joy to all of the good little boys and girls throughout the centuries. The End.
Oh wait. Fast-forward to modern times and Claus is getting a bit tired. Seems he can’t keep up with the workload like he used to. Apparently, there are too many children in the world he has to deliver presents to in the late 20th century and he needs an assistant. An elf by the name of Patch (Dudley Moore) desperately wants the job and proves his worth by creating a mechanical assembly line up at the North Pole. Unfortunately, the machine malfunctions and creates a bunch of defective toys unbeknownst to Claus and his elves.
That Christmas Eve, Claus befriends a street urchin named Joe and a little rich girl named Cornelia. Joe and Cornelia are friends despite their class differences. This may have something to do with that fact that Cornelia leaves plates of food out for Joe since he’s always starving in the cold. Claus promises to take Joe along for the toy run next Christmas.
Christmas morning comes and Patch’s assembly line junk breaks apart ruining Christmas for all of the good little boys and girls in the world. Angry parents start sending back Patch’s defective toys to the North Pole and Patch resigns from his position in shame. Patch leaves the North Pole for New York City hoping to redeem himself by partnering up with a toy company tycoon named B.Z. (John Lithgow) who also happens to be Cornelia’s step uncle. B.Z. is in trouble with the Senate Subcommittee on Evil Toy Manufacturers. It would seem that his dolls are highly flammable and his teddy bears are stuffed with glass and nails. B.Z. decides to let Patch distribute his special lollipops through his company in an effort to improve the company’s image.
The lollipops are a big hit with children the following Christmas due to the fact that eating them allows kids to float in the air. You see, the lollipops are infused with magic elf dust, the same elf dust that allow the reindeer to fly. B.Z. declares that Santa Claus is finished and that he’ll be in charge of Christmas from now on. Joe overhears B.Z.’s evil plans and gets held prisoner by B.Z. as a result. Will B.Z. triumph? Will Joe be rescued? Will Patch redeem himself? Will Santa Claus save the day? You know the answers to these questions.
Ten Things I Learned from Santa Claus The Movie
- Movies are more impressive when they have movie in the title.
- Dudley Moore plays an awfully pleasant elf.
- Santa Claus hates celery.
- Being Santa Claus is a pretty good gig when all is said and done.
- Consumers would actually return shoddy products back in the 80s.
- John Lithgow can be really scary when he wants to be.
- Reindeer are able to fly by eating magic food.
- Santa Claus is able to teleport with a snap of his fingers.
- Santa Claus’s beard is gray not white.
- Santa Claus is a superhero in his own right.
Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.