“Santa Claus: The Movie,” the 1985 film that tried to do for Santa what “Superman” did for, well, Superman, is a holiday spectacle that’s part origin story, part modern-day Christmas fable. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc and starring Dudley Moore, John Lithgow, and David Huddleston as Santa, this film is a lavish, if somewhat uneven, addition to the holiday movie canon.
The film kicks off with a magical origin story of Santa Claus (David Huddleston), showing how he went from a humble toy maker to the jolly, gift-giving legend we know today. Fast forward to the 20th century, and we meet Patch (Dudley Moore), an ambitious elf who leaves the North Pole for New York City after a toy-making fiasco. There, he teams up with the unscrupulous toy tycoon B.Z. (John Lithgow) to create a new holiday, “Christmas II,” leading to all sorts of high-flying shenanigans and a crisis that only Santa can solve.
David Huddleston brings a warmth and depth to Santa, embodying the spirit of Christmas with a twinkle in his eye. Dudley Moore’s Patch is endearing and well-meaning, providing much of the film’s heart and humor. John Lithgow chews the scenery delightfully as the villainous B.Z., striking the perfect balance between cartoonish and cunning. The interactions between these characters, along with the children who inevitably get caught up in the holiday drama, drive the film’s narrative.
Cinematography and Visuals
“Santa Claus: The Movie” is a visual treat, with lavish sets and special effects that bring the magic of the North Pole to life. The flying sequences, particularly Santa’s sleigh ride, are a highlight, capturing a sense of wonder and excitement. The film’s use of color and lighting creates a festive, almost storybook-like atmosphere.
Comedy and Tone
The film is a mix of whimsy, slapstick, and a touch of 80s cheese. While it aims for the heartwarming and magical, it sometimes veers into the overly sentimental. However, the comedic moments, especially those involving Patch’s misadventures, provide a light-hearted counterbalance to the film’s more earnest moments.
Soundtrack and Score
The soundtrack, featuring songs by Sheena Easton and others, along with a score by the legendary Henry Mancini, adds to the film’s festive spirit. The music captures the wonder and joy of Christmas, enhancing both the emotional and fantastical elements of the story.
In conclusion, “Santa Claus: The Movie” is a grand, if somewhat flawed, attempt to capture the magic of Santa Claus on the big screen. It’s a film that’s as ambitious in its storytelling as it is in its visual spectacle. While it may not have achieved classic status like some other holiday films, it’s a fun, family-friendly watch that offers a unique take on the Santa Claus legend. So, if you’re in the mood for a bit of 80s nostalgia and some holiday cheer, this movie is a sleigh ride worth taking.