It’s been eight years since Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) killed Santa Claus and dutifully took over the old goat’s responsibility to the world’s children. Somewhere in the North Pole, Scott runs a sweatshop where hundreds of atrocious child extras are employed as elves. Bernard (David Krumholtz, summoning the ghost of Screech from “Saved by the Bell”) and Curtis (Spencer Breslin) tell the cocoa-loving Santa that he has to snag himself a missus before Christmas Eve or he’ll be completely de-santified. Lucky for St. Nick, his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) is back home revolting against the world like any good product of divorce and incurring the wrath of a pretty high school principal (Elizabeth Mitchell). Before Santa takes Comet back to the States, Bernard and Curtis have him cloned so as to convince the elves that their slave master is still in the house. It’s not long then before Scott melts the ice queen principal’s heart and does away with the decoy Santa-cum-Pinochet that wants to give coal to the world’s children. On top of the awkward performances and lifeless direction, Santa Clause 2 also manages to be both sexist and racist. Santa meets with Mother Nature, Father Time, Cupid, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and the Easter Bunny in a scene seemingly modeled after an SNL sketch. The Tooth Fairy wants to change his name and the moody Mother Nature takes it upon to herself to announce that she’s “pre-El-Niño.” When Scott takes the whiny Calvin to do his community service, a hip-hop Christmas anthem inexplicably blares from his car stereo. Ladies and gentleman, Santa has entered the ghetto! As one of Santa’s potential spouses, Molly Shannon merely conjures bad memories of Ron Howard’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Perhaps most troublesome are the egregious product placements. Scott’s family walks into the kitchen clutching McDonald’s bags in their hands, ensuring that the company’s logo is never obscured from the camera. The only mitigating factor here may be the sheer stupidity of having to listen to shoddy animatronic reindeer talk like Chewbacca. Parents: now that you know why your children kept badgering you to stop for fast food on the way home from this family dud, go take them to see a real film. The Nightmare Before Christmas and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory have more life and cheer in any given shot than the whole of Santa Clause 2. Disney has wisely chosen to open this film on November 1st, guaranteeing that it will be forgotten way before its memory haunts Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas mornings across the country.
A little shimmering here, a little edge enhancement there, but the browns of the reindeers' skin is splendidly diarrheic, Santa's suit looks good enough to eat, and the snow is white as, well, snow. As for the sound, every reindeer squawk is sure to scare the be-Jesus out of you.
Unless you are negative-eight-years-old, I can't imagine anyone getting a kick out of Michael Lembeck's commentary track. I could only tolerate 10 minutes of it, during which time he talks about how happy we was to shoot at the North Pole and how cooperative Santa Claus was during filming. Anyway, things get progressively worse: the Cartman-esque elf-boy from the film guides us through the making-of featurette "Inside the North Pole with Curtis"; a gag reel (literally, we did); seven deleted scenes (for those who want to double their excitement); an "Operation Toy Box: Save Santa" set-top game (for those who were paying attention during the film); the embarrassing "True Confessions of the Legendary Figures" (featuring interviews with the Tooth Fairy, Mother Nature, Father Time and the Easter Bunny); and Elfsburg's even more embarrassing "director's tour" of the North Pole. If the last two supplemental materials are any indication (look at the disinterested faces of the film's production people), studios should rethink their DVD strategies and not allow them to interfere with the actual film's shooting schedule. Rounding out the disc are trailers for Freaky Friday, The Lion King 1 ½, Spy Kids 3D, According to Jim, and plugs for Toys for Tots and the "Lilo and Stitch Island of Adventures" DVD game.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, Buena Vista Home Entertainment releases one of their biggest turkeys in years on DVD. Hey, "just don't shoot the messenger"!