Tim Allen dons the red and white suit again for The Santa Clause 2, the 2002 sequel to the 1994 original. This outing is directed by Michael Lembeck from a busy by-committee screenplay. It is filled to the brim with stuff and often suffers under the burden of its multiple plots, especially when the movie finally figures out that it has to end somehow.
While The Santa Clause worked on a certain level because it had a dark side that gave adults something to think about, The Santa Clause 2 benefits from less consideration. It’s probably not wise to think about the romantic angle of this picture too much, just as it’s probably best to avoid pondering how a Toy Santa becomes a dictator out of a desire to follow the rules.
Tim Allen is Scott Calvin and it’s been eight years since he’s slapped on the Santa suit. He’s now fully ensconced in his role as Father Christmas and is apparently one of the most popular Saint Nicks of all-time. But there’s a problem: there’s a Mrs. Clause. Santa must get married by Christmas Eve or the whole Christmas thing falls apart.
What’s more, Calvin’s kid Charlie (Eric Lloyd) is all grown up and vandalizing his school. He’s in trouble with principal Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell). Scott returns home to set things straight. He’s given a limited amount of magic, a reindeer and a time limit of 28 days to get hitched.
There’s also a problem at the North Pole, as Curtis the elf (Spencer Breslin) has constructed a duplicate Toy Santa (Allen) in hopes of keeping the work going on schedule. The Toy Santa becomes a stickler for the rules somehow and declares that all the kids are naughty. He takes over the elf operation with toy soldiers and silences his political opponents.
The manifold plot strands are problematic because Lembeck runs out of time. While its predecessor also wrapped up in excessively neat fashion, The Santa Clause 2 has to have one of the most rushed romantic commitments in Christmas movie history and the entire Mrs. Claus scenario is pulled out of mere convenience. Having Allen roll out of a half-assed proposal doesn’t help.
Because The Santa Clause 2 has to burden itself further, Santa is undergoing a de-Santafication process that has him rapidly losing weight, shedding his beard and generally dropping all the physical details that make him Father Christmas. This only slightly alarms the people around him.
Allen embodies Santa Claus and Scott Calvin as a singular figure who believes Christmas magic solves everything. When Newman says that the school lacks funding, Calvin says that they should at least put up some Christmas decorations because that’ll help improve morale. When he needs to find a marital partner, he’s not above using the holidays as the reason for the lifelong commitment.
Of course, this stuff is all passed off as being rather cute and some allowances should be made in Christmas movies. There is an inordinate amount of unreasonable cheer associated with Jolly Old Saint Nick, after all, and The Santa Clause 2 is blissfully aware of exploiting it.
But cinematically, it’s kind of a reindeer’s breakfast. There’s too much plot, the ending is too rushed, the “talking” Comet is irritating, and Allen doesn’t have enough time to really settle into one role or the other. Despite some charming moments and a fair dose of glittery whimsy, The Santa Clause 2 falls short of its predecessor and remains a forgettable Christmas movie.