A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Call Me Claus presents standard holiday fare along with a lot of mild profanity (especially "crap") and some sexual innuendo (Lucy mentions she wants a vacation with "two cabana boys and a lot of lotion," a minor character mentions "bumping uglies," and goblins are defined as what happens when leprechauns and gnomes get drunk on the beach at night), making it better suited for older kids. Very young kids might be scared by a scene wherein a minor character's face starts to morph demonically as he talks about acquiring wealth and power. The real attraction is a world that shows African-Americans in positions of authority and in relatable, everyday circumstances. But the film doesn't ignore race, either: The movie explains that Santa appears in lots of different ways, and it straightforwardly presents a multiracial society as unremarkable.
What's the story?
Every 200 years, Santa has to retire and find a replacement. If he doesn't, there will be catastrophic global flooding. With only a few weeks to go before Christmas, this Santa's (Nigel Hawthorne) turn is over and he hasn't even selected or started to train the next Santa. He remembers how, years ago, his hat glowed with Christmas magic when he put it on the head of young Lucy Cullins, making her the only real choice for the job. Fast-forward to today, and Lucy (Whoopi Goldberg) is now the producer of a major home shopping channel's Christmas programming. But Lucy has become quite a Scrooge over the years: She doesn't keep in touch with her family, and she's pretty mean and ungrateful to her coworkers. Can Santa get through to her and convince her that she's the one who should take over in time to save Christmas and the world?
Is it any good?
CALL ME CLAUS serves up standard holiday fare -- the world will end if Santa doesn't save Christmas in time -- but that's about it. The predictable story gets where it needs to go, with a few heartwarming moments and very little real suspense along the way. Abrupt cuts to black (where commercials would have been) is a bit disruptive to the streaming format. The real strength of the movie is the way it presents a positive, multiracial society with African-Americans at the forefront, making it a worthwhile holiday choice. But the contrived plot, flat acting (although adequate, none of the veteran cast members really shines), and dated, made-for-TV format keep it out of the pantheon of great holiday movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Christmas spirit. What does it really mean? Which characters in the movie (besides Santa) show Christmas spirit?
This movie shows a lot of familiar things about Santa. Does it show you any parts of his life or story that are new to you?
Do you think Lucy will make a good Santa? Why, or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: December 2, 2001
- Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Nigel Hawthorne
- Director: Peter Werner
- Studios: Columbia TriStar Television, Turner Network Television, Red Strokes Entertainment, One Ho Productions
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Holidays
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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