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The Santa Clause

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
The Santa Clause Movie Poster Image
Heartwarming holiday tale has some potty humor.
  • PG
  • 1994
  • 95 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The religious significance of Christmas takes a big back seat to present-giving and childhood wish-fulfillment. Predictable, forced message on giving as exemplifying the "true spirit of Christmas." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the lead character begins to exemplify the spirit of Christmas giving and selflessness as he transforms into Santa Claus, this is done through no conscious effort on his part; he becomes Santa by virtue of accidentally killing the previous Santa and finding his business card. The other lead characters are too one-dimensional to be seen as positive role models. Some attempt is shown to convey the reality of Christmas for the child of divorced parents who share equal custody.


The original Santa Claus takes a fatal, accidental pratfall. Guns are drawn as Tim Allen's new "Santa" gets arrested by police. 


As he begins his transformation into Santa, the lead character makes a suggestive remark to an attractive woman on the sidewalk. 


One distantly off-color joke about whether a sexy grown-up has been "naughty" or "nice." Some flatulence humor. "Hell." 


Denny's is mentioned by name and featured in a scene. Several FedEx trucks park outside a home. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Vague gag reference to the main character's 1960s drug use. Drinking at a corporate function. Lead character asks for a "stiff drink." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Santa Clause is a 1994 Christmas-themed movie in which Tim Allen plays a toy industry executive who transforms into jolly old Saint Nick himself. The original Santa Claus takes a fatal, accidental fall (yikes -- Santa dies!). Guns are drawn as Tim Allen's new "Santa" gets arrested by police. There are grown-up (and gross) jokes, and the movie deals with divorce and estrangement between a father and son. While the whole plot revolves around the idea of Santa being real, many characters talk about the fact that he might not be -- so this may not be the best fit for families looking to extend kids' belief in St. Nick. There is also some potty humor involving human and reindeer flatulence, as well as a vague reference to being on drugs in the 1960s. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylizen April 9, 2008

Very sweet movie

Good movie and nice relationahip between the father and son. I like that no one is portrayed as stupid or evil. Do think carefully if your child is still a be... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written byCLTMom December 20, 2010

Not for Santa believers

Please don't watch it if your kids still believe in Santa. My 7 year old got very upset because they were way too many people who kept saying Santa wasn... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 24, 2009
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
Common sense is stupid!There is absolutly nothing wrong with this movie!It rocks out loud!

What's the story?

It's Christmas Eve. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), a toy company executive, collects his little son Charlie from his ex-wife. When Santa Claus arrives on his roof, Scott's shout startles Santa into a fatal fall. The body disappears, leaving only the famous red suit. Scott takes over the sleigh and reindeer, completing Santa's annual rounds. At the North Pole, elves tell Scott and Charlie that according to the "Santa Clause" Scott is now required by law to take on Santa's identity. After Charlie tells his mom and child-psychologist stepfather (Judge Reinhold), they're convinced that Charlie has been warped by his dad. Months pass and Scott transforms into Santa until court hearings decide that he's nuts and cut off his visitation rights. Another December 24 approaches, and Scott must convince his employers and ex that he's not crazy.

Is it any good?

The jokes in this movie are just as funny for adults as for kids. The really nice thing about THE SANTA CLAUSE is that it takes its far-out premise all the way to a logical conclusion; there are no cheats or easy outs for Scott Calvin when the biggest job in the world is thrust upon him. Aided by excellent special effects, this likable guy has a slow, whimsical change into St. Nick -- persistent in a disbelieving world -- that is supernatural.

For a Disney fantasy, The Santa Clause is forthright about divorce and its aftermath but doesn't dwell too much on the agony of a broken home. There's pathos enough just in the separation of Scott Calvin from a son who still looks up to him. Commendably, Charlie's new stepdad appears not as an ogre to be defeated but as an OK guy who lost his faith in Santa Claus because he never got the Oscar Meyer Wiener whistle he wanted at age 3 (does that foreshadow the ending or what?). Some parents may be disappointed that this movie overlooks the religious significance of Christmas in favor of present-giving and childhood wish-fulfillment, but the movie ends on an appropriate note of good will and reconciliation.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about holiday movies. Why are the same titles -- such as It's a Wonderful Life and Scrooge -- shown each season?

  • How is this film similar to or different from other Christmas movies?

  • How often do holiday-themed movies center on the children of divorced parents? What are some other examples? How accurately do you think this movie conveys the challenges of that holiday for both the kids and the divorced parents? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love holidays

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