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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
The original Santa Claus takes a fatal, accidental pratfall. Guns are drawn as Tim Allen's new "Santa" gets arrested by police.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
As he begins his transformation into Santa, the lead character makes a suggestive remark to an attractive woman on the sidewalk.
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One distantly off-color joke about whether a sexy grown-up has been "naughty" or "nice." Some flatulence humor. "Hell."
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Products & Purchases
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."
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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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.See how we rate