The Santa Clause

  • Review Date: October 7, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Heartwarming family tale for both kids and adults.
  • Review Date: October 7, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The religious significance of Christmas takes a big back seat to present-giving and childhood wish-fulfillment.

Violence & scariness

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

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

One distantly off-color joke about whether a sexy grownup has been "naughty" or "nice."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Vague gag reference to the main character's 1960s drug use.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

The 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 likeable guy's slow, whimsical change into St. Nick, persistent in a disbelieving world, is supernatural. The jokes are just as funny for adults as for kids.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about holiday movies. What are some of the others you can think of? Why are the same titles -- like It's a Wonderful Life and Scrooge -- shown each season?

  • How is this film the same or different than other Christmas movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1994
DVD release date:September 29, 2002
Cast:Judge Reinhold, Tim Allen, Wendy Crewson
Director:John Pasquin
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Holidays
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements.

This review of The Santa Clause was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Written byAnonymous November 22, 2012
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Good for any age and up.

I say this movie is good to see. ...and it's disney making this and I'm good at watching this movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written byCLTMom December 20, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

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't real, and it made her question her beliefs. We had to have many follow-up conversations afterwards about whether or not Santa is real. Be careful! But great if your child is over 10.
Adult Written bylizen April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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 believer.
Kid, 11 years old December 24, 2009

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