A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Santa Clause 2 is a holiday movie in which Tim Allen brings back his spin on St. Nick. Some potty humor is included, such as flatulence jokes and a brief close-up of the exposed rear end of the robotic Santa Claus replica (also played by Tim Allen). After chugging a large mug of cocoa, the robotic Santa does an exaggerated imitation of someone who has just had a shot of alcohol, talks of "feeling a little buzz." A teen character acts out by vandalizing school property. There's some pratfall violence: A character falls over a railing and downstairs after trying to yank out his tooth by tying the tooth to a toaster and dropping the toaster. While the movie has strong, intelligent female characters, the elves (played by children) conform to 1950s-era stereotypes, with the boys creating toys and playing football while the girls deliver the cookies and cocoa. There are very few minority characters, and the movie doesn't acknowledge any other religious or cultural holiday traditions.
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What's the story?
In this sequel, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) learns there is one more "Santa Clause" in his obligation to fill Santa's shoes. He must marry a Mrs. Claus before Christmas, only 28 days away. He returns home to visit his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) so that he can find out how Charlie got on the "naughty" list and find a Mrs. Claus to bring back to the North Pole. Charlie is in trouble for vandalizing the school with graffiti, protesting the principal's refusal to celebrate Christmas. The principal is very stern and Scrooge-ish, but behind those glasses she might just make a good Mrs. Claus. Meanwhile, back at the North Pole, Santa has left a mechanical substitute (also played by Allen), who gets wired on a couple of gallons of hot cocoa and decides that all the children have been naughty and will get lumps of coal in their stockings this year.
Is it any good?
This overstuffed turkey of a movie wraps itself in holly and hot cocoa only to come to the conclusion that the magic of Christmas is ... getting presents. When it comes to the true Christmas spirit, this movie makes Home Alone look like The Gift of the Magi.
Yes, it has Disney's meticulously imaginative art direction, and Allen's comic timing is always a pleasure. But the overall theme that Christmas is about getting the perfect gift, even if you haven't been entirely good, compounded by intrusive product placements for McDonald's and Nestle, will leave the audience feeling like it has just eaten an entire plum pudding. As with the first film, parents should use caution in bringing children who may be grappling with the issue of Santa's existence to see this, and should be prepared to discuss their own traditions and beliefs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Christmas-themed movies. How does this compare to other Christmas movies?
How is teen vandalism addressed in the movie? What are the ways in which parents, stepparents, and the principal try to work together to understand why Charlie is committing acts of vandalism, and try to prevent it from happening again?
Why do some movies have scenes in which commercial items are prominently featured? Does product placement interfere with your enjoyment of a movie, or is it something that doesn't bother you? Why?
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