The Year Without a Santa Claus (2006)

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Year Without a Santa Claus (2006) Movie Poster Image
Woeful Santa brings little holiday cheer.
  • NR
  • 2006
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show uses extreme examples to poke fun at the materialism of Christmas. Santa is stern and grumpy throughout most of the movie. The religious aspect of Christmas is absent from the plot.

Violence & Scariness

Some mild comic fighting, including a playful boxing match between brothers where a few characters get knocked around, but there's no lasting injury.

Sexy Stuff

Some females are scantily clad.


Many scenes include brandless toys (goth dolls, laser-shooting action figures); characters visit a video arcade at one point. One main character carries a hand-held TV much of the time.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult chugs a beer in front of a young boy, and a man in a Santa suit drinks from a flask while tending to a donation can on the street.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Santa Claus in this made-for-TV movie is discouraged by the increasing materialism of Christmas and his belief that no one believes in him anymore, which makes him awfully grumpy for most of the movie and causes him to lash out verbally at others a few times. An adult chugs a beer in front of a young boy, and a man in a Santa suit drinks from a flask while tending to a donation can on the street. The humor here is mostly based in the characters' quirky personalities (like a head elf just itching for his chance to step out of Santa's shadow), so little kids will probably miss a lot of it. Families looking for a show filled with jolly elves, Christmas tunes, festive decor, and lots of holiday spirit won't find much of that here.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 13 years old Written bymrbookworm01 December 8, 2011

Fine for kids, but not really good

I've watched this on ABC Family and I got so bored, I didn't watch the whole thing. It's pretty boring, and doesn't have much appeal. From w... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 29, 2008
The true magic of 'The Year Without a Santa Claus' is missing from this live-action remake.

What's the story?

In this live-action movie, Santa (John Goodman) is frustrated that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost forever. His head elf, Sparky (Chris Kattan), also seems sucked into materialism. Discouraged, Santa decides to take the year off. But while he's making plans to pack up and move with Mrs. Claus (Delta Burke) to Mythopolis -- a retirement community for mythological figures -- two of his elves set out to find someone who can convince Santa that the Christmas spirit is alive and well. They travel to South Town, U.S.A., to find young Iggy Thistlewhite (Dylan Minnette), who is trying to revive the true spirit of the season in his hometown.

Is it any good?

Despite boasting such a stellar cast, The Year Without a Santa Claus is a disappointing mix of a slow plot, poor writing, and subpar visual effects. Chris Kattan's presence is definitely a high point, and his hysterical portrayal of a deviously ambitious elf looking to make his mark on Christmas often carries the scenes he's in.

Families with tweens and teens might enjoy the character-based humor this movie offers, but if your kids are little, they'll probably be turned off by the grumpy, sarcastic Santa and general lack of holiday spirit that exists for most of the show.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of showing appreciation. Why is it important to get recognition for a job well done? When have your kids felt that their efforts haven't been appreciated?

  • Families can also discuss how this movie compares to the book that inspired it, or the animated Rankin-Bass movie that first adapted it in 1974. What portions of the book were changed for the movie? Why do your kids think they made those changes? Did they make the story better or worse?

  • Do you like stories like this with animated characters or live ones? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Christmas

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate