Tim Allen – a big TV star in the US for the sitcom Home Improvement, but best known everywhere else for being the voice of Buzz Lightyear – is divorced dad Scott Calvin, who finds a whole new lease of life after investigating a noise on the roof of his house. It seems Santa and his reindeer are up there, but after Santa trips and is killed, Scott finds himself putting on the iconic red and white suit. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realise that anyone wearing Santa’s suit becomes the real Santa, and has a bit of a shock when he discovers the next day that he has already gained lots of weight and is sprouting a Santa beard.
An inoffensive Christmas comedy, this is quite fun for kids who don’t believe in Santa any more (kids that do may have their illusions shattered), as the plot offers up fun explanations as to how Santa can visit every child in just one night and how he can squeeze into tight chimneys. Allen is enjoyable to watch as his hair turns white and he has to deal with an ex-wife who thinks he has gone insane, and there is nice support from Reinhold, Peter Boyle and David Krumholtz as Bernard the elf, whom Scott meets when he goes to the North Pole.
A fair sequel, The Santa Clause 2, followed in 2002, in which Scott has to find a Mrs Claus, and a third in 2006, in which Santa/Scott has to stop Jack Frost taking over Christmas.
Is The Santa Clause suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...