Friday, December 7, 2012

Mousey Movies - The Santa Clause

One weeknight during Thanksgiving break of 1994, my college girlfriend and I drove 45 minutes  to spend time with her grandmother, Gram.  The three of us decided to leave the house and go see a movie. This movie is they only one that I ever remember seeing in a theater with Gram.  The local cinema only had two screens , and despite my pessimism, we chose Disney’s new movie The Santa Clause,  We spent the next 90 minutes constantly chuckling and enjoying a movie that became an instant Between Family hit.  The plot revolved around an ordinary man who becomes Santa Claus and the impact it has on the relationship with his son. 

A little less than a decade later, the girlfriend is now the Between Wife and the Between Tween has been born.  Sadly though, Gram passed away before the Tween’s first Christmas.  Gram may not have been my biological grandparent, but the love between the two of us was strong.   I can truthfully say she was one of my biggest fans and she often bragged about me.  I am convinced if she was with us today, she would not only have learned how to surf the internet just to read the blog daily but also would have bragged to her friends about her grandson-in-law the “popular” blogger. 

Because of Gram and the memories I associate between her and The Santa Clause, I love this Tim Allen movie.  It is my hope that you also have happy memories like these that can are triggered by something as simple as a movie.  In the Between House as our Christmas Tree goes up, The Santa Clause plays in the background.  This allows the Between Wife and I to tell our stories of Gram, a great grandparent my children cannot remember for themselves.   

For Tim Allen, 1994 was a watershed.  He starred on the number one show on television, Home Improvement.  Allen was on top of the New York Times bestseller list with his memoir Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man.  And with The Santa Clause he had the number one grossing film.  For one week in November, Allen was king, his stardom was secured, and he had made a place amongst my favorite memories with this Mousey Movie:

·         Legendary: Tim Allen plays the main character, Scott Calvin, who becomes the legendary Santa Claus.  In 1999, Allen was inducted as a Disney legend, just five years after The Santa Clause!  By then Allen has billed himself as a bankable television star on ABC with Home Improvement.  And he has shown that success was more than a one hit wonder with ABC’s current Last Man Standing, which you might argue is Home Improvement 2.0.  Probably the most important Disney contribution Allen has provided is the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story franchise which premiered a year later.  And Disney showed they had no fear placing Allen in other live action movies such as Jungle 2 Jungle and The Shaggy Dog, which sadly do not hold up when compared to The Santa Clause.  And I am still more than willing to let Allen star in anything Disney because I find many of his movies including a non-Disney offering like Wild Hogs very funny. I would be first in line with my ticket if  Disney would  move on the rumor of Tom Hanks and Allen in a Jungle Cruise live action film. 

·         Team Player:  I think it is safe to say that director John Pasquin likes working with Tim Allen.  He might be his biggest fan!  Pasquin came to his big screen directorial debut with a laundry list of television hall of fame shows including: Roseanne, L.A. Law, Family Ties, Newhart, and Growing Pains.  And they he had worked on this little hit show called Home Improvement starring Tim Allen.  The two clearly hit it off on set as their careers are linked.  After his debut, he went onto direct Jungle2 Jungle, Joe Somebody (non-Disney), and the current ABC show Last Man Standing all starring Tim Allen.  Based on this record, clearly Allen likes collaborating with Pasquin.  Along with directing, he portrays Santa #6!  Yes, you need that many Santas to make awesome.    

·        The Tool Man:  Scott Calvin on his first ride in the sleigh drives next to a truck and asks for directions to the I-94.  The driver is actor Jimmy Labriola who appeared on 24 episodes of Home Improvement as Benny.  Labriola and Pasquin are just two of several references to Home Improvement.  Before he puts on Santa’s suit which is too big, Calvin says he hopes the man of the house was a tailor.  On ABC his character was Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.  At the end of his first Christmas Eve, Calvin grunts his success in a manly Tool Man manner.  And in Santa’s workshop Calvin sizes up an elf tool belt, which would easily find itself on Tim Taylor.        

·         Free Gift:  As Calvin explains to his son Charlie why Santa’s reindeer and sleigh are on their roof he exclaims that it is a gift from the cable company, they are getting the Disney Channel.  In 1994 this would have been a gift.  We live today in a world where there are not one but several Disney branded channels in many basic cable packages.  But in 1994 for most the Disney Channel was a pay channel like HBO.  It was not until after The Santa Clause that Disney worked with cable providers to move the familiar channel into the basic cable package.  From 1997 to 2002, Disney collaborated and at times pushed providers to make the move to basic cable.  And I for one am thrilled that I have the gift of the Disney Channel, in my basic cable package, but where is my reindeer?   

·         Railroading:  The North Pole Railroad, the N.P.R., is a small scale train that the elves are able to ride when traveling from Santa’s workshop to other locations at the North Pole.  It will remind Disney fans of the Carolwood Pacific Railroad that Walt Disney built behind his Holmby Hills home in Los Angeles.  The Carolwood Pacific was one of Disney’s inspirations to build an outdoor entertainment experience, which eventually became Disneyland.

I can be honest.  The Santa Clause is not Shakespearian nor does it have the best special effects.  You can see the snow blanket rolling up when Santa falls off the roof and the North Pole is clearly a set, but The Santa Clause is a movie that brings the humor, and a sentimentally that is unmatched in my home.  You may not enjoy it as much as me, but I can ensure you will chuckle as Allen delivers some classic one liners.        


  1. The I 94 reference is also a home improvement reference as its the highway that connects the east and we eat sides of southern mi where HI takes place.

  2. Awesome, I love how it's all connected.