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Monday, December 10, 2012

The Santa Clause

I have decided to begin today's edition of “The Pop Culture Addict's Advent Calendar” (day 10 in a series of 25) by talking about the thing that inspired today's selected topic...and I must admit that it came from a rather unusual source.

In my apartment building, we have what is known as an “unofficial magazine and newspaper trading club”, where it is entirely possible for the same newspaper to make an appearance in at least six different apartments. I don't know whether people were doing it to be nice to other neighbours, or whether my neighbours are simply too cheap to be able to purchase their own magazines, but either way, I ended up getting my hands on a bunch of those trashy gossip magazines like “Star”, “OK!”, “Hello”, and “In Touch”.

(Hey, if it keeps me boned up on my pop culture knowledge so I can have a wider selection of topics for this blog, I'll read anything. I think I may have even stumbled across TMZ on a couple of occasions while I was searching for information on a couple of subjects.)

So, as I type this out, I'm looking at the December 3, 2012 edition of “Life&Style” magazine...which admittedly is a title that I would not normally purchase for myself, but after I'm finished reading it, I'll be letting someone else read it in the building. On page 31 of this particular issue is an advertisement for ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas.

I don't have ABC Family on my current television package (mainly because I can't afford any more than 100 channels on my budget), but judging by the schedule that is listed on that page, it seems as though they devote their entire channel towards holiday programming and movies during the entire month of December.

Of course, a lot of the shows are repetitive. At last count, the movie “Home Alone” seems to be scheduled for five of the 25 Days of Christmas. But there are tons of Christmas themed specials which include old holiday favourites and brand new selections, as well as world television premieres of big blockbuster hits from the last twelve months.

DISCLAIMER: This is not meant to be an advertisement for ABC Family. ABC Family unfortunately is not paying me any money to promote the network. And besides, it's a nice transition piece from one subject to another.

The Saturday after this coming Saturday (December 22, in case you were wondering) is featuring a Holiday Classics marathon, which features a 1994 film, as well as its two sequels, which deals with a particular clause...

...a Santa Clause.

It seems hard to believe that there are three different movies that have the title “The Santa Clause”. There's the 1994 original film, the 2002 sequel, and the 2006 film “The Escape Clause”.

For the same of time constraints, we're going to be taking a look at the original 1994 movie.

I must admit that I have quite a lot of fond memories of this film. I watched this film in the movie theater with my sister when it was first released on November 11, 1994 (where I snacked on a larger than life Kit Kat bar during the whole showing), I watched this film on VHS...I even watched the movie in a different language when our French teacher showed it to us on a snow day!

The film has some rather decent star power backing it as well. The cast for the film includes Tim Allen (Home Improvement), Wendy Crewson (Air Force One), Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop), David Krumholtz (Numb3rs/Partners), and the late Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond/Young Frankenstein).

The movie depicts the life of a man named Scott Calvin, who is at a bit of a crossroads in his life. At the age of thirty-eight, Scott has a successful job as an advertising executive for a Chicago toy company, but his personal life is a bit of a mess. His ex-wife Laura (Crewson) has recently remarried a man named Neal Miller (Reinhold), a psychiatrist, and he is left to be nothing more than a part-time father to his young son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd).

As the movie begins, it's Christmas Eve, and Charlie is scheduled to spend Christmas Eve night with his father before heading out in the morning to spend Christmas Day with Laura and Neal. Although Scott is rather cynical of the holiday spirit and doesn't actually believe in Santa Claus, he tries his best to make Charlie believe that there really is a Santa Claus.

That night, Charlie is woken up by a sound on the roof. Thinking that it is Santa Claus, he runs to his father's bedroom and wakes him up, telling him that Santa has arrived. But Scott seems to believe that what Charlie actually heard was someone trying to break into the house, so he runs outside to see what the fuss is about. He calls out to the man who is on the roof, and the man is so startled that he ends up sliding off the roof and onto the ground two stories below! heard right. Scott Calvin was indirectly responsible for the death of Santa Claus.

When Scott and Charlie run to the scene of”accidental death”...all they find is the man's red suit, as well as a sleigh on the roof with eight reindeer attached to the front. Searching the red suit, they find a card that tells them to put on the suit and get on the sleigh should anything happen to Santa, and Charlie comes up with the idea for Scott to put on the suit. Given that Scott was wearing little more than his underwear at the time, it seemed like it was a good idea. And once Scott was dressed in the red suit, the two of them ended up going to all the children's houses in the area before returning to the North Pole.

The elves at Santa's workshop welcome Scott and Charlie with open arms, and Charlie is amazed at the images and sights of the place. However, when both of them end up meeting Head Elf Bernard (Krumholtz), Scott is shocked to discover that the card that was found in the suit had some fine print on it which neither Scott or Charlie read. According to the “Santa Clause”, whoever put on the suit after the previous occupant disappeared would bear the identity of Santa Claus and all the responsibilities associated with it.

A pretty big commitment, no?

Bernard even gives Scott until Thanksgiving to get all of his affairs in order back home in Chicago before he returns to the North Pole to assume the role of Santa Claus full time. Charlie is absolutely over the moon over the possibility of his father becoming the new Santa Claus, but Scott is less than enthusiastic about the whole thing, eventually believing the whole thing to be nothing but a weird dream...

...but when he gains 45 pounds in a week, cannot keep a clean-shaven face, and his hair becomes snow white, this is where Scott realizes that maybe there is something to the “Santa Clause” that Bernard spoke of. Scott's behaviour also becomes more erratic, craving Christmas themed foods, wearing green and red clothing exclusively, and even staging a tantrum at a board meeting where he has a high opposition to featuring an ad where Santa is riding in a tank. This behaviour also does not go unnoticed by Laura and Neal, who believe that Scott is suffering from delusional episodes, and they fear that Charlie backing Scott's claims that he is Santa is harming the boy, and they make plans to take Charlie away from him.

So, with Scott Calvin having to deal with transforming into Santa Claus as well as trying to keep a hold on his relationship with Charlie, it definitely becomes a holiday mess.

Now, I won't be giving away the ending to this one...but let's just say that with two sequels to the movie, I suppose that you know that a happy ending is inevitable.

To close off this look back on “The Santa Clause”, here's a few facts.

  • The movie made almost $190 million at the box office.
  • The film was set in Chicago, but many of the exterior shots were filmed in or around Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The zoo scene was shot at the Toronto Zoo in Scarborough.
  • When Scott takes his son out to eat at Denny's, the Denny's actually wasn't a Denny's. It was really a Swiss Chalet chicken restaurant that was redesigned to look like a Denny's!
  • The elves that are featured in the North Pole are also featured in cameo roles in the scenes set in Chicago.
  • Tim Allen was not the intended choice for the role of Scott Calvin. The movie was written with Bill Murray in mind for the main role.
  • Scott and Charlie climb onto a roof using a ladder manufactured by the “Rose Suchak Ladder Company”. Try saying that company name three times fast and it might sound familiar. Think of a popular Christmas rhyme...
  • Take a close look at the list that Santa holds...Andre Agassi and Armand Assante are both listed.
  • There's a line that Scott says in the film in which he sarcastically tells someone to call the number 1-800-SPANK-ME. Problem was that the number was a real number, connecting to a phone sex line. After a child racked up a costly phone bill after dialing the number which spawned an official complaint from her mother, the scene was deleted from the DVD version.
  • Although Disney has a strict no ex-con policy when it comes to hiring actors, they made an exception for Tim Allen, who was busted in 1978 for drug trafficking. He served 28 months in jail before being paroled in 1981.

And, that's our look back on “The Santa Clause.”

Day #11 will feature the birth of a woman who was just in her early teens when she managed to get everyone rocking around a certain kind of tree...

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