Santa Claus might be one of the most entertaining Christmas movies of all time. You already know by now that I am not here for most holidays films. I don’t like Christmas music, I think telling children that an old White man is watching them all the time and commits B&E in order to give them presents is ridiculous, and that most Christmas films are formulaeic and predictable. All that said, I’ve watched Santa Claus for at least two decades now, and this film never fails to thaw at my cold heart.
The movie features three central characters whose lives intersect on one fateful Christmas season. There’s Cornelia (Carrie Kei Heim), a wealthy but neglected and lonely orphan, and Joe (Christian Fitzpatrick), a homeless orphan, both living in New York City. The two meet on a blistering cold winter’s night, when kind-hearted Cornelia leaves a dinner on her doorstep for Joe. The two have an instant connection, but it isn’t until Joe meets Santa Claus (David Huddleston), and the not-so-mythical man of mirth allows Joe to accompany him on his deliveries that Joe and Cornelia officially meet.
The Santa, Cornelia, and Joe end up being a tremendous help to one another over the course of the film, as Santa, through a series of unfortunate events, loses one of his most dedicated elves, Patch (Dudley Moore). Patch’s departure, and then his employment with Cornelia’s uncle, B.Z. (John Lithgow), a dishonest and unscrupulous toy maker, is what sets the stage for this holiday classic. Patch wants to make quality children’s toys while B.Z. only cares about making money and becoming the new face of Christmas. Santa Claus indirectly but effectively addresses the importance of having a supportive family and a loving home, and that family isn’t just who you’re related to, but the people who are there for you when you need them most. The charm in this film is that, aside from not being the least bit preachy, and Huddleston’s portrayal being the least pretentious Santa in popular film, the plot is incredibly unique.
Santa Claus isn’t just a movie about a man who works all year to deliver presents all around the work. At it’s core, it’s a film about being able to cultivate the family you want and need for yourself… It jut happens to be Christmas themed! Though Heim and Fitzpatrick soon retired from acting, Cornelia and Joe were a beacon for every child who’d ever heard that the holiday season was for families, but had no family of their own. Santa Claus is one of the few films in the holiday film genre that actually tried to be engaging, and 32 years after its release, it still it.
I give this one 4.75 stars.