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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Featurette - So You Wanna Be An Elf?
  • Interactive game - Santa's Helper
  • 3 Recipe - Making Santa Snacks With Wolfgang Puck

The Santa Clause: SE

Disney/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

I remember being horn-swoggled seeing the special effects in this film when it came out in 1994. Now, watching them on DVD, they got titters of laughter from next to me on the couch. It seems we are truly spoiled special effects-wise these days, but those used here were paving the way for what we take for granted today.

That being said, they did still look a little dodgy.

"We’re getting the Disney Channel now! Merry Christmas!"

The Santa Clause tells a usual Disney-style story in usual Disney fashion, though with Tim Allen at the helm the one-liners are snappy and funny and don’t fall flat (which happens with Disney movies all the time...). It’s Christmas Eve and divorced single father Scott Calvin is taking care of his son; a son who doesn’t really like his dad all that much and sees staying with him as a chore. After reading him The Night Before Christmas, Calvin himself goes to sleep to be awakened soon after by someone on the roof. Investigation soon leads to the roof guy falling to his nice, quick, clean death upon which Calvin, at his son’s bidding, dons the Santa suit the guy was wearing and unwittingly enacts the ‘Santa Clause’. This means he becomes the jolly guy and in the course of the next year he must come to terms with it and get his affairs in order so he can truly be the next Santa Claus.

It’s a simple enough tale and one that would have been far more sugary and watered down were it not for Allen’s snappy one-liners and heartfelt approach. The reluctant hero is always a good theme to work with and certainly one Disney has employed before. That formula works well here with the film flying okay (rather than plummeting to earth dragging reindeer and such behind).

Anyone getting into this must understand this is a kids’ vehicle and therefore played down for adult viewers, but there are still some subtle gags hidden away to entertain the grown-ups. There are also more than a few subtle Home Improvement references thrown in for the eagle-eyed, though one would have sufficed, I think. Subtlety means subtlety, doesn’t it?

  Video
Contract

Everything looks super here and is the usual par excellence from Buena Vista. Barely an artefact clogging the screen up, crystal clarity of picture and colours rich and vibrant – which is always so important in a Christmas film for kids.

About the only fault would be in the blacks varying between true and off true and the shadow detail fluctuating from good to poor. Otherwise this film, delivered in the 1.85:1 cinema aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement, looks great.

  Audio
Contract

Again, everything is superb in this Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. While not really getting a hefty workout, there are plenty of nice surrounds in the air when the sleigh is flying and within the workshop in the North Pole with elves busy everywhere, but these are really the only parts of note.

Dialogue is all easily understood and the sound effects are all well synched and nicely finished off, creating a nice sound package for a nice little film.

  Extras
Contract

Perhaps 'Special Edition' is a loose title here, as the extras aren’t really all that special. With but three inclusions they tend to feel a little tacked on, particularly as one is entirely unrelated to the film, but anyhow, here they are.

Our first is the most recent and most relative to the picture. Entitled So You Wanna Be An Elf?, this is a short featurette about training school for the elves in Santa’s workshop. At least they’ve used an actor from the film in David Krumholtz as host and this looks like it was made for the Disney Channel or something as filler material. It’s half ‘making of’/half mockumentary, making the whole thing like two parts glued awkwardly together so thankfully it only runs for 6:31 in 4:3.

Next up is the hardcore interactive game that has definitely been designed for the DVD. It’s fairly poorly animated and I couldn’t make mine work properly, but it seems like it would keep the kids entertained for a while at least.

Thirdly and lastly is a bunch of recipes with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck in the bit called Making Santa Snacks. This runs for 15:41 and features a bunch of kids making Christmas themed treats. Included are:

  • Wolfgang Puck’s pizza
  • Classic Christmas Cookies
  • Santa’s Favourite Cocoa
Plus all three recipes are featured on text pages with a cooking measurements conversion chart.

I didn’t have a go at making anything as the court order still won’t let me, but they looked simple enough for kids to have a crack at. And there’s also a sort of Easter egg tucked away on the main menu that is really just an uncredited extra and in no way hidden. This is a simple button that allows us to stir up the snowglobe of the main menu like we would a real one. Let’s call it a virtual snowglobe.

  Overall  
Contract

I thought this film would be a bit hard to watch, but it was actually pretty entertaining. Tim Allen definitely makes the movie while Judge Reinhold stands around in goofy jumpers a lot. The kids will definitely enjoy the movie this (or any other) Christmas, regardless of the differences (though minor) between the Australian Christmas and the American. Sharp-eyed parents will pick up a few sniggers behind their hands if they look close enough as well. A nice transfer overall in sound and vision, though perhaps a little lacking in the extras department.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3357
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      And I quote...
    "Tim Allen saves Christmas and this film from its own sugary sweetness with his own special brand of wit."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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