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Santa Claus the Movie (1985)


Cast:

Dudley "Still coming off his alcoholic bender from Arthur" Moore is Patch
John "I am from a Third Rock From the Sun" Lithgow is B.Z.
David "I was in G-Men From Hell?" Huddleston is Santa Claus
Burgess "Get up you bum, cause MICKEY loves you!!!" Meredith is Ancient Elf
Judy Cornwell is Anya Claus


What the box says:

After introducing how Santa and Mrs. Claus came to the North Pole and began their work delivering toys at Christmas time, this routine children's film segues into a story about an evil corporate magnate (John Lithgow). One of Santa's elves (Dudley Moore) goes to work for the nasty tycoon and invents a wild array of far-out toys. Then there is a little boy who does not believe in Santa Claus and a girl who finds out about the toymaker's plans to defraud his company. Santa's reindeer are a little under the weather, not to mention Santa himself. This labyrinth of subplots quickly draws attention away from the story, wherever it is.


Plot:

In a snow covered village, the children are told of a magical kingdom (pre-Disney). Everyone celebrates when Claus and his wife, Anya, pull up in their sleigh. They pass toys off to the kids. The intrepid duo head out in a raging snowstorm to reach the next village. However, the snow is so thick, they can’t find the road. The cold even starts affecting the reindeer that keel over.

The North Star shines even brighter. The reindeer awaken as do Claus and Anya. They spot a giant Christmas tree. The elves appear and greet them. Dudley Moore inspects the sleigh. The elves take the couple to their new home.

Tour fu ensues of the toy workshop. Santa is shown a giant room filled with toys that he is to give to all the children of the world. The elves explain to the couple they will be immortal, too (unless they take their head and with it their power, got to throw in a Highlander joke every so often…).

Night, Dudley is tending to Santa’s reindeer and several more. He shows Santa some of his ideas like an alarm clock.

Wake up calls rouses the elves who trudge off to work. Toy construction fu. Santa’s red suit is designed. Montage of loading Santa’s bag. The snow falls as the elves celebrate “Seasons greetings.”

Santa is in his red suit when a wizened elf explains that Santa is the chosen one to deliver gifts to all the children of the world on Christmas Eve. Time will bend to help him and fly. Burgess Meredith, the ancient elf, proclaims him Santa Claus.

The elves feed the reindeer magic corn, and Santa heads out. Montage of kids getting toys ensues.

Santa starts getting letters. Anya wants him not to reward bad children. The naughty and nice lists ensue. A kiddie song assaults us.

Santa gets mad after hearing the “Night before Christmas.” The part about his belly shaking inspires him to try to go on a diet. He is worn-out from all the work. Anya convinces him that an assistant would be a big help.

Caroling in New York City, the street urchin boy, Joe, spots a street Santa boozing it up. Elsewhere, Cornelia, the poor little rich girl, who doesn’t have a loving family, exchanges meaningful glances with urchin boy.

Dudley and the other elf compete for being Santa’s assistant. Battle of the toy construction ensues. Dudley has created a robot toy making device.

These aren't reindeer horns, they're quotation marks for when I'm serious
These aren't reindeer horns, they're quotation marks for when I'm serious
Unfortunately, it isn’t up to quality control and numerous faulty toys get through it. Dudley is promoted.

Back in NYC, Joe watches people eat. Later, he spies on Cornelia who gives him some food.

Santa rides again to deliver toys. He spots Joe and teleports him to prove that he is the true Saint Nick. Santa even lets Joe ride and later drive the sleigh. Santa goes back to delivering toys and lets Joe tag along. They are caught by Cornelia. Santa even promises to see Joe next Christmas.

The kids start playing with the Christmas toys that start falling apart. Bullies beat up Joe for saying good things about Santa? Cornelia’s friends are mad that Santa gave them crappy toys.

Toys are flying back to the North Pole as returns. Dudley quits and leaves the North Pole.

Washington, D.C., BZ is before a Senate committee on the dangers of his toys: flammable toys, broken glass in teddy bears, etc…

Santa learns that Dudley has left.

Dudley teleports to NYC. He sees numerous BZ toys being taken off the shelves. That makes him think they’re really good. He goes to meet BZ who first denies the existence of Santa Claus. Dudley wants to create new toys. BZ explains to him how important advertising is. Dollar signs roll in front of this greedy mogul’s eyes as he sees a way to improve his reputation.

Back at the North Pole, Santa carves a toy for Joe that looks like Dudley.

A commercial for Dudley’s new toy is played on TV. BZ sees that Dudley is ready to deliver the toy in his rocket powered flying sled with headlights?

Christmas Eve, Santa spots Joe and gives him the toy. They fly around the city.

Cornelia plays with Santa’s toy. She ignores the BZ toy, which is a lollypop. Her aunt tries it and starts levitating.

Reporters meet Dudley. He wants to go back to the North Pole. BZ convinces him to amp up using the magic dust for more power (pardon he Home Improvement in-joke.). BZ plans on creating CHRISTMAS 2 for March 25.

Santa thinks about hanging up his hat and maybe his head from a noose. Times have changed.

Joe visits Cornelia.

Dudley starts creating candy canes that are more powerful than the lollypops.

Cornelia keeps Joe stay at her place because he’s sick. Hauser, BZ’s lawyer, arrives and has to talk with BZ, who is Cornelia’s uncle. The kids over hear BZ’s plan to replace Santa Clause. BZ catches UB. Hauser learns the candy canes are dangerous. They explode if exposed to high heat. BZ wants to keep that a secret. Take the money and leave Dudley as the Fall Guy (in a non-Lee Majors way).

Joe is tied up in BZ’s factory.

Cornelia writes a letter to Santa about everything.

Santa heads out with less reindeers since 2 are sick. Flying to the Big Apple, he picks up Cornelia.

While Dudley is working, he finds Joe. He learns that Santa does miss him. They decide to fly to the North Pole and let Santa have the canes unaware of the danger.

Santa spots them in the rocket sleigh.

The cops come for BZ. He gorges himself on candy canes and flies away.

Santa chases after Dudley because the rocket sled is starting to overheat. Santa gets the reindeers to into the “impossible” Super Duper Looper at the last minute to save Dudley and Joe.

At the North Pole, the elves are celebrating. Joe and Cornelia want to stay there for the year.

Elsewhere, BZ is floating into orbit without explosively decompressing or bothered by a lack of oxygen…


What I say:

Roundtable? A Roundtable in July? Why, it is Christmas in July. By the way, got a extra-special gift in my yule log in a couple of weeks for the mega-ultra-ninjaliscious roundtable...Anyways stay tuned. This week, Andrew at Bad Movies.Org is doing Beast from Haunted Cave. Darksider is tackling the very well-oiled He-Man Christmas Special. That leaves me handling a right jolly ole elf, or creepy fat guy who sneaks into people's houses at night to give things to children whichever you want to believe.

This hasn't been the first Santa movie, I've tackled. The truly insane Mexican Santa Claus and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (which released Pia Zadora upon an unsuspecting world) have been covered before. So what could I review for Christmas in July? Searching through cabinets of old VHS tapes (yes VHS, not all movies are on DVDs, you anti VHS-philistines...) I had even forgotten actually having Santa Claus the Movie on tape or watching it decades ago. I can't be that old (maybe I can)...

It would be too easy to tear Santa Claus the Movie apart. However, I am not the target audience for this movie anymore. Know I've seen it back in the day when the most advanced video game systems were Ataris before they were supplanted with the 8-bit genius of Nintendo. I would be a bit more awed by it back in the day.

The Salkinds produced Santa Claus after their huge success with Superman and Superman 2. This wasn't a cheap movie. The money was actually spent on the movie rather than some sort of investment scheme. Santa Claus had quite a bit of detail like how Santa's workshop is highly set up with many little touches like the number of small toys set up on Dudleys's machines. The North Pole parts about Santa's workshop are good set designs. Even Dudley's rocket sled with the toy soldiers' drums rotating into headlights may be goofy but still a nice touch.

Normally, I don't mention the director except for special cases like Jeannot Szwarc (he may not want to be a special case after this paragraph wraps up). The good Mr. Szwarc is special not in short bus manner however because of the flock of TV show episodes along with 2 of the more infamous sequels or spinoffs he directed Jaws 2 and Supergirl, the movie that was more a breakout hit for Helen Slater than the Legend of Billy Jean. Now please start humming Pat Benetar's "Invincible." You know you really want to do it and just admit the truth..."We will be invincible..."

What really kills this movie is when it gets into New York City. We have to have the cynical street urchin boy and the stereotypical "poor in loving family but rich in money" little girl. If those kids are second rate enough charcters, I'll try to keep the venom down about Dudley Moore. After watching this movie, a question ran through my mind. I even conducted the sideorderofninjas first opinion poll "Was Dudley Moore ever funny?" With 100% against him, the results indicated he wasn't funny. Watching C-Span for the hope of a fist fight or someone's coed intern table-dancing in the Senate are more likely of happening than the possibility of Dudley Moore being entertaining. But back from some of my feeble attempts at humor. Well, I liked Crazy People which probably puts me in a smaller group than those who truly enjoyed Howard the Duck. However, Dudley is supposed to be an elf but acts more like he is Dudley more in funny clothes. He is one those actors you can only see as themselves than a character.

We get John Lithgow as the crooked toy manufacturer. Hard to believe a couple of years later, he's playing the nice every guy in Harry and the Hendersons or in the 90s in Third Rock From the Sun. Imagine a greedy CEO, now imagine that he is completely undisturbed by the possibility of a potential massacre. This guy sounds like the head villain on Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. If Santa had to fight Druids from ruining Christmas by making kids wear masks and listen to some Celtic version of the "Happy Happy Halloween" theme song, that would have made this movie so much better.

Movies love their chosen ones. Movies have already had so many chosen ones, they're are no kids left to be picked last on the kickball field (sorry personal experience leaks out time and time again..) It is nice to know that Claus is the Chosen One. At least he wasn't clad in black leather hanging around with Laurence Fishbourne explaining how everything he believed is wrong before learning kung fu and multicamera angle frozen shots. Old fat men with the very scrawny Carrie Ann Moss is just disturbing on at least 5 dimensions of reality.

Santa has been far creepier in other movies Santa Claus Conquers the Martians or far more divorced from reality, Mexican Santa Claus. This movie is the product of its times without having the blatant 80s references: no Power Glove references. I'm sort of torn on what I really think of this movie. Sure, it is cheezy and does have its faults. Other movie kids have beeen more annoying than McCauley Culkin in Home Alone on a sugar rush. Wasn't in a movie ripping mood when watched it. However, a reviewer that only thinks that only throwing a few semi-funny comments is enough justification for a review isn't actually a reviewer. I better get off my podium...



2 1/2 NINJAS

Quotable Dialogue

"What's a vindegum?"
"We prefer to call ourselves elves if you don't mind."
"I'm not afraid to rock the sleigh."
"Do you know how to say 'yo'?"
"Heaven helps those who the elves."
"Can you do it for little Joe?"


Morals of the Story

Elves live in ice mountains.
Santa is a motivational speaker.
Elves have a Klingon cloaking device.
Reindeers have personalized name tags like dogs.
Literacy was created by Santa.
Elves have a trademark brand for their toys.


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