The Santa Clause

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1994 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 94:00 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director John Pasquin

Warner Home Video
Starring Tim Allen
Judge Reinhold
Wendy Crewson
Peter Boyle
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Michael Convertino

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or
After Credits

Plot Synopsis

    Well in many respects this effort seems very much like a production line type effort from our friends at Di$ney. And to be honest I have partaken of too much sweet stuff over the holiday season to be able to stomach any more of the Di$ney variety. And then the cover blurb really goes over the top with gems such as "hilarious holiday laughs" and "hysterical holiday entertainment", such as to really make you sick. This sort of blurb really does get close to infringing the Trade Practices Act in my view. For the record, I find little even remotely funny about the film, never mind finding it hilarious. This really is your typical 90 minutes of Di$ney syrup - pleasant enough but ultimately unrewarding.

    Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a master toy salesman who has just about lost whatever Christmas spirit he may have had. His young son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) is spending Christmas Eve with him rather than with his ex wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her new husband Neal Miller (Judge Reinhold). Trouble is Neal has been telling Charlie that the big bloke in the red suit does not exist, whilst Scott tells him the opposite. But the matter is resolved once and for all when the real Santa falls off Scott's roof. In accordance with The Santa Clause, in such circumstances the next person who dons the outfit becomes the new Santa Clause. Guess what? Scott dons the outfit and becomes the new Santa, although he tries to deny it. But over the course of the next year he puts on a stack of weight and grows a large white beard, sort of making it difficult to avoid the possibility, especially with Charlie reminding him all the time. Between Charlie and Scott, the rest of their small world becomes convinced of the fact despite being extremely sceptical to start with.

    As I said, this hardly raises a smile let alone a laugh and as a comedy this falls down quite badly. However, if you accept it as a family film, this is nonetheless a pleasant enough experience. Tim Allen is not a person that I have found especially entertaining and this does little to change that feeling. The rest of the cast is nothing more than run of the mill and if there was such a thing nowadays as the studio system, where actors were contracted lock, stock and one smoking barrel to the studio for life, this is the sort of film they used to churn out ad infinitum without too much thought. In some respects, the more you watch Di$ney films, the more it starts to feel as if they are the last studio still caught in the old studio system. The special effects are not especially special and the animatronics of the reindeer are less than lifelike, which probably suits the film well. Overall, a pleasant enough way of spending ninety minutes, but not something that I would return to often.

Transfer Quality


    Buena Vista have been nothing if not inconsistent in their DVDs thus far, and this is another example of that.

    The video transfer is presented in Pan & Scan only, which is a tremendous let down as the Region 1 version is a widescreen presentation.

    The transfer throughout is not especially sharp, and as a result the definition is not the best around. The transfer seems to lack a little depth although the latter part of the film shows some improvement in this regard. Shadow detail was in general pretty good, although not quite up to the very best standards of more recent films and hampered a little by the richness of the transfer. There did not appear to be any low level noise problems with the transfer.

    The colours are very well saturated throughout, resulting in a very rich tone to it. However, this is by no means consistent and at times the colours seemed to be a little flat. The skin tones at times come up just a little unnatural, but nothing that really is seriously amiss. Because of the very rich colour tone, darker scenes come up just a little too dark at times. Despite the very rich tone, there is no hint of oversaturation at all.

    There were no significant MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There were a few instances of film-to-video artefacts throughout the transfer, mainly in the form of aliasing. There was one instance of some film jitter at around the 18:46 mark of the film. There were film artefacts throughout the film, but none that were really noticeable and intrusive.


    This is an acceptable audio transfer, although not the best 5.1 remaster that I have heard.

    There are three soundtracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 5.1 efforts: the default being English, and the others being French and Italian. I listened to the English default soundtrack.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout the film.

    There did not seem to be any audio sync problems with the transfer.

    The music score is provided by Michael Convertino, and it really is not an especially memorable score at all.

    This is a not an especially well detailed soundtrack, and I really was expecting a little more from the surround channels than was delivered. Still, even though it was not especially present, what was there was more than acceptable. The overall balance is not too bad and the resultant soundscape is quite believable. The bass channel did not get a huge amount of use during the film.


    Perhaps not - unless a small white piece of paper saying "please disregard the coding information printed on the enclosed disc" counts as an extra.


R4 vs R1

    Region 4 misses out on:     Given that the Region 4 issue misses out on these benefits, and both are not 16x9 enhanced, Region 1 is the region of choice I am afraid to say.


    Basically your typical Di$ney film, reasonably entertaining family fodder but nothing that is going to tax the brain too much. However, no 16x9 enhancement + no widescreen option + no extras = no sale as far as I am concerned. If you need the film, give it a rent instead, as this package is not worth $35.

    A decent enough video transfer, but why did we not get widescreen?

    A decent enough audio transfer.

    No extras whatsoever.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
3rd January 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL