Starring: Dudley Moore, John Lithgow, David Huddleston, Burgess Meredith, Judy Cornwell
Directed by: Jeannot Szwarc
Synopsis: The first half of this film, set hundreds of years ago, shows how the old man who eventually became Santa Claus was given immortality and chosen to deliver toys to all the children of the world. The second half moves into the modern era, in which Patch, the head elf, strikes out on his own and falls in with an evil toy manufacturer who wants to corner the market and eliminate Santa Claus.
I’ll start by saying that, in my family (my wife and Mum particularly) there is a lot of love for this film. It’s a definite ‘watch every year’ film for them. Me? I find it pretty boring to be honest. I’m not sure why but it just doesn’t grab me like some of the other festive offerings from the movie world.
It’s a very ‘traditional’ Christmas movie, kind of untainted by the later cynical edge or humour that the likes of Bad Santa and Elf bought to the table. It has good guys who are really nice, and it has almost pantomime bad guys who are really horrible. You certainly know what side you are batting for, although if you have to sit back and think about NOT batting for the side of Santa Claus, then you may have a problem anyway.
Dudley Moore is OK in the film, but those who know him best from his comedy days with Peter Cook won’t find much of interest here. Must have been one for his grandkids or something! The other cast members do a decent job, John Lithgow in particular, but this is a film very much for a more innocent time, thus probably more for young children. And to that end it is perfectly good.
I think more than anything Santa Claus: The Movie is the film that people of a certain age remember as being brilliant because they watched at as children, and maybe it represents the imminent arrival of Christmas because it is on TV so often. And that is great, we all have those films. This one isn’t mine though.