The Santa Clause was a surprise live-action hit from Disney during the holiday season of 1994, grossing over $144 million in the U.S. With The Santa Clause 2 arriving in theaters this winter, now is as good a time as any for Disney to capitalize on the franchise and re-release the original on DVD, though this time as a 'Special Edition.' Directed by John Pasquin, the film stars Tim Allen (Scott Calvin/Santa Claus), Judge Reinhold (Dr. Neal Miller), Wendy Crewson (Laura Miller), and Eric Lloyd (Charlie).
Scott Calvin is a successful executive at a toy company who spends little time with his son, Calvin, after getting divorced. However, when they spend Christmas Eve together, Scott ends up 'killing' Santa Claus when he startles him, causing him to fall off the rooftop. With much urging from his son, Scott puts on the suit and climbs in the sleigh, unknowingly fulfilling 'The Santa Clause.'
The Santa Clause has an excellent beginning and ending, though suffers some in the middle section. Tim Allen does a great job portraying Santa, and his antics as he adjusts to the changes being Santa brings are rather humorous. Eric Lloyd is charming here as the child who refuses to give up the notion that his dad is the new Santa, defending him till the end. The film makes for great family holiday entertainment, though is rather sentimental in a few places, as Scott and his ex-wife fight for custody of Calvin. My one complaint with the film is that the year between the first Christmas and the last depicted in the film flies by rather quickly and is a bit confusing.
The Santa Clause is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer fares quite well, remaining crisp with excellent detail throughout, with only some minor grain and a few small print flaws. Edge enhancement is also visible on occasion, though is relatively minor. Colors are vibrant and bold throughout, with accurate flesh tones and modest blacks.
There is also a separate full frame release of this title.
The Santa Clause is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English or Spanish, and Dolby 2.0 Surround in French. The 5.1 track is anchored firmly in the front channels, with the rears used only for the score and a few surround effects. Dialogue throughout is clean and crisp, with no distortion. Optional subtitles are available in English.
The two main 'extras' on the disc are the featurettes So You Wanna Be an Elf? and Making Santa Snacks with Wolfgang.
So You Wanna Be an Elf is a promotional piece running six minutes in length and is hosted by David Krumholtz (Bernard). With only a bit of making-of footage and lots of clips, this featurette is easily skipped, but remains the sole extra on the disc with any information on the production of the film.
Making Santa Snacks with Wolfgang is a fifteen-minute special hosted by Chef Wolfgang Puck, who shows viewers how to make three of Santa's favorite snacks (cookies, cocoa, and pizza…which, surprisingly, isn't consumed in The Santa Clause). Each clip highlighting a snack can be watched separately or together, and text recipes and tips are also available.
Also on the disc is the interactive game, Santa's Helper, promotional teasers and trailers for nine other Disney releases, and some DVD-Rom extras which allow children to count down the days till Christmas or write Santa a letter.
While this new 'Special Edition' of The Santa Clause certainly won't blow anyone looking for extras away, the DVD does boast a new transfer and a decent surround track. Parents looking for a great comedy to view with the kids over the holiday season may want to consider a purchase, though with the high MSRP, the disc may make a better seasonal rental.