That’s right: Santa Claus the Movie. Not the Santa Clause, you 90’s spawn! Why, in the annals of history, do I select this movie?
• It came out Christmas of 1985, the single greatest year for Xmas ever.
• I was seven years old, and my Mom agreed to take me. It was a rare treat for us to go see a movie together.
• That year I got Optimus Prime – best Christmas present ever.
Anyway, bullet points aside, there are a few points of awesomeness that bear discussion. One: SC:TM (as we fans call it) was, in essence, two movies in one. The first is the origin of Santa, about 45 minutes to an hour. This part is pure gold, absolutely wonderful and built with amazing sets never to be equaled again. The second half is the drama of Cornelia and Joe, two kids who fall in with Santa Claus, Patch the elf (played by Dudley Moore) and a few others who oppose BZ, the evil toymaker. This part borders on OK, but is wonderful in that it contains product placement typical of the 80s. Coca-Cola gets a huge mention (as Cornelia gives a can to Joe with some food) and McDonalds gets a moment in the sun also, as Joe the ragamuffin looks in with hunger.
To this day, every time I watch this movie, I have to have a can of Coke and a McDonalds meal while watchign it. Product placement works, folks.
Oddly enough, the juggernaut of licensees were relatively few: perhaps it was the low box office take, the failure of Alexander and Ilya Salkind’s movie production company, or the fact that an evil toymaker was the villain, but as far as I can tell, they made posters, several books (available at, you guessed it, McDonalds, natch), storybooks, pop-ups, and from LJN, a few PVC figures in a boxed set that didn’t look too much like the characters. Sadly, as stated above, it didn’t do blockbuster numbers, and it seems Hallmark was the major licensee for the film. While SC:TM killed the Salkinds in Hollywood, it created a magnum opus of Christmas-ness that really embodied the eighties: the odd obsession with almost Victorian times (you’d think Cornie and Joe were in London in the 1800’s till the Coke can shows up), product placement, a schizophrenic script that is two movies in one, and much more.
This movie reverberates for any who really have Christmas in their heart, and the 80’s in their childhood. I’m sure its one of those things that people outside the time think is horrible, but as a seven year old in a tiny hatchback with the heat turned up high and idling at the McDonalds window as I received my happy meal and book about this new movie, there is nothing that brings back Christmas like this movie.
Remember SC:TM? Drop a comment.