In the spirit of Christmas, we here at Munch have decided to dedicate the month of December to Christmas movies. We decided to start with the 1994 classic, The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen. A lesser blog might have just watched the original film and called it quits, but not us. We watched the whole trilogy in one day. This required mental fortitude we did not know we had, and many meals to go with it. Somehow we made it out to the other side, and this is our story.
We used Leanna’s grandmother’s recipe to make a colorful loaf of panettone, an Italian sweet bread stuffed with candied fruits, traditionally served around the holidays. It was delicious and beautiful and filled us with ample carbs and sugar that allowed us to get through the rest of the day.
Oh, but we didn’t stop there. Plain, traditional panettone wasn’t enough for us. We put our own spin on it by turning the loaf into french toast. It was possibly the tastiest, moistest, christmasiest, sweetest french toast any of us had ever had, but it was no where near as sweet as Charlie (the young child in the film for the uninitiated) was in that first Santa Clause film. That was one cute kid. Too bad about how he aged though…
The Santa Clause
We followed breakfast with the first Santa Clause – you know, the one where Tim Allen kills Santa Claus and has to take his place because of the Santa Clause. To its credit, this was one of the better films we’ve watched for Munch. That being said, the pacing was really weird. Every time a character made a joke, the camera just stayed on that character, and there was a long pause in the dialogue. It really felt like they filmed the movie leaving room for a laugh track but at the last minute decided not to add it in. Also, there were several times you just wanted to punch Tim Allen in the face. He was kind of a wild card and unnecessarily unstable throughout the whole movie. Generally not the kind of guy you want to have sneaking into your house once a year.
Arguably, the best part of the film was the introduction of Bernard and his hilariously fake dreds. You could see his real hair peeking out from under his perpetually-worn, velvet hat. Bernard didn’t hesitate to sass Tim Allen, so we’ll give him credit for that.
Andre – On a scale of one to Christmas, I’d give it six geese-a-laying. It probably would have only gotten four calling birds if it wasn’t for the combination of christmas cheer and nostalgia I was swimming in while I was watching it.
Leanna – 10/10 would watch it again. Nostalgia and family Christmas tradition trumps all of Bernard’s bad acting, Charlie’s whining, and Tim Allen just being Tim Allen.
Ben – 66%. Beside the many questions I have about the film (How often is Santa killed that they have precautions set in place [business card] on Santa so that someone knows to replace him? Also, why would someone want to be in such a dangerous profession?) all in all the movie wasn’t… bad. It was actually decent. I don’t think it has aged particularly well, and I hypothesize that in a couple more decades it will be forgotten to time.
After such a filling breakfast, we wanted a pretty simple lunch. We went to the butcher down the block (Hey, Rain Shadow!) and picked up some freshly sliced cold cuts (pancetta, salami, terrine) to go with some fig and rosemary crackers and a selection of cheeses (truffle chèvre, Irish cheddar, smoked gouda). We were going for a Christmas Eve party kind of thing, where finger foods are king.
The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause
Satiated by a light lunch and a fairly decent start to the trilogy, we dove right in to The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause. This is the one where Tim Allen has to find a wife before Christmas or he would stop being Santa Claus because of, you guessed it, another Santa Clause.
Just to be clear… Tim Allen had to find a wife OVER THE COURSE OF MAYBE 28 DAYS! HE HAD MAYBE 672 HOURS TO FIND A WIFE! HE HAD 40,320 MINUTES TO FIND A WIFE! JEEZ! But if Tim Allen can do it, there’s certainly hope for the rest of us. The movie was made 8 years after the original Santa Clause and we were happy to see the the vast majority of the cast came back for the second one – even Charlie, and especially Bernard.
There were some new members to the cast too, including an elf named Curtis. Curtis is the single worst part of the Santa Clause trilogy. We can’t even explain why we hate him so much but every time he came on to the screen, we let out a collective groan. We suppose if we had to put our collective fingers on it, we would say it was a combination of his aplomb mannerisms, delivery, and his rotund little face that just really bugged us. Not to mention the entire sub-plot of a creepy Toy Santa taking over the Northpole while Tim Allen was trying to get laid was all his fault! The movie really could have gone without Curtis.
Oh Curtis, how we loathe thee.
Other than the addition of Curtis, we were pretty split on whether or not the second film was any better. We have to admit that the pacing problems were resolved and there were even some genuinely cute and perhaps touching moments, but the humor took a major nose dive. The biggest issue though was the heteronormative, patriarchal premise the entire movie was based upon. The Santa Clause specifically said Santa had to find a woman to marry. What if Santa was gay? What if Santa was a woman? What if Santa thought marriage was nothing more than a social construct that has no good reason to be recognized by an age-old magic? We were further incensed that Mrs. Claus threw away a promising career, all of her friends, and all of her family to fly off to the North Pole and marry a man she had known for three days and who had lied about everything for two and a half of them.
Andre – Call me crazy, but I liked this one better than the first, and I’d give it eight maids-a-milking! It might have had a rotten core premise but it was just more fun to watch.
Leanna – I’ll give it solid 7 candy canes. The creepy Toy Santa takeover was a weird choice, but you have to give the director credit for getting the original cast back together again, including Neil and his appallingly awesome sweaters. I’m docking it three candy canes for never resolving Charlie’s issues with Christmas and his bad attitude. Tim Allen may be Santa Claus, but he’s kind of an ignorant dad.
Ben – 45%. The whole sub plot of a Toy Santa taking over the North Pole while the real Santa was doing other things really killed my vibe with this film. And that isn’t even touching the many questions I have about the stupid clauses forced upon Santa and the problematic place the North Pole seems to be. You have showed your true colors North Pole!
For dinner, we had the crazy idea to make a traditional Christmas ham, speared with cloves and smothered with a maple glaze and everything. We used Ben’s mother’s glaze recipe because what are the holidays really all about, if not a reason to keep family recipes alive in the Internet age? We were all really surprised at how well it turned out, and also how many leftovers we had.
We asked ourselves, what would go well with ham? The answer, it turned out, was bacon. We served the ham with a bacon, apple salad topped off with a light vinaigrette. No regrets. Bacon is always the right choice.
To keep the family recipe train going, we also made some delicious, oversized maple pumpkin rolls. These also happen to be the perfect canvas for the masterpiece of a sandwich we are going to make with ridiculous amount of leftover ham.
We finished the meal off with milk and classic chocolate chip cookies. Do we really need to explain how that fits the theme?
We made Baileys-infused hot chocolate before the last movie, because roughly 40 gallons of cocoa had been consumed in the trilogy, and at that point and we were all craving it pretty bad.
And with that, we were on to the third and final movie…
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
This is the one where, if Santa Claus says he doesn’t want to be Santa Claus while holding a magical Santa Claus snow globe, he no longer has to be Santa Claus, as per the Santa Clause. It also happens to be the worst Santa Clause movie. The entire movie was a bunch of Canada jokes and in-law jokes, interspersed with some not-so-comical marital problems.
No one was surprised that the marriage founded on lies and desperation was so shaky, especially since it was clear that Tim Allen was putting about as much into the marriage as he was into the film. In other words, he was physically present but his heart and Santa Claus belly really wasn’t. The real surprise was that all the problems were magically fixed by a lackluster Tim Allen speech at the end. The marriage problems, that is. The movie still sucked.
In case you were wondering, Charlie, Curtis, and Neil’s Ugly Sweaters all had a role, but Bernard was nowhere to be seen. We suspect that Curtis killed him in a coup to claim the seat as Elf #1 for himself. Newcomer Martin Short (Jack Frost) was a favorite, and we probably would have abandoned ship if not for his performance.
Andre – Two Turtle Doves. I had more fun imagining that the whole thing was just the father-in-law’s fever dream… “Elves… They’re not little Canadians!”
Leanna – This movie is a complete fruitcake. Definitely a part of Christmas, but the absolute worst of it that everybody hates and nobody understands. Not to mention that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when it’s over. Pass.
Ben – I am just going to rate the last 30 minutes of the film because that is the only time anything in it does anything worthy of my attention… 75%. I know, I know, you are probably thinking I am rating that pretty high. This movie is supposed to be the worst of the three after all. But when Tim Allen reverts to normal Tim Allen and not Santa Clause Tim Allen in a dark dystopian future where the North Pole and Christmas is being monetized and commercialized… wait. Well maybe it’s not that futuristic after all. But this part genuinely held my interest for a period of time, thanks in large part to the acting and ability to care at all for this film found singularly in Martin Short. I will reiterate this again for those of you not following us on Twitter: Martin Short is the bright and shining star in this black hole of a movie.
Bonus: Ugly Sweater Graph
Besides Tim Allen, the other star not listed in the credits or praised by critics is without a doubt, Neil’s Ugly Sweaters.
Neil and the Ugly Sweater, in action.
His Ugly Sweater game is strong in the first movie, but that makes sense: 1994 was the golden era of the Ugly Sweater. Times changed, but the Ugly Sweaters remained on point throughout all three films, so we made a handy graph documenting their peaks, troughs, and undeniable legacy.