For kids, “The Santa Clause” is a story about believing in Santa. For adults, we all know it’s an epic, existential battle between science and faith, between philosophy and belief, between Neal the Doctor and Charlie the “Sport.”
The story begins with a company Christmas party – the irony is thick pitting the modern sales reports against Christmas Eve to the point of an adulterous Santa. Oh, yes, modern man comes out swinging for the fences.
But childhood strikes back with a young Charlie being read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and his questioning of “Rose Suchak Ladder” as if to hint to us all to see things as a child. Childlike faith.
Santa, reindeer, the suit and some present deliveries later they wake up back at home with the adult in denial and the child in heaven (not literally, no spoiler, he didn’t die). This device of Scott Calvin becoming Santa is just a necessity of the true story. Enter the Doctor.
Until now, we’ve only seen Neal as a minor role. In the shadows, controlling with his puppet master ways – tapping his watch. Modern man can be distracted from just about anything if he’s told time is running out. Neal is clever.
The climax of the battle comes in a debate directly between Charlie and Neal over the existence of Santa. Charlie explains the breakdown in the time continuum that occurs when Santa is in the sleigh, how not everyone celebrates Christmas (thus dispelling the argument that Santa has to visit every boy and girl in the world) and ultimately how faith plays a role (e.g., have you ever seen a million dollars?) – just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Personally, I’ve never seen George Washington, King Henry VIII nor Julius Caesar. Nor have my friends.
As the story continues, we find out the true disease of the Doctor and why he’s trying to infect others: betrayal. He wanted a certain gift as a child and when he didn’t get it, he not only denied his faith, he made it his life’s work to infect others.
Here’s where the storytellers shine. Neal’s faith isn’t restored by the receiving of the wanton gift. No. His guard seems to lower for just an instant and in that moment he simply looks into Santa’s eyes. These eyes that care. These eyes no longer of Scott Calvin his foe. No longer Scott Calvin former lover of his wife. No longer Scott Calvin the man. But Santa’s eyes. And in that reflective gaze through which his own soul is revealed. He believes.
Then and only then, he receives his gift. Belief is a prerequisite. Believe and then receive. Now the Doctor is a child.
I give it 3 out of 5 Babbles: