Making the Grades
When the father and son production team of Alexander and Ilya Salkind set out to create the definitive Santa Claus, they spared no expense. Working as hard as elves, they created the magic of the North Pole, the wonder of flying reindeer, and the merriment of Saint Nick by hiring the best set designers, employing the highest-tech animatronics craftsmen, and casting the most talented actors they could find. The resulting movie took audiences by storm during the Christmas season of 1985.
The epic tale begins with the introduction of Mr. Claus (David Huddleston) and his wife Anya (Judy Cornwell), who have no offspring of their own. On their annual pilgrimage to distribute homemade gifts to youngsters in neighboring villages, the charitable couple is caught in a terrible blizzard. Huddling together to keep warm, they are surprised when the snow suddenly stops and a bright star shines out of a clear sky. Then a group of elves appears on the frozen landscape. Greeting them with phrases like, "We've been expecting you," the little men lead the puzzled pair to a magic kingdom, complete with home, workshop and reindeer stable. In short order, the Clauses are introduced to a new (and immortal) life, and given a new commission: to deliver toys to children all over the world.
As the centuries pass, Santa Claus (as he is now called) finds it harder to keep up to the demands of his busy schedule, so he takes an assistant from among his industrious helpers. Patch (Dudley Moore) has an innovative mind and quickly has the workshop running in a mechanized, assembly line fashion, which significantly speeds up production. But it is soon discovered that quality control has been sacrificed.
Feeling like he has disappointed his boss, Patch runs away from home to lose himself in the hubbub of civilization. There he bumps into another disgraced toymaker named B.Z. (John Lithgow). Naive to the unscrupulous practices of his mortal friend, the elf enters a business relationship with him. While Patch hopes to develop a product that will redeem his reputation in Santa's eyes, the greedy B.Z. seizes the co-operative manufacturing opportunity for the possible positive publicity and the prospect of profits.
With commercial competition heating up, Santa turns to a couple of children he befriended on an earlier visit to New York City--wealthy heiress Cornelia (Carrie Kei Heim) and street urchin Joe (Christian Fitzpatrick). Although the sticky situation puts the youngsters in peril, they happily volunteer to help their white-bearded friend put the jolly back in the holiday.
The first half of this ambitious film does a nice job of bringing to life all the mythical aspects of Father Christmas. The last portion of the film unfortunately slides into nasty melodramatic cliches, such as villainous adults (who smoke cigars and spit out mild profanities) and vengeful endings. As much of a disappointment as that may be, tiny tots aren't too likely to find it hard to sleep because of these scary depictions. Rather they'll be anticipating Santa's arrival thanks to this believable fantasy that will set their eyes all aglow.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Santa Claus - The Movie.
When Cornelia notices Joe’s impoverished state, she tries to help him. What are some ways you could reach out to the less fortunate in your community? Why does the Christmas season often motivate acts of charity?
Mrs. Claus is quoted as saying, “If you give extra kisses, you get bigger hugs.” How do you feel about that adage? How could it apply to your interactions with others?