If I Directed The Santa Clause Trilogy
Updated: Dec 28, 2021
It's considered a Christmas classic, and it was successful enough to spawn two sequels. The film I'm talking about, of course, is The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen in the titular role. If it's been a while since you watched The Santa Clause, you wouldn't be alone: I just watched it for the first time this holiday season (even though the film was originally released before I was even born!), and the movie certainly is showing its age. We would naturally expect the cars, hairstyles and clothing to look straight out of the nineties (which they are), but that's not what makes the film feel unworthy of a re-watch. Neither is the film's unwatchability due to the crude special effects (which make the flying sequences with the reindeer and sleigh look jerky and unnatural). After all, the stylistic choices and technological limitations of The Santa Clause are products of the era in which the film was made (although even older films such as the 1935 version of A Christmas Carol worked within their limitations, not in spite of them). Instead, I propose that the real problem with The Santa Clause is that the story is riddled with plot holes. Unlike most film franchises, The Santa Clause is unusual in that the sequels were far more enjoyable and far less full of the poor writing that plagued this movie (although they were still problematic, as I will discuss). In this blog post, I will first discuss how I would rewrite the original film before discussing how I would go about rewriting both sequels. Don't worry if you're a bit fuzzy on the films' main storylines; you won't need a synopsis, since I'll be covering the movies' main beats here. Instead, sit back as I describe the changes that I would make if I directed The Santa Clause trilogy.
If I Directed The Santa Clause
Let's begin with our protagonist Scott Calvin (played by Tim Allen), who is a divorced middle-aged toy salesman with custody of his son Charlie for Christmas Eve. Less than ten minutes into the film, we have already encountered a major problem with this film: divorce. While it is true that many American families have experienced divorce, it is disturbing that divorce features so prominently among many popular films. Consider, for example, the first film of the Night at the Museum franchise, which also features as its protagonist a divorced middle-aged Caucasian man who has custody of his son around Christmas Eve. Sounds suspiciously similar? How about Mr. Popper's Penguins, a third comedy film featuring as its protagonist a divorced middle-aged Caucasian man who reconnects with his children. Or how about Miracle on 34th Street, a Christmas movie about a divorced middle-aged Caucasian woman who has custody of her daughter?
The list goes on. As far as comedy films go, it seems that a divorce is the key ingredient, even more important than snow being featured somewhere during the film. In fact, divorce is so common in Hollywood films that it's practically a trope at this point. Audiences don't need another discouraging portrayal of marital life or an unrealistic dramatization of an estranged couple coming back together. What they need to see is a family that goes through a rough patch and yet still sticks together. So that's the first and most important thing that I would change if I directed The Santa Clause.
My version of the film would open to the Calvin Family preparing for Christmas Eve dinner. Mrs. Calvin is frustrated that the dinner is not turning out as perfectly as she expected, and Charlie is frustrated that his dad (Scott) is working on Christmas Eve. When Scott finally comes home to a burned turkey and Charlie pouting, they get in an argument (as families tend to do), resulting in Scott taking them out to eat at the only place open on Christmas Eve--Denny's.
Now before I continue with my preferred version of events, I would like to backtrack to the beginning of the movie, where the first of many major plot holes needs to be repaired. The original film opened with Scott Calvin at his company's annual holiday party. After the party, we see him driving home while talking on his cellphone (a major violation of modern traffic rules, by the way), making excuses for being late to pick up his son Charlie from his ex-wife and her husband. Why didn't he just admit that the holiday party went long? We didn't see him doing anything embarrassing at the party, so why didn't he want to admit to attending a holiday party? And why didn't he tell his ex-wife that there was a holiday party when they originally talked about him taking care of his son on Christmas Eve? All of these questions could be easily answered in my version of the film's opening. As I already discussed in my version of the film, Charlie is upset that his dad isn't spending time with him--and Scott feels guilty for not spending more time with his son. But in my version of events, Scott wouldn't be just a Mid-western toy salesman; he would be constantly tinkering in his free time with making better versions of the toys he has to sell. I would emphasize that Scott is not just a run-of-the-mill work-a-holic, but a salesman who desperately wants to be a toy designer but feels stuck in his job. Scott can't seem to find a way to be both a father and a toy salesman at the same time. Therefore, it makes sense for his dad to make excuses to Charlie for being late and not wanting to admit that he would rather spend time with toys than with his own son. This would better explain why Scott is such a natural at being Santa later in the film.
After the disastrous dinner at Denny's, I would have Scott's wife go to bed while Scott stays up to try to patch things up with Charlie. Just like in the original film, Scott would read the classic Christmas poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas," and Charlie would take it literally when he hears noises on the roof later that night. As in the original film, Scott would jump out of bed in his pajamas and rush outside to catch the intruder in the act. And just like in the original film, Scott would accidentally startle the previous Santa, who falls off the roof and vanishes.
However, unlike the original film, I would need to provide a much more convincing reason for why Santa could be taken by surprise so easily and lose his footing. Later in the original film, we see that Santa has a magic bag of toys that works like a balloon, lifting him out of the sleigh and dropping him down a chimney. How, then, was it possible for the previous Santa to fall off the roof? Why wasn't he holding on to his magic bag at the time to keep him from falling? Why wasn't Santa more stealthy? Because the appearance of Santa Clause is supposed to be a big surprise moment in the film, I would choose to explain these anomalies afterwards, rather than before. The reason for the "clatter" on the rooftops could be easily explained by Santa training some new and inexperienced reindeer (as we with Chet in The Santa Clause 2). Santa's instability on the rooftop can be explained if we change the rooftop sequence just a bit. In my version of events, Scott would see Santa carrying the bag towards the chimney. When Scott calls out to him, Santa would turn around and run to the sleigh to leave in a hurry, throwing the bag into the sleigh ahead of him. Now empty-handed, Santa is swept off his feet when Charlie (whom Scott had told to stay inside for safety) opens an attic skylight to peer out onto the roof. Since Santa was standing on top of the skylight, he loses his balance and falls off the roof. This explanation only works, however, if viewers had seen how the skylight works earlier in the movie. I would have accomplished this task by adding in a sequence where Scott finds Charlie sulking in the attic under the skylight. Scott opens the snow-covered skylight so they can see the stars twinkling in the night sky, and he finally convinces Charlie to come downstairs to have dinner with him and his mom.
The next sequence of the film (where Scott avoids calling the police in order to avoid looking like a murderer and puts on Santa's clothes to keep warm as he helps Charlie deliver the rest of the packages) I would keep in place, but taking pains to show that Charlie's Mom (Scott's wife) is still sound asleep at home. In the next sequence, I would make it more clear that Scott is desperate to avoid neighborhood suspicion by hiding the evidence on his front lawn and roof. The only way to do this, of course, is to fly the sleigh away to a more remote location. In his hurry, Scott puts on Santa's suit to stay warm and hastily agrees to take his son Charlie along in order to keep him from tattling. Of course, the reindeer simply take him to the next rooftop, where Scott reluctantly decides to deliver the presents in order to dispose of the evidence.
Now we can move on to Scott's arrival at the North Pole, where we encounter the single largest problem with the entire film. I will let the YouTube channel Film Theory explain the problem:
In short, The Santa Clause is an unenforceable forced labor contract. Scott is required to serve as Santa simply because he unknowingly fulfilled the terms of a secret contract. In fact, this contract seems to have wrecked so many people's lives that the elves in the original film don't seem even a little mad that the previous Santa is dead--or that Scott killed him! Because I intend to rewrite the "Santa Clause" to be a voluntary contract of employment, I will also need to make the elves more concerned about this very serious turn of events.
To begin the North Pole arrival sequence, the elves should act surprised that a new Santa suddenly appears. They should crowd around the sleigh and bombard Scott with questions, such as "Where's Santa?" and "Who are you?" and "Why is this boy with you?" Charlie should blurt out the truth, despite Scott's fear that they could get in trouble for it. Scott should point out that he didn't mean to hurt anyone and is simply returning the sleigh and reindeer. The elves should be portrayed as eager to send Scott and Charlie home, but the Council of Legendary Figures arrives (having been summoned by the passing of the previous Santa) and informs Scott of the "Santa Clause," which has been printed on the business card Scott has had all night. They explain that if the current Santa should pass away without appointing an heir, the next person who puts on his suit becomes the next Santa. Upon the council offering Scott the role of Santa, Charlie should immediately become excited over the possibility of his dad becoming Santa, but Scott is horrified. Since he clearly doesn't want to be the next Santa and he's clearly incompetent, the elves should downplay the clause, pointing out that it's a purely voluntary role and that they have an entire year to find a replacement. This is an opportunity for Scott to ask why Santa's son or wife don't take over the job. The Council responds that the job is very demanding, and therefore the previous Santa didn't have a wife or kids (It has always seemed strange to me that the "Santa Clause" always manages to select a man for the next Santa. Statistically speaking, shouldn't there be a good chance that the next Santa might be a woman? With my explanation of "appointing an heir," it makes much more sense why every Santa under the "Santa Clause" is a man.)
When Scott overrides his son's pleading and flatly turns down the offer, the Council explains that Sandman will have to wipe their memories before they can return home. Charlie is understandably devastated, since he just spent the best evening of his life with his Dad. Scott is also grateful to have spent so much time with his son, and doesn't want any of the wonderful memories they made together to be erased. Therefore, Scott says he'll consider accepting the job. Although the elves express skepticism, suspicion, and mistrust in Scott's ability to fill the role of Santa, the members of Council of Legendary Figures overrule the objections, since they have the power to approve or reject any new member. (Therefore, the sequence where the Naughty and Nice list is delivered to Scott's house should be framed as a test of Scott's fitness to be Santa, rather than as an actual duty, since the sequels reveal that the North Pole has a computer system which handles the Naughty and Nice list electronically.) While neither Scott nor the elves believe him to be capable of becoming Santa, he is given a probationary period of up until Thanksgiving to convince the Council one way or another. This allows plenty of time for the film to realistically portray a gradual change in Scott's attitude toward becoming Santa, as well as a more reasonable and realistic portrayal of Scott's transition into the role of Santa.
Another major issue with the original film is the fact that Scott refuses to corroborate what his son insists actually happened on Christmas Eve. Instead, he makes excuses for his son's insistence that they delivered packages in a sleigh, visited the North Pole together, saw elves, and that Scott is the new Santa. This seems to be completely counterproductive to Scott's attempts to connect with his son, and also a great way to convince everyone that Charlie is suffering from serious psychological hallucinations. Later in the film, we see Scott finally do the thing he should have done on Christmas morning--convince his son to keep the events of Christmas Eve a secret. Why didn't Scott do this earlier? Why did he let his son tell everyone else about the North Pole for so long? The film confusingly implies that possibly Scott "forgot" about the events that transpired on Christmas Eve, since he doesn't seem to "remember" the North Pole and decide to embrace the role of Santa until Charlie shows him the magic snowglobe later in the film. But if Scott had actually forgotten about his experience at the North Pole and wasn't just lying to save face, then why didn't Charlie forget, as well? If Charlie remembered because the magic snowglobe is what jogged his memories (and thus Scott forgot because he didn't have the snowglobe), why did Scott tell his son to keep the whole "Santa thing" a secret? Keeping a secret implies that you know something is true but wish to keep it hidden. If Scott didn't remember anything about that night, then he would assume that Charlie was delusional, just like everyone else thought. And of course, it is hard to believe that Scott could have forgotten what had happened, since he received delivery of The List, gained weight, grew a white beard, and developed an appetite for milk and cookies. How did none of those things remind him that he was Santa? If Scott's lack of access to the snowglobe prevented him from understanding what was happening, why didn't he return to a state of denial once he gave the snowglobe back? This portion of the original film is utterly confusing and very frustrating.
In my version of the film, this would play out very differently. When Scott and Charlie wake up on Christmas morning after their late-night hijinks, Charlie manages to tell his mom about what happened before Scott can stop him. Scott's wife is understandably still upset that Scott spends so much time working, and is even more upset that Scott appears to be feeding Charlie nonsense about Santa. When Scott has a moment alone with Charlie, Scott tells Charlie that their trip to the North Pole is their secret, and it can't be shared with anyone or else everyone would think they were crazy. Scott still can't believe what actually happened, but he plays along with Charlie in order to pacify him and get him to agree to keep it a secret. To his wife, however, Scott apologizes for everything and agrees to make changes. The first problem occurs, however, when The List arrives. Scott's wife is understandably upset and confused by all of the paper, and Scott tries to explain it away as work-related, but his wife suspects that he's not telling her something. While Scott tries to ignore the paperwork, Charlie actually completes it himself, providing suggestions on which of his classmates should end up on the Naughty and Nice lists. The tests keep coming. Next, a massive quantity of cookie-making supplies arrive, which Scott explains to his wife as a bake sale raising money for Toys for Tots. Unfortunately, before Scott can throw away the ingredients in order to fail the test, his wife bakes every last cookie to support the "bake sale." Scott is forced to eat the cookies during every waking moment in order to make them disappear (he can't throw them away, because his wife is always watching him go door-to-door). Then, a large quantity of wood-working supplies arrives, which Scott explains as a project he wanted to work on with Charlie. Charlie is thrilled, and Scott actually ends up having a wonderful time building a treehouse with his son. At work, Scott's productivity begins to suffer as he starts becoming more outspoken about improving the quality of the toys his company makes and sells, as well as complaining about the unfair advertising and the stereotypical portrayal of Santa, elves, and reindeer. His boss also notices that Scott is gaining weight and tells him to get his life back together.
However, Scott's wife also notices his weight gain, and she is concerned that he is stress-eating due to his work. She tries to convince him to work less, but he already isn't working enough, what with eating cookies, spending time with his son, and trying to make better toys. Finally, Scott gets fired from his job. His boss jokingly tells him, "Now you can be Santa full-time!" At first, Scott is embarrassed about losing his job and tries to hide this fact from his wife, but the beard and his significant weight gain lead to a confession. He explains that he has finally realized that his problem all along was trying to be a father, a husband, and a businessman all at once. He tells his wife that now he has the time to focus on being a good father and a husband. However, Scott's wife is upset that he can't make the mortgage payments on their home anymore, and leaves to spend the holidays with her family, taking Charlie with her. Dejected, Scott attempts to clear out the house before it is repossessed, only to discover Charlie's snow-globe buried underneath all of the paper. It reminds him that the children of the world depend on Santa, and of the promise he made to Charlie (even if he didn't really believe it at the time). Suddenly, the Council of Legendary Figures arrives, announcing that he has passed all of his tests and they want Him to be the next Santa. Scott hesitates at first, but then he learns that the job includes free housing, so Scott accepts the job.
With a steady job and housing lined up, Scott decides to win back his wife's trust by driving to his wife's family home. Alone with Charlie, Scott presents his son with the snow globe, showing Charlie that he is committed to the role of Santa. Before Scott can talk with his wife, however, the elves arrive to take him to the North Pole. Charlie begs to come with him, and since Scott doesn't want to miss any more time with his son, he agrees. They leave a note telling Scott's wife where they have gone, but his wife and her family don't believe it. They report a kidnapping to the police, believing Scott has kidnapped Charlie.
This is where the original film runs into yet another serious snag. In the original film, it is revealed that Scott's ex-wife and her new husband stopped believing in Santa when they didn't receive the presents they wanted as children. However, his arrival in a red suit somehow restores their belief in Santa again, even though they had seen him many times before. Why does their faith in him suddenly change? After all, the whole reason they didn't believe in Santa was due to toys, not a man in a red suit. Even more confusingly, Scott doesn't actually give them the gifts they wanted as children until after they have put their faith in him, which doesn't make much sense. If there was some sort of unexplained magic about him that only appeared on Christmas Eve to make them believe, then why didn't the magic work on the police chief who later interrogated Scott after he was arrested on Christmas Eve?
It is also a bit confusing how Scott was able to figure out what gifts they wanted, since he wasn't around to hear his ex-wife and her husband talk about the gifts they wanted. So how did he know what to give them? If he "just knew" because he was Santa, then why didn't the old Santa who was around when the adults were kids "just know" what to give them? Clearly, these problems need to be cleared up.
I propose that before Scott leaves for the North Pole with Charlie the day after Thanksgiving, Scott overhears her telling their son how badly she wanted a toy for Christmas when she was a young girl of 8 years old. He hears her explain that she never got that toy, which made her stop believing in Santa. She tells Charlie that she is simply trying to help him avoid the heartbreak that she felt at his age. When Scott is swept back to the North Pole the day after Thanksgiving, he remembers his wife's story and asks the elves to look into a hunch he has. Sure enough, the year that his wife never got her toy is the year that the previous Santa took over the role. Scott concludes that she never got her toy because of the hectic changeover between Santas. Scott searches the North Pole's mail to figure out what she wrote Santa requesting. He searches the toy vault to find the undelivered package and packs it on his sleigh, along with Charlie's snow globe. Just before takeoff on Christmas Eve, the Council of Legendary Figures convenes once again to formally induct him into the Council. They remind Scott that the job is difficult, and that having a wife and son can be a liability. However, Scott defends his decision, saying that he his wife and son can work with him. The elves, somewhat convinced, send him off on his deliveries. The young reindeer are still not perfectly trained at this time, and Scott has a hard time landing at his wife's family house. He ends up crash-landing in the woods behind the house, which serves the double purpose of disguising the sleigh and reindeer from the house. This solves the next major problem with the original film: the police.
When the police in the original film begin the manhunt for Scott after he disappears with his son, Scott appears to be completely oblivious to the fact that removing his son from custody without informing authorities or the legal guardians will be considered a serious crime. Is his "Santa" nature somehow taking over the logical part of his brain? How did he not think he would be hunted down and arrested? We know he can still think like Scott, because when he is caught by the police, he talks reasonably to his ex-wife and her husband. However, he then acts like Santa while under interrogation. When he gets broken out of jail, he returns to the same place where he was arrested the first time! How could he be that stupid? Did he not think he would get arrested again? And when Scott takes off in his sleigh at the end of the film, he circles the house three times, flying by it slowly in full view of the police. At this point, the police do not seem to have been informed that Scott's son has been returned or that Scott's ex-wife no longer considers him dangerous. Yet they fail to shoot at the sleigh or Santa. Why is this? Are they dumb-struck by the sight of a flying sleigh and eight reindeer? If that is true, why didn't Scott fly in full view of the police when he first arrived at the house, so as to not be arrested? If the police were instructed not to fire upon reindeer, then why didn't they shoot at the sleigh, since it was moving so slowly? Nothing about the sequence implied that it was in slow-motion. All of this, of course, can be fixed in my version of events.
By crash-landing in the forest, the police are not in visual range of Scott when he arrives at his wife's family house on Christmas Eve with Charlie. Scott and Charlie know that the house is surrounded by police, since the North Pole intelligence service informed him of the manhunt. Therefore, Charlie creates a distraction on the ground by walking up to the front of the house, while Scott uses the magic bag to float onto the roof and down the chimney. While everyone is outside hugging Charlie, Scott decorates the tree, hangs stockings, and generally decorates the inside of the house for Christmas (since the family was too distraught over Charlie's disappearance to decorate). While the in-laws stay outside to help the police fan out to search the forest for Scott, Scott's wife hustles Charlie into the house to get warm. They are both surprised to see the house fully decked out in holiday cheer and Santa standing in the living room. Scott's wife presses the panic button the house's security panel just as Charlie rushes forward to hug his dad, and Scott calls his wife by name. She recognizes Scott and doesn't know what to do, since she is still in shock about his suit and the decorations. Before she can say anything, however, Scott hands her a package tied up with beautiful ribbons and bows. She opens it to find the exact doll she had wanted as a child. She gasps in amazement, since she has never told anyone what she wanted (remember, she only told Charlie that she didn't get the gift she wanted--not that it was a doll). She hugs Scott and tells him that he will make a wonderful Santa, since he cares so much about making high-quality toys. In return, Scott asks her to come with him to the North Pole so that they can be together. She quickly agrees, but suddenly remembers that she pressed the panic button when she first saw him. With the police coming at any time, Charlie asks Scott where he parked the sleigh and reindeer. Scott panics when he realizes that the police might have found the sleigh by now. But before Scott can rush out of the house, he is surrounded by police and arrested. Unbeknownst to them, the panic button had called off the police search in the forest just as they were about to discover the sleigh. Despite Scott's wife and son telling the police that no crime has been committed and it is all a big misunderstanding, the police take Scott in for questioning. In the interrogation room, Scott tries to tell the truth, but the police won't believe him. Scott is locked up. Meanwhile, the North Pole command center grows concerned that they haven't heard from Santa for quite some time. When Charlie calls them up to inform them that Santa has been captured, the elves send in their best team to extract him.
Here again is another place where the original film makes a misstep. When the elves show up to break Santa out of jail, they gift-wrap the guard with decorative ribbon. However, this sequence is sped up. This sequence feels extremely out-of-style with the rest of the movie, which does not have slow-motion or sped-up motion anywhere else. Why don't the elves simply wrap up the police guard at normal speed? Also, the position of the elves' ribbon dispensers is unfortunately close to a somewhat embarrassing area. I would change the scene to cut directly from the elves threatening the guard to the scene showing the guard tied up with ribbons and bows. This would improve the comedic timing of the scene while also eliminating the strangely sped-up sequence.
Speaking of the elves, we see the elves in the original film introduce themselves as elves to the police guard and mingle in the crowd of spectators outside Scott ex-wife's house. Why did they reveal themselves in public like this? Why didn't they at least cover their pointy ears with hats? And when the elves use their jetpacks to blast off the roof at the end of the original film, why did they do so in full view of the police? They had mentioned earlier that if the police saw them, they would be caught (and presumably shot, since the police were armed with rifles). I would change this ending to keep the elves hidden (or at the very least, better camouflaged).
When the elves arrive at the sleigh (since it has a tracking beacon), Charlie takes them to the police station while his mom covers for him. Once Scott is released from jail by the elves, I would have Scott insist on untying the police officer. Outnumbered, the police officer agrees to drive everyone back to the home of Scott's in-laws. When they get there, the elves jump out of the car and sneak into the forest to prep the sleigh. Meanwhile, the police cruiser pulls up to the house, and Scott takes Charlie inside to work things out with his wife and the in-laws. His wife has packed up her things and is ready to go, but she expresses concern about keeping the secret from the in-laws. While Scott changes into his suit, the police arrive out front. With the in-laws distracted, Scott and his family are able to silently slip into the woods. The police chief sees the sleigh take off in the distance, but he decides not to press charges, since he would likely lose his job if he told everyone that Santa broke out of jail. The film ends with Scott's wife hugging Charlie in the backseat of the sleigh as Scott guides it into the night.
And that is how I would re-direct The Santa Clause if I had the opportunity. Since Disney has been rebooting a lot of their films lately, I feel that this Christmas classic deserves a remake with better special effects and a much better story. I only hope that it turns out better than the original.
If I Directed The Santa Clause 2
I would now like to take a brief moment to discuss the necessary changes I need to make to The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3 in order for them to make cohesive sense with the changes I made to the original film that kick-started the entire franchise. The second film in the trilogy is primarily about "the Mrs. Clause," which states that Scott Calvin will lose his job as Santa if he doesn't find a woman to marry as his wife before Christmas. While this is a clever plot device for the sequel to the original film, it no longer works with my remake of the first movie. Because my version of Scott Calvin is not divorced (and thus already married), he already fulfills the terms of "the Mrs. Clause," since his wife naturally fills that title. Thus, there is no plot device to drive this film forward. While this eliminates the need for The Santa Clause 2, I still stand by my decision to end the first film with Scott Calvin happily married. To begin with, "the Mrs. Clause" is completely incompatible with the first film as originally presented. In the first The Santa Clause movie, Scott accidentally kills Santa on Christmas Eve and puts on the red suit to finish delivering the presents with his son Charlie, thus fulfilling the terms and conditions of "the Santa Clause," which earns him the title of Santa. Then, Scott has a year to prepare for the next Christmas Even, upon which he also delivers presents and fulfills his duties as Santa. There is no mention of "the Mrs. Clause" anywhere in the original first film. If there was, then Scott would be--pardon the pun--scott free! How come the Scott in the original film (who didn't want to be Santa in the first place) was able to be Santa for two Christmas Eves in a row without having a wife? Of course, it could be easy to fix this loophole by simply changing the text of "the Mrs. Clause" to state that the new Santa has two years to find a wife, but that still doesn't explain why the previous Santa's distraught widow wasn't mentioned or present in the first film. It is assumed that the Santa who fell off Scott's roof was married (in accordance with "the Mrs. Clause"), otherwise he wouldn't have been Santa, right? Unless, of course, the Santa whom Scott knocked off the roof was himself within his first two years of becoming the new Santa, in which case that would explain the elves being somewhat unsurprised by Scott's sudden appearance and the previous Santa's disappearance. However, that would make the job of Santa seem very dangerous, indeed, since it would imply that Santas are routinely killed in the line of duty--perhaps even intentionally by persons of malicious intent. It also raises the question of what would happen if a woman were to put on the suit of a recently-deceased Santa rather than a man. Would the title of "Santa" go to her? Or would she become "Mrs. Clause"? Perhaps the filmmakers somewhat understood some of these complexities, because there is no mention of "the Mrs. Clause" in the third film, when Jack Frost becomes Santa for 10 years. In that film, there is no sight or sign of Jack Frost being married.
So then, the easiest way to avoid the complexities and nuances of "the Mrs. Clause" is to simply eliminate it altogether from the narrative of The Santa Clause 2. In fact, I would eliminate the "find a wife" story plot of The Santa Clause 2 entirely. Instead, I would rework the film around the Toy Santa from The Santa Clause 2. In my version of the second film, Scott Calvin has been at the North Pole with his wife and son for a couple years. However, he is so busy that he barely has time to spend with family--or even notice that they are not doing well. His son is bored and lonely with no one his age (or size) to spend time with, and is spending his pent-up energy by misbehaving at the North Pole. Scott's wife, on the other hand, is feeling neglected by Scott and also melancholy because she wants to visit her in-laws. During a meeting of the Council of Legendary Figures during which a new Easter Bunny is approved, Scott admits that he is overworked and his family is suffering as a result. The Councilmembers suggest that Scott take a vacation, which causes Scott to ask his second-in-command elf, Curtis, to come up with a way for him to be in two places at once. Luckily, Curtis has a potential solution: a cloning device which will permit Scott to leave the North Pole and spend time with his family on vacation while a toy copy runs things at the North Pole. As in the original version of The Santa Clause 2, the fake Santa quickly becomes a tyrant in Scott's absence, and enslaves the elves in a coal-mine dystopia. Meanwhile, Charlie is sent to a boarding school so he can be with teens his own age, and Scott and his wife travel to visit her family. While Scott has a hard time getting along with his in-laws (since they are still mad about the events of the first film, where they were led to believe that Scott "kidnapped" Charlie and "abandoned" his wife), Charlie meets a girl at school and falls in love with her (with a little help from Cupid). Scott struggles with whether or not to tell his in-laws the truth about his job, while Charlie also struggles with whether or not to tell his girlfriend about his Dad's job. Eventually, they both tell the truth, with predictable results. Both Charlie's girlfriend and Scott's in-laws are incredulous. Scott decides to smooth things over with his in-laws by flying them back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve, but when he contacts the North Pole to schedule a ride, he receives no reply. Stranded without a sleigh on Christmas Eve, Scott realizes that being Santa has consumed too much of his life. Unaware of what is going on at the North Pole, Charlie decides to prove himself to his girlfriend by smuggling her to the North Pole with a little help from Sandman. Upon arrival, however, they are captured by the fake Santa and are unable to stop him from departing to deliver coal to everyone on Christmas Eve. However, they are able to send a message to warn Scott about what has happened. Scott receives the message and formulates a plan with his wife to hijack the sleigh when it arrives to deliver coal to the young girl next door. When the in-laws see Scott breaking into the house next door, they believe their suspicions of him are correct and call the police. However, the police arrest the fake Santa instead and Scott manages to gain control of the sleigh. With a little help from his wife, Scott flies his in-laws back to the North Pole, where he rallies the elves to an epic battle against the toy soldiers. The next morning, Scott's in-laws and Charlie's girlfriend get a full tour of the North Pole and admit that while they were wisely skeptical, their minds have been changed. Everyone decides to stay at the North Pole to help Scott out, so he can have more time to spend with his family.
If I Directed The Santa Clause 3
You may have noticed in my coverage of The Santa Clause 2 that I effectively integrated the in-laws instead of leaving them for The Santa Clause 3. This is because my primary intention for The Santa Clause 3 is to focus on Jack Frost. Because I have already introduced the Council of Legendary Figures in The Santa Clause and reintroduced them in The Santa Clause 2, the stage is set for the third and final film of this trilogy.
Unfortunately, the original third film was titled The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. Not only does this break the naming convention of the films (the first two movies did not have a subtitle), but the subtitle introduces one of the most troubling plot holes of the entire trilogy: the escape clause. The problem with an escape clause being introduced in the final installment of the trilogy is that viewers will logically ask, "why didn't Scott use the escape clause before?" In the first film, for example, Scott Calvin makes it abundantly clear that he does not wish to become Santa, but is told that he has no choice, since he put on the suit. However, in the third film, we are informed that each Santa has a magical snowglobe that they can hold while saying "I do not want to be Santa Clause" in order to revoke their claim on the title of Santa. If this is so, then why didn't the elves tell Scott about this? Why didn't Scott know about this "escape clause" earlier? This "escape clause" raises other questions as well. Do other Legendary Figures also have escape clauses? For that matter, do other Legendary Figures have clauses? For example, does the Easter Bunny have a "bunny clause"? Can a non-rabbit become the Easter Bunny? Or is the Easter Bunny's remarkably human appearance the result of a human becoming the Easter Bunny, just like the physical changes that Scott experienced when becoming Santa? In short, the third film raises so many questions that were not properly answered in any of the earlier films that I believe it is best to get rid of the escape clause entirely.
In place of the escape clause, I believe a far better plot point can be constructed to drive the story forward. In my re-working of The Santa Clause 2, I included a scene where the Council of Legendary Figures votes on a new Easter Bunny. This builds upon the information provided in The Santa Clause, where it is explained that when a Legendary Figure passes away, a replacement is found and appointed to the Council according to each figure's clause, but the Council reserves the right to ultimately approve or reject a newly-appointed member. As viewers would have seen in my version of the first film, the Santa Clause states the following: "If Santa dies without appointing an heir, the one who puts on this suit assumes full responsibility for this role." This is more or less the same sort of clause that governs the other members of the Council. In my version of The Santa Clause 3, Jack Frost is looking to get more recognition. He wants to take Santa's position, so it is no surprise when he volunteers to perform North Pole community service as punishment for his recent infractions. Because he knows that there are only two ways for Santa to lose his title (death or Council vote), he takes the opportunity when Scott Calvin isn't looking to make things a mess at the North Pole. This is extremely effective, as Scott is preoccupied with his wife's pregnancy and the impending birth of his daughter. Unlike the original films, my movies would have trilogy-spanning character development. Therefore, Scott would not be overworked in this film (he already learned the importance of family in the first and second films). Instead, he gives Curtis the elf a lot of responsibility for running the North Pole. Jack Frost takes advantage of this by running Curtis ragged while pretending to help. While everyone seems to think Jack is a gentleman, Charlie has misgivings, especially because his girlfriend seems smitten by Mr. Frost. He decides to do some investigation into Jack's past and travels to Chicago to discover that Jack used to be a con artist before he took the role of Jack Frost. Meanwhile, Jack is frustrated by the fact that the Council of Legendary Figures refuses to expel Scott from the role of Santa. Since Scott is receiving help running the North Pole from his in-laws and Calvin, the Council sees no reason to intervene. When Jack asks why Father Time isn't present, the council replies that he is feeling unwell. Jack rushes to Father Time's bedside and gives him a cold, causing him to expire. Jack then takes Father Time's staff and cloak, becoming Father Time. When Charlie returns to the North Pole and tells the Council his misgivings regarding Jack Frost, they rush to Father Time's bedside and are shocked to discover Jack Frost now in command of time. When Jack attempts to change time, however, he is disappointed to discover that the only power he has (other than turning clocks forward and backward for Daylight Savings Time) is to travel forward and backward through time by himself. Before anyone can stop him, Jack transports himself back to the time of the first film, on Christmas Eve. However, he is still at the North Pole. Therefore, he pretends to be Father Time and hitches a ride in Santa's sleigh. When they reach Scott Calvin's rooftop, Jack pushes Santa off the roof and put on his suit for himself, becoming Santa. He takes off in the sleigh, leaving Father Time's robe and staff behind. When Scott comes out of his house to see what is going on, he finds the robe and staff. However, he has no idea what they are, so he throws them in a closet and forgets about them. Meanwhile, the council at the North Pole tell Charlie that they don't have much time until Jack's actions in the past create a butterfly effect that propagates through time and space. Charlie puts on Jack Frost's clothes so that he will be immune to the timeline changes by becoming a Legendary Figure. Soon, the North Pole transforms into an over-commercialized, consumerist dystopia as depicted in the original version of The Santa Clause 3. Scott and his wife disappear, while the elves' memories are rewritten. Only the Council knows what has happened. Realizing that they have to get Father Time's robe and staff, the Council pretends to have been brain-washed by the time change in order to infiltrate Jack's private office. While they come close to being caught by a suspicious Jack, they cannot find the robe and staff. Charlie decides that the best plan of action is to return to his family's old home to look for the magical items. The toothfairy helps transport Charlie down to the family home, where they knock on the front door. Scott's wife answers, with a young girl standing behind her. When Charlie asks her about Scott, she replies that they got split up after he spent too much time working at the toy company. She tells them that she recently found an old cloak and staff of Scott's in the hallway closet and just shipped it to him. Unable to find an address, Charlie visits the toy company and finds Scott working late. He follows him home and instead of waiting until the next day, asks Sandman to enter the apartment and find the cloak and staff. Unfortunately, Sandman falls asleep and Charlie breaks in to finish the job himself. Despite setting off alarms and waking up Scott, Charlie isn't worried about getting arrested, since he can set everything right once he gets the cloak and staff. Unfortunately, he discovers too late that the box contains the wrong staff, and he is arrested by the police. The police take off his jacket before Charlie can freeze them, and suddenly Charlie disappears (ceases to exist in this timeline). The commotion wakes up Sandman, and he manages to put the police officers into a deep sleep so that he can take the Frost jacket and Father Time cloak. Terrified, Scott begs Sandman not to put him to sleep. Sandman promises not to, if Scott will spend more time with Charlie. Back at the Calvin home, Sandman finds the staff in the girl's room and tries to convince her to let him use it. He discovers that her name is "Charlie." The conversation convinces him that there is no "correct" timeline of events. If he changes time so that Scott is once again Santa, this little girl won't exist. Sadly, he puts on the cloak and takes off his nightcap, becoming Father Time. Using his new powers, Sandman returns to the Christmas Eve featured in the first film and does something unexpected. Remembering Charlie telling him about opening the skylight, Sandman prevents Santa from falling off the roof altogether. He then puts on Jack Frost's jacket to decorate the roof with beautiful ice and snow before putting his nightcap back on and departing.
As the end credits roll, we see Scott playing in the Christmas Morning snow with his wife and his daughter Charlie.