This holiday season, you may be inclined to revisit some of your favorites Christmas and Christmas-adjacent films, like It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story or even Die Hard. If, for some reason, you find yourself reaching for The Santa Clause, stop. That old Tim Allen chestnut is awful from beginning to end. The acting, everything about Tim Allen, the plot—even the music. Awful. Its awfulness is so extreme only one movie ever made is more awful: its sequel, The Santa Clause 2.
The Santa Clause 2 is a pungent pile of misogynistic dung. For those of you who haven’t seen this yuletide wreck, let me summarize and spoil it for you, lest you find yourself on the brink of watching it (don’t).
Tim Allen reprises his role as Santa Claus, a.k.a Scott Calvin, only this time, he has to find a wife by next Christmas to satisfy the “Mrs. Clause” of his Santa contract. As his white hair and jolly obesity both fade, he goes home to find a wife and to make nice with his now-teenage son, Charlie, who has taken to vandalizing his school to get attention. Enter the love interest, Charlie’s hot principal, Carol Newman. She’s a humorless ice queen who doesn’t appreciate adolescent boys defacing her school. SPOILER: they get together because the ultimate moral of this movie is that every man receives a hot blonde woman in his man gift basket.
There’s also a concurrent plot back at the North Pole involving a fake, animatronic Santa enslaving the elves to make coal for all the children of the world. This is irrelevant and we’re not going to address it.
Scott first meets Principal Newman after his son damaged school property. She is rightfully irate that a whiny adolescent is taking out his daddy issues on her school. Scott, meanwhile, latches onto the much more pressing issue: the dearth of Christmas decorations in the school. He takes Charlie and storms out but not before throwing cash on Principal Newman’s desk and suggesting she “go buy herself a wreath.”
The most infuriating part of this exchange is that we are supposed to be on his side because he is the jolly Kris Kringle and the plot is him saving Christmas. Principal Newman, meanwhile, is the stoney bitch who cares more about funding algebra and marching band than twinkle lights. Let’s take Christmas out of the equation: a grown man yells at a woman, in her place of work, that she should not do her job because it inconveniences him and his delinquent son, before throwing crumpled dollar bills at her like an alcoholic in a strip club. Merry Christmas.
From here on, Principal Newman will be referred to as Carol because she soon starts to fall in love with Scott Calvin for no particular reason other than the movie wants her to. He makes her laugh once and she transforms from cranky spinster to doe-eyed maiden, fawning over Saint Nick and his ever-diminishing potbelly.
Screenshot of trailer, via Disney
After Scott chooses Carol to be his yuletide hostage, we learn why Carol is such a biyatch. On a super romantic sleigh ride, she tells Scott that she used to love Christmas until her parents told her Santa wasn’t real. And she’s been unable to feel feelings ever since. All she can do is give appropriate punishments to teenagers who do crime in her school.
This is one of the *many* sexist tropes of Hollywood, that every woman is damaged until the perfect man tells her that he’s Santa.
During this exchange, Scott uses Santa magic to make it snow. And because another fun Hollywood cliché is “women are stupid,” Carol does not realize it’s only snowing above their heads, not on the rest of the street or over the houses around them.
After the date, Scott tells her he is Santa and she kicks him out of her house being she thinks he’s mocking her long-lost love of Christmas. But since we know she becomes Scott’s North Pole honey, we know she gets over it somehow. Enter Charlie. He shows up at her house (totally not stalkerish), pulls out a snowglobe and asks her, “try to remember what it was like when you were little and you still believed in Christmas.” You know, before she became a successful woman with little patience for jerks who spray paint her school.
The American Dream: every man and boy gets to smugly condescend to an adult woman that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about or what she wants.
She looks into it and totally believes everything because the snow in the globe turns into little fireworks. We’ve walked on the moon and built virtual reality and yet we still infantilize women such that our minds are blown over a freaking toy.
Now we’ve arrived at the greatest scene in the entire movie: in which Scott Calvin guilts a grown-ass woman into marrying him by telling her all the elves will lose their jobs and Christmas will be lost unless she says yes. And because this is a movie born of the patriarchy—wherein women like everything men to do us or we’re evil whores—she’s into it. So they get married.
As soon as they kiss, Scott’s enormous Santa belly swells back up and his white beard returns with gusto. Carol is a young, attractive woman whose brand-new husband just aged several decades and grew to an enormous size. And it’s not like those relationships don’t exist or they can’t be happy ones. But she did not sign up to be a trophy wife. It’s fundamentally offensive that they don’t address her right to be in a relationship with a man she’s sexually attracted to and it’s ridiculous to imply that this would in no way change her feelings toward him. Unless you take as fact that men deserve sexual gratification and women don’t and believe women should be content to live out their early childhood fantasies because women are adult children. In which case, mazeltov.
And just by the way, where are they going to live? Is she going to quit her successful career to be an elf babysitter?
Her only recompense at this point would be a steamy love affair with Bernard the Head Elf.
Screenshot of trailer, via Disney