‘The Santa Clauses’ Review: Tim Allen Reloads the Sleigh for the Disney+ Series



CNN

“Santa” doesn’t bother trying to reinvent the sleigh, but it does splash a new coat of paint on it, in a mostly pleasant and mildly clever way. After three films over a 12-year span starting in 1994, Tim Allen returns to a Disney+ series that, with six half-hour episodes, brings a little extra cheer to holiday streaming.

After stumbling into the job, Allen’s Santa Claus, aka Scott Calvin, has settled in, presiding over his elf empire with Ms. Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell) and her children (Austin Kane and Elizabeth Allen-Dick, the latter of whom is Allen’s actual daughter). Not that the North Pole isn’t nice, but the younger Calvins have grown up sheltered from the wider world, and in the case of the bigger one, more than a little curious about it.

Accustomed to things going smoothly, Santa experiences a few disconcerting hiccups on his latest round of deliveries, confessing to his loyal comic elf sidekick, Noel (Devin Bright), “My magic may have failed me.”

After briefly trying to hide his gift-giving dysfunction, Santa begins to contemplate retirement, but of course that means finding a potential replacement. Since his story intertwines with that of a toy technology developer, Simon Choksi (Kal Penn), a single father struggling at work, doesn’t require a Ph.D. in English it lights up to see where it might go.

Still, producer/showrunner Jack Burditt (a veteran of “Modern Family” and “30 Rock”) does pack a few surprises, and “The Santa Clauses” does a good job of placing the its episodes, even the ones that drag a bit, to draw the audience from one to another.

There is also a general joy in the proceedings, not only in the use of material and characters from the previous films (the last one came out in 2006), but in the contemporaneity of the message, which includes the children who they become more tired in the midst of its unbridled consumerism. the age of buying clicks. Plus, some of the jokes, from a Bigfoot-inspired visual gag to one depicting the 1987 film “The Untouchables,” are clearly not afraid to sail over the heads of the younger demo.

Still, to say the show works requires a few qualifiers, with too much reliance on humor about ageless elves (played by children) and too much time spent on Calvin’s offspring, in a Disney Channel-like way that can’t help it feel like reheated leftovers.

Still, “The Santa Clause” is one of those near-ideal concepts for this kind of made-for-play revival, with the fairness of previous films but no real need at this point to incorporate this theatrical trio in a quartet.

Allen, in particular, was at the height of his sitcom stardom in “Home Improvement” when the first film was released, followed a year later by “Toy Story.” Their partnership with Disney, in other words, goes back more than 30 years and has been mutually beneficial and beyond.

“Els Pare Noel” expands on that relationship, in a festive package that’s bright, colorful and free of higher pretensions: the kind of easy pick-me-up that should make for a good night’s sleep.

“The Santa Clauses” premieres Nov. 16 on Disney+.

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