A Very Junkfood Christmas — Dear ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’

By  · Published on December 14th, 2012

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; a real kick to the chestnuts. This is the most offensively festive (offestive?) bad movie column on the dingy, loosely strung tinsel garland of the internet. Every week we stumble drunkenly into Schlocka Claus’ stable and mock the lamest reindeer. You know, the one with the red nose…who is also a terrible movie. We should add “a grasp of figurative language” to our Christmas wish list. The absurd means by which we lampoon these absurd movies is made even more absurdly absurd by our synonym-for-absurd love for these movies. When we’re done examining this wildly conflicting relationship, moreso even than the one we have with bacon-wrapped sugarplums, we will offer you, the masochistic reader, a snack food themed to the movie in question.

This week, we’ve reached deep into our sack and pulled out something truly naughty. We will now wait while you bleach from your mind the resulting image of that unfortunate phrasing. Vomited? Back? Good. Today’s Christmas offering is so bad, it’s practically its own Grinch. I’m speaking of course about the legendary, two-sizes-too-huge flop that is Santa Claus: The Movie.

It’s essentially an origin story for Kris Kringle; Fatman Begins if you will, Silent Knight Rises even if you won’t. It is a titan of terrible, a colossus of crap…the sultan of suck. Wait, is it about Babe Ruth? No. No, definitely Santa Claus. What we’re getting at is, we don’t think you’re ready for this bowl full of jelly. Inspired by the movie and, you know, childhood or whatever, I have decided to sit down and, for the first time in many years, write a heartfelt letter to Santa ClausThe Movie.

Dear Santa Claus: The Movie,

My name is Brian and I’m 28yrs old. I live in Texas, that’s that big thing nestled between what used to be New Orleans and both versions of Mexico. I am writing to tell you what I want for Christmas, but before we dive into my list of demands, I have a few questions. Santa Claus: The Movie, if your aim is to reward all that is good in the world, why are you yourself so bad? Not specific enough? Perhaps, pursuant to the modus operandi of the big guy himself, I should arrange my questions in something more resembling a list to more succinctly communicate my grievances to your stupid smelly facebrain.

What possessed Alexander Salkind to put his name on this pre-wrecked cinematic sleigh? We’re talking about the guy behind Superman here, and he’s suddenly attaching his name to a movie about Santa Claus’ backstory? Sure, his son did the actual producing here, but it still seems odd. Not only that, but given Salkind’s name in the credits, I expected Donner to be replaced with another reindeer halfway through Christmas. That burn was St. Sick.

And why did you recruit Jeannot Szwarc to direct this excremental yule log? Was his work on Supergirl the year before so stellar that you thought there was no possible way he could recover just under 50% of the spent budget two years in a row? Guess which thing I said happened like I said?

And Santa Claus: The Movie, why do this origin story at all? Doesn’t it take the magic away from one of our planet’s most beloved myths to explain, with hamfisted jokes, every facet of his existence? It’s all so wink wink, nudge nudge that it makes us want to drink drink, varnish varnish. Not to mention, the specific origin you construct here is the intellectual equivalent of a lump of coal…wrapped in stupid paper…with a bow that probably watches a lot of Honey Booboo.

Claus goes from being a great benevolent folk hero to some guy who stupidly froze to death and was then transported to Valhalla. Did I say the Fortress of Solitude? I meant the North Pole apparently. Just so I’m clear, Santa Claus: The Movie, the equation as you see it is: nice guy + frostbite = Santa. Is he dead? It really seemed like he died. Is this just his personal purgatory? Forced to live with a legion of industrialized Keebler clones and forge toys for brats? And what were they going to do with all those toys if this dumbass hadn’t come along and turned himself into a Naughty-Or-Nice Cube? They talk about a prophecy, but really it’s a matter of convenient timing and all they really needed was someone to deliver their stockpile of toys. Santa is a long-awaited courier and nothing more. He’s basically Federal Elfspress.

Oh, and by the way, most cultures already have an origin story for Santa and, spoiler alert, he’s terrifying.

Santa Claus: The Movie, you have a very strange conception of emotional resonance. At one point in the movie, our titular hero takes on a young ward who was previously living on the street. Thank god there was only one poor kid on the planet ever for Santa to take a vested interest in. Prior to Daddy Warbeard adopting/abducting this kid, there is a moment wherein you evoke our sympathy for his plight by showing him standing outside a fast food restaurant looking longingly inside. So, in other words, eating at McDonald’s is shown to be the height of luxury living. Much as we may agree with this, we don’t. You also have a scene in which an elf leaves and we zoom in to see a tear forming in the eye of an animatronic reindeer. Thank you so much for letting us know what it sounds like, when deer cry.

Let’s talk about Dudley Moore for a second. You have him playing the plucky upstart elf called Patches. I hate that name so I’m going to call him Arthur Christmas. I call him that partially because that pun was too easy to resist, and secondly because I believe his character here is as drunk as was Arthur. How do I know? At one point he points out that Prancer wears his monocle on the right eye while Dancer wears his on the left. As he says this, a closeup of the reindeer reveals…no monocles. He is ousted from Kringle’s good graces and decides to go to New York to try and make it on his own, hoping to partner with a toy manufacturer to make free Christmas presents for everyone.

So here’s my problem with Herbie the Misfit Socialist. He is a toymaker, who goes to work for a toy company in America after working for the greatest toymaker of all time, and the first thing he puts out on the market when he goes solo is a… lollipop? What the noel is up with that? Isn’t that tantamount to an Oompa Loompa starting his own candy factory only to produce a line of, well, toys? Oh, and it’s a lollipop that makes people fly? How much pure, uncut Christmas spirit did they have to load into those things to make that happen? And why does nobody seem concerned that his lollipop’s make people fly, it seems to only make the candy more popular. Not one of the reporters at the press conference even bothers to ask about it. At the very least, wouldn’t there be a rash of vertical child disappearances? The skies above our planet would forever look like a Benetton ad just waiting to get sucked into a jet engine.

And I must ask, Santa Claus: The Movie, since when is returning unwanted gifts to the North Pole an option? I have several years worth of socks and “they’re just as good” Gobots to send back up the chimney.


  1. A solid pair of ear muffs…so I don’t have to listen to this atrocious soundtrack any more. The shrill, overzealous opening song that professes that “every Christmas Eve we are part of a miracle,” is the exact opposite of a miracle. It goes on to say that every child must believe in the miracle? When coupled with the use of religious-themed Christmas carols throughout, calling Santa the miracle of the season sends a bit of a mixed message. Also, the song “Thank You Santa”…no thank you. The elementary lyrics state that Santa is our favorite person because he gives to all of us. Greedy little shits. Also, “he knows the way to live?” By that you mean in a sweat shop at the arctic ceiling of the world surrounded by one hundred stinky little dudes and a barn full of caribou? Is that the optimal living condition about which you melodiously fart with your dumb kid mouths?
  2. A proper villain. Much as I love John Lithgow, I think I’d rather explore a far more literal function for my antique nutcracker than spend another second with him in your movie, Santa Claus: The Movie. His Reagan-era take on Ebeneezer Scrooge notwithstanding, he is basically just a rip-off of Dan Aykroyd’s unscrupulous Mainway Toys CEO from the SNL sketch; spawned nearly a decade before. If he could have adopted a Chicago accent in the court room scene, in which his toys were revealed to be farcically unsafe, that would have made the movie better. Also, if the movie had been better, that would have made the movie better.
  3. A mallet so I could whack, Showbiz style, every person in this movie who makes an elf pun. It was like Groucho Marx mated with William Shakespeare and then got Bob Saget’s gig hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos. Also there’s an elf in there somewhere. “Elf-conscious?!” “Elf-confidence?!!” “Heaven helps those who help their elf?!!!” Elf off! Have a little elf-respect. And yes, before you point it out, I remember the one I made earlier in this piece. I’m very elf-aware.
  4. An actual ending would be nice. Patches, through no interference by the “evil” toy magnate, creates candy canes that are prone to explosion and threaten every child on the planet. Santa must then stop him from delivering these candy canes. Keep in mind, the reason Patches is working independently in the first place is that he screwed up and delivered shoddy toys on behalf of Santa. And yet when all of this is said and done, Santa rehires Patches. What we get is Santa stopping his dangerously inept elf from ruining Christmas by doing on his own exactly what he did under Santa’s supervision that also nearly ruined Christmas just so that he can ultimately welcome him back into his factory to continue to do the thing that puts Christmas in danger. Either way…ruination. Hooray!

I hope this letter finds you well…situated on my VHS shelf. Warmest holiday regards.

P.S. You’re still better than The Santa Clause

Junkfood Pairing: Super Duper Looper

All through the movie, there is this weird subplot about how Donner can’t pull off a maneuver called the Super Duper Looper. Apart from adding a pointless inferiority complex motivation to a goddamn reindeer, it’s a forced, “bet this will come in handy later” loopty loop that, wouldn’t you know it, comes in handy(ish) later. As you will probably need a stiff drink to endure this movie, the hardworking scientists in the Junkfood Lab, who sleep in cages and are not allowed to have names, have devised the Super Duper Looper cocktail.

It’s half orange vodka, and half Greek Citron liqueur. However, before pouring it into the glass, mash up about 1/4 cup of Froot Loops and line the bottom with the crumbles. Pour the two liquid ingredients in at that point. Citron already tastes like Froot Loops so this will indeed make your drink a Super Duper Looper. If you cannot come by Citron, simply drop a handful of crumbles into a bottle of Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat.

Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.