It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"The Santa Clause" provides at least one valuable service: It explains exactly how Santa is able to get down chimneys that are too small for him, and how he is able to enter apartments through hot water radiators and heating vents. There is also an intriguing theory, handled in a throwaway line of dialogue, to explain how Santa is able to visit everybody's house on Christmas Eve. It may have something to do with parallel time tracks, or other concepts of advanced physics.
We also learn that being Santa is not a job for eternity, but that, instead, there are various office holders, just like for country coroner or recorder of deeds. As the movie opens, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen, of TV's "Home Improvement") is a man who does not believe in Santa Claus. But then up on the rooftop there arises such a clatter, that Scott and his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), run into the yard to see what is the matter. And what to their wondering eyes should appear, but a great big sleigh and eight giant reindeer, up on the house.
And then, when Scott's shout startles Santa, he loses his balance and is killed in a fall from the roof. After which Scott finds a card in his pocket notifying the bearer that he is the new Santa Claus. Before Scott quite realizes what has happened, the old Santa has disappeared, and he is wearing the suit and going down the chimneys.
The premise for "The Santa Clause," written by Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick and directed by John Pasquin, is a clever one, and the movie is not without real charm. One of its innovations is to provide us with a stepfather who is not a monster: Scott and his wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson) are divorced, and Laura's new husband Neal (Judge Reinhold) is a psychiatrist, who takes a dubious position on the subject of Santa's reality, but is otherwise a fairly nice guy.