Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

santa claus the movie poster 1985
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

The origin portion is good

Dudley Moore's story is dull

Movie Info

Movie Name: Santa Claus:  The Movie

Studio: TriStar Pictures

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family/Seasonal

Release Date(s): November 27, 1985

MPAA Rating: PG

santa claus the movie first flgith sled david huddleston

So…these guys just hung out at the North Pole waiting for “Santa” to essentially die?

How the man became the myth…Santa Claus (David Huddleston) is born when selected to deliver gifts to children around the world.  Being the deliver of gifts is a big and burdensome duty, and Santa Claus will need help.  Santa’s inspiring elf Patch (Dudley Moore) could be the key to the job, but Patch has ideas that just don’t mix with Santa.  When Patch finds himself out of a job and teamed with toy manufacturer B. Z. (John Lithgow), the fate of Christmas could be in trouble!  Can Santa and his new friends Joe (Christian Fitzpatrick) and Cornelia (Carrie Kei Heim) stop B. Z., help Patch, and save Santa’s faith in the world?

Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, Santa Claus:  The Movie (sometimes just called Santa Claus) was released for the 1985 holiday season.  It wasn’t very well received by critics or audiences but has since built a bit of a following over the years.

santa claus the movie dudley moore john lithgow

Hey Patch…you and me can drive this film into the ground!!!

The problem with Santa Claus:  The Movie is that it is two movies. The first being a Santa Claus origin story (the more interesting portion of the story) and the second being Santa Claus losing faith and Patch’s working with B. Z.  This split storyline really hurts it…it feeling like a completely different movie (the second of which isn’t very good).

The story of Santa Claus could easily have been a nice hour and a half movie with some expanding…and as seen in Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, a villain could easily have been made as a foil to Santa Claus’ attempts to give gifts to the world.  The visuals in this portion of the movie are pretty good and even much of the flying sleigh footage has held up well.

santa claus the movie david huddleston judy cornwell christian fitzpatrick carrie kei heim

We’ve got too more workers…Santa’s secret is that the elves are actually kidnapped children forced to work for him and never grow old

The second part of the story is obviously a vehicle for Dudley Moore who was very popular at the time.  Patch’s character is irritating and his ignorance is more frustrating than fun.  He doesn’t seem to love life like everyone imagines elves, and when you look at something like Will Ferrell’s performance in Elf, Dudley Moore looks like a flop.  B. Z. is such a generic evil villain and seems too cartoonish (which is intentional).  It is also unclear about the whole Santa Claus thing in general.  People in the movie seem to generally accept there is a Santa Claus (even adults) but then randomly people won’t believe in him.  Lollipops and candy canes that make you fly seem like a good idea for a story (like a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), but not in the context of this film.

Santa Claus:  The Movie isn’t very fun, funny, or festive.  I already wasn’t a believer when Santa Claus:  The Movie was released, but I don’t know that I would have liked Santa Claus:  The Movie even if I had been.  While some aspects of the film are good and interesting, a big turn in the plot really ruins the story which was hanging by a thread.  If they had stuck to the origin story, it might have worked, but as an “adventure”, the movie falls flat. Huddleston is a pretty good Santa Claus, but when it becomes a Dudley Moore film the movie slips from mediocre to bad.  With so many good Christmas films out there, skip Santa Claus:  The Movie and have a merrier Christmas.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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