Many of the same characters from the first movie come back for this one (Kurt Russell as Santa is an obvious one!) and there are also some new characters. We are reacquainted with Kate and Teddy Pierce, who went on the adventure with Santa in the first movie. Don't get too reacquainted with Teddy, though, because he's only in the beginning and the end. He has aged out and has been replaced by a younger, cuter kid. I had no idea how old Kate was in the first movie and still don't know how old she is. They do mention the events of the first movie took place two years ago so this does follow real time. If I had to guess, I would say Kate is in the 11-13 range, but if she's 13, that would mean she would've been 11 in the first movie and I can't see an 11-year-old still believing in Santa. Yes, I realize that in this universe, Santa IS real, but even before they knew that, she still believed in him. Teddy was about to tell her, but decided against it. I looked up to see how old Darby Camp, the actress who plays Kate, is and she is currently 13, so she was probably 11 or 12 when she filmed this.
Kate and Teddy are in Cancun with their mother, Claire (played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley). They were all brought there on a holiday vacation by Claire's boyfriend, Bob (played by Tyrese Gibson...the name "Bob" does not suit him at all) and his son, Jack, who is the younger, cuter kid who will be joining Kate on the new adventure. I would estimate Jack's age to be between 7 and 9. Kate is not happy at all. She hates being on a sunny beach so close to Christmas and would rather be ice-skating or drinking cocoa or Christmas shopping. I'm with Kate. Christmases in warm weather climates just seem strange to me. While it doesn't always snow every Christmas where I live, I can always count on it to be cold. Christmas is the holiday where you sit around the fire wearing your favorite cozy sweater and sipping a mug of cider or hot cocoa. It just makes more sense in cold weather! Kate is also not happy because she still misses her dad, who had died as a firefighter only a few years ago. She thinks Bob is going to propose to her mom and she's not ready for that. I can kind of see where she's coming from because if your mom's boyfriend invited her, both her children, and his kid on a trip to Mexico during Christmas vacation, that does seem like he's in it for the long haul. We know Claire and Bob have been dating for ten months and have known each other before they started dating, but we don't know where they met. Work? A support group for widowers? As it turns out, Bob's wife also died. You'd think Kate and Jack would bond over having a dead parent, but no, doesn't really ever come up.
Kate is so upset she makes a Christmas Wish to Santa. She decides she doesn't want the electric scooter (from going over my review of the first movie, I was reminded that in this universe, kids only get ONE present from Santa, so you better choose wisely!), but would rather "get out of this place." She's worried "It's gonna feel like Dad never existed" if her mom and Bob get married. She even threatens (to literally nobody) that she'll run away. The next day she'll get her opportunity to do so when Bob discovers some tickets "complimentary from the hotel". Teddy and some girl go snorkeling. I wasn't sure if this was his girlfriend he brought along on the trip or a girl he met there (I have reason to believe it's the latter), but all he talks about in this movie is going snorkeling with this girl. Claire and Bob get to spend the night at Tulum with a private tour of the Mayan ruins. Meanwhile, the two youngest kids will get to go to a "kids' club slumber party" complete with all the ice cream they can eat. As a kid, that would have been my worst nightmare. Not the all the ice cream you can eat part (though I'd probably eat too much and get super sick), but being in a foreign (quite literally in this case!) place with a bunch of hyper kids (you know they'd be all buzzed on sugar!) I don't even know where I'm expected to spend the night. Honestly, Claire and Bob, if you wanted to have your own romantic trip to Tulum, why didn't you just go on this trip without your kids?
I need to interject with a weird fashion choice that I believe that was missed by the wardrobe department. There's no way this could have been intentional. So when the group is all gathered saying their good-byes before they go their separate ways, I notice that Claire and Teddy are wearing VERY similar shirts. They're both blue and peach buttons-ups. The designs are different, but both have some kind of pattern, kind of like a Hawaiian shirt. I have a hard time believing a teen boy would wear a shirt so similar to his mother's.
Kate sees this as a great opportunity to run away since the adults have conveniently been painted out of the picture for the time being. I love that Claire and Bob just leave Kate and Jack in the lobby of the hotel; they don't even go to the kids' club with them. You'd think they'd want to check out where they'll be leaving their children overnight. Also, what about Teddy? They're leaving him alone overnight with no supervision with some girl he met? Like I said, Claire and Bob, why didn't you just go on this trip alone? But I digress...Kate tells Jack to head to the room where the slumber party is being held (seriously, what are they doing at this "kids' club" besides eating ice cream? Well, I guess we're told there's a slime-making station) and tells him she needs to go to the bathroom and she'll meet him later. Earlier she had called the airport who had told her she could book a flight home there (um, she has a phone...couldn't she just do it on there? Not that it's an important part of the story), so she heads outside and hitches a ride on a golf cart that will take her to a shuttle to the airport. Sensing that she's up to something, Jack sees this and hops on the back of the tram. He makes himself known a little while later and while he and Kate are arguing, they get flung through a portal that leads them to the North Pole.
Confused? Let me explain.
The Pierce kids aren't the first characters we see, no, the first scene is of a character we've never met before. In the South Pole we see some kind of cave/hideout with lots of "Get Out!" and "No Trespassing!" signs. (Dude, who's going to be trespassing in your South Pole hideaway?) We see a young man with an Australian accent (I guess technically it's a New Zealand accent because I looked up the actor and that's where he's from, but honestly, I can't tell the difference) who is glowering as he looks at a picture of Santa and Mrs. Claus, stating that they "ruined everything" and that they "were the first humans I ever trusted and the last." My goodness, laying it on a little thick there, aren't we? So I didn't catch this the first time, but he's in the picture with the Clauses' in elf form. Yes, this human person used to be an elf and is now a human and has somehow been wronged by Santa and the Mrs. (By the way what is Mrs. Claus's first name?) We don't know the story, but don't worry, we will.
He needs a "ticket" to get to the North Pole and he believes the answer is Kate. An elf that switched allegiances (either that or maybe there are also elves in the South Pole) has brought him the knowledge of Kate, a friend of Santa's. Somehow, he finds out that Kate is in Cancun (must still have some of that elf magic) and he happens to overhear Kate on the beach when she's making her Christmas wish. He's the one who leaves the "complimentary tickets" and he's the one who's driving the golf cart, thus the reason they go through a portal because he has a device that he throws that opens the portal. I honestly don't understand why Kate and Jack just don't jump off the cart that's only going about ten mph. They see the portal way before they enter it, so just jump off! I know, I know, they need the to go through so there can be a movie. But they could have easily escaped, that's all I'm saying.
Once they're in the North Pole, Kate figures Santa must have heard her wish about wanting to escape and granted it. Since she and Jack came from Cancun, they are wearing t-shirts and shorts and soon find themselves victim to the cold. Luckily, Santa spots them and puts them in his sleigh. By this time they are both pretty blue and unconscious. All they need is a little hot chocolate to warm them up! That's exactly what Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn) gives them and they wake up and are back to their normal selves.
Kate thanks Santa for granting her Christmas wish, but Santa tells her he hasn't given her the scooter yet, so
One of my favorite aspects of the village was the Polaris Cinema where Elf was playing and the admission was free. They also see the Hall of Letters, which is the place where Kate found herself in the previous movie. Kate mentions she's been there and Jack wants to know why she never told him. Good question, Jack. Kate replies, "There's a lot of things I haven't told you." Um, if you had met Santa and been to the North Pole, wouldn't that be something you'd want to tell everyone you met, especially a fellow kid?
Mrs. Claus prepare "dinner" which is a tableful of sugary desserts. Despite there being cookies, candies, pie, cakes, and brownies on the table, she tells the kids that all the food is actually "super healthy", but it tastes and look like desserts. Look, I am all for that. I would love if you could eat a cheesecake that was healthy for you AND tasted like real cheesecake. However, even if all these desserts were good for you, ugh, I could not eat all that sugar for every meal. No, thank you. That's why they call it a treat. If kids could have dessert anytime they wanted, I don't think they would be as coveted as much as they are now. I was very confused as to why Kate was eating Halloween brownies - they had orange frosting on them; they totally screamed "Halloween", but Santa told her it was lime beans and carrots and that's when I noticed it had green specks too. Jack eats "broccoli" which was a white and green layer cake. That did look pretty good.
Jack and Kate want to stay overnight because their parents won't return to the hotel until the next afternoon anyway. Mrs. Claus says how wonderful it will be to have children, if only for one night and she and Santa look wistfully at each other. This makes me wonder: did they want children, but could never have any? They did this as a plot in the second or third The Santa Clause movie and Santa having a kid always felt weird to me. First of all, he's super old (in this one, we learn he's 1700 years old, so if he did have children, they'd all be very old too (assuming they're still alive with Christas magic). Well, we do learn that time stands still in the North Pole, so nobody ages, so I suppose if they did have a baby, the baby would remain a baby forever? That's super...weird. Also, Santa having a kid just seems...unfair to both the kid and Santa. The kid would resent Santa for paying more attention to all the other kids in the world (remember this...this theme will pop up later) and all the kids in the world would be jealous of Santa's kid because they would pretty much get everything for Christmas.
Now would be a good time to explain why the human-who-used-to-be-an-elf needed Kate to help him with his plan. Where Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves live, it is protected under the shield of the Veil of Borealis, which keeps them hidden and protected from the outside world. The veil is created by light from the star of Bethlehem which is also connected to the Christmas star tree topper that sits atop the massive Christmas tree in the center of the Village. (I think I got that right?) Santa is the only one who knows how to get in and out of the veil safely; remember that scene in Finding Nemo where Nemo and Dory go through the jellyfish waters (when they should have been staying above them) and they're dodging all the jellyfish? Well, in this case, when Santa goes through the veil he has to dodge a lot of electrical currents or something. He's the only one who knows how to weave in and out of them and when he gets the kids in his sled, the human/elf hitches a ride on the back and that's how he finds his way there.
The Elves live by the Elves' Code which stands for Ego, Lying, Viciousness, Envy, Selfishness. I'm guessing this is a list of things that elves strive NOT to be! As Mrs. Claus tells the kids, "If an elf commits every single one of those, they become cursed." Well, guess who broke all five? I'll give you zero guesses because you don't need any.
We get a few examples of what a little sh*t weasel Belsnot has turned into. He places a whoppee cushion on a chair in a room with a handful of other elves and when one unexpected elf sits on it, he makes a big scene, pointing and laughing at the elf, who is clearly embarrassed and humiliated. And it's not like a, "Haha, Flouflou farted" ribbing in a friendly kind of way, no, he is maliciously laughing and mocking at him. F**k you, Belsneeze. We see him tip over a gum ball machine outside one of the 300,000 stores, so when one elf comes out of that store, he slips on the gum balls and drops his packages. While elves seem to have a high threshold for physical pain (they go through a lot in this movie, but always seem to be fine in the end), this elf could have seriously injured himself. Again, f**k you, Belsnoopy. The only actually funny prank he pulls is when he puts his image on cans of "Rik Cola", when they are usually reserved for images of Santa. (Much like the holiday Coke cans...hey, remember those commercials?
When Santa asks him what he's doing, he replies, "I build all the best toys around here. It's about time I get some of the credit." Now he says this in English, and not in Elvish. While we sometimes hear the elves maybe say a few words in English, mostly they are talking in their native language, so is speaking quite fluently in English a sign of his intelligence? Also, if he hates humans so much, why is he speaking one of their languages? The last thing he does that sends him over the edge is when he commits vandalism by spray painting his name on the side of Santa's sleigh. When Santa asks him why he would do that, he replies, "Because you care more about children all over the world than you care about me." I mean, Santa can easily just get rid of the paint with a little bit of magic, so Belsnivel's acting out here is pretty weak and lame. Also, shut the f*ck up, Belsnoodle, like seriously. In case you can't tell, I really don't feel sorry for Belsnitch. He's a whiny-ass elf who needs constant attention and praise and can't stand not getting any of the glory when I'm sure the other 999,999 elves (remember, one million elves live in Santa's Village!) are just as accomplished at making toys as he is and they're actually decent elves who don't cause mischief and mayhem. I'd be like, "Bye, Belsnipper, don't let the door hit you on the way out". Well, after breaking the Elves' Code, "he transformed into the thing he despised the most, a human." To quote Nelson from The Simpsons, "HA, HA!" Belsnoozy is so ashamed of his new form that he runs away and never returns...until now. While Mrs. Claus is reading the kids a bedtime story, we see Belsnorkel looking things over in a sly way and says, "In a few hours, this entire village will be nothing but a distance memory." Geeze, he really hates Santa, doesn't he?
I did laugh when Mrs. Claus is done reading the book and claps her hand to turn out the lights. It's done with magic as you can tell from the sound and visual effects, but I love the nod to the Clap On/Clap Off lights. (I feel like my grandma had one of those, but I could be remembering that wrong. Maybe I'm thinking of the commercial...it was always an elderly woman who used those things).
Once everyone is asleep, Belscooter can now hatch his plan. He has a pet yule cat named Jola who he tells to "take care of the reindeer" so they won't bother him while he gets the star. Oh, yeah, did I tell you that's his plan? To get the star tree topper since it powers the entire village. But first, I must interject with something that doesn't make sense. When Belsnap became a human, he went to live in the South Pole. I'm not sure how long he's been living there...maybe a couple years? Who knows. When we are first introduced to Jola (we meet him before we know he and Belsnail are chummy), Santa is chasing him because he keeps trying to take one of his reindeer as a snack. Obviously Jola lives in the North Pole. So why is he Belsnout's pet? I'm so confused. But Jola goes to the stable where Dasher seems to be the head reindeer and is the one who stands up to Jola, protecting the seven other reindeer, but also gets attacked by Jola. Because this is a children's movie, we only see shadows of Jola about to attack Dasher and when the humans find Dasher lying down in the stable (brought to their attention by an elf), there is no blood anywhere. I did like that when the Claus's (is it Claus's or Clauses'; now I'm confusing myself even more!) are told, they are watching It's a Wonderful Life in Elvish. I'm not really sure why they would have that in that language, unless they have a magic TV that can dub movies in non-human languages.
To cause havoc, Belsnipper drugs the elves with Elf Bane which turns them from sweet and friendly elves into mean and mischievous elves. It's very similar to when Mogwais (don't ask me what the plural of Mogwai is...) turn into Gremlins. And I'm sure that wasn't accidental since Chris Columbus wrote that movie. One elf is ever tied up in lights before it breaks free, much like that poor dog. Also, there's a scene that is VERY similar to the one where the gremlins are in a bar just going crazy. In the movie, the scene involves elves dancing to "Who Let the Dogs Out?"
So he just wants to become an elf again and as Mrs. Claus tells him (and the audience), the only way for him to break the curse is to come home and embrace his family. Dude, you're right there. Just say you're sorry and I don't know if that means to literally hug his family or accept them the way they are, but just do whatever you need to do and you'll be a stupid elf again. This movie could end now, but we still have an hour and eight minutes to go! Belsnuff's response is "Bah humbug!" and Santa scolds him, "You watch your mouth, young elf! I admit that got a chuckle out of me.
Santa and Belsnickerdoodle get into a brouhaha over the star and end up breaking the veil, which makes everything go dark. Belsneedle ends up with the star and flies off with it in his homemade flying contraption. Santa exclaims, "Without the star, the North Pole, the village, Christmas itself, is doomed!" Kate asks, "Like, for this year?" and Mrs. Claus replies, "Like, forever." Gulp!
It is decided that Santa and Kate will go to Turkey to get a new star, which can only be made by the Forest Elves while Mrs. Claus and Jack will stay behind to take care of Dasher and find a cure for the elves. The excuse they give for Kate joining Santa is that he doesn't think he'll be able to get his sleigh off the ground with only seven reindeer. So a pre-teen girl can hep with that? Really, Santa? It's a very contrived way to get Kate to go with him. When they do start flying away, there's an empty spot in the front where Dasher would have been. Wouldn't it be better to move one of the reindeer from the middle to the front so the missing spot is in the middle so at least the front and back are both loaded with reindeer? I'm no expert in physics, but this just makes more sense to me.
So Santa and Kate get to Turkey, but they don't know that Belsnood has also hitched a ride on the bottom of the sleigh. They talk to the Forest Elves, a new star is made, Belsnapper tries to stop them, yada, yada, yada, they fly back to Santa's Village.
Meanwhile, back at the Village, Mrs. Claus has given Jack the task of finding an arctic flower that "only grows in one place" (which isn't exactly close to where they are). It is the only thing that will cure the elf bane and she needs to stay with Dasher. She gives him a map and some cookies that will help him: a gingerbread man cookie will explode when he throws it and a snowman cookie will give him courage if he eats it. There are two of each cookie on the platter, but he only takes one of each. I mean, why not stock up on more ammunition? There's also two Christmas tree cookies on the plate, but we don't find out if they have any special powers. Naturally, Jack is worried about frost bite, but Mrs. Claus tells him not to worry because she's "an expert at reattaching fingers and toes." You'd think a place brimming with magic, they'd have some kind of heating installation in their winter clothes (btw, Mrs. Claus "magically" changed the kids' resort clothes into winter garb).
Jack has to climb a mountain to get to the antidote so he takes a bite of the snowman cookie to give him courage. Luckily he didn't bite the exploding cookie. He almost did, but then realized that was the wrong one. He does use the exploding gingerbread man cookie when he gets attacked by Jola and they both fall off the mountain. He throws the cookie at the yule cat who runs off and Jack has to climb the mountain again, but finally reaches the flower which he brings back to the stables.
In order to distribute the antidote to the elves, he has to go to a certain spot in the village. The scene where he's fighting through the slew of elves who is making this very difficult for him is quite funny Mrs, Claus has armed himmwith a Nerf crossbow and we see slow motion scenes of him shooting at the elves and running and taking cover, like this is a war movie. At one point, when the elves are closing in on him, he grab a large lollipop and just smacks the crap out of them. Talk about elf abuse! I love that while the elves turn "bad", the movie at the Polaris theater has turned from Elf to Bad Santa. Personally, I think they should have gone with Gremlins as an inside joke, but they probably wanted to go for a joke that kids would have gotten since it literally says "Bad Santa".
So Santa has dropped Kate off (literally) at the tree so she can reconnect the star to it, but that won't be without any problems. In the air, Santa and his reindeer are about to have a standoff with Belsniffles whose flying contraption is being pulled by a jackal and coyote hybrid called jackalotes. Santa tells him that it "doesn't exactly scream aerodynamic." We see them charging at each and Mrs. Claus throws a gingrbread man cookie that explodes, causing Santa, Belskittles, and all the animals to come crashing down to the ground. The gingerbread man's mouth turns into an "O" expression which got a laugh out of me.
Kate has managed to restore the power of the star and the elves have turned back to their happy, helping, healthy elves selves. The movie is almost over, but we just need to close up Belstar's story. He and Santa share a moment when Santa shows him the first toy they built together. When Belstickle tells the Claus's he's always loved them, he turns back into an elf. All the other elves cheer and are happy, but I'm not sure why. When he WAS an elf, Belsnag was a massive jerk douche to them. I certainly wouldn't be welcoming him back with welcome arms. But, whatever.
There's a nice moment when the kids are saying good-bye to Mrs. Claus as they get in the sled with Santa so he can take them back to their resort in Cancun and she reveals to Jack that the snowman cookie he ate that supposedly had magical powers to give him courage was actually just a regular old cookie and that "the hero was always inside you." Aww.
I did have to laugh when Belsnare jumped into Mrs. Claus's arm and you can tell Goldie Hawn was probably holding a cookie jar or something before they replaced it with the CGI elf.
Kate and Jack are returned to the beach where they meet up with Teddy and he's like, "Oh, cool, you got to see Santa again" and they fill him in on what they did with one sentence each. The adults have returned from their getaway and they are hugged by their kids as though they've been gone for a thousand years and Kate surprises Bob when she seems to have accept his and her mother's relationship. The movie ends with the five of them outside on the beach singing "O Christmas Tree." (This is why I don't think the girl who was always going scuba diving with Teddy was his girlfriend; she wasn't a part of this singalong). While the mere mortals are singing on the beach, we see Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves are also singing the same song in Santa's Village. Of course Belsnagglepuss has to be the center of attention. I'm sorry, what did he do again to deserve the Best Elf of the Village title and Santa's and Mrs. Claus's favorite elf? Oh, right, he was a total asshat who whined about being a human when he was one so was rewarded by turning back into a whiny bratty elf. While they are singing this song, it struck me that I never knew the words to it. I could hum it, but I couldn't tell you the words besides the obvious "O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree..." I think there are different variations of it. I feel like this is a song you don't hear a lot on Christmas albums. I honestly couldn't tell you any artist who has covered it. They get a surprise from Santa when he magically makes the words "Merry Christmas" appear in the sky formed by the stars. I'm sure Claire and Bob though it was some sort of special effect the resort put on, but the kids know better.
This was a cute movie and I can see it and its predecesser being holiday staples in peoples' homes. After all, they're both on Netflix, so it's pretty easy to come upon.
HOWEVER, that being said, they could have gone a completely different route with this movie and I, personally, think it would have been more interesting. So there was a part I literally yada-yadaed over earlier in my review and I want to go back to that. It's when Santa and Kate now have their newly minted star and Belsnarl is ready to snatch it from them. He rams into their sleigh which makes the star fall and he throws a device at them which makes them enter a vortex and they find themselves flying above Logan International airport in Boston in the year 1990. Kate is from Boston, but she definitely wasn't around in 1990. I was confused by the year, but it soon becomes clear why it's that particular year.
Their sled loses power and Santa tells Kate that is due to "the lowest Christmas spirit" that people have at airports during the holidays. Their plan is to make people happy at the airport which will power up their sled again and Kate needs to find batteries for the time twister device that made them enter the vortex. I would think this thing would be powered by magic that they would get from lifting peoples' Christmas spirits rather than batteries, but we do get an amusing scene of Kate buying batteries at a newsstand and the woman thinks she's using counterfeit money and notices the bill is from 2020 (I NEVER notice the year on paper money!) and says people "probably won't be using paper money in thirty years." I mean, she isn't totally wrong.
All the flights have been cancelled due to bad weather so that's why everyone is in a bad mood. A woman goes to the ticket counter and demands, "I want a flight to Chicago right now." She totally reminded me of Kate McCallister from Home Alone when she's begging to get on a flight to Chicago to get to her son. It can't be coincidental the same city was used!
Santa uses his magic to have the woman who's working the ticket counter to belt out, "Now wait a minute...!" When she sang those notes, I was like, is that holiday song legend Darlene Love who sang "All Alone on Christmas" from the Home Alone 2 soundtrack and "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", the opening song from Gremlins, coincidently, both movies Columbus worked on as a director and writer, respectively? Obviously he loves Darlene Love. Oh, by the way, just this year, I learned that she was the original singer of "Baby Please Come Home". I honestly had no idea and never really gave it any thought. There are so many artists who have covered this song (it IS a great song) that I just figured the original just got lost in the shuffle. I was always aware of her version and knew it was one of the best versions of that song and now I know why! It's so good; no wonder so many artists cover it. It also makes SO much sense when she sings the line, "Do you remember sleigh riding in the snow; dancing all night to 'Baby Please Come Home'?" in "All Alone on Christmas?" (Another great song that sadly gets overlooked).
Anyway, Darlene Love can add another Christas song to her repertoire: "The Spirit of Christmas" which she sings with Kurt Russel. It's a catchy little ditty, but it doesn't hold a candle to her other Christmas songs. The song gets everybody in the airport dancing and singing and their Christmas spirits are lifted so much that all the flights are able to be boarded and everyone will be able to be home for Christmas. (I guess Christmas spirit also helps clear up bad weather!)
But I think it would have been a more interesting movie if she had spent Christmas with her dad in 1990. Maybe his flight to Miami was cancelled (despite all that Christmas spirit), so she was invited to his house and also got to see her grandparents when they were around her mom's age. Maybe, just maybe, Kate could inspire young Doug to go into a different profession other than a firefighter. Not that I think 13-year-old Doug knew he wanted to be a firefighter, but maybe he and Kate make Christmas cookies and she inspires him to be a pastry chef (do pasty chefs even make cookies? IDK) or maybe they play with Legos and she's impressed with his designs and tells him he should be an architect. I don't know, just something that inspires him so he has a profession that is't so dangerous, so when Kate returns to present her dad is still alive! (Poor Bob). I think they could have had a really cool idea for a movie, but instead they went with the Belsnuffleupagus plot line. Oh, well, at least I had fun making up different names for him and I hope you all got a kick out of that too.