This weekend I finally got to introduce my family to Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. It was such a special moment that I had to share the news on Facebook. It got many likes. People love that little Jim Henson film. Someday I’ll try to do the same thing with Santa Claus: The Movie. It won’t be nearly as enjoyed. It won’t receive any Facebook likes. Nobody, and I mean nobody, loves that almost forgotten box office bomb. Except me.
I know it’s not very good, and my love for it is basic nostalgia for that time of my youth when I liked a number of movies that were very unpopular (others from the era being Howard the Duck, Supergirl — from the same director as Santa Claus, Jeannot Szwarc — and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) that today I accept as merely guilty pleasures (save for Munchausen, which is a masterpiece).
Admittedly, it’s been a few years since I’ve last seen Santa Claus, but I saw it enough growing up that I can nearly recite all of John Lithgow’s wonderfully capitalistic quips. His idea for Christmas Two was one of my first introductions to brilliant satire, I say. Recently I was reminded that the movie was clearly pitched as a sort of superhero movie involving the Santa mythology (it was produced by Superman‘s Ilya Salkind), and while I’m glad they didn’t give us our first Santa With muscles given that idea, I do think Lithgow is one of the greatest comic book movie villains of all time.
And Lithgow isn’t even the best of it. David Huddleston, future Big Lebowski himself, has defined my image of Santa as much as Coca-Cola did for the world over the past century. But before shaping my perception, he was just perfect for the part. Forget Ed Asner and Edmund Gwenn and definitely Tim Allen. Every Christmas movie of the last 28 years should have cast him in the role.
Then there’s Dudley Moore as the rogue elf. I actually wasn’t ever a humongous fan of Moore, but at the time I was really into Mickey + Maude thanks to cable. I was weird, I guess. Today, Moore’s legacy is nearly none. I think Santa Claus might have been his professional downturn, sadly.
As for the kids, let’s just say I was obsessed with orphan characters in the 1980s — and I’m certain this isn’t some strange psychological situations so much as there were a lot of orphan characters flooding my media as a child. And they all turned out okay. The one here hung out with Santa, for instance.
Maybe it does need to be remade and improved upon, because it is a great concept, but I’ll always have a soft spot for the original.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure Christmas movie that nobody else loves?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
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