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Also, they drink a lot of hot cocoa in the movie

December 21, 2010

Last night the kids and I watched “Santa Clause 2,” which was surprising, because it has Tim Allen, who I’ve only ever liked in “Galaxy Quest,” and Elizabeth Mitchell, who I’ve hated ever since she was Kerry Weaver’s girlfriend on ER. But we had popcorn and planned to watch a Christmas movie, and then they both vetoed “A Christmas Story,” so we ended up with SC2.

The movie itself, if you haven’t seen it, is a heartwarming drama in which Santa Claus’s teenage son Charlie is getting in trouble at his fancy private school so Santa Claus, who everyone calls Scott(?), played by Tim Allen, has to go get him out of trouble. To cover up Scott/Santa’s disappearance, a little kid and the moody professor brother from Num3ers make a cyborg Santa to hold down the North Pole while Scott’s gone to straighten out Charlie. Oh, and if Scott doesn’t get married by midnight on Christmas Eve he has to stop being Santa (the titular clause). Wacky high jinks ensue, including the predictable outcome of creating a cyborg. (As soon as we saw Elizabeth Mitchell as the tight-laced principal of Charlie’s school, my 8-year-old and I rolled our eyes, knowing she was going to marry Scott just in the nick of time.)

Anyway, Charlie lives with his mom, stepdad, and half-sister. So I assumed there was going to be some big drama between Charlie’s mom Laura and her ex-husband, Santa Scott, because of course divorced co-parents hate each others’ guts, right?

But no. Not only did Scott and Laura not dislike each other, they seemed genuinely happy to see each other, as did Scott and Laura’s husband. The three of them went in as a united front to talk to the principal, and then Scott stayed at Laura and her husband’s house and they all sat around drinking cocoa. He told them about the clause that he had to get married, and they told him where to look for a wife, and gave him fashion and dating advice, and didn’t seem to have any bones to pick with him about anything.

Now I never saw the first “Santa Clause,” so maybe that movie presents some kind of extraordinary circumstance that allows Charlie’s parents–all three of them–to get along. Because for sure it’s not the norm in the media for divorced couples to deviate from either the “I hate your guts” trope or the “I act like I hate your guts but that’s only because I’m still in love with you” trope. Maybe you’re allowed to grow as people if one of you also gets to be a mythical creature.

But holy crap. Wouldn’t it be nice if the expectation was that as soon as the dust settles you can actually start getting along with the person you made a kid with? And that your boundaries are healthy enough that you don’t have to be too harsh or too accommodating? And that your kid doesn’t have to pretend not to love both or all of you? (In the movie, Charlie was acting out at school because he was stressed out by not being able to tell anyone his dad was Santa. Not because his parents were divorced. And at the end of the movie he got to tell his half-sister so she could know and they could talk about it together.)

So while it was mostly a waste of two hours, I’m not sorry that my kids spent some time watching a movie with divorced parents who were kind and friendly to each other. For a long, long time it was my greatest wish that LOD and I could get along well enough that the kids could feel secure when they were around us together. I’m going to add a little clause (thank you) to that wish now, that they grow up thinking it’s normal for divorced parents to get along.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica permalink
    December 21, 2010 11:24 am

    I think in the first movie they don’t get along so well. It has been a while, but I think some of the high jinks involved in Scott becoming Santa don’t sit so well with his ex-wife.

  2. Dee permalink
    December 21, 2010 11:26 am

    Ha! This movie really makes not-much sense without the first one πŸ™‚ In the first, Scott becomes Santa via the original ‘clause’ and he and the ex are not on good terms for most of that movie.

    I had never really thought about the implications of them getting along in the 2nd movie, but you’re right – how refreshing to see them actually be happy for each other.

  3. Shaz permalink
    December 21, 2010 11:49 am

    I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the first one, because not only do Scott and Neal not really get along, one of the big problems is that Scott wants Charlie to believe in Santa, and his ex and Neal think that children should be told that Santa is pretend – all of which blows up in their faces once Scott becomes Santa. They end up in court terminating Scott’s visitation.

    I haven’t seen the second one, but the first one is supposed to be better than the second. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      December 21, 2010 11:52 am

      It would be hard for any movie not to be better than SC2, so I have no doubt that the first one is better.

      And it’s perplexing, if there was so much rancor in the first movie, that they all got along in the second with no backstory.

      • Jessica permalink
        December 21, 2010 11:55 am

        “And it’s perplexing, if there was so much rancor in the first movie, that they all got along in the second with no backstory.”

        That’s the magic of Christmas. πŸ™‚

      • Lisa permalink
        December 21, 2010 11:58 am

        Well, in the first one, Scott gives his ex-wife and her husband the gifts that they always wanted for Christmas and never received. That scene? Where she gets a Mystery Date game, and he gets an Oscar Meyer weiner whistle makes me cry like a little girl EVERY TIME. Then they Believe in him as Santa and all is well.

        The first movie is so very 90s and so cheesy, but it’s one of my boys’ favorite Christmas movies.

  4. December 21, 2010 11:56 am

    If you haven’t ever read it, you might want to look at “The Divorce Express” by Paula Danziger. It’s from the kid’s perspective and the parents don’t really get along, but they’re all trying.

  5. davida permalink
    December 21, 2010 12:18 pm

    If you do watch another SC movie, you should only ever watch SC1. Never, under any circumstances, should you watch SC3. It is proof that a movie can be worse than SC2.
    SC1 is more about the negotiation between the freshly divorced Scott and his wife.

  6. askmoxie permalink*
    December 21, 2010 12:21 pm

    Oh, no. I have SC3 on my DVR (it was on after SC2 but the kids had to go to bed). Maybe it should just disappear.

    • LOD permalink*
      December 21, 2010 1:16 pm

      Yeah, that’s gotta happen ASAP. Martin Short might scar the 5yo for life.

  7. Jill permalink
    December 21, 2010 3:20 pm

    Big fan of 1 and 2, actually… but 3 is not worth your time. I think you ought to consider watching 1 yourself and see what you think about your kids watching it- the pleasantness in 2 didn’t just happen- it took a lot of angst and work and people trying to do what was right for the kid, even though they didn’t agree on what that was and so got stupid about it. And that is what life is really like, many times.

  8. MomPlusKid permalink
    December 21, 2010 11:09 pm

    I now realize that divorce has added a significant filter to how I will view the world from now on – including cheesy movies!

  9. Kari Weber permalink
    December 25, 2010 2:38 am

    I think we have ALL hit a turning point when the image of our relationships can be formed by a Tim Allen movie…

  10. jillian permalink
    December 27, 2010 9:39 pm

    You know, when my parents divorced, I was about 3 and my brother was about 7. I never noticed them not getting along — although they never sat around and had cocoa, either. They just didn’t interact much. I have no idea whether they actually hated each other, but whatever their relationship it didn’t get through my little self-absorbed skull. It never occurred to me until much later that clearly at some point they had hated each other at least enough to break up…

  11. December 28, 2010 11:48 am

    Love SC1 & SC2. It is great that they can finally get along by the time SC2 rolls around. My ex & I get along great, better then when we were married, though it took a while we knew for our kids sake it would be best. We’ve both since remarried, it’s our spouses who do not get along with there own ex’s. I also do not get along with my husbands exwife. I so do not know if it’s because she’s still in love with him, angry that he’s moved on, if she’s just a control freak or she just doesn’t want another “mom” in the kids lives. Wish I did know because my step boys are suffering due to the parental relationship. We have full custody due to some bad choices on her part but she still acts as though my husband owes her something. It’s so tough. Here’s to a better New Year though, I’m keeping my hopes high.
    On a side note, I swore that I’ve commented something similar so if I’m repeating myself I apologize.

  12. Bree permalink
    January 7, 2011 8:29 pm

    You should check out the movie Cyrus — probably not age-appropriate for your kids, but there is an awesome relationship between John C. Reilly and his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) that rings true and is very cool. No cocoa.

  13. Mir permalink
    January 20, 2011 10:04 pm

    SC1 was about custody battles, different belief systems (Believe in Santa or not), and figuring out that family is more than a strictly-defined nuclear group. Santa (previous Scott Calvin – SC, get it?) loves the son enough to let go and work with his ex-wife. SC2 was the find the wife one. SC3 was about the importance of family over work. I thought each of the movies was interesting in that they didn’t “ruin” the secret of Santa if you’re that kind of family, but it’s still interesting/has a plot if you’re a truther.

    I didn’t hate any of the movies. I wasn’t wow-ed by them, but they’re just movies. I read books and interact with them in other ways intended to teach/structure/expand their minds, but sometimes it’s just nice to watch something mindless. I didn’t have to worry about my kids learning words or concepts that I have to un-teach, so it was nice to just relax and not worry about it.

  14. Mir permalink
    January 20, 2011 10:06 pm

    meant to say interact with my kids

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