Review: Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Composer: George S. Clinton

Label: Promotional Release (composer promo)

Catalogue Nr.: Promotional Release

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Santa is back! Stand up comedian and TV star Tim Allen returns for The Santa Clause 2 to revisit the role that made him a famous and requested actor for Hollywood comedies. After 8 years, Scott Calvin got used to his job as Santa Clause but disaster strikes quickly when he finds out that he has to marry a woman and make her 'Mrs. Clause' to continue his work as Santa. To add to that, his son Charlie lands on the year's 'naughty list' and Scott has to return home to help him so he is creating a 'Toy Santa' for temporal replacement which is quickly developing own ideas for Christmas Eve. Disney is notorious for bad sequels but this one is luckily a rare exception to the rule and has been as successful as the predecessor. We all know what this means: Santa will ride again in The Santa Clause 3 (2006).

The score:

Composer George S. Clinton was called upon to take over the scoring duties from composer Michael Convertino who composed a very elegant and classically oriented score for the first film. The sequel's score is a much bigger orchestral effort from the composer of the Austin Powers movies with lots of mickey-mousing, playful moments and the necessary Christmassy orchestrations. The thematic development is more obvious in Clinton's work than it was in Convertino's.

The opening cue "North Pole / Elfcon" starts the score with a blast of bombast and introduces the themes of the score. The first one is a romantic tune for the love story that is about to develop later, the second one is a playful tune for elfs, the third one is a Christmassy fanfare for Santa while the last one is a heroic theme which almost sounds like a theme for a western movie. As impressive as this cue sounds but it feels over-the-top, like Christmas music on steroids. These moments of bombastic chaos sound like something John Debney or David Newman would have composed and are spread over the entire score. "The Santa Handbook" contains some mickey-mousing for woodwinds and an elevator-music quote of "Jingle Bells" with a short outburst of bombast. "Way To Go Santa / Meatloaf" is a comic cue for a football game between Santa and his elves with a heroic "Jingle Bells" fanfare counter-pointed with "Joy To The World" and wild action music near the end of the cue with Santa's theme and the elf's theme literally duelling each other.

"De-Santa-Fication / Curtis / Naughty List" is one of the quiet cues with some elegant and at times mysterious fairy tale music for a very fairy-talish meeting. Dark choir and fanfares are bursting out in "Panagraph". "Yesterday / Toy Santa / Boo! / Going To See Charlie" contains an heroic variation of Santa's theme which is bearing a slight nod to Harry Gregson-William's heroic kiddie score Chicken Run (2000). Quiet romantic piano and flute playing is featured in "Girl Trouble" with a hint of the romantic theme which is a welcomed break from the pomp and circumstance of the previous cues. "Toy Santa 2&3 / Tinsel Football" contains a funny variation on Santa's theme which is used here in a wacky way to underline the goofy behaviour of the artificial Santa copy. "The Naughty-Nice List" contains a playful little march for the elves with a hint of "Joy To The World". More romantic tones can be heard in "Really Good This Year" before "Toy Santa 4" continues with a sneaky little tune for woodwinds which is almost a quote of John William's opening titles for Home Alone (1990).

More romantic sounds appear in "The Date" this time for woodwinds and strings with an extensive passage for celesta. This continues in "Secret Santa" but rises to a magical choral finish. "Toy Soldiers / Coal" is a demonic march with dark choir and pounding militaristic percussion for evil Toy Santa's private army. "Baby Doll" is revisiting the quiet material from "The Date" with music for celesta and harp. Sneaky mickey-mousing returns in "Go Fish / Curtis Visits / Ruffage" before "I'm Santa" brings back some subtle romantic magic. "Lost Tooth / Magical Mollarnator / At Your Service" is another bouncy mickey-mousing cue which is introducing a funny heroic theme for the tooth fairy (yeah, that one also appears in this film). "Believing Is Seeing / Proud Of Your Wings" features short choral bombast ala Silvestri's finale from The Abyss (1989) and another statement of the heroic tooth fairy theme. "Charlie And Carol Arrive" is where the bombast and action really starts. "Chet / Saving Christmas" is a lengthy and chaotic piece of action music for the finale of the film with the heroic theme and Santa's theme in hectic mood. "Will You Marry Me?" and "Christmas Is Saved / You Are Santa" are the big finish of the score.

Review by Andreas Creutzburg

 

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 68%

Score as heard on CD: 70%

TOTAL: 69%

 

The presentation:

The official soundtrack release of Santa Clause 2 only contained one lousy score track. Poor show from Disney given the success of the film. There was plenty of material (all in all 52 minutes) for a score release but it did not happen and the promotional release of the complete score does not come as a surprise (right in time for Christmas). Every cue from the film is there and in excellent sound quality. Maybe sometimes it is mixed a little bit too loud which is causing some minor distortion during very loud passages.

Presentation by the Label: PROMO

 

Summary:

George S. Clinton does not really re-invent the wheel (or better saying Christmas scoring) with his work for Santa Clause 2. There are plenty of big wacky chaotic passages which sadly are lacking of a musical voice because you can't really distinguish them from comparably crazy pieces by David Newman or John Debney. The themes in this score are okay but would have benefited from a little bit more development. Sometimes less is more but Clinton seems to have forgotten that when he composed the score for Santa Clause 2 which is surprising because his scores for the Austin Powers films don't show a hint of over-scoring even though they also belong to the comedy genre. Santa Clause 2 is certainly a well-crafted score but festive orchestration and occasional quotes of classic Christmas songs alone don't make a good Christmas score. This one is far away from such classy musical paintings for the season like Home Alone (1990) or The Polar Express (2004) but still offers some enjoyable fun if you can stand the moments of over-the-top craziness.

 

Tracklisting:

01. North Pole / Elfcon (4:09)
02. The Santa Handbook (1:25)
03. Way To Go Santa / Meatloaf (3:07)
04. De-Santa-Fication / Curtis / Naughty List (3:19)
05. Panagraph (2:08)
06. Yesterday / Toy Santa / Boo! / Going To See Charlie (1:32)
07. Girl Trouble (1:32)
08. Toy Santa 2&3 / Tinsel Football (2:19)
09. The Naughty-Nice List (1:36)
10. Really Good This Year (0:49)
11. Toy Santa 4 (1:05)
12. The Date (03:20)
13. Secret Santa (1:15)
14. Toy Soldiers / Coal (0:55)
15. Baby Doll (2:12)
16. Go Fish / Curtis Visits / Ruffage (2:03)
17. I'm Santa (1:25)
18. Lost Tooth / Magical Mollarnator / At Your Service (2:15)
19. Believing Is Seeing / Prowd Of Your Wings (1:14)
20. Charlie and Carol Arrive (1:17)

21. Chet / Saving Christmas (6:03)
22. Will You Marry Me? (2:25)

23. Christmas Is Saved / You Are Santa (4:28)

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