Box art for Santa Claus: The Movie 25th Anniversary Edition

Santa Claus: The Movie 25th Anniversary Edition

  • Rated PG
  • HD and SD formats available

children & family

This is the story of a master toymaker who discovers a magical kingdom of elves at the North Pole. He is entrusted with special powers to become Santa Claus!

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 9
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
2 out of 5

Dated '80s holiday movie has smoking, product placement.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Santa Claus: The Movie is a 1985 holiday film that is both about the origin of Santa Claus and the story of an evil toymaker (played by John Lithgow) who seeks to take over Christmas with the help of a prodigal elf (played by Dudley Moore). Although the abrupt shift in tone from the first half of the movie to the second is jarring, of greater concern is the constant smoking, as Lithgow's character is always shown smoking a cigar. There also is lots of consumerism (product placement for McDonald's) and mild profanity ("crap," "sucks," "hell"). Although the movie does teach lessons on Christmas being a time of selfless giving, and there are some clever moments along the way, overall, the movie's inability to decide exactly what it wants to be makes the cynical tone of the second half a bit much for both parents and kids.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about Christmas movies. How is this one similar to and different from other Christmas movies?
  • What are some of the positive values often showcased in holiday movies, and how are they usually presented?
  • What are your thoughts on the shift in tone, style, and attitude from the first half of the movie to the second?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Even though some of its special effects are now dated, Santa Claus: The Movie is a touching tale that deserves to be rediscovered by younger generations.

- Chuck O'Leary,, Thursday, June 24, 2010


- Derek Adams, Time Out, Saturday, June 24, 2006


- Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Not one of the best Santa Claus Movies but a nice Santa Movie.

- ScoopOnline, Sunday, December 13, 2009

3 stars

A fantastic cast and a magical film, I have such fond memories of watching this as a child. Unfortunately, on re-watching this last Christmas, I was horrified to realise this is an awful film. Still, I'm giving it a decent rating for the child inside.

- SirPant, Thursday, October 1, 2009

3 stars

This is one of the first Christmas movies I saw as a child. There is an evil toy manufacturer who tricks Patch (head elf) to produce toys to eliminate the need for Santa Claus but Santa saves the day. Hooray!

- thmtsang, Sunday, December 21, 2008