This remake follows the same basic concept as the original Rankin/Bass special: Santa Claus, disillusioned by children's lack of belief in him and in the spirit of giving, decides not to deliver toys this Christmas Eve, despite the arguments by Mrs. Claus and two of his helper-elves, Jingle and Jangle. They decide to provide Santa with some proof that children still believe and that they still deserve toys from Santa, so the elves visit the United States in search of Christmas spirit.
At first, they face only setbacks, both in South Town, which is celebrating its annual Winter Festival, and in their dealings with the jealous, competitive Miser Brothers, who refuse to compromise long enough to permit a Christmas snow in the southern town. Finally, Santa's faith in children is renewed with the help of a boy named Iggy Thistlewhite.
Differences from the original special
The most obvious differences are in the setting, which is moved to the 21st century present day, and the music, which is all but gone. Only the iconic "Miser" songs are retained (though they are mixed together, and instead of being sung when the Misers are approached, the song is sung during their feud).
The remake also includes two subplots which did not appear in the Rankin/Bass version: The commercial coup of Santa's toy-making operation by the ambitious elf Sparky, who wants a more modern and lucrative approach; and the family troubles of Iggy. His father (who is also the mayor in this remake) is too busy to focus on his family, even at Christmas. Mayor Thistlewhite is a foil both for Santa, in his journey to rediscover the Christmas spirit, and for Sparky, in his efforts to sell out the town's historic district to an out-of-town commercial enterprise. In addition, the movie attempts to give more depth to the relationship between Mrs. Claus and Santa. Another difference is that it is Santa who sees the Miser Brothers about having it snow in South Town instead of Mrs. Claus. Like in the original, the brothers refuse to cooperate, but change their minds when Santa threatens to go to their mother.
A number of pop-culture references pepper the script, including a glimpse of the original special on Jingle's portable TV. Faced with the prospect of losing his job because of Santa's retirement, Jingle muses that he could go to work for his cousin, who is a dentist; this is a reference to Hermey from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The script also works in a reference to A Christmas Story: When a disgruntled marksman tells Santa he wanted a gun last Christmas, Santa flatly remarks, "You would've shot your eye out, kid!" Then he comically mimics the marksman having (hypothetically) done just that.
|John Goodman||Santa Claus|
|Delta Burke||Mrs. Claus|
|Michael McKean||Snow Miser|
|Harvey Fierstein||Heat Miser|
|Ethan Suplee||Jingle Bells|
|Eddie Griffin||Jangle Bells|
|Dylan Minnette||Ignatius Thistlewhite|
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