Unfamiliar with The Santa Clause? It's that insane movie where Allen accidentally kills Santa by knocking him off a roof, then puts on the Santa suit, and, because of a punny "Santa clause," must become Santa. (Lesson: Don't touch other people's shit!) The premise was simple for kids, but Allen also carried an emotional hook for adults, playing a workaholic divorcee who wields sarcasm as his weapon of choice and struggles to maintain a healthy relationship with his son. Amid the Santa drama, which includes shocking physical transformations, Allen reconnects with his son while trying to convince his ex-wife that he's not some freak kidnapping their child.
Though critics were mixed about the movie in general, many appreciated Allen's comedic stylings. "You'd have to be a mean ol' Grinch to level any serious complaints at The Santa Clause, a smoothly enjoyable comedy," wrote The Seattle Times. "It's easy to see why [Allen's] show is a ratings smash. There's an effortless quality to his humor, but it's also got a quietly urgent edge to it." The Washington Post also praised him, saying, "Aimed at kids, but written with parents in mind, The Santa Clause balances the sugar with the spice, which Allen sprinkles on just right." Even our critics think the former Home Improvement star brought "enough playful grunts, wry incredulity, and genuine cheer to the role to elevate this above kiddie movie schmaltz."
The movie's success spawned a trilogy. Disney rolled out The Santa Clause 2, in which Allen looked for a new Mrs. Claus, in 2002; and then in 2006, came The Escape Clause, which had Allen square off against Jack Frost (Martin Short!). As the saga continued, the stories became more fantastical, the sets got more involved, the number of children skyrocketed -- Disney had dozens of "900-year-old" kids populating the North Pole as elves -- and Allen channeled more Krusty the Clown.
Kids: "What do the elves eat?"
Allen: "Well, they probably eat reindeer, I think!"
Kids: "Why do you like milk and cookies?"
Allen: "Because it takes the edge off the Jack and Coke."