YES, VIRGINIA, there is a "Santa Claus:
The Movie." If you're under seven and crazy about elf dancing, it just might be for you. It's a toddler's fairytale with a simple, sugary plot and dazzling special effects.
It's got more glitter than Liberace's hope chest, or Vegas on Sinatra's birthday. But all that glitters is not gold.
The traditional tale traces the legend of Santa back to his woodcutting days, when he's discovered by elves, taken to a fancy North Pole workshop and dubbed the "Chosen One" by a feeble Burgess Meredith, as the "Ancient Elf."
David Huddleson, a ruddy character actor, plays Santa with gusto, and Judy Cornwell is his wife Anya Claus, a jolly sort herself -- and the one who thought up the bit about "naughty and nice." Dudley Moore has a pitiful supporting role as the perky chief elf Patch, with John Lithgow deliciously malicious as a toy manufacturer who persuades Patch to make explosive candy canes.
The storytelling also involves a lot of awestruck, Spielbergian staring -- by the elves, Mrs. Claus, various innocent bystanders -- as assorted lights shine down from the heavens, accompanied by a storm of flakes and sparky music by Henry Mancini.
The snow comes down like a hurricane in a glass ball, in fact, as Claus speeds from chimney to chimney, stuffing them full of goodies and sparks. Meanwhile, the elves -- a lot of short guys in heavy blusher -- continue to hammer out old-fashioned sleds and carve wooden soldiers. (Sorry, no Cabbage Patch dolls.)
Carrie Kei Heim and Christian Fitzpatrick play a rich kid and a poor kid, the latter of which gets to drive the cute puppet reindeer, already on sale with certain other McItems at local fast-fooderies.
Basically, it's a commercially feasible peace offering from Tri Star -- which brought you the psycho-Santa of "Silent Night, Deadly Night," a horror movie that outraged parents last season with its hatchet-wielding rooftop Claus. Better the kids should play with McReindeer.