We watched Elf the other night (the third or fourth time this year that I’ve begun the movie and only the first time I’ve made it all the way through). It occurred to me that the Santa in this movie isn’t so crunchy or sweet as other Santas. So I’ve compiled a list of all the Santas I can think of in the few minutes I want to spend on the project, and placed them on an ascending scale of badassery.
1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: the Nagashima stop-animation Santa (animated, Stan Francis voice) is about as nice as they come. Fluffy even.
2. Santa Claus: the Movie: Santa (David Huddleston) does his best to defend his franchise, but a skeezy toy developer almost runs him out of town.
3. The Happy Elf: Santa (animated, Mickey Rooney voice) is almost a non-entity in this movie, getting pushed around by his underlings and only asserting the rightness of Eubie’s claims about the poor little kids in Bluesville. (The eponymous helper’s name is pronounced YOU-bee for those of you who haven’t seen this movie. I’m sad to say this is my childrens’ favorite holiday movie this year.)
4. Snow: Santa (Tom Cavanaugh) lives a quiet life as a local carpenter. Someone steals his reindeer and he frets about it for a while. Then he tries to rescue it and stuff. Dreamy eyes on this Santa.
5. The Polar Express: Santa (animated, Tom Hanks voice) as monolithic, stoic giant. Probably how my two-year-old sees him, or the poor kids in the “Scared of Santa” photos.
6. The Santa ClausE: He kidnaps children, breaks out of jail, and has the city smarts any modern Santa needs. Despite these felonies, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is pretty white bread, but we are talking about Santa here.
7. A Miracle on 34th Street: Sure, Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwynn) doesn’t do much rumbling in this movie, but when confronted with the contemptable, selfish, unreasonable man like Sawyer, he knows the only solution is a swift bonk on the head with a cane.
8. Elf: This Santa (Ed Asner) is fast with the tire iron in New York, shouting “Back off, slick. You’re scaring the reindeer.” Also, he has a long-running feud with the New York police.
9. Scrooged: When terrorists attack Santa’s workshop (Al “Red Dog” Weber), he recognizes the attack immediately, shouting “Incoming!” The Elves break out machine guns, and Santa takes a stand. “This is one Santa who’s going out the front door.”
10. Santa’s Slay (2005) — I haven’t seen this, but the premise that Santa (Bill Goldberg) is actually an evil demon forced by an Angel to give out presents makes any cane or tire-iron wielding seem a little tame.
Extra: Badass Santa pretenders: Bad Santa, the Macy’s Santa from Elf, the drunkard Santa from the beginning of A Miracle on 34th Street, or the smoking, drinking Santa from Home Alone. These are, of course, people pretending to be Santa and thus ineligible for the list above.
So who did I miss? Who would you add? Where would you put them?
ps> In preparing for this post, I did a Google Image search for “badass Santa Claus” and here are my favorites of the first 30 results or so: