The Adventures of Santa Claus
Author: Mark Edens & John Crye & Tom Tataranowicz
Writer’s Potential: 4
Logline:Growing up in the magical Forest of Burzee, Santa Claus must stop the evil An-Garr from corrupting children in the land of mortals.
Synopsis:In the magical Forest of Burzee, creatures gather around a mystical “Doorway Tree” as it illuminates from within. In the dank Cave of the Awgwas, their evil ruler, AN-GARR, sees this in a magical pool of black water. What An-Garr doesn’t see is who comes through the doorway: newborn BABY CLAUS. DIDDILY, a dwarfish Knook, and F’DUDDLE, an elvish Ryl, ride a cart full of pampleberries pulled by DASHER the reindeer. Baby Claus lands in their cart. They take the berries to Pampleberry Mill, where nymph NECILE oversees the counting of the berries while QUEEN ZURLINE awaits the tabulation. The forest-dwellers are suddenly attacked by the Awgwas, mysterious shadow creatures that can take something resembling human form. An-Garr sends his lieutenants, SKUGG and MURKLE (both dumb and sycophantic) and “dawgwa” (a dog-like shadow creature) TOOTH to find the mortal while he searches for the doorway tree. Zurline realizes the attack is a distraction. She takes Baby Claus to a tree called AK for protection. An-Garr, Skugg, and Murkle find him, but Ak does try to protect him. Baby Claus laughs, which seems to hurt the awgwas. Before Angar can grab him, Necile swoops down on Dasher and takes him back to the mill.
F’Duddle and Diddily are confused by the baby’s inability to talk. Zurline wants to send the baby back through the mortal doorway tree, but Ak nixes it — this will lead the awgwas right to the doorway. Necile takes him and names him for the Burzee seedling trees: Claus. An-Garr confers with a SEER about the location of the doorway tree; when he can’t find it, An-Garr kills him and makes a vow that he will watch and wait — someday the mortal will return through the doorway. A montage follows showing wacky scenarios as Baby Claus is raised by the forest creatures. At age 12, Young Claus tries to catch a reindeer but ends up crashing into the mill, destroying the machinery. He repairs everything better than new. Young Claus tells Zurline, after them giving so much, he wanted to give something back. Disappointed that his scouts continue to fail to bring Young Claus to him, after 12 long years, An-Garr continues to wait.
Another montage follows, where Young Claus works slavishly to make gifts for every single creature in the forest. By age 17, Teenage Claus presents Zurline with her gift, a slide whistle to make her laugh and call reindeer. She’s flattered and impressed. They go for a walk, and Teenage Claus asks how old Zurline is, putting his foot in his mouth as he insinuates repeatedly that she’s old (she’s immortal but looks to be in her mid-20s). It becomes clear that each is falling in love with the other, but Zurline hides from her feelings because of his mortality. An-Garr and his cronies lurk nearby, witnessing this and realizing it’s something they can use. Imitating Zurline’s voice and shadow shape, Claus tells Zurline they can never be together, so he might as well just go back to the mortal realm; An-Garr implies that Claus should take back the slide-whistle, which Zurline merely set down. Claus is hurt, so he seeks out the doorway tree and returns to the mortal realm — unaware that An-Garr is following and leading all the awgwas through the doorway, as well.
Teenage Claus tries to have fun with all the mortal children in a medieval village. He accompanies them ice-skating, but notices a young boy, MICHAEL, sitting at the edge of the pond, looking miserable. He has no ice skates. He gives her the slide whistle he made for Zurline. He’s freezing, so the kids find him a coat — a long red one they put on a snowman. Suddenly, the snowman comes to life (it’s An-Garr) and threatens the children. Claus tries to fight them but, instead, is forced back through the doorway tree — which the Skugg and Murkle burn from the mortal side. Claus confesses everything to Ak and Necile. They take her to Zurline, and Claus repeats some of the things An-Garr said with her voice; she’s baffled, and although she admits she was afraid, she didn’t say those hurtful things. They kiss.
Teenage Claus plants another tree. Over the course of another montage, Claus grows into adulthood as the new doorway tree grows tall and powerful. Claus makes plans to return to the mortal world, but Zurline insists on going with her. Claus warns her about losing her powers and immortality, but Zurline’s willing to take the risk. The medieval town has become something out of German Expressionism, with awgwas constantly chanting to the now-demented kids to misbehave and do evil deeds. Parents are terrified of their children. Claus finds Michael, who’s curled up in a ball, crying. He gives him a pair of ice skates. Michael lights up and begins laughing, which hurts the awgwas. Claus notices this. The awgwas engage them in a battle, and one child’s laughter isn’t enough to stop them all. Claus begs Michael to spread word to the other children to not listen to the awgwas. He’s going back to Burzee but promises to return.
On his return, Ak tells Claus that the doorway tree can only open for two weeks between the mortals’ Winter Solstice — which is today! This gives Claus only one week to carry out his plan. With the help of everyone in the Forest, he works tirelessly to make gifts for all the children in the mortal world. An-Garr escalates his plans for the children, so Tooth runs through the doorway tree to warn everybody. They don’t know if they should trust a dawgwa, but Claus believes Tooth’s claims that after tomorrow, there will never be a happy child in the mortal world. He blames himself. Zurline tries to give him a pep talk. Claus is afraid because they don’t have enough toys, bu Zurline insists that when everyone sees the joy that giving brings, they will all start giving gifts to one another. On a rickety sleigh led by Dasher and seven other reindeer, Claus takes the gifts they have and leads all the Burzees through the doorway.
An-Garr is waiting for him, but Tooth helps Claus avoid him. Claus delivers gifts while the Ryls, Knooks, and Nymphs lead assaults on the awgwas; they can’t kill the creatures, but they can split them apart and use certain powers and magical items to keep them split apart. Ak, Necile, and Zurline notice their powers waning. Ak warns that if their powers drain, the doorway home will not stay open. Claus delivers gifts, and his plan starts to work. Children are happy, they begin laughing — and this really destroys awgwas. Seeing the effects, An-Garr absorbs the shadows of 10 awgwas and becomes a giant. He absorbs perpetually miserable Michael into his body. Enraged and terrified, Claus leaps into Giant An-Garr’s body to search for the boy. This causes Claus to rapidly age, becoming the perpetual bearded old man we all know. An-Garr can’t kill him, however, because the bells ringing and laughter of happy children weaken him. Hundreds of other awgwas dissipate into nothing. Old Claus finds Michael and pulls him out of Giant An-Garr. The sun rises, destroying An-Garr forever and restoring the demented, expressionist hellscape to normal.
Old Claus collapses, and Zurline and the others have to carry him back through the doorway. Zurline uses a magic talisman to devote half of her immortality to Old Claus — herself aging to the white-haired “Mrs. Claus” that’s familiar to children. His life restored, they bask in the happiness of being able to share with each other “half of forever.” The Burzees rebuild Old Claus’s dilapidated sleigh, making it look like the familiar red sleigh. Ak warns that there will always be awgwas to make children unhappy, so Claus decides he’ll just go back and hand out gifts next Christmas. Old Claus and Old Zurline take the sleigh for a honeymoon in the mortal world.
Comments:This is a cute idea for a kids’ movie that has a some good ideas behind it. As a dramatic story, it barely works, which will probably result in a cute but forgettable Christmas movie kids will enjoy until they grow out of it.
The story’s riddled with inconsistencies that kids may not notice, but they’ll annoy adults. For instance, why didn’t An-Garr just burn down the new doorway tree the instant Claus returned? Why does it take the awgwas so long to escalate their plans with the mortal children? Things like this can be solved with a few throwaway lines of dialogue, but the fact that they aren’t makes the whole script feel a little unpolished.
The characters are pretty simplistic, even for a kids’ movie, but the writers do a decent enough job of differentiating them through dialogue, action, and visual look. The love story between Claus and Zurline is a little too adult for the age bracket of kids who will enjoy this movie, yet it’s not adult enough for the kids’ parents to enjoy. It’s also kind of creepy in its Oedipal implications, being that Zurline effectively goes from maternal figure to love object as Claus grows up. I know kids won’t have much, if any, awareness of it, but that doesn’t mean the creepy factor isn’t there.
As a villain, An-Garr could benefit from having some kind of plan. His desire to have his awgwas torment mortal children will likely strike the right amount of fear into the kids, but the writers never explain how this benefits the awgwas. It doesn’t seem to make them stronger — the only thing that makes An-Garr stronger is absorbing the life-force of other awgwas — and although children’s happiness weakens them, wouldn’t the smart move be to just stay away from children altogether? If the writers really explored why he’s so bent on leading the awgwas on this mission of torture, An-Garr could have enough depth to make a compelling villain.
The dialogue is sporadically amusing, generating the bulk of its hit-or-miss laughs from references to the Santa Claus lore in popular culture as it relates to this story. Where the script really shines, not surprisingly, is in the visuals — the writers do a very strong job of selling us on the worlds they’ve created. I just wish they had a story as well-defined as the visuals.
The script doesn’t have much for adults, and some of the disturbing awgwa-related imagery will likely upset any kids under the age of four, so they’re really working in a narrow field — maybe the 5-9 range, if they’re lucky. Of course, parents will have to accompany their kids, so whether they like the movie or not, they’ll be there. It’s a movie about Santa Claus, so although it shows the legend in a way kids won’t have seen, it will probably still pique their interests around the holidays.