Critique of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (1970)

Warning: Contains Spoilers***

This stop-motion animated-film centers around the legend of Santa and his early life, why he does certain things, and much more.

The story starts off with live footage of children getting ready for Christmas. Then it shows a man, who interacts with kids that are not seen, because the same guy, who narrates the film, is supposed to portrayed as speaking to the audience.

After the opening credits, the movie shows Santa (or Chris Kringle, his original name) as an abandoned baby, who is adopted by some elves. It depicts his growth through the years until he is an adult.

The town is he lives in is a dark one, run by a wicked mayor named BurgerMeister MeisterBurger. He trips on a toy, and blames that for getting himself hurt. So, he bans toys from the town.

Kris Kringle tries to make things better. He also falls in love with the local school teacher, Miss Jessica. The events that continue lead to how he became the Santa as we know him as.

First, I am going to share the strengths of this film.

1: The plot and reasons behind Santa’s life and choices

Using the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as a guide, I must admit that this was done with lots of thought put into it. It was likely no easy task, let alone the stop-motion animation. You find out why Santa was called Kris Kringle in his early life, why he wears red, why he goes through the chimney to deliver toys, and a lot more.

2: The musical numbers

Every song in this film is fantastic. They have great tunes, lyrics, and emotional sensation.

My favorites are “The First Toymaker to the King,” “Put One Foot in Front of the Other,” or “Be Prepared to Pay,” a.k.a. “If You Sit on My Lap Today,” which starts on with a slow tune, and heartwarming lyrics.

3: The brief Rudolph cameo

When the children are naming Santa’s reindeer, one almost acknowledges Rudolph until the narrator stops them and says, “That’s a different story.” Even the character’s design in this film differed from the Rudolph in 1964’s “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

And now onto the parts that could’ve been improved.

1: Kris Kringle’s character design as a young man

As much as I enjoyed this movie, I was never a fan of Kris Kringle’s youthful face with a mature voice. I don’t know his age at the time of the film’s events, but still.

2: Why were the wizard and penguin still alive when Santa reached old age?

Unless the wizard was supposed to live longer with magic, even if he lost most of it (and this was made long before “Harry Potter” – unless he was lucky enough to still live longer than expected), shouldn’t he have died years before? Same with the penguin?

I understand that it’s a child-friendly movie, so death might be too mature. But Disney has killed off many characters in their movies, prior – yet, they were, and still are, more elite. Therefore, they could have things happen in their family-friendly films that those produced by other companies couldn’t.

Even if it was never mentioned and the warlock and penguin disappeared without reason, it still would’ve raised questions to parents.

However, to childless adults, like me, it feels strange and unrealistic. Oh well—it’s a cartoon.

3: The characters never really expressed strong emotions

Even in high-stressful situations, characters barely reacted. Their emotions seemed weak and neutral. One notable example is when the mayor burns all the toys in the town, and the children cry—but briefly and mildly.

It’s kind of hard to relate to the characters like that. They would have reacted more strongly, and the scene would have become extremely emotional, making it more believable.


Despite some of the flaws, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is a great film, worthy of 5 out of 5 stars.

Published by Sunayna Prasad

I enjoy writing stories, creating artwork, watching movies and TV shows, cooking, and traveling. These are the topics of my posts. I also publish books, where you can learn about them on my website, Be sure to copy and paste the link and subscribe to my newsletter on the email list button on the homepage.

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