Considering 1994’s The Santa Clause was nothing special, it’s refreshing to see that its sequel is awfully inventive and much funnier than one would expect.

At times, it seems as though each of the five writers got a plotline to throw in. Santa needs a Mrs. Claus or he loses the job. Santa’s son from the past ends up on the naughty list. While he’s away from the North Pole solving those problems, a cloned Santa turns dictator on his friendly elves. Did I mention the de-Santafication process, or that if he runs out of magic, Santa can’t get back home?

Amazingly, the film juggles all the elements well without being messy, playing fair and tying up all the loose ends. And it does have some snappy dialogue, particularly in the scenes when Santa is seeking a mate.

The climax does provide one rather clumsy easy out for the plot, and the visual effects occasionally look cheap. But the film is good-natured, sweet and good for a few hearty laughs. It’s the best Tim Allen movie since … well, it’s the only good Tim Allen movie.