Directed by Michael Lembeck starring Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Eric Lloyd and Spencer Breslin.

Disney's seasonal sequel to 1994's hit may have taken $94m in the US, but given that the 1 November release ensured it beat 'Harry Potter' and 'The Two Towers' to screens, that's hardly a high coup. And while it's guaranteed a great festive afterlife on DVD and TV, not even the trademark Claus' girth can hide the fact that this is a lukewarm leftover.

Returning as the rotund one, Tim Allen's everyman turned real deal Santa Scott Calvin is faced with the twin dilemma of trying to deal with a rebellious son (Lloyd) and having to find a wife to keep his job. Heading back down to the US on the first reindeer, he discovers that kids' lists are a cakewalk compared to teen tantrums and the dating game (Elizabeth Mitchell as his dream woman). And to make matters worse, the Santa clone he left in charge has turned the kingdom into a dictatorship and unless Scott gets the girl and heads back up North before Christmas Eve, there'll be no presents for anyone.

Given Allen's affable presence onscreen and Michael Lembeck's stint as a director on 'Friends', it's amazing how flat the results are. One good Charlie Sheen gag (hardly cutting edge comedy) and a cool cameo from a talking reindeer aside, 'Santa Clause 2' drags along, never living up to the charm of the North Pole sets or giving parents much to laugh at. The big problem is that by splitting the story in two - Allen in smalltown US, the elves battling a military state - it feels like two different movies rolled into one. Throw in lines which don't milk the comic potential in either situation and you get that dozy, well-fed feeling before it's even half over.

Fun for those for whom Hogwarts or Middle Earth are a little too tiring or scary, a cinematic lump of coal for everyone else.

Harry Guerin