November 9, 2006

Movie Review: Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Why, why did I bother? I knew it wasn't going to be good going in. but off I went, the dutiful little movie-goer. Going to this was like rubber necking a car wreck, you don't really want to look but you cannot tear yourself away from the carnage. That said, it was not bad, but there really is not much substance. It is a completely innocuous film that adults will find instantly forgettable, but will probably stick with the kids for awhile.

The first film I liked, it was an enjoyable film for the family and still stands as one of Tim Allen's best big screen outings, of which there are few. That one introduced us to Scott Calvin, a self-centered businessman who lacks any kind of strong ties to his family. One fateful night, he startles ole St. Nick, causing him to plummet to his death from the roof of Calvin's house, leaving good ole Scott to don the red jacket and ringing in a new era. The second film had Scott/Santa having to find himself a wife. I do not remember the details outside of being bored and not particularly caring for it. Now, Scott is firmly entrenched as the man of cheer which brings out the aspirations of fellow legendary figure, Jack Frost.

This third outing combines the exloits of potential usurper, Frost, with the hormonal wreck of the very pregnant Mrs. Clause. She is feeling neglected while Scott/Santa is slipping into his workaholic, pre-Santa ways. It isn't something he is doing on purpose, it's just the way it is. Scott attempts to cheer her up by inviting her parents to the North Pole. Of course, they have to disguise the place to keep the "Secret of Santa." So, what do they do? Make into a little Canada.

While the Missus shows the family around, Jack Frost goes about his plan to get the red coat off of Scott and onto him. Now, the film involves a little bit of time travel. We all know the quandaries and paradoxes that time travel can introduce, all I can say is to just go with it. If you try to make sense of what happens, you will do nothing other than give yourself a killer migraine. Once the deed goes down, we get a glimpse of the Jack Frost run holiday, and it is not pretty. His vision is the embodiement of the materialistic and commercial nature of the season, he gives us the Santa-centric amusement park.

The movie has its heart in the right place, but it has been polished and covered in a veneer of syrupy sweetness. It offers a dose of warmth as the family pulls together in the face of adversity, like the elements in a Christmas window display at Macy's. The problem is that everything feels fake, like that window display, it is a show for gawkers without having any true substance. I don't really believe what is going on. There are some holiday films that really offer up something to grasp, while this one just sort of floats along.

Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for the finished product, it is not a complete waste. There are a couple of things that are worth spending the 90 miutes. First and foremost among them is Martin Short. Short is clearly relishing the role of the nefarious Jack Frost. He sings, dances, and quips his way through the role of the man who would be red. He literally breathes life into the movie, he is a fun character. The other performance that I like is that one played by Alan Arkin as the father of the bride. There is something I just find funny in his nay saying and desire to do everything he wants, his way. The cast is rounded out with Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, and Ann-Margaret, with cameos by Aisha Tyler, Peter Boyle, and Kevin Pollak.

Bottomline. Michael Lembeck delivered a palatable, if not substantial, pre-holiday season filler. Enough to whet the appetite for the impending craziness while not making any play towards the classics. Martin Short is worth seeing in the movie, but overall it is just lacking in creativity and heart. Oh yeah, please no more time travel!

Not Recommended.


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