Directed by Michael Lembeck
November 3, 2006
Jack Frost, itching for his own holiday, plots to steal the mantle of Santa Claus from Scott Calvin in the third film in the classic Christmas trilogy.
One thing that is clear at this point is that there sure is a great deal fine print in the Santa contract. My goodness that thing has more fine print than my cellular agreement. I know this is silly comedy but you would think after the discovery of The Mrs. Clause in the last film Scott would be a little more concerned about contractual obligations and loopholes in the magical agreement that he got the job. I understand he is tricked into losing the mantle (briefly) in this film but come on man!
Elizabeth Mitchell returns as Mrs. Claus/Carol Calvin who tells a story that bookends the film. Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson are back as Neil and Laura Miller with Liliana Mumy returning for the cute kid thing as Lucy Miller and Eric Lloyd returning as Charlie. Spencer Breslin comes back as Curtis the Elf who has been promoted to Head Elf in the absence of the character of Bernard.
The legendary characters also show up again with Aisha Tyler returning as Mother Nature, Peter Boyle (in his last role) in a glorified cameo as Father Time, Michael Dorn’s role is beefed up a bit from the last time in his return as the Sandman, Jay Thomas is the Easter Bunny, the talented Kevin Pollak is criminally wasted as Cupid, and Art LaFleur is back as the Tooth Fairy. The dynamic among Santa/Scott and the other legendary characters come off more as work buddies than it does as great and vaunted individuals coming together. And I like that. It is more interesting than what we usually get with them being towering figures requiring awe on the part of people in the film. This group even have a workplace jerk in Jack Frost (the amazing Martin short).
I personally found this one as entertaining as the last two. The addition of the very talented Martin Short as Jack Frost was certainly a plus and I dare say even helped make the movie. Any other actor in that particular role not only would not have made it work but would have sunk this film. You needed someone with the skillset of short.
Short is good in the jerk type roles. He knows how to craft comically slimy or just quirky characters and uses that to great effect in his turn as the legendary character Jack Frost. Frost is a bit shady in this movie. He is a glory hound with no avenue to glory and has apparently been mildly breaking the rules of the group to get attention for himself. His personality is in the mold of a questionable used car salesman or late-night infomercial pitchman.
I really loved the Jack Frost make up. I thought it was just fantastic. It really captured the character without going overboard. It is just enough to get the point across with the pale eyes and ice hair. Cartoonish yet not ridiculous.
When Jack Frost’s plot finally gets into gear, Allen and Short work well off of each other. Their banter is fun, and it is clear they were enjoying themselves on the set. Once again the resolution is telegraphed but this is a Christmas film and they are not meant to be complex or very sophisticated. The hints at how it is all resolved come significantly later in this film than it did previously and in my opinion, it is less obvious.
Thrown into the mix of everything in the story this time is Scott not only needing to contend with the pressures of a coming child but also with his in-laws played by the gifted Alan Arkin and the legendary Ann-Margret coming to the North Pole for a visit at Christmas. He must maintain the SOS (Secret Of Santa) in their presence and comes up with the comically ludicrous idea of convincing them that all the elves are actually Canadians. It is one of those movie plot ideas that is so stupid it works. It stretches credulity in a film with magical holiday characters but still manages to work.
With this plot idea they get in plenty of cheesy Canadian jokes. The elves put on bad Canadian accents and the town is made up in an over the top style to smack the arriving relatives in the face that they are in Canada and not the North Pole. There are references to Canadian bacon and hockey and even a banner with “I *heart* Canada” on it.
Eventually Frost tricks Santa out of the role and turns the North Pole into a tacky Christmas theme park filled with every commercialized idea you could imagine in a turn that has hints of It’s A Wonderful Life in it. Not sure why the actor Bernard did not return but if the people behind the movie felt there were too many characters this would have been a good spot to place that character in and get rid of Curtis for a few minutes. A line or two would explain why Bernard left as well as establish why he was there in the alternate timeline. I am guessing he just did not want to come back.
This movie is not so much about anything in particular as it is just a family friendly Christmas adventure. The first film was about Scott coming to terms with being Santa Claus as well as learning to be a better father. The second was about Scott finding love as well as realizing once again that he was becoming too focused on work over family. This is just him saving Christmas and nothing deeper than that. He has a villain he needs to overcome and does so in the space of the film. But it is a fun and entertaining ride, and you will be entertained and that is the point.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is an entertaining final film in the trilogy. You will laugh. It will put you in a better mood and you might even feel some Christmas. Watch it!
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