Written by Ed Decter & John J. Strauss
Directed by Michael Lembeck
Running Time: 1:38
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause was a decent kids flick (I think) but not much else.
Tim Allen once again steps into the belly of Santa Claus. This time his wife is pregnant on Christmas Eve, Santa's busiest time of year. So to try and keep her happy, he brings her parents to the North Pole, along with his ex-wife and her new family. At the same time, Jack Frost (Martin Short) is tired of playing second fiddle to the man in red, so he concocts a dastardly plan to snatch Christmas from Santa and make himself the new Claus.
I know I saw The Santa Clause but I'm not sure I ever saw Santa Clause 2 so continuity was completely lost for me. Not that I remember the first movie all that much. But since I can't imagine these movies cost all that much to make and they all have that Disney muscle behind them, I suppose the trilogy had to be completed. Of course what starts off as an original and interesting idea usually turns into schmaltz by the end of the series. So it's no surprise that The Santa Clause 3 was sickeningly sweet and cheesy at the same time. Santa is at his wits end trying to keep everyone happy. His wife is emotional and Jack Frost is nipping at his nose trying to become more popular. And throughout of all of this it turns out that the one person who can really save Christmas is a cute little redheaded girl, who happens to be Santa's ex-wife's daughter. Talk about modern family values. The ending is set up extremely early in a scene that seemed out-of-place and therefore you knew it had to come around again later. There's not much question this movie was made for kids, since there's nothing remotely objectionable in it. Even when the bad guy is bad, it's still in a sweet and cute way. And when he finally gets him comeuppance, it turns out to be a nice thing. The look of the movie was actually rather nice. It felt very warm and comforting and the kind of place I think a lot of kids would want to visit. Adults on the other hand would probably want to run screaming, and that shows up once Jack Frost takes over the business.
The real joy in the film, for me at least, was Martin Short as Jack Frost. He seemed so happy to be playing a down and dirty character. He took extreme delight in the smallest things and his ability to cause havoc without anyone realizing it was great. In the DVD extras there's a short story on how the look of the character changed after a couple of days of filming, and it was a perfect change. The original take would have had him more childish. The final character has him playing a slick car dealer type person who says what he needs to get the job done. The rest of the characters were cartoon cutouts who were only there to fill space. Even Liliana Mumy who was the cute redheaded girl was stuck with some of the most ridiculous lines you can imagine. I sort of felt sorry for her after a while.
The DVD had the aforementioned comparison of Jack Frost before and after, along with the same treatment for Mrs. Claus. There was a blooper reel that was at times funnier than the movie, although a lot of the bloopers were repeats from the end credits. There was a short documentary on Tim Allen and Martin Short which was basically everyone saying how funny they were. The one thing I thought was odd was the documentary on special effects since this movie didn't really strike me as a big effect film. I think what I enjoyed the most was the alternate opening scene because it incorporated a lot of footage from the earlier films which a) helped me remember what happened and b) showed what Tim Allen used to look like.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause was passable, but barely. The story/characters were beyond cheesy and were it not for Martin Short's Jack Frost the movie would have failed miserably. Kids on the other hand could easily fall for the cheesiness, so if you've got the first two, you might as well complete the trilogy.
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