Back in 1994 when Disney released the original "Santa Clause" movie, audiences fell in love with the story of a man who accidently kills Santa, puts on the suite, and takes over the big boys job, both physically and mentally. It wasn't much of a complicated story, but it had it's heart in the right place, as well as smiles and tears. Tim Allen turned out to be a very likable Santa Clause, but there were some unanswered questions left hanging from the first film, as well as some untapped money to be milked from audiences. Thus "The Santa Clause 2" was made eight years later, which explained what happened when Santa needed to get married, thus creating the Mrs. Clause (by the way, Mrs. Clause gets to keep her good looks). Now we have "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause," which explains to everyone what would happen if Tim Allen decided to quit playing Santa Clause for paychecks.
Unlike the previous two Santa Clause movies, that featured a lovable Santa Clause who always spread yule time cheer, the Santa Clause is this movie is a work-a-holic, stressed, businessman who never has time for his family. Not a particularly good thing to be when your wife is pregnant and feeling lonely for some, as she puts it, "tall people" for company. Since we all know what happens when the Mrs. isn't happy, Santa invites the in-laws to the North Pole, disguised as a Canadian toy shop because the in-laws don't know that their son-in-law Scott Calvin is really Santa Clause. On top of all this, the legendary holiday figures, which includes Mother Nature, Father Time, and Roy the Tooth Fairy, have called a meeting because Jack Frost, the guy who's responsible for making it snow, has been posting billboards wishing everyone a Happy "Frostmas," literally taking Jesus out of the holiday.
The holiday figures want to take Frost off the board of directors, but Frost requests to serve community service to Santa for his wrong doings. Santa accepts Frost's offer, seeing as how he's swamped with tons of work and could use the help, but Frost has his own reasons for wanting to help Santa. Frost has caught wind of the Escape Clause, and wants to trick Santa into using it so time will turn back, and Frost can take over Christmas. To make a long story short, Frost manages to get Santa to activate the Escape Clause, beat Santa to wearing the red suite, and changing history forever. With time forever changed, Santa has reverted back to be plain old Scott Calvin, in a future where Frost has commercialized Christmas, turned the North Pole into a theme park, and has rewritten the popular Broadway tune "New York, New York" as "North Pole, North Pole."
Realizing just how disastrous it would be if anyone else was Santa Clause, Scott commits to taking back his old job, making Christmas right again, and so forth, and so forth...you get the picture. Now, in a strange twist of fate, I'm almost ashamed to say that I was looking forward to seeing this movie. I loved the first "Santa Clause" movie and had a lot of affection for "The Santa Clause 2," so I was hoping for similar magic in "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause." Especially when the previews promised an all out dual between Santa Clause and Jack Frost, which would put the fate of Christmas on one battle. Instead of the all out battle we are promised in the previews, Jack Frosts takeover of Christmas is less then fifteen minutes long, with little more then a scuffle in the snow that determines the fate of Christmas. Lame.
Tim Allen, who in an ironic twist of fate is beginning to look too old to play Santa, is not exactly a young guy anymore. At 53 years old, Allen can't do the stunts that are required from a guy who needs to fight to save Christmas. That's probably why the first seventy minutes of the movie revolves around Santa talking on a cell phone and checking his list, all while ignoring the in-laws and letting Jack Frost cause trouble. The in-laws do nothing but complain about Santa's lack of time spent with his wife, and his complains that he's been working too much recently, even though as Mrs. Clause, she should know better then to complain about something like that.
When the movie does get to the fight sequence, the camera cuts away from Allen every time he have to do anything that requires energy. One scene has Allen put one foot on a stage to climb, cuts to the feet climbing the stage, and then goes back to Allen standing on the stage. It looks amateurish and cheap. Though, to be honest, most of the movie feels this way. The vivid sets of the North Poll in the first two movies have been replaced with a set that looks like it was borrowed from a Hallmark TV movie. Bernard, the elf with an attitude who was played so wonderfully by David Krumholtz, has disappeared from this movie to be replaced by Curtis (Spencer Breslin) from "The Santa Clause 2" as the new head elf, without any explanation whatsoever. On top of all this, the acting is very stiff, as if the actors really didn't want to be making this movie.
The sole exception to this is Martin Short, who actually appears to be having fun hamming it up as Jack Frost, the guy who wants his own holiday. As Frost, Short is lively, funny, and full of life. He may just be too good for this movie, as no one else seems to even try to catch up to his performance. Also the ending will leave many a movie goer cringe with yet another "It's A Wonderful Life" rip-off, just to hammer in the fact that you should really be grateful for what you've got in life. Tim Allen is a gifted comedic actor, but I think it's time for him to stop making silly children's films and start thinking about doing some serious adult films. When you consider that previous to this movie he's made "Christmas With The Cranks," "The Shaggy Dog," "Joe Somebody," and "Zoom," Allen just seems like a guy who craves to work regardless what the material is. If Santa is indeed a kind jolly fat guy, he will not torture us with a "Santa Clause 4."
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