The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

Movie Title: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Year Released: 2006

Rated: G

Runtime: 1h 38min

Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Adventure

Director: Michael Lembeck

Writer: Ed Decter, John J. Strauss

Starring: Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Ann-Margret, Eric Lloyd, Spencer Breslin, Liliana Mumy, Alan Arkin, Martin Short, Aisha Tyler, Peter Boyle, Michael Dorn, Jay Thomas, Kevin Pollak, Art LaFleur, Abigail Breslin

Review: Christmas cheer turns into holiday chaos when Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), aka Santa, invites Mrs. Claus' (Elizabeth Mitchell) parents (Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin) for a visit and must, simultaneously, contend with Jack Frost's (Martin Short) scheme to take over the North Pole. Scott, his family and Head Elf Curtis (Spencer Breslin) must join forces to foil the nefarious plot.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is all glitz and glamour without much substance. It's the third and final installment in The Santa Clause franchise following the success of The Santa Clause, and the welcomed sequel The Santa Clause 2. There were elements of it that were entertaining, and it certainly elicits the holiday vibe that you're looking for in a Christmas movie. However, this movie more or less comes off as an ill-conceived Disney cash grab with a silly plot reminiscent of Christmas films past. After being accidentally usurped as Santa Claus by Jack Frost, Scott gets transplanted back into the real world where he gets to see how miserable everyone's lives have become the past eight years. The whole sequence is pretty somber, but have no fear because Jack Frost has turned the North Pole into a booming amusement park.

Speaking of Jack Frost, I actually think Martin Short did a great job in the role. He's shrewd, cunning, and duplicitous in his efforts to get his own holiday, and Short plays him with a sense of maniacal exuberance that one would come to expect. If you're a Martin Short fan, then you'll be thrilled to learn that this role is Short at his Short-iest. I just didn't buy Jack Frost as Santa. It was weird, and he looked incredibly silly with a beard, a Santa suit, and performing musical numbers for all of his guests. Not to mention, that all the while this Jack Frost mutiny is going on, Scott is trying to impress his in-laws by turning the North Pole into Canada so that they don't pick up on his odd job title. This plays like a strange amalgamation of Christmas meets Meet the Parents meets It's a Wonderful Life where Scott can't seemingly do anything right.

There is some entertainment value here, but this franchise gets increasingly wacky with each installment. The second film's wackiness is charming and this film's wackiness is just kind of off-putting. I thoroughly enjoy The Santa Clause franchise as a sum of its parts, but this movie definitely does not live up to it's predecessors.

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: This is the only film in the franchise that doesn't include David Krumholtz's character, Bernard, as the head elf. Krumholtz was unavailable due to his starring role on the TV series, NUMB3RS. Spencer Breslin's returning character, Chester, was written into the script in the head elf role.


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