The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Synopsis: Tim Allen is back in the big red suit for more adventure and laughs in Disney’s hilarious family comedy. Get ready for a thrilling sleigh ride as the reluctant Santa Claus faces his most chilling and hysterical challenge yet.

As Christmas nears, Scott Calvin invites his in-laws (Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin) to join the festivities. The holidays take a chaotic turn when Scott discovers a way out of his “Santa Clause” and the mischievous Jack Frost (Martin Short) puts the big freeze on Christmas’ big cheese! Unless Scott can save the day, it’s going to be a very chilly Frostmas at the North Pole and all around the world. Will Scott be able to get his job back in the St. Nick of time?

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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause 6.75

eyelights: its lavish production.
eyesores: the child actors. its forced humour. its contrived plot.

“I wish I’d never been Santa at all.”

Given how popular the first two ‘The Santa Clause’ movies were, it’s hardly surprising that Tim Allen and Disney decided to go back to the well – after all, it had been a very profitable franchise. So far. But dollars don’t always equal sense and sometimes inspiration doesn’t follow.

The first picture is all about the “Santa clause”.
Fun!

The second picture is all about the “Mrs. clause”.
I dig it!

The third and final entry is all about the “Escape clause”.
Um…

In 2008’s ‘The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause’, Scott/Santa is faced with two unforeseen challenges: 1) Carol/Mrs. Claus is pregnant and longing to see her family again, and 2) Jack Frost is envious of his popularity and is trying to take his place. All this right before Christmas.

So Santa decides to 1) fly in Carol’s parents (who are disgruntled because they can never see their daughter) to the North Pole, disguising it as “Canada”, since they think he runs a toy company there, and 2) assuage Jack Frost by allowing him to assist in the Christmas preparations.

Yes, in this picture, Santa is a dumb-@$$: 1) the North Pole looks nothing like Canada and he can barely get away with pretending that it is – even to his sheltered in-laws, and 2) Jack Frost is obviously going to put an icy wrench in Santa’s operations so that he can get the upper hand.

Woah… didn’t see that coming!

Though his sudden idiocy (and everyone else’s as no one can see that both are terrible plans – and that, combined, they’re a recipe for disaster with Christmas around the corner!) guarantees cheap laughs and contrived drama, it also begs the question of whether Scott is fit to be Santa.

Seriously, how could a moron like this run such a massive operation effectively? I’ve lost faith in this Santa. He’s probably only fit for cleaning the stables at this point – and frankly, that’s nasty business these days, as Comet has been especially flatulent since the second movie.

!!!

Santa’s not even the only intellectually-challenged one here: Curtis, who has suddenly been promoted as Santa’s main elf, is a complete nimrod who gets easily played by Jack Frost – played so easily that you wonder if he isn’t a toy piano. Sometimes you need blatant contrivances.

(…I guess.)

I think that the worst of it is that there really isn’t an “Escape clause”, per se. There are a bunch of snowglobes, including one that can allow Santa to return back in time, as though nothing has happened. But it’s not a clause. It’s a device. Um… a plot device. And a poor one at that.

Naturally, Jack Frost will catch wind of it and find a way to use it to his benefit.

Of course he will.

Jack Frost is incarnated by Martin Short. He’s hardly my favourite comedian, but he’s enjoyable here – though he only gets a few truly sparkling moments. Conversely, Tim Allen is sleepwalking his way through this one and it’s especially noticeable when he’s not buried under Santa make-up.

The rest of the cast is also going through the motions on this one; there isn’t a stellar performance amongst them. But the worst of it comes from Liliana Mumy as Scott’s niece, Lucy, who fakes her way through her scenes, and Spencer Breslin, as Curtis, who OVER-EMPHASIZES EVERYTHING.

Argh!!!

The past movies were graced with quality performances (even from most of the child actors, which was a nice surprise!), so it was disappointing for this final entry to offer middling-to-terrible ones. It actually brought the picture down to the level one usually expects from this type of fare.

That’s not a good thing.

The filmmakers went balls out on the production, however, investing into the sets and special effects like they hadn’t done before. The North Pole, after Jack Frost transforms it into it into a resort, is a cornucopia of toys and gizmos – the skewering of which was ironic, being a Disney movie.

In any event, it’s a lot of eye candy to ingest, and it can a bit overwhelming at times – for good or bad. I prefer a more subdued approach to the North Pole, but I appreciate the work that went into it nonetheless. And though the sets don’t look real, it’s no big deal – it’s all fantasy anyway.

One thing that was fun about this picture was the time travel portion. Ever since ‘Back to the Future‘, I’ve enjoyed seeing reality unfolding in different directions. ‘The Escape Clause’ does exactly that – though the details are botched, like 1994 Scott not being around the first time they go back.

It’s part of what scuttles ‘The Santa Clause 3’: little attention is given to details, things that most small children wouldn’t pay any mind to, but that adults would surely notice. And since the series had gone down a slightly more mature route with the last one, you’d expect something better.

Alas, this movie appears to have been made with the same audience in mind as most Holiday motion pictures: the less discerning 5-10 age bracket. It’s an okay movie, but it lacks the originality and warmth of the earlier ones, trading those already-muted qualities for empty entertainment.

Some kids will enjoy ‘The Escape Clause’, but it’s not a movie I ever plan on returning to.

Still, at least it’s not !@#$ ‘Elf’.

Date of viewing: December 14, 2017

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