By Fred Topel | Image property of Walt Disney Pictures.
Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause has some cool glimmers of what the series did best, showing a real guy reacting to the mythology of Santa Claus. Unfortunately, more than 2/3 of the film is made up of silly, cartoonish antics that are more embarrassing to watch than they seemed to perform.
Movie Review: Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Mrs. Clause (Elizabeth Mitchell) is about to go into labor, but Santa (Tim Allen) is too busy getting the Christmas presents ready to give her attention. He tries to appease her by bringing her parents (Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret) to visit, but Jack Frost (Martin Short) preys on his workload to sabotage Christmas.
Within all that, there is a bit of a message about balancing work and family, but Click addressed that with far more clarity and purpose. Most of Santa Clause 3 is about running around with things falling apart, knocking things over and blabbering really fast.
Jack Frost isn’t much of a villain. His manipulations are very obvious. Even the children playing the elves should see through him. He tells the head elf he doesn’t know the secret to bait it out of him, and he compares Mrs. Clause to lonely, withered trees. I know it’s a kid’s movie, but the plots of the Spy Kids villains or even Willy Wonka have some bite to them.
When the film finally goes back into the mythology of Santa Claus and its own set of rules, there’s a really cool third act sequence. There, you finally get to see Tim Allen as a real guy again. It’s kind of an unwilling It’s a Wonderful Life retread but it’s the only part of the movie that works.
Allen has much more warmth without the fat suit than when he’s jiggling around. As Santa, he talks too fast so he never seems like a human being. He’s just a big, puffy costume.
Santa Clause 3 may please the families who take in any G-rated film for the holidays. It’s got plenty of colorful special effects and harmless threats. But anyone who appreciated the mild subversive qualities of the first two films will only get about 15 minutes of joy here.