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STUDIO: Walt Disney Video
RUNNING TIME: 92 min.
- Commentary with the director
- Christmas Carol-oke
- Music Video
- Backstage Disney Featurettes
It’s a Wonderful Life meets The Santa Clause
Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Alan Arkin
Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus are expecting a baby and Scott brings the in-laws to stay with his wife in case the baby is delivered while he is delivering presents on Christmas Eve. Just when things seem to be getting to Scott, Jack Frost takes it on himself to try to take over.
The Santa Clause movies are geared towards kids and their parents. They are all about family units and the ability to let love and responsibility overcome all obstacles. The first film allowed Tim Allen’s character of Scott Calvin to take responsibility for the role of Santa Claus based on a contractual clause and in turn allowed him to become a responsible father to his son Charlie. The second movie presented a new clause in the contract that demanded that Santa Claus take a wife before Christmas Eve or he loses the responsibility and Christmas dies away. The main storyline there demands that Scott be a responsible father and also serve his duties at Christmas as well.
This third movie in the series keeps the same family values and the same storyline of Santa having to balance family with his duties. The story begins with the Council of Legendary Figures convening a special emergency meeting with the intent of kicking out a trouble making Jack Frost. Frost convinces them to let him stay and he will be good and help Santa Claus with Christmas. What they don’t know is that Jack Frost intends to use something called The Escape Clause to take over the role of Santa Claus for himself.
What the story boils down to is a loose remake of It’s a Wonderful Life. Almost everything about the storyline is pulled straight from the Frank Capra classic. The Escape Clause was a way for Santa Claus to get out of the responsibility of being Santa. All he had to do was hold a special snow globe in his hand and say the line “I wish I had never become Santa at all.” When Jack Frost tricks Scott into doing just that, Scott is transported back to the day when Santa fell off his roof and he first put on the magical coat. Frost ran and grabbed the coat and the events of the last thirteen years changed completely. The difference is that Scott never really wanted to give up his role as Santa Claus, but the result is still the same.
What was once the scene of the best Santa Claus ever changed to a variation on the future where Scott as Santa Claus never existed. The good and moral North Pole became an amusement park where parents would go and pay money for their children to be placed on the nice list. In much the same way that the good Bedford Falls becomes the immoral Pottersville, the North Pole becomes a place where the elves are forced to pawn off worthless trinkets and the reindeers are used as a tourist attraction (“Shave a reindeer for $5”). Scott must then find a way to change the past back to the way it should have been. Yes, it is family values that save the day as well.
Every scene that Martin Short is in steals the screen. He is sometimes annoying, sometimes very funny and sometimes ridiculous, but he is always interesting. It is also very interesting to watch the chemistry between Tim Allen and Martin Short in the scenes they share. The stand up Allen and the classically trained Short are the real reason the movie succeeds. There are also entertaining performances in minor roles by Peter Boyle (Father Time), Michael Dorn (Sandman) and Kevin Pollack (Cupid). Judge Reinhold and Alan Arkin also return for this sequel and remain entertaining in their roles. The cast really is top notch.
The story is simple and really not that inspiring. Much of the humor is eye rolling, but there is a positive message carried for the kids and with great acting and so much “stuff” for kids to love, this movie works best for the kids that it is geared for. Don’t expect Santa Claus to entertain if you aren’t a kid or have a little bit of your inner kid remaining, but don’t discount it if you do have a kid that loves the jolly old fat man.
We get bloopers that are just people flubbing lines and laughing at inappropriate times. There is then Christmas Carol-oke with seven songs played while you can sing along to a bouncing ornament. There is also a music video by a girl band called Aly & A.J. that is just horribly poppy. Finally we get the Backstage Disney featurettes. The first feature is an Alternate Opening where Carol explains to her students how Scott became Santa. Next we get a feature over the looks of Jack Frost and Mrs. Claus. Jack Frost was originally more of a David Bowie looking character and they changed it to make him more over-the-top. Mrs. Claus was originally supposed to be chubby, but they changed it to make her more attractive. The New Comedians goes into detail about the dynamics of Tim Allen and Martin Short working together. Next up is Creating Movie Magic which shows how the special effects were achieved.
Finally, there is an audio commentary track with director Michael Lembeck. The director is very talky and really carries a great discussion throughout the movie.
6.4 out of 10