Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Very Disney Christmas: "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause"

"I'll get a mop!"

The Fight Before Christmas

      The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is a 2006 Disney Christmas film and the third and currently final film in the Santa Clause series. Director Michael Lembeck returns as do screenwriters Ed Decter and John J. Strauss and follows Santa Claus (Tim Allen) as he's forced to contend with a pregnant wife (Elizabeth Mitchell) whose parents (Ann-Margaret and Alan Arkin) are in town (AKA The North Pole) and Jack Frost (Martin Short), who is trying to exploit the little know Escape Clause in order to steal being Santa from, well, Santa. With elf-sistant Curtis (Spencer Breslin), niece Lucy (Liliana Mumy) and ex Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her husband (Judge Reinhold) also along for the ride, Santa once again has to save Christmas. 

Because why not?

      Oddly enough, the reason Santa Clause 3 pretty much sucks is not the reason I expected going into it. I did expect the cheesy Disney sequel with incredibly lame jokes for the littlest of kids. Annnd we still got that, this was, after all, supposed to be a Disney Channel film, but that wasn't the biggest reason this film failed. It's because they tried to hard to give it an emotional story. I'm serious. As opposed to the last film which really lacked in the drama department, this one is almost entirely drama. And worst of all is that it's mostly set-up. The film is an hour and a half long and the actual Escape Clause, the title of the movie, is only used an hour into it and last for about 15 minutes. The Escape Clause takes up literally a little over one-ninth of the movie. The rest of the run time is spent reinforcing the problems Santa has. His wife his home-sick and lonely, Jack Frost is an ice prick delaying his toy production and his in-laws don't know he's Santa. And while all of that could have been set up in about ten minutes, the film keeps going on and on with it until the film's almost over. And it's so uninteresting. The film doesn't make bad jokes. It just doesn't make jokes. The line I used in the title page was the only thing in the movie that made me laugh, other than the criminally underused Alan Arkin.

Escape the Escape

      And that's a real shame, because, for a second, the movie really has something here. When the Escape Clause is finally used and Allen loses his Santa-ness, the alternate world where he remained a jerky businessman is actually pretty interesting. And we barely see any of it. See, after Frost spending the last hour tricking Santa into activating the Escape Clause through elaborate scheming and what does Santa do to get Frost to activate the Escape Clause? He records Jack's voice and activates it himself. Gee, that was easy. Kinda makes you wonder why Frost didn't do that in the first place. Worse still, the film resolves the Escape Clause problem within under 15 minutes of starting it. Seriously. The entire movie could have been about seeing a world where he wasn't the "Best Santa Evar" and Christmas is even more commercialized than ever. And the film just never cares to do it. Instead, the resolving as quickly as possible and more on to more... character-building? Seriously, how can a movie spend almost 90% character-building and still end up with one-dimensional characters I don't care about?

And that's what you spent an hour on?
The Verdict

      Most of the original film's goodwill is gone by the time The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause gets going. Lacking even the vainest attempts at jokes, having a story that's almost entirely character development and still having crappy characters and taking a potentially really interesting idea and relegating it to the last quarter of the movie, the film fails to making even kids interested in what's going on. Worse still, the film's exactly like the Jack Frost character it scolds, cheap, lazy, shallow and lacking any Christmas spirit whatsoever. It's bad, but you probably already knew that. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause gets 2 and a half stars out of 6. 

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