The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

*

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

True believers in Father Christmas should avoid this film like the plague. The good natured old buffer, with the white beard and pudding tummy, is a divorced CEO, called Scott, living at the North Pole with his second, much younger wife, who is nine months pregnant.

To explain this anomaly would mean ratcheting through the plots of The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2, which might be too much to bear. What remains (The Escape Clause) is hardly kiddie friendly, with its emphasis on bad parenting and the negative effects of workalcoholism.

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Mrs Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell) is a modern woman. She speaks her mind, complains a lot and wonders whether she should have married at all, let alone come and live in an elf factory with a toy maker beneath the polar cap.

To appease her persistent whining, Santa/Scott decides to invite her mom and pop (how could Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret stoop this low?), as well as his ex (Wendy Crewson) and her new husband (Judge Reinhold), with his son (Eric Lloyd) and their daughter (Liliana Mumy) to come and be with Mrs C for the baby's birth. Meanwhile, he and the elves have to dress the place up to look like Canada, so that his real identity won't be exposed.

Beyond the valley of the bland comes Jack Frost (Martin Short) to sabotage the toy factory, upset Santa's guests and generally cause havoc, while pretending to be everyone's friend. His plan is to take over Christmas, stop the present giving malarkey - too time consuming for no financial gain - and turn the North Pole into a theme park.

The elves, who run things for Santa, can't act. They are children, with funny ears. Tim Allen, who was once a massive TV star (Home Improvement), is now a one-trick carthorse. He plays the father of Christmas as a hen pecked hubby, with nothing to say but sorry, apologising for having to spend time at the office, with Dec 25 fast approaching. Mrs C has no sympathy and even considers divorce.

This is aimed, one assumes, at kids. Will they get the message that bad dads are leaders of industry and money-making schemes are spiritually demeaning and mothers about to give birth can behave as selfishly as they like? Will they care?

The only hope is the fiendish Frost, who makes a lively villain, but wouldn't pass the nasty test for Capt Hook's crew. In the end, he melts after being hugged by a nice girl. This would drive The Grinch nuts, and many others, no doubt.

Reviewed on: 25 Nov 2006
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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause packshot
Jack Frost attempts to steal Christmas, while Santa is entertaining the in-laws.
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Director: Michael Lembeck

Writer: Ed Decter, John J Strauss

Starring: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Liliana Mumy, Spencer Breslin, Eric Lloyd

Year: 2006

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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