Oh, Tim Allen. Are you happy with your movie career? With exception to Galaxy Quest and the Toy Story movies - which were last released in 1999 - the popular actor really hasn't done much to be congratulated about. Joe Somebody? The Shaggy Dog? Christmas with the Kranks? Despite being an entertaining on-screen actor, his career is splattered with mediocrity or downright dog poo.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Claus is the third, obviously, in a franchise that was never all that spectacular to begin with. The original was okay, but definitely not good enough to warrant a sequel. Nevertheless, given the subject matter, I can't blame the studio for wanting to develop a franchise. Unfortunately, the entire franchise is one of Tim Allen's mediocre career moves, one that surely gives him a fair amount of money but not much respect from me. The Santa Clause 2 was a complete disaster and one of the worst movies I've ever seen (along with Allen's Christmas with the Kranks), but thankfully this third entry isn't nearly as bad.
Numero 3 has Santa (Allen) behind in toy production, with Christmas fast approaching. His wife (Elizabeth Mitchell) is expecting to have a baby on the Big Day as well, making you wonder why March is not off limits for bedroom exploration for the northernmost couple. In addition, she's also quite unhappy that she's going to spend yet another year away from her family, prompting Santa to figure out a way to bring her family up to the North Pole - without revealing they are at the North Pole. To top everything else, the wicked Jack Frost (Martin Short) has devised a scheme to strip Santa of his power and take over as the Big Red Man himself.
The Santa Clause 3 has a lot of potential, as all of the elements mentioned in the previous paragraph could make for a very entertaining and funny story, if done right. Had the screenwriters known how to balance all of these elements properly, it could have been something. Unfortunately, they don't. The movie takes a ridiculously long time to get going, and by the time the really interesting things kick in (Jack Frost unleashing his plan), there is too little time left to develop much of anything. I liked the idea of changing time and creating an alternate universe where the North Pole has been opened up as a tourist attraction, but this comes too late for anything really exciting to happen. On the flip side, if the writers had just kept things simple but introduced Jack Frost's scheming much earlier in the plot, they could have done a lot more with Santa having to deal with Frost, his wife and his in-laws all at the same time. As is, things just don't click.
For frosting on the gingerbread house, or lack thereof, The Santa Clause 3 doesn't seem to have much imagination. Whereas Numero 2 went overboard, this one seems to lack the budget and creative juices that are needed to make the North Pole a truly magical place. The sets seem basic, the elves are uninspiring and there just isn't enough goofy stuff to smooth over the movie's flaws. If it is decided that The Santa Clause 4 will be made, I'd like to see what another, established director could do with the material.
The Santa Clause 3 has some funny material, but a good performance/character from Martin Short and a few other tidbits aren't really put into full gear. The movie feels like it was created to make money on the cheap, and we get exactly that.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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