The Santa Clause 3
I refuse to acknowledge the sequel rule. The rule that states all sequels are inherently inferior to their predecessors. There have been plenty of sequels out there that have far surpassed the original that just prove the theory wrong. But then there are films that completely prove that theory right. “The Santa Clause” was a perfectly nice movie when it came out 12 years ago. “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause” was just terrible, and almost a disservice to the memory of the original.
Santa (Tim Allen) has to deal with life as a newlywed with a baby due right around Christmas time (his obvious busiest time of the year), and his wife, Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell) yearning for familial company that isn’t an elf. Santa decides to invite Carol’s parents (Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret) up to the North Pole to keep her company. This poses the problem of hiding the fact that he’s Santa for the duration of the stay. And did I mention that an ornery Jack Frost (Martin Short) is trying to take over Christmas for financial gain?
The cast is fortunately able to work with what they’re given (which isn’t much). I’m always entertained by the underrated Allen. Mitchell is experiencing a thrust in popularity lately, mostly due to her impressive role on the new season of “Lost”, but she’s always been somewhat of a hidden gem of a character actor, and is finally getting some recognition. Arkin, in my opinion, was the real joy of this film. He’s always funny, and a treat to watch on film. He’s got this old school comedic timing that’s reminiscent of Sid Caesar, and it’s interesting to see how that plays off the younger comedic generation comedic in Allen, and then further down to the younger performers playing the elves.
But cast performances aside, I’m not entirely sure what is more insulting to me as a viewer. Is it the poor writing on a pure mechanical level or is it the fact that it hypocritically scolds us in a “holier than thou” manner while being completely unoriginal, and doing so poorly at it? If I look at it on the pure mechanical level, it is technically two full stories. One stretches the course of the entire film, and the other is awkwardly implanted in the middle. In the pure mechanical sense of narrative writing, it should have been broken into two separate films.
The first one being the annoying plotline of Jack Frost trying to steal Christmas away from Santa. It sounds like a rejected Rankin/Bass special from the 1970’s. The all too sweet and simple dialogue seems to downplay the talent (however immense or minute) of the adult actors onscreen, and makes it somewhat painful to endure as an audience member.
The second plotline was borrowed directly from “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Replace “I wish I’d never been born” with “I wish I’d never been Santa Clause” and you’ve got it. The only problem is that Santa/Scott isn’t trying to learn a lesson. There’s no lesson to be learned or taught. And this cycles back to this film as a whole being an insult to the viewers. It tells the audience that the spirit of Christmas is what’s important, not the monetary or material gain. But if a third and unnecessary “Santa Clause” film isn’t a desperate grab at the pocketbooks of parents, I’m not entirely sure what is.
There are a plethora of really good holiday films out there for everyone to enjoy. They’re better, and they have a better message. In the next two months you’ll be inundated with holiday programming on television and in the video stores. Find something other than this. There’s even another Christmas movie coming out in two weeks. You’ll do better with that. “The Santa Clause 3” is just a mess of a film.