The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

2006, Movie, 98 mins

Review

SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE, THE
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Will Santa (Tim Allen) never learn? The last time he delegated responsibility for running Santaland, he cloned himself, and Santa 2.0 turned into a jolly old despot. You'd think he'd know better than to let Jack Frost (Martin Short) so much as set foot in his toy factory, especially since Frost has been trying to shanghai Christmas because he doesn't have his own holiday. But at an emergency session of the Council of Legendary Beings called specifically to censure Frost, Santa extends a conciliatory hand. Rather than voting to suspend the chilly nuisance, Santa lets him perform community service: Santa is, after all, behind on his quotas, and the hugely pregnant Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell) needs his emotional support. Having made one dreadful mistake, Santa follows up with another: He decides to bring his wife's bickering parents (Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin) to visit. Of course, they don't know he's Santa Claus — they think he owns a toy factory in Canada — so Santa has the elves redress the North Pole as Canada ("Real Canadian Christmas Trees," says a typical bit of Potemkin village signage, while the elf boutique — you know, where they buy those silly shoes and striped stockings — is renamed "Big and Tall"), then has his friend Sandman (Michael Dorn) enchant the in-laws to sleep for the journey. Santa also yields to pressure from his niece, Lucy (Liliana Mumy), and invites her to come along, accompanied by his remarried ex-wife (Wendy Crewson) and her New Agey husband (Judge Reinhold). And while Santa is off rounding up relatives, Frost is sabotaging everything in sight. Things come to a head when Frost tricks him into invoking the "escape clause," which hurls them both back in time 12 years, to the day when divorced dad Scott Calvin (Allen) accidentally killed Santa Claus and was compelled to step into his fur-trimmed jacket. But this time, Frost becomes Santa, and it's up to Scott to put things right again. Contrary to what filmmaker Michael Lembeck appears to believe, distractions like busy set design, cartoon special-effects noises and farting reindeer can't hide a thin yet overly complicated plot that will bore children and adults alike. The whole film is plagued by a sense of false, desperate cheerfulness long before Frost transforms the North Pole into a Las Vegas-style resort mall filled with overpriced gewgaws, shows and rides, and teeming with whining children and stressed-out parents. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
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