JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

Directed by: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Liliana Mumy, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson with Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2006 American festive film is directed by Michael Lembeck and is the third and final instalment in the ‘Santa Clause’ trilogy. It stars Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Liliana Mumy, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson with Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret.

With Carol Claus (Mitchell) expecting her first child, Santa Claus/Scott Calvin (Allen) decides to unite the families at the North Pole to help boost her spirit as their secrets prevent contact with many in the outside world. Ex-wife Laura (Crewson), her husband Neil (Reinhold) and daughter Lucy (Mumy) visit with Carol’s parents Bud (Arkin) and Sylvia (Margret), but under the illusion that they are really in Canada, and Scott is a toy manufacturer.

Meanwhile, envious by Santa’s popularity, Legendary Figure Jack Frost (Short) pretends to help Santa prepare for Christmas, but really starts creating chaos by sabotaging many of the workshops and machines, sending the families into meltdown with the stress Santa must deal with.

Frost manipulates Santa into the “Escape Clause”, a series of actions that alters time to undo his career as Santa and effectively leaves the position open, which Frost intends to steal and change Christmas forever. Only with Lucy’s help can Scott unite his family and re-take his place as Santa before it is too late, and Christmas is lost forever…

The gags and general content from the original film back in 1994 have drastically changed over 12 years, and the final chapter shows the signs. With the shortest running time, this has a very thin plot and tired looking performances that don’t really have the passion the original did.

Its breath of ‘cold’ air comes from Martin Short as Jack Frost, one of the newcomers to the films cast, alongside the amusing and cantankerous Alan Arkin, to inject some fun into things. With an over-the-top but suitably creepy turn as our villain, he gurns and grins and sneaks his way along as only Martin Short can; camp and amusing for all the wrong reasons, but hard not to love.

Tim Allen is clearly devoid of new material and does a basic job, with little heart and passion, as a manic, bumbling and often inept Santa Claus; his turn as Scott Calvin is always better as he gets the chance to do a little more than run around looking stressed. But by now there is little real heart and meaning in the film and just focusing on slapstick gags and very thin sentiment.

The effects are a little cleaner and the set design is always improving film after film with the North Pole now a town rather than just a small underground workshop, and it’s cute and cuddly and Christmassy, but everything else is just a little lazy with no real meat to get stuck into.

It just about avoids being as childish as the second, but still comes over as tired and a little lost for ideas, and it certainly wraps up the story of Scott Calvin effectively with a sugar-coated finale that is eye-rolling naff, but still sums up what Christmas is all about when all is said and done.

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JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

Directed by: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Elizabeth Mitchell, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz, Spencer Breslin

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2002 American festive comedy is the sequel to 1994’s ‘The Santa Clause’ and is directed by Michael Lembeck and stars Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Elizabeth Mitchell, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz and Spencer Breslin.

Eight years after taking on the role of Santa Claus, Scott Calvin (Allen) is finding it difficult to split time between his North Pole festive duties with elves Bernard (Krumholtz) and Curtis (Breslin), and being a father to Charlie (Lloyd) who is rebelling at school and finds his way onto Santa’s naughty list. To make things worse, Curtis reveals another clause overlooked in the original contract; the Mrs. Clause, in which Santa needs to find a wife before Christmas Day or he will stop being Santa and Christmas will be lost.

To help Santa spend time with his family and try to find a wife, Curtis and Bernard create a clone of Santa out of a plastic toy who takes over the running of the North Pole. Meanwhile, Scott starts to form a bond with Charlie’s principal, Carol Newman (Mitchell) and uses his magic to woo her as the two gradually fall for each other.

But when Toy Santa (Allen) takes the rules of Christmas too literally, he imprisons Bernard, creates an army of toy soldiers and puts every child on the naughty list to receive lumps of coal on Christmas Day. Facing a deadline to convince Carol who he really is and win her hand, Scott must also stop Toy Santa from destroying the magic of Christmas, all before it is too late for everyone…

A worthy sequel to the 1994 original, this time heaping on cartoonish comedy and slapstick, and featuring more fantasy and magic than the first time around. We have the manic, comical mishaps at the North Pole featuring an over-zealous Toy Santa taking over Santa’s workshop coupled with a more heartfelt setting in Chicago as Scott tries to win over a frosty school principal and fix his family.

This film works best with heart, and the segments with Scott and his family trying to repair the stress of keeping a secret like “My Dad is Santa”, and as he has fun with the likeable Elizabeth Mitchell to woo her over, are great to watch. They are witty, but humane and focus on just what you’d want from a Christmas film; heart and family and relationships, sprinkled with discovering the real meaning of Christmas.

It falls flat cut with the North Pole chaos, with an over-acting Tim Allen as a dastardly Toy Santa who takes over the workshop to effectively cancel Christmas. These moments are a little TOO silly with the overall story, and it detracts from the grounding of things. When both stories come together, it provides a few entertaining moments as the elves battle the toy soldiers, and a mini-revolution takes place. The added danger and confrontation to stand it apart from the first is welcome, it’s just handled a little sloppy.

Added with very irritating reindeer who now talk (with a god-awful Jar Jar Binks-esque voice) and fart, this makes me cringe also as it seems to lower the standard set in the first for something a little more stupid, and it doesn’t really need to do that to be effective, as we see in moments here.

Still, it does the job and continues the story with all the main cast returning for a decent sequel that tries its best and offers a good twist on things.