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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause


The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Director: Michael Lembeck
Runtime: 98 minutes
Cast: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell

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It took eight years for Tim Allen to reprise his ordinary-guy-becomes-Santa role from The Santa Clause in The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause, but only four years separate The Santa Clause 2 from The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. The math here is terrifying. At this rate, expect The Santa Clause 4 in 2008, and SC5 in 2009. Then by 2010, installments should start showing up every few months. The scenario is more plausible than it sounds: From the looks of SC3, these things can't be hard to make. Shot almost entirely on a single set possibly left standing from the last film, it features what looks like first-take performances and a script that's inane even by kiddie-movie standards.

How inane? How's this? An early scene awkwardly establishes that a minor character has an obsession with snow-globes. Later on, it's revealed that Allen's Santa powers are somehow tied to a magical snow-globe. Now that's tight plotting! Specifically, Allen is able to escape being Santa Claus if he wishes he'd never become Santa while holding his magic snow-globe. This leads a jealous Jack Frost (Martin Short) to spend much of the film maneuvering him into Santa despair by mischievously making sure that everything that can go wrong, does.

It's a bit like The Last Temptation Of Christ played out with candy canes and elves (again played, somewhat disturbingly, by child actors in minimal makeup) until Short succeeds, leading to a legendary-winter-spirit battle royal that's sure to have virtually no one more than two years out of diapers on the edge of their seats. It's too bad that most of those will have to drag a grown-up along for the ride.

One final thought: There must be some solid marketing reason for putting out a Christmas movie before the jack o'lanterns have begun to rot, but if so, it's elusive. Couldn't this lump of coal have waited another month?