THE SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE (2006)
Christmastime is here! No, not really, but I’m watching The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause this week, and that should be pain enough.
Having never seen The Santa Clause 2, I’m afraid that I’m a little lost here. I know that in the fist one, Tim Allen puts on a creepy suit that makes him gain weight and compels him to sneak into children’s homes on Christmas. Apparently in the second one he was forced to find and marry some woman (Elizabeth Mitchell), who is now trapped at the North Pole as his wife. Fun! Now she’s pregnant, and getting attended to by creepy adult elves who look like little kids.
Gooble gobble, anyone?
Times are hard at the Pole. Santa is slacking at his work to spend more time with his expectant Mrs. Claus, but the elves are getting pissed. Meanwhile, his kitchen is filled with a bunch of magical beings (Art LaFleur as the Tooth Fairy, Aisha Tyler as Mother Nature, Kevin Pollak as Cupid, Jay Thomas as the Easter Bunny, Michael Dorn as the Sandman, and Peter Boyle as Father Time).
Goddamnit, Cupid, don’t yawn. The movie just started.
Turns out these mystical assholes are worried about Jack Frost (Martin Short) trying to take over Christmas. But not very concerned, as all it takes is an “aww, he’s not that bad,” from Santa to get them to let Frost take a part time job in Santa’s workshop. This will give Santa some free time to spend with his lonely wife and her shitty family, who he plans to bring on up to keep her company.
He’s dressed like a supervillain and the forces of nature incarnate
are telling you not to trust him, what could go wrong?
Having hired this questionable sprite, Santa uses Sandman’s sleep-inducing powers to kidnap his in-laws (Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret). Is this super questionable? Yes. But it’s nice to see that someone is employing Michael Dorn nevertheless.
Aw, Worf, in-law drugging isn’t honorable!
He also picks up his ex-wife (Wendy Crewson), her new husband (Judge Reinhold), and her adopted daughter (Liliana Mumy) because they were in the previous films, and it just felt right to bring them along. Anyhow, Santa wakes up his drugged relatives and tells them the North Pole is Canada, because not lying to them would endanger Christmas somehow. Meanwhile, Jack Frost fucks with shit.
And freezes Judge Reinhold alive!
Everybody kind of putzes around for a bit, and terrible in-law antics are had. But then Jack Frost gets his hands on a magic snow globe and tricks Santa into saying, “I wish I had never become Santa at all.” As it turns out, this activates the titular escape clause of the contract sewn into the Santa suit that he once stole off a corpse. He and Frost are transported back in time to the moment Santa became Santa, and that icy fiend steals the Kringle suit. Gasp! Suddenly it’s the present again, but now Santa is just shitty old Tim Allen!
With Santa powers at his disposal, Jack Frost has turned the North Pole into an amusement park, because apparently nipping at people’s noses just doesn’t do it for him anymore. Scott (the dickbag formerly known as Santa) halfassedly does that whole It’s A Wonderful Life “oh woe is me, the world is different now” routine. He then hightails it to the North Pole.
Frost/Santa: “If Santa does it, that means it’s not illegal.”
Scott uses his insider Santa knowledge to get his hands on the magic snow globe and anticlimactically restore the old timeline. Boo. Anyhow, everything’s jolly, Judge Reinhold gets thawed, Mrs. Claus has her baby, and Jack Frost’s cold heart is warmed by a child’s hug. Awww. Merry fucking Christmas.
It’s pretty hard to tell what the message of this meandering film is, but it does eventually seem to settle on an “isn’t the crass commercialism of Christmas awful” message. And sure, with Christmas decorations going on sale in September, it probably isn’t a bad drum to beat (pa rum pum pum pum). But might this message not be better served by a movie that isn’t clearly a bloated cash-grab of a sequel?
Spencer Breslin may be doing his damnedest, but Tim Allen is phoning it in.
There’s also an awful lot of “gee, don’t amusement parks suck?” stuff, considering this movie is coming from the folks that brought you Disneyland, Disney World, Euro Disney, Tokyo Disney, and many others. At least Disney’s parks aren’t staffed by children (no, for child labor you have to go all the way to Disney’s toy factories).
Ho, ho, ho. Hypocrisy. What are you gonna do?
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
I feel as though The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause‘s biggest failing was its need to bring back all of the big names from the previous movies. Right off the bat, the movie needs Santa, Mrs. Claus, Jack Frost, and maybe a couple of the elves. But the other characters should only really have been added as needed by the plot. As nice as it is for Judge Reinhold to have work, Santa’s ex-wife’s husband really doesn’t need to be a part of this story.
Nor does his reversible sweater vest.
And he’s just the tip of the iceberg; why put Cupid, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy in a movie if you aren’t going to give them shit to do? It’s a waste of time at best, and an irritating tease at worst. After all of these medium- to big-name actors have been given 30 seconds to do a bit of shtick, the movie is out of time for plot. What should really be the meat and potatoes of the film ends up seeming like an afterthought. Time travel? Alternate history where Santa has revealed himself to the world? Sorry, none of that for you, we need to see Alan Arkin put out a fire with a Super Soaker.
It’s a clumsy mess! But at least all of those stars got a paycheck. And hey, Santa Clause 3 went on to become the 8th highest grossing Christmas movie of all time. Aww.
- This is the second of three films directed by Michael Lembeck to feature a tough guy Tooth Fairy. If I had any energy left, I would find this very troubling.
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
You know, this movie has its questionable moments, but I think the creepiest thing might be this fireplace:
I mean, who installs a fire place carved to look like their own face?
And just when you think it couldn’t get creepier…
FUCK. MOUTH FULL OF SANTA!
Ho, Ho, No. Wait, that’s dangerously close to the tagline for Christmas with the Kranks. Aw, fuck it.
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