The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

There's something incredibly creepy about the thought of Mrs. Claus having a baby. It just seems wrong. Out of other ideas for the series, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause goes there. At least it doesn't show the actual birth, the sight of Mrs. Claus in stirrups would have been too much to bear.

Tim Allen and all the Clause cast are back for a third in his never ending Santa adventures. Tim is once again Scott Calvin, the worst Santa ever. That's the only conclusion possible, since in movie after movie he does something incredibly stupid to jeopardize Christmas. This time, he's set up to fail by Jack Frost (Martin Short). Jealous that he lacks his own holiday, Jack infiltrates Santa's crew and sets out to sabotage him and take his place. As if that wasn't enough stress for Old St. Nick, his wife is very pregnant and his in-laws are coming for a visit. What a mess.

As the Santa Clause series has worn on, it's grown progressively worse. There was never much life in it to begin with, but whatever energy it did have has gradually faded with each successive film. This third energy is slickly designed and extremely well produced, but what little light there was has gone completely out of it. Christmas has yet again been reduced to the examination of a contract's fine print. There's nowhere left for these people or characters to go, and so they're left rehashing the same tired, Santa-angst. We get it; it's not easy being a husband and a father while providing toys for all the children of the world. Enough already.

If there's any pep in this thing at all it comes from Martin Short as Jack Frost. He has a few chilly moments, and his hair is really cool. But even Jack is never taken far enough. As a villain, he's pretty lukewarm. There's never any real fear that Christmas is in jeopardy, and so Jack's machinations come off more as an amusing diversion rather than any sort of legitimate threat.

Maybe it would help if the film was actually released some time around Christmas. Santa doesn't officially pop is hat out of his North Pole hole until after Thanksgiving and right now we're all still munching away on leftover Halloween candy. Nobody's ready for candy canes. Yule tide cheer always makes bad Christmas movies like this more acceptable. With ghouls and goblins still on the brain, it's hard to excuse Escape Clause. Make your escape and see something else.

Josh Tyler