Review: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

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Directed by: Michael Lembeck

Written by: Ed Decter & John J. Strauss

Starring: Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Ann-Margret

Rating: [1.5/5]

Finding proper work-life balance has presented itself as a challenge for almost every worker because of the difficulty involved with it. This even occurs for individuals with jobs not as important to the world as Santa Claus. The third film, The Escape Clause demonstrates this eternal struggle but completely drops the ball in crafting a coherent feature film even with the addition of someone like Martin Short to the cast. 

Now expecting a baby any day now, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) struggles when his wife Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell) wants to be surrounded by family as she prepares for birth. This leaves Scott with the decision to fly up Carol’s parents and try to shift the North Pole convincingly into some Canadian town so as to not give up the secret of his identity. 

The third film of trilogies historically have not delivered the best results simply because they run out of things to do and go absolutely haywire. When done well it can at least leave an impression but this feature happens in the other direction in quite a catastrophic way. This occurs not only because of an asinine plot but also because it treats its characters and audience members as complete dolts but also tries to hypocritically posture about commercialism. 

Not all individuals have a high level of intelligence but the idea this feature tries to convince us grown lucid adults could find themselves in the North Pole and be convinced these elves are just small Canadians all looking like children is almost insulting. I understand the plot point of bringing the parents up for Carol’s sake but you have to at least make any of this believable. Especially when you have a father-in-law like Bud (Alan Arkin), it becomes overtly ridiculous not even in a comedic way. When they see the toy factory it looks like nothing other than a sweatshop with children creating these toys and most likely not receiving compensation for their labor. Even for a film directed at children, it boggles the mind and lacks any sense of a wink at the audience of the film acknowledging its idiotic conceit. 

Then you have the whole issue of Jack Frost portrayed admittedly well by Martin Short completely bought into this role. He needs to push Scott into the position where he would hit another clause in being Santa where he would wish he was no longer in the position. First being obviously evil makes the plot point somewhat silly but when the feature shows what Christmas would look like if Frost were to take over, the film takes the position he would make it far too commercial. Taking this stance is hilarious considering the whole idea of Santa Claus exists as a commercialized product to sell you on a season to spend a ton of money for people you barely like. Sure, the origins exist with St. Nicholas but you can clearly see this iteration of Santa Claus does not seek to emulate that version of this legend. 

In addition, as the third film arrives, it completely gives up on the central relationship between Charlie (Eric Lloyd) and Scott that initially set everything off. He becomes an afterthought where appears and I completely forgot of his existence as a character in this universe because of the bonkers direction this film decides to take. Instead, you have more moments of Jack Frost being mischievous in the most obvious ways no one can seemingly piece together because the plot of the movie needs to happen and Scott must get to a point where he would even jokingly wish away his time as Santa Claus. It hurts the brain too much to think about this movie and why it even exists. 

With no reason to exist and nothing displayed throughout the runtime to justify its existence, I found myself wanting to escape from The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. A poorly thought-out film leaving any sense of wonder behind for a horrific plot not caring for the development of its characters and just provides an endless stream of hijinks that would insult even a toddler when watching what this film wants to pass off as entertainment. I feel for the cast and I hope they all received a nice check for their participation.

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