Nov. 3, 2006
Kids/Family, Comedy, Sequel
Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
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The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
By Elliott Ryan
As I sat through The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, I couldn’t help but think I had seen this before. Twice.
Tim Allen reprises his role as Santa Claus in a film that follows the same formula as the previous two “Santa Clause” films. I wonder how many more of these films can be made. It sure does seem there is a lot of fine print to being Santa Claus.
In this film, Santa faces difficulty juggling his family responsibilities with his growing workload as Christmas nears. Mrs. Claus (played by Elizabeth Mitchell) is pregnant and needs more attention from her husband. Since he is busy overseeing his elves and checking his list (twice), Santa can’t focus on her needs. He gets the idea of inviting his in-laws to the North Pole to attend to his wife. Given Hollywood’s typical depiction of in-laws, I was pretty sure that was not going to turn out well. Their visit is complicated by the fact that Mrs. Claus’ parents do not know their son-in-law is Santa Claus.
The situation is made even worse when another legendary figure, Jack Frost (played by Martin Short), makes a play to take over Santa’s job. Apparently, Frost is jealous of all the attention Santa gets. Consequently, as Santa tries to keep his in-laws from knowing his true identity, he also must fight against Frost’s attempted North Pole coup. Frost finds a clause in the Santa Claus code that could result in forcing the current Santa to step down. It will all sound familiar if you have seen the first two movies.
The movie offers a moral message about the importance of putting family first. Santa faces the same dilemma that working fathers and mothers everywhere face as he tries to find some balance in his life. Eventually, Santa realizes the significance of family as his relationships improve with his wife, in-laws and even his ex-wife and her new family. There is even a scene reminiscent of It’s A Wonderful Life in which he sees how his family would have turned out had he not made them a priority.
Except for a couple instances of potty humor in the form of flatulence jokes, there really is not anything offensive in this movie. Children of all ages should enjoy the family-friendly, colorful holiday film. Adults, however, (especially if they have seen the previous films) may find themselves reading the small print on the back of their tickets looking for an escape clause of their own.
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