Gutenfilm Presents: A Christmas Beeracle: Santa Clause 3

Part of my reasoning behind this most recent bad movie endeavor is to try and top last month’s horrible series of vampire romance films.  There was little doubt in my mind that I’d be able to do it, given what I already know about what is out there. The first film, The Nutcracker, and now this one, now push all of the doubt out of my mind. This is going to suck.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is another inexplicable sequel to the series about how Tim Allen accidentally killed Santa Claus and took his place (merry Christmas!). This time, Scott Calvin/Santa Claus (Allen) is worried that his pregnant wife (Elizabeth Mitchell) is going to deliver her baby on Christmas Day, conflicting Scott and his delivery of toys, which is behind schedule. To make matters worse, the annoying Jack Frost (the annoying Martin Short), jealous that he does not get a holiday, is interfering by putting up “Frostmas” signs around the world. To avoid banishment, Frost begs Santa for one more chance, and is allowed to help prepare for Christmas. Naturally, Frost sets about destroying and messing up everything he can in order to ruin Christmas (complete with Short overacting his ass off) and trick Santa into uttering the Escape Clause, which will reverse time (exactly back to the point where Scott became Santa, for some reason) and allow Frost to take Santa’s place. While all this is happening, Scott is trying to juggle his chaotic family life and not doing so effectively.  This whole family thing, which gets old remarkably fast in its merciless attempts to hammer into my head that it’s bad to let work come before family mmkay and takes well over half of the movie to discuss, was way too hamfisted to be anywhere near resonant.

"A ham and a turkey for Christmas" as one critic put it. Well said.

It’s literally an hour into the film before Jack Frost actually enacts his evil plan of tricking Scott into uttering the Escape Clause “I wish I had never been Santa at all” (or something along those lines). Frost takes Santa’s place and over the course of twelve years turns the North Pole into an amusement park. The next few minutes is something along the lines of Biff’s nightmare version of Hill Valley from Back to the Future Part II: the world is commercialized, people in Scott’s life are bitter and depressed, and Scott is powerless as Frost has the entire North Pole in his pocket. Scott has to figure out how to trick Frost into uttering the Escape Clause (the manner of which is so heavily foreshadowed there is literally no tension whatsoever) so he can reclaim the mantle of Santa Claus and fix the North Pole and prove to his family that they matter, crudely bookending the film’s theme of putting family before work. It doesn’t help that once he gets to Frost’s North Pole, it takes Scott roughly .001 seconds to learn the error of his ways. It’s probably the movie’s biggest fault: in its irritating vendetta to drive home how much of a jerk Scott is, it forgets about the main plot and tries to shoehorn it into the last twenty minutes of the movie, effectively pushing aside the moral it worked so hard to establish.

Since Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is a “comedy”, there has to be “comical” things, which include direct-to-DVD-grade wacky sound effects, farting animatronic reindeer (and, might I add, the most horrifying demonic wide-eyed robot reindeer I have ever seen in my life), and a few dozen shockingly bad puns (four of which are included on the back of the DVD box). This being a Disney film, there also has to be even more direct-to-DVD-grade wacky sound effects, overeager line reading, enough magic dust to coke up a legion of pixies, and a disgusting, excessively happy gushy everybody’s-best-buds-and-family-and-oh-hey-there’s-the-swell-of-happy-music ending. What’s even more amazing is that it actually had a run in theaters.

I hate Martin Short even more now.

Unsurprisingly, nearly everyone involved in the film appears to wish nothing more than the most horrible death upon themselves, with the exception of Tim Allen and Martin Short, who consistently try to outdo each other in terms of overacting. I have to hand it to Tim Allen for giving it his best effort, sticking with this franchise through to the end. Martin Short appears to be relishing the chance at being a villain, or he has mental problems, or both. Either way, both actors ham it up completely. Some of the kids in the story also earnestly deliver their lines, and I have to wonder if kids’ movies are getting markedly worse or if I just didn’t notice all of this when I was younger.

I kind of want to go back to the original Santa Clause and see if I still find it amusing, because this one certainly is not. It simply tries way too hard to wring laughs from the audience. A question is answered with “none of your ski’s wax”. After being called “willful and malicious”, Frost asks if they meant “skillful and delicious”. The Sandman is always sleepy. In an attempt to conceal the identity of the North Pole, the elves are referred to as short Canadians. The attempts at humor are so painful I truly felt sorry for the actors that had to say them.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause was not offensively horrible as it was just idiotic, unnecessary and poorly made. The script is quite bad and is very poor at pretty much everything it attempts to do, but I didn’t despise the movie, it was just really bad. I feel like I’ve been jaded by the traumatically awful Nutcracker. Nothing will live up to that one, although a part of me hopes that it does. I need more awful movies for this. Don’t think I’m defending this movie, though: everyone involved should be ashamed, because it was still a mess and certainly a worthy entry for A Christmas Beeracle.

Spencer Breslin is not impressed.

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Posted on December 15, 2011, in Features. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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