The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Directed by Michael Lembeck. Starring Tim Allen, Martin Short, Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin, Elizabeth Mitchell, Eric Lloyd, Wendy Crewson, Judge Reinhold, Liliana Mumy, Spencer Breslin. (2006, G, 98 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 10, 2006
It boggles the mind that Saddam Hussein and assorted cohorts have finally won their rightful place in the global noose while various and sundry villains associated with this third entry in the Santa Clause franchise of flaccidly feel-good, winter nostrums will no doubt be allowed to walk the Earth with nary a qualm nor backward glance. Director Lembeck, working from a script by Ed Decter and John J. Strauss, has managed such a stilted, manipulative, and altogether unfun film – and one that will be exported all around the world – that it counts as a crime against not only humanity but all notions of art, entertainment, and our species' subjectively singular sense of humor. Nothing Ebenezer Scrooge witnessed on his black night of reckoning compares for sheer awesome dreadfulness to the sight of Short's Jack Frost cavorting and scheming against Allen's ponderous depiction of St. Nicholas. Let's mince neither words nor meat: Walt Disney Pictures is looking to lighten the family coffers with this soulless monstrosity, and parents who give in to their young charges in the interest of being good moms and dads would be far better off renting something slightly less soul-deadening, like, say, The 400 Blows or Shoah. Granted, there are a few moments of presumably unintentional surreality (Mrs. Claus' delivery room sports doors cribbed from Dario Argento's Suspiria! Santa's fireplace is a visual riff on John Boorman's Zardoz!), but these minor trinkets and baubles serve only to illuminate the dross and dreck that overflow the rest of this slick ’n' slimy stocking of woe. Bah, humbug.