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June 12th, 2006:
Scott Calvin (Tim Allen
), presently still the current Santa Claus, invites his disapproving in-laws (Alan Arkin
) over to the North Pole to celebrate the holiday season and the upcoming birth of his new son with wife Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell
). Trying to keep the endlessly disgruntled pair entertained becomes impossible when much greater concerns arise. The malicious Jack Frost (Martin Short
) has grown tired of his role as the bearer of the world’s wintry weather and has become envious of Santa’s fame. In celebration of himself, he desires to transform Christmas into an entirely different holiday called “Frostmas.” Aided by some good old-fashioned time travel, he and Scott trek back to the moment when Scott first became Santa Claus. This time, Frost beats him to the punch and takes over as the new Santa. In the hands of a madman, the holidays are in jeopardy. With the help of his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd
), his ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson
), her husband Neil (Judge Reinhold
), and the head elf Curtis (Spencer Breslin
), Scott must put a stop to Frost’s mischief.What to Expect:
Well, the filmmakers have waited four years this time, but here is another Santa Clause sequel. There was an astounding 8-year gap between the original and the second one, which in Hollywood terms is basically an eternity. Usually the product of such a delay is one huge anticlimax, but somehow The Santa Clause 2 succeeded, despite it lacking some of the cleverness of the first one. It managed to scoop up $139 million in domestic ticket sales, falling short of the original by a few million, which is a much bigger gap when you take inflation into consideration. However, the fact that audiences actually embraced it after 8 long years was a remarkable feat all by itself. Perhaps that is the strategy all along – to make it seem like Disney
is not beating a dead horse. Unless you are a big fan of the series, you probably don’t remember too much from the previous entry and hence, each new one seems relatively fresh. Needless to say, as a producer, you may not want to wait too long, otherwise you could end up with a desperate attempt at a sequel like Basic Instinct 2
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The underlying purpose of franchises is to cash in on the familiarity that people have with the product. Consequently, the majority of the cast and crew from the previous Santa Clause returns for the third installment, including writers Ed Decter and John J. Strauss and director Michael Lembeck
. Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Eric Lloyd all return as the principal Calvin family members. Wendy Crewson and Judge Reinhold are back to reprise their respective roles as Scott’s ex-wife and her husband Neil. Aisha Tyler
, Kevin Pollak
, and Art LaFleur
rehash their roles as Mother Nature, Cupid, and the Tooth Fairy respectively. Unfortunately, David Krumholtz will not return as the amusingly grouchy head elf Bernard. Spencer Breslin plays the new head elf, Curtis.
As far as the series’ newest components are concerned, it’s always good to see Martin Short’s comedic prowess on display. I just hope his Jack Frost will not veer into the exasperatingly exaggerated territory that Short sometimes tends to wallow in. Ann-Margret, like many older starlets cast in family features, gets the part of the obnoxious mother-in-law (see also Elizabeth Taylor in “The Flinstones”). I guess her involvement is supposed to provide some eye candy for the older generation in the audience. Ann-Margaret has a similar part in the recent comedy, The Break-Up
, as Jennifer Aniston
’s mother. Alan Arkin is perfectly cast as her husband and should shine with his trademark irritability. He too has an easy transition character-wise from his role of a cranky grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine
, which gets released this July.
The question I have is where would Tim Allen be without these family films and what is it about him that causes producers to cast him in similar features on a regular basis? This year alone he has The Shaggy Dog
, and The Santa Clause 3. His comedy
career is long departed, but somehow he manages to stay afloat thanks to this genre. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is that convenience of acquaintance again. After a couple of successful forays into family films, producers feel secure putting him right back in and audiences seem to respond positively out of pure habit. I’m not sure that they would miss him necessarily if he was gone, but I suppose he’s carved out a nice niche for himself.
In a recent interview, Allen has spoken of the difficulties that the crew has had coming up with unique storylines. There will be a conscious effort to sweeten the film up a bit, without it becoming overwhelmingly syrupy. The filmmakers have supposedly struggled between making it simple enough for the kids to engage in and keeping it relevant enough for adults. It is a good thing that they have had a four-year intermission since the previous film, otherwise this would have been much more difficult. I suppose it is good that they are thinking of these things, although I am not convinced that they will be able to accomplish what they set out to do. However, according to Allen, they’ve had many wonderful ideas and The Santa Clause 3 will be a fitting conclusion to the trilogy.
At the moment, CGI has truly taken over the family film market so I’m inclined to think that there will be a conscious effort to push the actors to become more “animated.” Martin Short’s inclusion certainly suggests that hypothesis. In order to compete, there might be more of a focus on digital effects, resulting in a movie that will pander to the audience rather than inspire it. Hopefully, the filmmakers will concentrate on the story and on the benefits of filming in live action, which would prevent the mistake of forcibly thrusting the material upon the audience.In Conclusion:
Personally, I don’t believe that the first two Santa Clause films were that great to begin with so I have difficulty finding good reasons to make another one, other than box-office
receipts. However, both of the first two films managed to offer up some witty and enjoyable twists on old ideas, so I guess Disney
could do a lot worse. For one, the cast is deeper than it has been for any of the two films so far. I doubt that The Santa Clause 3 will improve on the first two in any way whatsoever, but the series has not gotten to the point yet where it is completely drained of material. A few good ideas might sneak by to make for a mildly entertaining couple of hours, at least for the kids.Similar Titles: The Santa Clause
, The Kid
, Jingle All the Way