What would the Christmas season be without a film about Santa Clause? While the third in the Santa Clause trilogy was released in theaters last year, it only recently saw a home video release in November, just in time for people to shove it down ones stockings. While there are those out there who may roll their eyes at the franchise (I was one of the eye rollers, I’ll admit), it’s easy to see why the series is still successful to this day—the first film was a fun and fresh Christmas film when it was initially released and the third one, with Martin Short playing against Tim Allen, was nearly equal in the entertainment area.
Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause revolved around just that: the escape clause. While the clauses of the Santa contract have always been floating around the films, this specific clause focuses on allowing the current Santa to escape his duties as the current Clause. Discovering this, a jealous Jack Frost (Martin Short) who feels his talents are being underused, tricks Santa into reverting back to his previous life. After he learns about what has been going on since Jack Frost’s takeover of the Santa throne, Scott Calvin returns to the north pole to regain the job he was meant for.
There isn’t anything in the film that is truly inspired in terms of storytelling, although this certain Jack Frost angle is something I’ve never heard of before. Martin Short also does a superb job in the role, being simultaneously funny and menacing at the same time. He brings a lot to a film that would have likely otherwise been a dull ride. In addition to Short, the entire original cast returns, even the boy who played the son in the original movie, who at this point…is extremely grown up. I actually never saw the second film in this series, so I had no idea it was even him until I checked online. Granted, the original was made in 1994, but still…quite a surprise.
The movie tends to fly by in its hour and a half run time, simply because it never drags and is constantly shifting from one scene to another. There’s rarely downtime for the viewer to breath, except for Clause’s visit to his son and ex wife, who eventually accompany him to the North Pole. Like I said before, the story is rather simple, but it still remains a fun ride throughout. Allen and Short keep up the humor, along with Elizabeth Mitchell as Mrs. Clause, who has a more subtle and dry brand of funny—those who have seen her role on Lost will know what expect from her character here.
With the movie entertaining through and through, the only real complaint I have are the reindeers in the film. They hardly have any screen time, but the entire time they are on the screen they’re just expelling gas. On top of that the animatronics used for them reminds me of the technology used for the third live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie—it just looked bad. They looked more like that disturbing Butterscotch toy horse that Hasbro has out than anything real.
Overall the film is just a ton of fun to watch and really the epitome of a family movie. This is the type of movie where even the negatives are easy to ignore—it’s a great movie for the holiday season and if you’re a fan of the previous two, then there’s no reason not to pick this one up as well. Recommended.
Arriving in a reflective foil and embossed slip case, Santa Clause 3 comes with a white amaray case and insert with the disc contents as well as the Disney Movie Rewards insert. Disc art is the same as the cover art and the menus are simple and easy to navigate. The film comes in two different aspect ratios, the first being a 1.33:1 full frame cut and the other a “family friendly” 1.78:1 aspect ratio. IMDb lists the original ratio as 1.85:1, which I assume isn’t family friendly, whatever that means. I guess black bars offend families. A solid Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track accompanies it, along with French and Spanish tracks.
Even with two transfers of the film we have a fair amount of special features, though the total run time isn’t too impressive. First up is a commentary track by director Michael Lembeck who keeps it lighthearted throughout and frequently comments on the antics of Allen and Martin on the set. After that we have an alternate opening for the film and a quick blooper reel which, big surprise, is mostly Allen and Martin goofing around.
Moving onto the featurettes we have “Jack Frost & Mrs. Clause: A Very Different Look”, which is actually one of the more interesting extras I’ve watched all year. For once they actually showed something that was interesting and this time around it was the original design concepts for the two. It actually transcends the concepts stage, however, as they began shooting Frost and Mrs. Clause in two different costumes and then halted production to tweak it. Frost’s original design was a lot less menacing than what we ended up with and was really much too jolly for his character. Clause just lost weight, as they found that Mitchell wasn’t able to emote too much through the prosthetics on her face.
“The New Comedians: On the Set with Tim & Marty” tackles the duos on-set hilarity, ranging from comments from them directly to the director and other cast members. It seems like a fun time was had by all the set—probably more than has one watching the film, but still. “Creating Movie Magic” goes over the special effects of the film, including the Hall of Globes and Santa’s Fireplace. Actually the more I think about it, those were probably the only two big special effects, aside from the exterior shot of the North Pole.
“Christmas Carol-oke” and a music video by Aly and AJ round out the extras; the Carol-oke is just a sing a long with some Christmas music, but I’ll freely admit I didn’t touch the Aly and AJ video. Sorry, I just won’t do that.
That wraps up this DVD release. It’s a fun flick and if you’re a fan of the series, this one comes Recommended.
Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.