The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) – reviewed by George

I think this third entry is the best. It marks the return of family members Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, Liliana Mumy, elf Spencer Breslin, and director Michael Lembeck, and adds Martin Short, Ann-Margret, and Alan Arkin. I found it both funny and Christmasy.
In the first two films the villain was the clause itself. Here Martin Short as Jack Frost is the villain, who so desperately wants to be Santa, and will do whatever it takes, sneakiness, dirty-dealing, conniving, lying, destroying, back-biting trickery, anything, in order to get what he wants. At first I didn’t think it was funny, but it is so over the top and it seems so easy to fool good-hearted elves, that eventually I just relaxed and enjoyed it. And Short is very funny. He even gets to sing a parody of “New York, New York” called “North Pole, North Pole”. The lyrics of the bridge are “Come see the snowman up where no man’s without a treat, and watch this king of the chill – HA! – turn up the heat.” And the close: “If you can make it here, The world’s all Christmas cheer. Holiday gold: North Pole, North Pole.”
The plot: Mrs. Claus is pregnant and wants to be through with her delivery before Santa has to leave on his. To help her, Santa has her parents (Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin) brought to the North Pole Workshop for support. Now he has in-law problems on top of the regular problems of toy production. And The League of Legendary Characters is back for another meeting, and the sole item on the agenda is discipling Jack Frost, who thinks he should be a League member – after all, he is a legendary character. He is about to be cast out when Santa takes pity and says he will put him to work in the toy factory and rehabilitate him. This gives Jack an opportunity to trick Santa into invoking The Escape Clause, which says if at anytime Santa does not want to do the job anymore, he can go through a ritual and be returned to the moment when he first became Santa. I guess I already gave away that Jack wins and turns the North Pole into an amusement park, where he sings in the park theater. Now Santa has to find a way to get Jack to invoke the clause.
This movie is a real spectacle, with a huge cast and big sets, and an entertaining premise. But it’s the actors involved, under Lembeck’s direction, that make this movie so good. And in the Special Features I learned that that really was Elizabeth Mitchell doing that funny dance over the end credits of the second film.

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