'The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause'
Disney Dumps Another Lump of Coal in Our Stocking
And here's something else you'd better get used to: "The Santa Clause" is going to be around for a long while as a holiday franchise. At the start in 1994, we only had to deal with dysfunctional dad Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) mutating into Jolly Old St. Nick. It took eight years for Disney to decide Santa Scott needed a wife. So he married a high school principal (Elizabeth Mitchell). Now, we've got Scott's in-laws (Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret) to worry about and a Baby Santa on the way. Silver bells, indeed!
Maybe with more characters to play with, the next half-dozen or so installments won't need to rely so much on someone like Martin Short to jazz up the proceedings. As Jack Frost, the envious sprite who conspires to take over Santa's gig, Short gets to sneer, glower and slither all over the place. He's a hoot whether he's doing a Broadway shtick, toadying up to the elves or cuddling up to Ann-Margret. (Did he really call her "kitten"? That's going to jab loose some memories in the older parents' -- or grandparents' -- memory banks.)
Allen, meanwhile, seems content to just carry the enterprise on his padded tummy -- that is, until his Santa is tricked by Jack into wishing his way back to his svelte Scott self as the movie goes "A Christmas Carol" on us and shows a North Pole run by Frost as a chintzy tourist attraction. One could insert a slew of unintended ironies here. But, heck, it's the holidays, right?
In case things aren't complicated enough, Santa brings along his ex-wife (Wendy Crewson), her therapist hubby (Judge Reinhold) and their young daughter (Liliana Mumy, the spitting image of her dad, Bill "Danger, Will Robinson!" Mumy). The movie leans a lot on Ms. Mumy's doe-eyed gazes. They're useful as an early-warning device that Something Very Special is about to happen.