The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (U)



Comedy (2006)
92mins US

Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Tim Allen, Martin Short
Director: Michael Lembeck
Writer(s): Ed Decter, John J Strauss
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Having successfully rebuild bridges with his disaffected teenage son Charlie in The Santa Clause 2, Santa looks forward to the excitement of another festive season and the birth of his next child - a daughter - at the North Pole. Unfortunately, Jack Frost is scheming to wreck Christmas and so Santa, his wife Mrs Claus and their merry band of elves race against time to save Yuletide from the big freeze.

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LondonNet Film Review

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

Crammed full of more sugar than a family pack of Christmas candy canes, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause boasts more mawkish, yuletide fun with Tim Allen and co...

Like its predecessors, the third film in the series contrives a light-hearted yarn that hammers home the importance of family and togetherness during the festive season. Were it not for an amusing turn from Martin Short as the pantomime villain of the piece, scheming Jack Frost, Michael Lembeck's film would be too saccharine for all but the most sentimental palates.

Talented cast including Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret are squandered in forgettable, supporting roles, before a frenetic final act that cheekily returns to events of the first film (a la Back To The Future) to imagine a future in which Christmas has been replaced by the cynical, money-fixated Frostmas. The end credit out-takes definitely attest that the best gags made it into the final cut. If only that was a compliment.

Having successfully rebuild bridges with his disaffected teenage son Charlie (Eric Lloyd) in The Santa Clause 2, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) aka Father Christmas looks forward with trepidation to the excitement of another festive season at the North Pole. His dutiful wife Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell), aka Mrs Claus, is preparing to give birth any day and prays that her husband will not be too busy with head elf Curtis (Spencer Breslin), masterminding the production of toys for every good boy and girl. "I just hope you're not delivering when I'm delivering," she laments.

In order to give his wife some emotional support at this difficult time, Scott suggests that he bring her parents Bud (Arkin) and Sylvia (Ann-Margret) to the North Pole. Unfortunately, there's one major hitch with Scott's cunning plan. "How are you going to pull this off?" she reminds him, "My parents think you're a toy-maker in Canada!" So Scott and his merry band of elves re-decorate their world to look like a snow-laden Canadian paradise, then drug the in-laws (with the help of Sandman's sleeping powder) before spiriting them to the toy factory, with Scott's ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson), her husband Neil (Judge Reinhold), son Charlie and daughter Lucy (Liliana Mumy) along for the ride.

The problems begin when mischievous Jack Frost (Short) persuades Santa to let him help with preparations for Christmas. Jack feels somewhat short-changed and rues his lowly standing in human affections. "What do I get? A few runny noses and some dead citrus!" he gripes.

So he sets about wrecking Christmas by sabotaging the factory and driving a wedge between the family, hoping to fool Scott into invoking The Escape Clause, and wishing that he had never donned the big man's red robes. As December 24 approaches, Scott and his kin must outwit Jack before Christmas is lost forever.

Allen and Mitchell act on autopilot for the most part, while a pair of flatulent animatronic reindeer provides a couple of giggles for younger viewers in the opening hour. Short, dressed in a dapper clue suit with frosty white hair, camps it up a treat, like when Lucy tells him to chill and he hisses, "I invented 'chill'!"

The nightmarish flash-forward to Frostmas boasts some nice visual and verbal gags, especially the Tannoy announcements which include "Kids, remember. How much your parents love you depends on how much they spend on you!" and the worrisome "Shave a reindeer for five dollars!" However, The Escape Clause adds too much sugar and too little spice to the series and you have to wonder if this family comedy isn't the sort of soulless moneymaking exercise that the film is trying, half-heartedly, to warn us against.

- Sophie Abell


London Cinemas

From Friday 6th December
To Thursday 12th December

Not showing at any
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From Friday 13th December
To Thursday 19th December

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Rest of UK and Irish Cinemas

Listed in alphabetical order by city/place name followed by cinema name.

From Friday 6th December
To Thursday 12th December

- Aberdeen, The Belmont Picturehouse
From Friday 13th December
To Thursday 19th December

Not showing at any
UK cinemas this week.


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