Judge Ryan Keefer is comfortable knowing that Santa Claus vanquished the Clubber Lang equivalent in this flick, but the more concerning question remains...who's the Ivan Drago for the fourth film?
Our review of The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, published November 20th, 2007, is also available.
'Twas the fight before Christmas…
The Santa Clause 3 was released right around Christmastime last year, almost four years to the day after the second film was released theatrically, and almost a dozen years after the first. The fact that the film made $85 million, a respectable box office total, was a bit of a personal surprise. Is this Blu-ray release a lump of coal in your stocking?
Facts of the Case
Ed Decter and John J. Strauss returned to write the final(?) installment, while Michael Lembeck directs, all of whom were involved on the previous film. Scott Calvin, a.k.a. Santa Claus (Tim Allen, Wild Hogs) and his wife Carol, or Mrs. Claus if you will (Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost) are expecting a baby, their first. Scott decides to bite the bullet and invites Carol's parents Bud (Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine) and Sylvia (Ann-Margret, Viva Las Vegas) to the North Pole to celebrate. In the meantime, while Scott is hosting the in-laws, he asks a fellow supposed fictitious holiday figure, Jack Frost (Martin Short, Three Fugitives) to oversee the events at the toy workshops and make sure the kids get their gifts. Jack, albeit a nice guy, has ulterior motives, and might try to ruin the spirit of Christmas, leaving Scott in a bit of a quandary.
Upon hearing that there was a third Santa Clause movie pumped out for the 2006 holiday season, I was a little bit surprised. Seriously, are you like me, a husband with no kids, who had no idea that there was a second film? But hey, you find out new things every day. Two things occurred to me, while The Santa Clause 3. If you've missed the second film, you're not really going to lose anything in transition from the first. A shock, I know. The second thing is, at some point, the franchise's focus (cripes, saying this is a franchise makes me cringe) has to change. The kids are in their teens or going off to high school, and realistically, having a teen care about Christmas aside from the material portions of it just doesn't work. Come on, the kid will get his arse beaten from pillar to post, just on general purpose. So I guess that explains why Mrs. Claus has a bun in the oven, so to speak.
Overall, there doesn't seem to be a film that's been exposed to more apathy than The Santa Clause 3. Everyone's reaction seems to be 'eh, who cares?', yet people went to see this movie, pushing the three films to a combined $350 million domestic box office. So yeah, there's going to be a fourth, whether you like it or not. That means waving bye bye to Judge Reinhold ("mock trial with J. Reinhold!!") and Wendy Crewson, who just doesn't look all that together in this one. Even Eric Lloyd (My Giant), who was in the first and second films, comes back for the third. Looks like this thing is for Tim to travel onward and upward.
In a bit of a technical curiosity, Disney released the film on Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation using the VC-1 codec; surprising since their films I've seen to date use the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Despite the fact that the picture is clear for the most part, some of the shots seem to lose a bit of sharpness in the main image. However, the PCM soundtrack is far more active and engaging, with panning over each channel during scenes of dialogue where the characters are moving, and most action scenes possess some low end to them.
The extras on the disc are the same as on the standard definition disc, with a couple of BD exclusives. There's a virtual scene, where you can put gifts under a tree and decorate it, put a stocking on the chimney and personalize it, all while you pick from a dozen holiday songs, create a playlist, and let it play when you're doing this. Good stuff, albeit a little kitschy. Everything else on the disc remains, including the commentary with Lembeck, whose recollection of what went into the production is quite remarkable. If you want to know how much fake snow was used, or how many pairs of prosthetic elf ears were worn, he's your guy. It's not a bad track, but he probably should have had someone to bounce dialogue off of. From there several small featurettes follow. There's three minutes of Short and Allen going off on tangents between takes, followed by some initial footage of Short and Mitchell that Lembeck reshot. Suffice to say that after you see it, it's clear he made the right decision. A blooper reel and the film's alternate opening are next, followed by a look at the visual and computer generated effects in the film, along with a music video and a chance to karaoke to several holiday songs.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There is a wealth of capable comedic talent here. Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond), Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men), Jay Thomas (Mork & Mindy), Aisha Tyler (Ghost Whisperer), and Arkin, combined with Abigail Breslin, who appears in the film for the cinematic equivalent of a cup of coffee, appear as well. That's half the cast of Little Miss Sunshine, one of the better films of 2006, set to perform with stale dialogue lines, and Arkin in a role that seems to be a change of pace, and quite frankly below his acting capabilities. What a waste.
If you haven't seen the first two films, you're not really treading any new ground here.
The filmmakers and cast are found guilty as charged, and ordered, or at least requested, to consult with the public before making a fourth film in the saga.
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