The Santa Clause series is two thirds good
When you wait twelve years to make a sequel, usually that means you had a good idea. If you then wait only four years to make another, maybe you had an idea, maybe it's just a cash-grab. If that third movie is a lousy remake of an infinitely superior classic? I'm sorry, that's just about the definition of a cash-grab.
I like the first "Santa Clause" movie. It's a unique take on the childhood mythos of Santa. I may like the second one a little better. The overly-sappy ending of the first one just rubs me a little bit the wrong way, though it doesn't ruin the movie for me at all. But The Santa Clause 3: It's a Wonderful Clause? At 97 minutes, it's already about 60 minutes longer than the story can justify.
In The Santa Clause:
Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is an executive at a toy company who has his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), over one Christmas Eve. Charlie's psychiatrist step-father, Neil (Judge Reinhold), has just told him the "truth" about Santa and Scott has a problem with that. He has problems with Neil in general, but that goes to a different personal problem entirely.
That night, Scott and Charlie hear a noise on the roof. When Scott goes to check on it, he ends up startling a man on his roof in a red suit. The man falls off onto the lawn and vanishes, leaving the suit behind. Now when something like that happens, you obviously put on the strange man's suit and deliver toys to everyone.
Scott becomes Santa and he and Charlie spend the night at the North Pole. Scott is given eleven months to put his affairs in order then return to the North Pole to continue as Santa for next Christmas. However nobody will believe Charlie when he says that his dad is the new Santa and everyone starts to believe that Scott is a bad influence on his son.
In The Santa Clause 2:
Scott has been Santa for several years now, and he and his ex-wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson), have worked out the misunderstanding of the previous movie. However, it turns out there's another part of being Santa that has been overlooked: the Mrs. Clause. If Scott doesn't get married by Christmas Eve, he can no longer continue as Santa Claus.
Scott pays a visit to his son and ex-wife and plans to find that special someone who will love him forever, or at least until Christmas Eve.
His son has been acting up at school and because of that, Scott starts spending time with the principal, Carol Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell). They start off arguing every single time they meet, so acording to the movie law of relationships, they're destined to be together.
Meanwhile, things have been going majorly wrong at the workshop, but that's another story.
In The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause:
Scott and Carol are expecting a child, so they fly her parents up to the North Pole so they can help her out while he makes final preparations for Christmas. They don't know that Scott is Santa, so they're told they're in Canada.
Meanwhile, Jack Frost (Martin Short) is feeling lousy since he doesn't get his own holiday. It's not enough to have an entire season to himself, so he starts stirring the pot between Scott and his in-laws as well as causing a real headache at the workshop. He ends up tricking Scott into using something called "The Escape Clause" where he wishes he'd never become Santa in the first place. When that happens, Frost takes advantage and becomes the new Santa Claus.
Scott is given a glimpse into how his life might have turned out if he'd never become Santa. His wife hates him. His son hates him. His son's half-sister, Lucy (Liliana Mumy), hates him. And he and Neil are best friends ever.
Just kidding. He hates him as well. Haven't you heard? Hate's the new Jolly.
Worst of all, Frost has gone public with the whole North Pole thing and kids now have to fly north to get their presents from Santa.
The first movie is unique and heart-felt. The second is charming and fun. The third one, however, simply gets ridiculous and trite. It's an unnecessary sequel and the main gist of the story is largely lifted from It's a Wonderful Life. Kids may like it well enough. It's colorful and it's got a sappy ending. I don't absolutely hate it, but overall, it's just annoying to me.
The Santa Clause gets a 7 / 10.
The Santa Clause 2 gets another 7 / 10.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause gets a generous 5 / 10.
The Santa Clause is rated PG for a couple mildly crude moments while The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause are both rated G.
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