The Santa Clause 3

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By Mark Ramsey | 2006/11/05

I always say if there’s anything the Santa Claus legend needs, it’s a time travel component.

That and Ewoks.

But I’m still waiting on the Ewoks.

Too bad Tim Allen went back only to the time of the first Santa Clause, not to a time when he was funny. And, by the way, anybody who knows when that funny time was, please stick it in a time capsule and bury it for posterity.

Said Tim, “It’s movies like this that make me reflect fondly on the time I was incarcerated for cocaine possession. I’ve gone from blow, blow, blow to ‘ho, ho, ho’!”

Yes, the man who brought us “Tool Time” now makes all of his movies a time for tools.

What’s with the Santa headdress? Ostensibly a hair and beard but more closely resembling the kind of cloaking device that would make any Romulan warship proud.

“Is that Santa Claus or Michael Landon Claus?” asked Alan Arkin, who was on loan from better movies and better times.

“I think it’s Sil-from-the-Sopranos Claus,” replied Ann-Margret who, having acted as black widow for Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, now has her sights set on a final sendoff for Arkin.

Hey Santa, why the handlebar mustache? “That’s so Santa can hang his dry cleaning,” said Allen, who evidently believes he really is Santa Claus because otherwise he’s really Tim Allen.

Into Santa’s workshop we go, and there are dozens of young kids dressed as elves. Why? Have scores of stage moms missed the deadline on the pre-teen pageants that matter? What to do when Dakota Fanning can’t be everywhere at once and Haley Joel Osment has been kidnapped by puberty and retained for questioning with elevated blood alcohol?

And what are these tiny elves making? Dolls, stuffed animals, choo-choo trains – all the toys kids want…

…in 1959.

Keen-o, Santa! That’s swift!

There goes Santa, strolling around that portion of the North Pole that closely resembles an interior soundstage in Vancouver. “Well,” acknowledged Allen, “it’s near the North Pole of a British Columbia street corner.”

Alas, there’s sabotage in Santa’s workshop! Yes, Santa is battling terrorism! “That’s why Santa now encourages both sleigh-riding and water-boarding,” says Allen. “They both sound like fun, don’t they?”

Who better to match wits against the barely employable Mr. Allen than the even less employable Martin Short? “We first offered the role to Charles Rocket and Joe Piscopo, but you have no idea how expensive those guys are,” explained a Starbucks barista in the Valley who was hired by Disney to produce this movie.

Short, who last co-starred with a Barbie doll (and I’m not kidding), now brings his Kate Hepburn impersonation to all his roles. He’s “Jack Frost,” and he takes Allen back in time and replaces him as Santa Claus.

But…Hell’s bells, what becomes of the North Pole? Frost remakes it into a crassly over-commercialized theme park! This is horrible, says the script and the Disney company. That’s right, Clause is a lecture about over-commercialization from the folks who brought us “Frontier-land.”

Where was this idea cooked up, in a town hall meeting on “Main Street U.S.A.”?

At one point in this picture, actor Judge Reinhold is frozen solid. Now I know what you’re thinking: Hasn’t Reinhold been locked in ice since Beverly Hills Cop?

Why yes, yes he has.

Aisha Tyler thoroughly embarrasses herself by being on the side of the camera which reveals your face to an audience. I’d say Disney waved a big check, but the only time Disney does this is when it wants you to wave goodbye to a big check.

“It only takes a few minutes to see the truth of an entire lifetime,” says Tim Allen as this movie veers inexorably towards a syrupy ending so predictable several audience members were tapping out sequels even before the third act.

“I didn’t make that line up,” Allen adds, “it was on a fortune cookie from a batch that’s the foundation for most Disney screenplays.”

This “Escape Clause” needs an escape hatch. The Santa Clause 3 – The Escape Clause is rated “G,” as in “G, I think I’ll stay home for Clauses 4, 5, and 6.”

If you really want to experience Santa this holiday season, leave out some milk and cookies.

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