By B. Francis Morlan
Spousal neglect, relationships with the in-laws, competitive workplace dynamics and the commercialization of the North Pole are dominant themes in Disney's 2006 release of The Santa Claus 3. The G-rated kid-targeted film is a heartless story full of tired characters. The packaging and relentless Disney channel promotion will make the kids beg to see it -- we urge resistance at all costs.
Tim Allen is back as Santa. His hands are full as Mrs. Claus, weepily played again by Elizabeth Mitchell, is expecting a baby right during the peak of the holiday season (great planning there, Santa). Spencer Breslin plays Elf Curtis, Santa's right hand man at the North Pole and he can't handle anything without an aniexty attack. As Santa grapples with just being Santa he has to contend with his wife's feelings of neglect and longing for her parents, introduced in this 3rd installment and played by Alan Arkin and Ann Margaret.
Martin Short is introduced as Jack Frost, Santa's real problem in the Santa Claus 3. Frost is the jealous type and he doesn't like the fact that Santa gets a day and world fame and all he gets to do is play a supporting role. So he schemes to go back in time and snatch the Santa suit from the unsuspecting Tim Allen from the first film.
It gets unnecessarily complicated. Basically, Tim loses his Santa status and has to find his flux capacitor to fix everything -- all while somehow keeping his marriage together and his in-laws from thinking they are anywhere but the North Pole.
Of the performances in the film only Martin Short stands out for energy and creativity. His was the only character with any meat or consistency, however. What makes this film suffer is the lack of a well developed story-line or even a remote connection to Christmas.
It appears that Disney sold out the audience on this franchise. Instead of investing in the nuances that made the first film work they merely cranked up some tired movie themes (time travel), stuck a bow on it and called it Christmas. Shameful.