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Santa Clause

It's hard to believe that the original, The Santa Clause, is thirteen years old. The original dealt with the wonder of the Christmas spirit and Scott Calvin's journey to becoming and embracing the mantle of Santa Claus. This means that sequels can't really inbue the same sense of wonder, but there is room to take the familiar characters in new directions which is where The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause tries to go with mixed results.

First off, we'll admit to not yet having seen the second film, The Santa Clause 2, but we didn't feel as though that made a difference since this film largely stood on its own. The new (to us) characters were easy to adjust to. Anyway, Scott Calvin is now not only thoroughly entrenched as Santa Claus, but also happily married and about to be a father again. His very pregnant wife is lonely since it is Christmastime and Scott/Santa is quite busy.

Along comes Jack Frost, who is jealous that he doesn't have a holiday of his own. He hatches a plan to capitalize on Santa's attempts to jungle his family and Christmas responsibilities. His plans seem to go well and he tricks Scott into invoking the Escape Clause, which leads to a really brief It's a Wonderful Life sequence going back to the events of the original film and a parallel "present." Of course, Jack Frost is foiled and even rehabilitated. Santa's family issues are also resolved in time for Christmas Eve.

Like nearly every sequel, The Santa Clause 3 isn't equal to the original film, but in many ways that's an unfair comparison. The original film was darker (or maybe more grounded), while this film is much more whimsical. The first film had a strong theme about family as well as embracing the wonders of life. This film attempts to have a message about family as well, but here the theme isn't as strong because it gets lost in the whimsy of Santa's workshop. This film slips into cartoonishness at times, but even with this loss of grounding, the film still carries on pretty well. It is a bit uneven, but in the end it's an entertaining holiday film. It's not a classic like the original, but if you enjoyed Tim Allen and the characters created in that one, Santa Clause 3 is worth checking out.

The DVD has only a handful of extras, likely because both widescreen and full screen versions of the film are included on the DVD. There's an alternate opening which is interesting, but we can see why it was cut down. The three behind-the-scenes featurettes are short, but offer a bit of info. One, in particular, talks about how the costume design and look of Jack Frost and Mrs. Clause were altered after filming had started. Lastly, there is a karayoke-style sing-along with seven Christmas carols accompanied by clips from all three films.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause DVD Extras:
- Both widescreen & fullscreen versions of the film
- Feature length audio commentary by Director Michael Lembeck
- Gag Reel [~2:00]
- Alternate Opening [~3:30]
- Jack Frost & Mrs. Claus: A Very Different Look: Featurette on costume changes [~4:00]
- The New Comedians: On the Set with Tim & Marty [~3:00]
- Creating Movie Magic: Visual Effects Featurette [~4:00]
- Christmas Carol-oke: Sing-along with seven caroling favorites
Buy The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause DVD Now!

The Santa Clause 2 DVD Extras:
- Feature length audio commentary by Director Michael Lembeck
- Behind the scenes tour with Bernard - In character featurette [~9:30]
- True Confessions of the Legendary Figures [~3:30]
- Director's tour of Elfsburg [~4:15]
- Seven deleted scenes with introductions by Director Michael Lembeck [~11:00]
- Gag Reel [~4:00]
- Operation Toybox: Save Santa Game
- DVD-ROM extras
Buy The Santa Clause 2 DVD Now!

The Santa Clause Special Edition DVD Extras:
- So You Wanna Be An Elf? - Behind the Scenes Featurette in which Bernard "trains" new elves [~6:00]
- Making Santa Snacks with Wolfgang - Celebrity chef makes Santa's favorite foods [`15:00]
- Santa's Helper Game - 1933 short The Night Before Christmas [~7:00] is at the end
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