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SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE ($30) is a good example of why Hollywood should stop green lighting sequels based upon the box office receipts of earlier installments and start concentrating on having a good script in hand before undertaking such enterprises. The movie is all about marketing to an established audience, instead of bringing new, entertaining ideas to the table. Personally, I liked the first movie; but the second one was definitely for the kids, and this third installment in the franchise "more of the same." The plot of SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE is pure TV sitcom, but then again, the kids that this movie is intended for probably aren’t looking for any hint of sophistication with their entertainment. On the plus side, this outing does feature some amusing moments that will appeal to the adults, thanks to the presence of Martin Short.

The premise of SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE finds that it has been a dozen years since Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) donned the red suit, and by doing so, assumed the mantle of Santa Claus. Things are hectic at the North Pole with the Christmas rush and Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell) about to give birth. Scott realizes that Carol gave up a lot to come to the North Pole and become Santa’s wife, so he makes arrangements to bring his in-laws up north to "Canada" to visit their daughter. Also adding to Santa’s holiday headaches is Jack Frost (Martin Short), who has become jealous of the fat man stealing all of his wintertime thunder and is looking for a holiday of his own. Taking advantage of all the mounting pressure on Santa, Jack Frost tricks Scott into invoking The Escape Clause, which allows the wintry prankster to travel back in time a dozen years and grabs the red suit for himself before Scott had the opportunity to put it on for the first time. The cast of SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE also features Eric Lloyd, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Spencer Breslin, Liliana Mumy, Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin, Abigail Breslin, Art LaFleur, Aisha Tyler, Kevin Pollak and Jay Thomas.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment has made SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. A full screen version is also provided for those who actually watch such things (but it is not reviewed here). Image quality is good; almost everything appears reasonably crisp and the picture offers good definition. Colors are nicely saturated, bright and rendered with good stability, plus the flesh tones are appealing. Blacks are accurate, whites are crisp, plus the picture has smooth contrast and more than satisfactory shadow detail. The film elements are free from noticeable flaws. Digital compression artifacts are a non-issue.

SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE comes with a fairly standard comedy mix in its 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital. As expected, there is more activity across the forward soundstage than there is in the rear channels, but the surrounds do supply the usual complement of ambient sounds and musical fill, in addition to occasional active effect. Music is reproduced with a nice level of fidelity. Dialogue is always easy to understand. The bass channel keeps things grounded. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. The primary supplement is a running Audio Commentary with director Michael Lembeck. Other extras include a Blooper Reel, Christmas Carol-oke (sing-along), an Aly & AJ Music Video for the song Greatest Time Of The Year, Alternate Opening (previous outing clip recap), Jack Frost & Mrs. Claus: A Very Different Look (abandoned character design concepts), The New Comedians: On Set With Tim & Marty (interviews with the old stars) and Creating Movie Magic: Visual Effects Secrets (self explanatory).

Kids will get more out of SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE than will adults, although there are the Martin Short moments that have a bit of adult appeal. Disney’s DVD is a solid performer. This disc is another good stocking stuffer for the kids.



Santa Clause 3 - The Escape Clause



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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