A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids will probably be eager to see the third tale in this fun, tame holiday movie series. Although it's rated G, there's still plenty of slapstick violence. Jack smacks Scott in the face with a snow shovel, and, in another scene, Jack gets run into and knocked over. That said, Santa's pad at the North Pole is one happy place. There are plenty of magical scenes in this movie that make you believe reindeer really can fly and magic really does exist in the world. And, oh, all those sweet treats!
What's the story?
In the franchise's third installment, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) has a rival for his job as Santa: Jack Frost (Martin Short), who has a big chip on his shoulder about always having to play second fiddle to the popular Claus. But, as the title suggests, there's an "escape clause" in Scott's contract, which takes Scott and Jack back to the moment when Scott first pulled on the enchanted red coat and became Santa. This time around, Jack grabs the garment and -- presto! -- he becomes Santa instead. This is not good. Not good at all. Mainly because Jack is sorely lacking in people skills. Unlike Scott, Jack isn't doing the whole Santa thing to bring joy and happiness to people around the world. He's only thinking of himself -- so much so that he re-names the holiday "Frostmas." Jack doesn't have the warm, fuzzy factor that Scott has, either. He frightens the kids, blames them when things go wrong, and takes the spirit of the season and turns it into one big commercial for himself.
Is it any good?
The Santa Clause movies don't require a lot of brain power, but, frankly, that's what makes them entertaining. They're just good, old-fashioned fun, with some magic and mischief mixed in. Allen has found a great niche in family movies, and sidekick Spencer Breslin (who's shared the screen with Allen in several movies) is funny as head elf Curtis. New additions Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin (as Scott's in-laws) bring some freshness to the franchise, and, of course, Short is his usual over-the-top funny self. If you're just looking for a lighthearted movie to share with your kids, this is a great way to kick off the holiday season.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences in the way Jack and Scott view Christmas. Scott loves being Santa and bringing joy and magic to people all over the world, while Jack is only in it for his own gain. Does Jack's scheming pay off in the end? And, what is Christmas truly all about? The candy and presents? The magic and joy and spending time with people you love? The religious significance? This is a great opportunity for families to talk about their own holiday traditions and beliefs.
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