Tim Allen once again dons the white beard, red suit and considerable padding in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (Disney). Only don't expect your belly to shake with laughter like a bowl full of jelly. More likely you'll be looking for an escape clause — or route — of your own.
In this lame third go-round, Allen's ad executive turned Santa is a bit stressed out, what with all the stuff that needs to get done by Christmas Eve. In addition to the seasonal demands of his job, he must find the time for a sleigh full of family responsibilities, including being there for a very pregnant Mrs. Clause (Elizabeth Mitchell); visiting in-laws Sylvia and Bud (Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin); teenage son Charlie (Eric Lloyd); and young Lucy (Liliana Mumy), the daughter of ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson), whom he divorced before taking on the mantle of Father Christmas. Meanwhile, a jealous Jack Frost (Martin Short, who has fun in the role) plots to usurp Santa by sabotaging his North Pole operations and tricking him into giving up the red suit.
The movie's sweet message about the importance of family and the power of love, unfortunately, comes wrapped in a slapdash script clumsily directed by Michael Lembeck, who, in rightly criticizing the crass commercialization of Christmas, forwards a secular view of the holiday that ignores its religious underpinning. At one point, the big guy exclaims, "Santa always delivers!" To bad the same can't be said of this yuletide clunker.
The film contains brief mildly rude humor and a minor divorce theme. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted.