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  Jack Frost Snow Good
Year: 1998
Director: Troy Miller
Stars: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross, Mark Addy, Andrew Lawrence, Eli Marienthal, Will Rothhaar, Mika Boorem, Benjamin Brock, Taylor Handley, Joe Rockicki, Cameron Ferre, Ahmet Zappa, Henry Rollins, Dweezil Zappa, Moon Unit Zappa
Genre: FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) is a singer and musician with his band, and one night as they are performing Frosty the Snowman a record company scout in the audience is very impressed and recommends them to his bosses. Meanwhile, Jack's son Charlie (Joseph Cross) is let out of school for the Christmas holidays and gets into an epic snowball fight with his fellow pupils, bettering the bully Rory (Taylor Handley) with his skills. On returning home, he looks forward to spending time with his dad over the festive period, yet fate plays its hand and not only does Jack have to perform in order to get a contract, but tragedy is right around the corner...

There's a British institution on television at Christmas which has been around since the early eighties, and that is the animated version of Raymond Briggs' classic children's book The Snowman. In that, a boy builds a snowman, it comes to life at night, and they have a grand adventure until the poignant conclusion, all of which looks to have been the inspiration to the makers of this would-be Yuletide tearjerker. However, it was not enough for them that this was some random heap of snow with no emotional connection to the boy other than it's his best friend for a night, no, here they had to up the ante and guarantee that you would have a lump in your throat by the end.

Unfortunately for them, the only lump in the throat that most viewers had was their gorge rising, as they layered on the sentiment to glutinous effect, all tempered with supposed sequences of winter-based hijinks. What happens to poor old Jack is that when he is off to that Christmas gig, having left his family behind much to their displeasure (why didn't he take them with him?), he has second thoughts and turns back. Alas, the snow begins to fall very heavily, he careers off the road and dies in a crash in an instance of audience manipulation that you can practically hear creaking and clunking as it gets into gear.

So that's the end of Jack, Charlie feels terrible for rejecting his father at the last time he ever saw him, and we progress to a year later where the son is facing another Christmas without one parent. Ah, but in a twist that goes quite some way to beggaring belief, that snowman he builds in the front garden is transformed into a version of his dad when Charlie plays a tune on his harmonica - one of those magic harmonicas you're always hearing about, naturally. This means a Jim Henson Worskhop suit is used that Keaton provides an affable voiceover for, along with some ILM computer animation, a combination which resolutely fails to convince.

This second chance enables Charlie to bond with his dad as they try to get the word "butt" into every conversation, as everyone else in the film does in an unexplained swearing substitute scenario. They beat the bully at snowballing, they go snowboarding, and practice ice hockey in a dedication to pseudo-inspirational pursuits which do not translate their sense of uplift to the audience. Why would that be? Because his dad's a snowman! It's utterly absurd and an idea that the filmmakers accept at face value without conveying any thought to how outright weird it would appear. Leaving aside the fact that Henry Rollins shows up in a credibility destroying role as a hockey coach alarmed by the sight of a walking snowperson, and the unexplained presence of Frank Zappa's offspring, there's nothing about this that even approaches plausibility even for a seasonal fantasy, and the schmaltz volume is turned up far too high with cloying results. Music by Trevor Rabin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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