Jack Frost (1998) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The creative minds behind the Jim Henson company and Industrial Light and Magic have combined forces to create a children’s special-effects driven Christmas movie. The name of the movie is Jack Frost, and although it eventually arrives at an upbeat ending, first it spends almost 100 minutes telling a sad story. This bizarre mix of family film tear-jerker and adult themes is never cohesively gelled into an entertaining picture. What we have here is a movie with a cute concept, a likable Keaton performance, and skillful effects, but it is a tactical miscalculation from beginning to end.

Jack Frost (Keaton) is the lead singer in a blues band that is gathering a following. His son, Charlie, is a genius who loves hockey and his father. One night Jack’s car slides off the icy roads of the northwest and he’s killed in the ensuing crash. One year later Charlie is facing his first Christmas without his father. So, in a fit of sadness, the young boy builds a snowman and plays a tune from a magical harmonica that was given to him as a gift the year prior. Through the magic of the instrument, Jack is reincarnated in the form of a Snowman. As par for the course in these types of films, only Charlie knows that the friendly pile of snow in the front yard is actually his deceased father come back to life to aid his son in scoring his first goal in a youth hockey league. You’d think if Jack has been granted this second opportunity to be a good father it would amount to something greater than attending a pre-teen sporting event.

The 1990’s was an extremely popular decade for family movies and sports comedies, Jack Frost is both and successful at neither. Michael Keaton gives the film his patented brand of energy and over-acting, but his voice infliction for Bettlejuice was far more appealing than his disinterested line readings as the Snowman. This is a movie that is so lazy it doesn’t even let one of the main characters in on the plot until the last five minutes. Jack Frost needed a serious rewrite from top-to-bottom before going before the cameras. The product on-screen feels both rushed and painstakingly detailed, but it doesn’t work as a Christmas movie, a sports comedy, or a quality family flick. In the eternal words of Bing Crosby and Peggy Lee, “Little Jack Frost get lost.”

Director: Troy Miller
Stars: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Mark Addy

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