Review by Dustin Putman
1½ stars out of 4
"Jack Frost," is one of those dumb, corny concoctions that attempts to
be a heartwarming family film, but is too muddled in its own cliches and
predictability to be the least bit touching. This does not come as a
surprise, since the studio that made it is Warner Brothers, who is on a
current streak of one bad film after the other.
Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) is a struggling middle-aged rock musician
who loves his wife, Gabby (Kelly Preston), and 11-year-old son, Charlie
(Joseph Cross), but doesn't spend nearly enough time with them. When he
receives a call from a music label that wants to hear him play, he has
to cancel his planned family outing up in the mountains for Christmas.
Halfway there, Jack has second thoughts, but on his way back home, is in
a car accident and dies. Switch forward a year, Christmas is approaching
once again, and Charlie and Gabby are still having a difficult time
coming to terms with Jack's death. When Charlie begins to play the
harmonica his father gave him the night before he died, the snowman
outside the house is taken over by Jack's spirit. Jack wants to spend
some time with his son before the upcoming warm front melts him, but
Charlie desperately tries to prevent his melting demise.
"Frosty the Snowman," is a classic cartoon, and the idea of a snowman
that is alive works splendidly when animated, but as a live-action film,
it doesn't work at all. After a somewhat promising prologue in which the
Frost family is established, "Jack Frost," quickly goes downhill,
especially once the snowman comes into play. Since Jack has been
deceased for a whole year, you would think there would be many questions
to ask him, such as, "what happens after you die?" or, "how does it feel
to be a snowman?" but instead, the film focuses on a snowball fight
subplot and an inevitably oversentimental climax that could be
telegraphed before I even sat down to watch the movie.
The performances are respectable enough, but no one deserves to be
punished by appearing in a silly film like this. Michael Keaton at least
got off easy, since he disappears after the first twenty minutes, but
what exactly does he think he is doing with his career here? I have
always liked Kelly Preston. She is clearly a talented, charismatic
actress, but has never been given a good role in her life, usually
having to settle for a one-dimensional supporting character, as in,
1997's, "Nothing to Lose," and, "Addicted to Love." Joseph Cross was
probably the highlight in the cast, since he believably portrayed a boy
suffering the loss of a parent. In one of the only subplots that
actually works, due to its wittiness, Henry Rollins is highly amusing as
a hockey coach who becomes terrified and paranoid after seeing the live
This brief hint of cleverness is pushed to the side, however, by the
tried-and-true main plot at hand, which is the sappy story of a father
and son. Since I knew what was going to happen by the time the
conclusion came around, I had no choice but to sit there and listen to
painfully insipid, cringe-inducing lines of dialogue. Some of my
favorites was an interaction between the son and father: "You da man,"
says Charlie. "No, I da snowman," replies Jack. Or how about this little
zinger, coming from a school bully that miraculously becomes friendly
towards Charlie and tries to help him out: "Snowdad is better than no
dad." Do people really get paid in Hollywood for writing pieces of trash
The snowman, created by John Henson's Creature Shop, is more believable
than the snowman from last year's unintentionally hilarious
direct-to-video horror flick, also called, "Jack Frost," but it still
was difficult to tell if it was a person in a suit or computer effects.
Either way, it was an awful lot of work to go through, just to come up
with a final product as featherbrained as this project.
As a seasonal Holiday picture, "Jack Frost," is pretty much a clunker. A
better Christmas film from this year is, "I'll Be Home For Christmas."
Better yet, my suggestion would be to stay home and watch a quality
film, such as, "It's a Wonderful Life," "A Christmas Story," or,
"Prancer." "Jack Frost," is an earnest, but severely misguided film, and
children, as well as adults, deserve better. I doubt they would want to
see a movie about the death of a parent, anyway.
Copyright © 1998 Dustin Putman