1 star (out of four)
Tim Allen has been Disney's ``go-to'' guy for almost two decades, delivering a long-running hit television show and a hit movie series or three.
So how does Disney reward its cash cow? It leaves Allen with a lump of coal for ``The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,'' the third and almost certainly last of the ``Clause'' films. This premature gulp of holiday jeer has big-screen production values but nary a laugh.
A dozen years into the franchise and Santa (real name, Scott) has a trophy wife, a baby on the way and annoying new in-laws to contend with. And he's still the same workaholic who wrecked his first marriage.
Oh, and Jack Frost is nipping at his, uh, nose. Jack (Martin Short, faaaaaaabulous makeup, not so fab jokes) wants Santa's job. He dreams of turning the North Pole into a theme park, and himself into a lounge act: Liza Minnelli, circa 1974.
The elves are still played by children in need of acting school. Ann-Margret and Alan Arkin are the guilt-trip parents of the bride who don't know the son-in-law's job. They and the annoying family of Jack's ex-wife (Judge Reinhold as a wimpy therapist) come to the Pole for the holidays.
The other ``legendary figures'' (Peter Boyle as Father Time, Kevin Pollak as Cupid, etc.) try to help Santa keep Jack in line.
And then it's Back to the Future as we revisit the events that put Scott into the fat suit way back in 1994. He sees, briefly, how the world would be without him as Santa. Hard to believe the guys who wrote ``There's Something About Mary'' have sunk to this.
The movie's as icy as Jack's hair, as lifeless as its animatronic, flatulent reindeer. Even the outtakes are lame. Stay for the one where Allen chastises a co-star who can't keep a straight face. ``Does my acting amuse you?''
No, pal. Not in the fat suit, anyway.
'Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause'
Cast: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Ann-Margret Director: Michael Lembeck Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes Industry rating: GCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times