‘Jack Frost’ Review: Snow Reason to Watch

Posted in The Screening Room by - December 26, 2015

Yeah, sorry to spoil my thoughts on this movie before you even clicked on the link, but there it is – there’s no redeeming this movie. 1998’s Jack Frost might not be the worst thing on the planet, but it’s still not a film worth remembering; a fate it seems oddly at ease with.

The movie follows the Frost family, with the eponymous father played by Michael Keaton. Jack is a man who really wants to be a dad, but somehow can’t seem to balance his home life with his would-be rockstar career. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that this guy who we’ve only seen play weird Christmas covers in bars filled with midlife crisis-survivors is not only being scouted for a big record deal, but that the label’s manager needs them to do some private battle of the bands on Christmas Eve to get that right. At first, Jack is all gung-ho about delaying the holiday in place of securing his musical career, but makes a last-minute decision to turn back. On the way home, he drives off a ledge to his death, only to magically return as a living snowman the following year.

While there are some clever bits to this whole setup, none of them are ever given the proper screen time or explanation. It’s clear that some Hollywood exec just walked into the room one day and said, “New Christmas movie! Kid loses his father, comes back as Frosty the Snowman!” lit up his cigar, and strode right out. Neither the time nor the proper effort were put into anything in this movie, save perhaps some of the better practical puppeteering from the Jim Henson company. Though, to be fair, quite a few of the snow-Jack scenes can be downright terrifying, so not even the master sculptors get off clean.

The whole movie is just blasé and unpolished. It takes over half an hour – more than a third of the movie’s runtime – just for Jack to return as a snowman, then there’s almost another thirty minutes of his son, Charlie (played by Joseph Cross), running scared from the damn thing before finally accepting that it’s his father returned. You just don’t do that to your movie, leaving the whole crux of the film out of over half the bloody runtime! Add to that all-around performances that can only be classified as “passable” and you’ve really got nothing to work from. Keaton and company all give competent delivery, but it’s neither too bad nor too good to be anything memorable.

The only interesting things going on in Jack Frost are the bits of subtext you build for yourself while you try not to wholly zone out. Like where did the magical harmonica come from? Are there more of them? Why did none of Jack’s band members speak out against going to play the Christmas show, if all of them are cheering when he decides they should all pack it in and go home? We see in one of snow-Jack’s first scenes that each of his body segments seems to have a mind of its own – is this just clever personification, or do his chest and snow-ass think for themselves? When the hell did he have time to come up with these crazy hockey moves that he couldn’t have shown Charlie earlier? And, of course, the big question looming over any “returned loved one” story like this: why doesn’t he tell everyone about whatever afterlife (or lack thereof) he’s been experiencing for the last mortal year?

Again, Jack Frost isn’t a bad movie. It’s well shot, has some clever writing, has fine acting, and even a nice little moment for an ending. But it’s also just boring as hell – poorly paced, with barely any character development or any reason for being, all of which completely sucks the life out of any hope the finale had of making the audience feel something. It’s a completely inoffensive movie, and that’s why it’s just not worth anyone’s time, either way.

Final Verdict: Skip It

This post was written by

He is a Nebraska native and UNL Honors alum with an ever-relevant degree in English. When he isn’t working his day job or writing for Kulture Shocked, Ben spends his time as an independent game designer, seeking to publish his first board game. You can also find him modeling for art classes around Lincoln or online as Dlark17 on most major gaming platforms.

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