Dave's Rating:

3.5

As battles go, it's no Freddy vs. Jason.

Who's in It: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Eric Lloyd, Aisha Tyler, Ann-Margret

The Basics: It's Santa vs. Jack Frost. As battles go, it's no Freddy vs. Jason. Or Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. Or Tatum O'Neal vs. Kristy McNichol in Little Darlings. But it's better than Alien vs. Predator, even if Santa can't jut his razor-sharp inner jaws out to eat Frost's face.

What's the Deal? By the time you get to installment No. 3 in a paperweight franchise of Christmas-themed family films, you're reaching for anything to keep it going. And from a grown-up perspective, that's what it feels like they're doing here. How many cookie jokes can you invent about Santa, really? There has to be a finite amount before you resort to the R-rated stuff. But you could do worse. Way worse. Ever see 1985's Santa Claus: The Movie, starring the late Dudley Moore? That'll keep it in perspective for you.

Biggest Problem: I can't figure out how annoying Martin Short is supposed to be here. I always find him a chore to watch. I know, I know, I'm alone on that one, because so many other people think he's awesome and hilarious. But it's that built-in prejudice that's making it hard for me to gauge if he's overdoing it or not.

Not-So-Big Problem: Your kids will get this movie even if they're not old enough to have seen the other two films that came before it. Just be ready for the "Why does Santa have an ex-wife?" question. That's what happens when it takes 12 years to make three movies about a divorced dad who accidentally becomes King of the North Pole.

Little Miss Sunshine Reunion: Abigail Breslin appears here (alongside her 14-year-old kid-actor–veteran brother Spencer), as does Alan Arkin, who played her grandfather in that movie. Not that your kids will get that at all.

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