In The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Tim Allen's surprisingly durable Christmas franchise loses some of its heart, but not much of its steam in another generally enjoyable outing. This time Allen's Kringle must overcome the ever-bombastic Martin Short, who joins the series' stable of legendary figures as Jack Frost, the cold-hearted weasel who wants to bend Christmas to his own perverse design. The former Scott Calvin is also about to become a father again, and needs to figure out if his in-laws, whom his wife is dying to see, can be convinced they're visiting a Canadian toy factory rather than the North Pole. What's a Santa Claus to do? The Santa Clause 3 fails to jettison any characters from the previous films, and, by adding yet more, inevitably leaves everyone without enough to do. Also noticeable: the children who played elves in the previous films are quickly growing up, such as Spencer Breslin, who's still good with the comic timing, but is no longer so elf-like as a teenager. Michael Lembeck, returning from the second installment, again directs at a frenetic pace in an attempt to jam everything in, and once Jack Frost turns the North Pole into a crass theme park, everything can get a little grotesque in a Back to the Future 2 sort of way. (Short also has something to do with that.) But, all in all, The Santa Clause 3 keeps the groove going from the previous films, due in large part to Allen's affability as a leading man. The 50-million-dollar drop-off in U.S. box office is consistent with this being the worst Santa Clause movie, but even as such, it's still better than your average Christmas fare.