It's war out there. The seventh graders control the prized high ground
and are raining snowballs down on their younger classmates. Brave
11-year-old Charlie Frost (Joseph Cross) is leading an insurrection from
the field of battle below. With an audacious strategy, he goes mano a
mano with the biggest bully in the class and wins.
After this promising opening, director Troy Miller's JACK FROST proceeds
to go nowhere. Most of the time it wants to be a poignant story of a
boy and his reincarnated father. Sometimes it thinks its mission is as
a slapstick comedy. The weak script by Mark Steven Johnson and Steven
Bloom succeeds at neither. Although its hero, a snowman, cries, the
audience is unlikely to shed any tears, and the comedy provides no more
than a few modest laughs. A project with a good idea but nothing more,
the movie needs a complete rewrite.
During the long and dull first half-hour, we are introduced to the
characters. A completely wasted Michael Keaton plays Charlie's dad,
Jack Frost. Jack's desire to be a famous musician makes him into an
absentee father. He's the type who will promise to be at his son's
important hockey game but will forget as soon as he gets involved with
his work. Kelly Preston plays Charlie's mom, Gabby.
When Jack dies, you may feel like applauding silently in hope that his
transformation into three frozen balls will finally get the movie going.
You will be wrong. Keaton, who is a great comedian, gets lines so lame
that even he can't do much with them. The writers think the word "butt"
is funny so they proceed to go for the world record for the maximum uses
in a single movie. Suffice it to say that few of the uses are humorous.
After cutting to a year later, Jack does come back as a snowman. With
two branches for arms and what looks like a Halloween costume of a
snowman for the torso, he comes alive. Between the scenes that attempt
to manipulate our emotions, the movie becomes a buddy picture with Dad
and son employing snowballs to take on the school bullies. Filled with
long chase scenes on snowboards and sleds, the movie tries hard to gain
some momentum but fails.
With a schmaltzy finale, the movie finally decides to give up.
Don't be surprised if you end up thinking of the old Samuel Goldwyn
quote: "Why should people go out and pay to see bad movies when they can
stay at home and see bad television for nothing?" Why indeed.
JACK FROST is rated PG for sexuality and bathroom humor and would be
acceptable for kids 8 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 9, was bored stiff. He said he thought the film
"stunk," especially the long, first part. He thought there was nothing
to the plot. A normally generous grader, he gave the movie just a
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes