It’s always a little disheartening when the seasonal period approaches and, being an avid film fan and frequent cinema goer, Christmas-related movies are always attached with such a stigma, a negativity that surrounds the majority. It really only leaves a handful — such as the original classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and Home Alone — that come out unscathed.
But of course, every film means something specific to every individual. Such as, being born in the 90s you’ll be more common with the likes of Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause, the camptastic Jingle All the Way and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street, therefore be forgiven if these all hold a place dearly in our bauble-laced hearts. For fans of Christmas will undoubtedly revel in the tackiness of the holiday, the overly-saccharine-like quality of the majority of these films that dish out family dynamics that often lead to overwhelming sadness or some sort of moving melodrama. So, in all sense of the word, one of my absolute favourite moments of Christmas is sitting down in front of the heavily decorated tree with a cup of hot chocolate and a pack of Kleenex to watch Jack Frost. Not the abysmal horror version, can i just clarify.
To summarise the outlandish plot: Charlie Frost (Joseph Cross) and mother Gabby (Kelly Preston) form a ritual of waiting for rocker dad Jack (Michael Keaton). He’s away a lot at gigs and generally is really unreliable. It’s not until a late recording session on Christmas Eve away from a pissed family that he runs into some ice on the road and cue tears a dozen, Charlie Frost has no father. Really, on Christmas? We speed forth to one year later and Charlie is generally really, really unhappy. He comes across a harmonica that Jack gave to him a few days prior to his passing and holy sleigh bells, dear old Jack (Frost) has been reincarnated as a snowman. Ensue madcap adventure between son and father, making up for long lost time. But of course, what happens when the snow melts?
Cue more, more, more tears.
Upon it’s release, i remember firmly as a child (i’d have been six at the time) seeing TV spots on the television and it looked like a lovely family film, the film to see that Christmas even. I missed that opportunity. A year later, the VHS was mine, and i was in love. This story between father and son is something millions will undoubtedly resonate with. Spruce it up with a setting that bursts with snow, lights and anything that resembles the cosy holiday, this cheesy, family film bursts with enough warmth to crack the coldest of hearts.
Eighteen years after release and i’m now much, much older. But do i love Jack Frost any less? Of course not. Sure, it’s a little dated. I mean, the sledding chase between Charlie and his rivals, with snowdad Jack on the rear of the sled catapulting snowballs, the visuals are as corny as the premise itself. But the feels are all there; this is a kind-spirited seasonal adventure that’s admirable in its efforts.
Director Troy Miller didn’t have an easy run. The only other mentionable effort that can be spoken of was the abysmal prequel to Dumb and Dumber, so we’ll stick to calling Jack Frost his best effort. The talent on the other hand. Michael Keaton’s surge to fandom has soared since the Oscar-rife Birdman and last year’s Spotlight, but still, he’s Jack Frost. Kelly Preston, known more so for being the wife of John Travolta, has starred in a handful of pictures, most notably Jerry Maguire but again, i can’t help but see cosy mother-figure Gabby. And then there’s cute Charlie Frost, played by actor Joseph Cross who featured in films like Lincoln, Milk and an almost Charlie-shattering serial killer in Untraceable which could have tainted the image in Jack Frost. Luckily, my love is clearly far, far too strong.
It’s far from perfect, but Jack Frost is quintessential Christmas entertainment for me and my family. It’s a heavy tearjerker but it brims with enough wholesome family entertainment to make it soar this time of year.
Jack Frost is available on DVD now.