I think everyone has a movie or song where you feel like you shouldn’t like it. Like you can point out everything there is not to like about it or pick out every flaw in it…but in the end, you just enjoy it. Why you like the particular thing is often hard to explain, you either are hiding why you like it even from yourself or you simply just enjoy it when you’re not over thinking things. For me, at least in terms of Christmas movies, Jack Frost is that film for me. There is so much not to like about it, from its poorly made CGI or it’s overly cheesy story that feels really unoriginal… when I see it my brain screams are me to see all the things that are wrong about it…but when I sit back, relax, and watch the movie– even with that tiny voice in my head… I still really like this film.
As a touring musician clinging to dreams of stardom, aging rocker Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) never had much time for his wife, Gabby (Kelly Preston), and young son, Charlie (Joseph Cross). A year after Jack’s tragic death in a car accident on Christmas Day, Charlie plays a mournful tune on his father’s harmonica. Much to his surprise, the elder Frost is magically brought to life as a snowman on the family lawn. Given a second chance, Charlie and Jack struggle to make up for lost time.
Now, I am going to do this review under the assumption that, like the majority, you’re NOT like me and don’t have a weakness in your heart for this film. That being said, here is what I like about the movie overall: It is a heartwarming story about a father getting a second chance with his son after the father’s untimely death. I like that the beginning of the movie balances the family… Jack is a very good husband and loving father despite the fact that he is often away trying to make it big in his music career. And, while this distance does provide a bit of angst on his kid’s side, there is no doubt that the family truly loves each other– I just love the entire family dynamic at the beginning.
Additionally, I like the humor in the film– Michael Keaton as a big-butt snowman just works well. He has a way of talking that just shouldn’t come out of a snowman but that makes him seem like a dude you would want to hang out with. He also throws in enough adult jokes or comments for this movie to be watched by all ages. One scene in particular, that I always enjoyed, is one where Jack is outside in the snow and his son is putting something on TV for them to watch together and Jack cannot stop laughing when (1) Frost the Snowman pops up on the screen, it’s awesome that he can see the irony, and when his son’s coach is on the news talking about seeing an alive snowman… You just get the feeling that Jack Frost was made to be a snowman– it just works so well for his character.
And how epic were the snowball fights in this movie? I remember having snowball fights for days as a kid– but nothing this organized or epic…. just sayin’.
But alas, this movie is not for everybody. It often borders on overly cheesy or cookie cutter throughout the film which can be a bit distracting. The CGI for the snowman in the film is very weak also and a lot of the facial expressions are a bit…uncomfortable. But hey, it was the 90’s… But it is the relationship between Jack and his son Charlie, the relationship this entire film is built around, that is the most disappointing facet of this movie. Charlie goes from being a pretty decent character to just being outright annoying for half of the film before he finally comes around to accepting his father back in his life. Which is ridiculous, when you think about it because Charlie is bitter at his father for going elsewhere when they were supposed to have a family outing– but Jack died because he decided midway through his trip that he would much rather give up on his dreams so that he can spend the holidays with his family. I feel like Jack should get a pass on your angst, Charlie, get over yourself!
I think part of the reason many people disliked Jack Frost is because it never escapes its “made-for-tv”-feel. It had a theatrical release when it should have gone straight to TV because, for the most part, that is the type of quality we are dealing with as a movie in terms of both writing and quality. I think if it had been a made-for-tv project it would have been much better received by audiences and would be more of a staple for people to watch every year during the holidays. Instead, it was a failure in the box office and a failure as a movie and has probably, and sadly, been forgotten by most people.
But this movie does have a special place in my Holiday watching list. Maybe it is because I am a softy or maybe it is because I watched this for the first time when I was really young. Or maybe it’s because despite all the negative things I have to say about the movie, it is still worth a watch just to see Michael Keaton be a pretty sweet snowman. This is a movie you can watch with the entire family but I do think that children would probably get the most enjoyment from it. It’s isn’t the best holiday movie around but I have certainly seen much…much worse and while this film fails in certain aspects, it does have tons of heart and captures the spirit of family and togetherness that is the holidays.
George Clooney was originally attached to the project but when he left to do Batman & Robin, ex-Batman Michael Keaton was re-cast into the lead role. This caused no end of trouble for the Jim Henson‘s Creature Shop because they had designed their snowman animatronic specifically to Clooney’s facial features and acting style.
Michael Keaton co-wrote two of the songs on the soundtrack.
Was released about two years after the identically titled Jack Frost (1997), a horror film featuring a mutant killer snowman.