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Saturday, January 24, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 31.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Jack Frost
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All in all, I'd rather have my chestnuts roasting over an open fire than Jack Frost nipping at my nose. Starring Michael Keaton as a blues singer who's about to get his first big break when he drives his vintage Cadillac off the side of a Colorado mountain, this is yet another bad-dad-makes-good movie--Santa Clause visits the Rockies. Only, instead of turning into the guy with the bowlful-of-jelly belly, Keaton's Jack Frost--that's his name, don't wear it out--returns from the dead as Frosty the Snowman. Sounds like a horror movie, doesn't it? Indeed, Jack Frost was also the title of a straight-to-video horror movie from a couple years back in which a homicidal maniac was reincarnated as you-know-who. Luckily, Keaton's less-abominable snowman doesn't splice or dice anybody. He prefers gumming us to death.

Which is to say, director Troy Miller and writers Mark Steven Johnson and Steve Bloom & Jonathan Roberts and Jeff Cesario (those "ands" and "&" all mean something: trouble) lay on the Christmas spirit with a snow shovel. Even before he's killed, Jack is a perfect dad: warm, friendly, funny, supportive and, for crying out loud, a guy with his own band. But Jack's son, Charlie (Joseph Cross), wants more, and the movie's on Charlie's side. It's rather amazing what these bad-dad movies expect of their dads--i.e., that they should sacrifice absolutely everything for their kids. So should mom. You'd think Jack's wife, Gabby (Kelly Preston), might like to spend a little quality time with ol' Frosty, but no. He's too busy going sledding, building snow forts and playing hockey with his woefully neglected son.

Maybe that's a good thing, because every time Gabby's eyes look lovingly into her husband's, she says, "Sing me a smile, Jack." Keaton does his own singing, even co-wrote a couple of songs with Trevor Rabin, formerly of Yes, and I just have one thing to say to Dave Matthews: "Be afraid. Be very afraid." Kids may enjoy some of the movie's action sequences--e.g., a snow fight that makes the Battle of the Bulge look like a winter carnival. But it's hard to imagine them getting very excited about Michael Keaton in a snowsuit. Truth be told, the snowman's animatronic, with a little computer help now and then. But there doesn't seem to have been a lot of time or money spent on the thing. The Pillsbury Snowboy at best, a pile of scratchy Styrofoam at worst, Keaton's Frosty should be relieved when he finally starts melting. I know I was.

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