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"JACK FROST"
(1998) (Michael Keaton, Joseph Cross) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Minor Moderate Mild *None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor None Mild
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor *None Heavy Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Children's/Drama: A boy's dead father returns as a snowman and tries to make amends with the son he often neglected in favor of his burgeoning career.
PLOT:
Jack Frost (MICHAEL KEATON) is on the verge of fulfilling his lifelong dream as musician. His pursuit of that goal, however, often means that he misses important milestones with his son, Charlie (JOSEPH CROSS), and wife, Gabby (KELLY PRESTON).

When an unscheduled appointment on Christmas Day means he'll renege on yet another promise he made to be with his son, Jack decides to cancel the meeting. Driving back to meet his family on a wintery night, Jack's car skids off the highway and he's killed.

A year later, Charlie and Gabby are still coping with his death. Mac (MARK ADDY), one of Jack's former bandmates, spends a lot of time with them, but Charlie's so out of sorts that he's not even up for a snowball battle with the neighborhood bully, and he also quits the hockey team.

One night, however, he decides to build a snowman, one of the few things he and his father enjoyed doing together. Later, when blowing on an old harmonica that Jack gave him with the promise that he could hear it no matter where he was, a magical transition overcomes the snowman. Suddenly alive, it turns out that Jack's spirit has inhabited the balls of snow, something that initially scares Charlie, but his dad eventually convinces him that he's his father.

From that point on, Charlie must contend with everyone's concerned reaction to him talking to a snowman, as well as an unusually warm Christmas, as he and his dad finally get to spend time together.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they like stories such as "Frosty the Snowman" or fantasy-based holiday films, they probably will.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For mild language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MICHAEL KEATON plays a talented musician who puts his career ahead of his family, and who later comes back in the form of a snowman ready to make amends with his son.
  • JOSEPH CROSS plays that son who's obviously upset that his father often breaks his promises and by his dad's later death.
  • KELLY PRESTON plays Charlie's loving and concerned mother.
  • MARK ADDY plays Jack's former bandmate who spends more time with Gabby and Charlie after Jack's death.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    An updated take on the traditional and beloved children's story and animated TV special, "Frosty the Snowman," "Jack Frost" is a cute, but mostly "by the numbers" production that may please younger kids, but will most likely test the patience of nearly every adult who's dragged along to see it.

    Children have long enjoyed the song and subsequent cartoon of a snowman who comes to life and is befriended by a child who must then save Frosty from rising temperatures and a villainous magician wanting Frosty's magical hat. Although this adaption maintains some of those elements, it jettisons others and throws in a family loss and reincarnation twist. Even so, the end result is that the film still lacks the necessary pizzaz to become the live action holiday classic it may have been.

    Despite the presence of four screenwriters -- usually a bad sign despite their singular and collective track records of penning pictures such as "The Lion King," "James and the Giant Peach," "Simon Birch" and the "Grumpy Old Men" movies -- the film decidedly suffers from the lack of any sort of substantial plot beyond the initial setup. There are no "villains" (beyond some briefly used neighborhood bullies) and so the story is confined to dealing with a man's second chance to spend more quality time with his son.

    Unfortunately, most of that is squandered away with the standard issue "I should have been a better father" moments and by having Jack teaching his son some skill (in this case, a hockey shot) that he'll undoubtably use later in the film (in a scene that unfortunately misses the necessary dramatic arc and isn't as satisfying and uplifting as it should have been).

    While the melting element is finally introduced to insert some much needed complications and urgency into the story, there's just not enough there to liven things up enough to keep the overall story interesting -- despite the familiar and mostly workable setup.

    Sure, there's some action material for the kids -- including a somewhat clever snowball fight staged like a military war movie battle, and an overdrawn, down the slopes chase scene -- but more often than not the filmmakers seem more intent on blaring any number of songs on the soundtrack than telling an interesting and involving story.

    Now, to be fair, the proceedings aren't horrible and the presence of big name stars such as Michael Keaton ("Batman," "Multiplicity") and Kelly Preston ("Jerry Maguire," "Twins") gives the film a much needed strong foundation. The performances from them, as well as Joseph Cross ('Wide Awake") and Mark Addy ("The Full Monty") are all decent, and the story contains the requisite "second chance" element that everyone's wished for at some point in their lives.

    It's just too bad that more thought and/or effort wasn't put into making the film really special -- even when considering that we're talking about a snowman that's come to life. As a result, it's highly unlikely this will become a holiday classic, although as mentioned earlier, younger kids will probably find enough here to be entertained.

    For those wondering how the snowman comes off in the film, while his character is appropriately kid-friendly, the overall visual effect never looked quite "real" to me. While I'll assume that no one has a real-life reference from which to compare the results of the technician's efforts, both the "puppet" work of Jim Henson's Creature Shop and the computer effects generated by Industrial Lights and Magic can't shake the artificial look that's present.

    Although some will correctly argue that a snowman probably wouldn't have the fluid characteristics of say, a dinosaur from the "Jurassic Park" films, the resulting "mechanical" look does nothing but remind the viewer that they're watching an effect, and not a real "being" -- imaginary or not -- and notwithstanding Keaton's mostly successful effort of building the character through his vocalizations.

    While the film's intentions are good, first-time feature film director Troy Miller (best known for his short opening films featuring Billy Crystal in the recent Oscar ceremonies) simply doesn't have the experience to take up the slack left over from the otherwise anemic plot.

    The story elements of the neighborhood bully and hockey match don't offer much substance and are too easily wrapped up, while the melting element similarly leads to a quick and emotionally bereft (unless you cry at greeting card messages) final farewell that closes out the proceedings.

    Decent, but far from great, the film will entertain the little ones, but -- despite its concept and wintery setting-- it simply lacks the magic that will ensure long-lasting favorableness as a holiday classic. We give the cute and sweet-natured, but ultimately plot challenged "Jack Frost" a 4 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-rated film. Mild profanity (with 1 possible "s" word) gives the film that rating and some other "choice" phrases also occur, but the untimely death of a parent may also raise a bit of concern for some parents with children sensitive to that issue.

    Beyond some briefly passionate/sensual kissing between a husband and wife, and the standard taunting by the local bullies, the rest of the film's categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable material. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned with the film's appropriateness, we suggest that you take a closer look at what's been listed.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Some people at a concert drink.
  • Charlie jokes with his dad about Gabby packing martinis for Charlie's lunch.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We briefly see the family dog urinating on the now alive snowman.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • While not completely done intentionally, Jack puts his career ahead of his family and often breaks/forgets the promises he made to them.
  • Some local kids bully other kids.
  • A boy refers to a father as the "old man."
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Although the accident and Jack's death aren't actually seen, the fact that he's killed in a car accident will be unsettling to many younger viewers.
  • The moment when the snowman first comes to life (as wind and the camera rapidly spin around the snowman) may be just a bit frightening for very young viewers.
  • Chased by the bullies, Charlie finds himself dangling from a branch over the edge of what turns out to be not so high a cliff (and the snowman saves him).
  • Some kids may find the scenes where the snowman starts to melt from the unusual seasonal heat as somewhat unsettling.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Although none are present, during an early snowball battle scene, the sounds of gunfire and artillery and played in the background (for comic effect).
  • Charlie uses a plugged-in hair dryer like a gun as he threatens to melt the snowman with it.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "You little wiener," "Butthead," "Shut up," "Butt dad," "Butt boy," "Nuts" (crazy), "Old man" (father)," What the bloody hell?", "Punk," "I'm melting my ass off," "Sucks" and "My balls are freezing" (referring to the snowballs from which a snowman is built).
  • Charlie and some other kids get into a big snowball fight.
  • During that, a younger kid wiggles his butt at the others and taunts them to give him their best shot.
  • Jack jokingly comments about a neighbor to his son and says that she looks "hot."
  • Charlie and the snowman jump from the back of a moving truck.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A few bits of suspenseful music occur during the movie.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 1 possible "s" word, 2 damns, 1 ass, 1 crap, 1 hell, and 1 use each of "God" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • When Charlie tells Jack that their snowman needs a nose, Jack breaks off a stick and starts to put it near the snowman's "crotch" area. Charlie then says "nose" and Jack comments that he thought he said "hose."
  • Jack jokingly comments about a neighbor to his son and says that she looks "hot."
  • Jack and Gabby have a few kissing moments that may be a bit steamy for some parents with younger kids (it's not graphic, but they are longer than a peck, and are somewhat sensual, including one where he climbs over her on their bed and kisses her).
  • The bullies throw snowballs that hit the snowman and stick to his chest, briefly looking like breasts (to which the snowman comically reacts).
  • SMOKING
  • Although it's not tobacco related, the neighborhood bully has something in his mouth that he's pretending to be a cigar (during the war-simulated snowball battle scene).
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Both Charlie and Gabby are upset with Jack since he often breaks/forgets his promises to spend more time with them.
  • They're also obviously upset about his death (although we don't see any of their reactions until one year after the car accident).
  • The neighborhood bully comments that he never knew his father.
  • Charlie and his mother must deal with Jack leaving them once more (and now for good -- although this is played to be a mostly happy occasion).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The death of a parent and how they will not come back as a snowman (or any other being).
  • VIOLENCE
  • Charlie and many other kids get into a snowball battle that's reminiscent of a military war scene (but nothing worse than kids being hit with snowballs).
  • We see some hockey related violence (players knocking others to the ice, etc...).
  • Although we only see the initial skid, we learn that Jack is killed in a car accident.



  • Reviewed December 5, 1998 / Posted on December 11, 1998

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