Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jack Frost . . . The Scarier Michael Keaton One! (A Shitmas Post from Bill Brock)

It Came From Netflix Streaming

Jack Frost 

Every other year it seems a movie studio will release a new Christmas movie that they hope will catch on like A Christmas Story or It's a Wonderful Life or Lethal Weapon.  On rare occasion something like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation comes along and folks just watch the absolute shit out of it.  Mostly we end up with The Polar Express, a horrible CGI trip into the uncanny valley that ABC Family pushes every damned year.  

Jack Frost was 1998's attempt and, man, it is terrible . . .

Michael Keaton stars as Jack Frost, lead singer of terrible blues band, who is on the very cusp of hitting it big because a small crowd in a dive bar seem mildly into them.  I say seems because when we see the band we hear some cheers when we see the audience it looks like an audition for a zombie movie.  So nice extra handling there, Mr. Director.  The Jack Frost Experience performs Frosty the Snowman (haha because the movie is about a snowman and that's some foreshadowing, bitch) in that really dumb  semi-ironic Bruce Springsteen-y way where they throw some blues slang in here and there and seem to find this notion funny or whatever.  

We then meet Charlie, son of Jack, Frost and begin dreading that we are gonna be spending the remainder of our time with him  Charlie seems to be like most movie kids in that he has precisely 2 concerns in life and can't be allowed to keep both parents.  

Charlie loves hockey and hates seasonal bullies who slightly inconvenience smaller kids with snowballs.  Now bear in mind that all the kids appear to have set up battle lines and all of them seem to be  into snowball fighting but one whiny little bitch kid starts whining and ruins it for everyone else because Charlie has to “rescue” him from mid field.  The bullies aren't really doing anything evil like packing snowballs with rocks or anything they are just throwing snowballs in an accurate sort of way.  

After this daring rescue Charlie heads home to await his dad's return from the road.  Keaton finally shows and decides to wake the kid and build a snowman.  We get our first dick joke.  Heartfelt whatevers and Keaton gives the kid an empty speech about following dreams and a harmonica.

Later, Charlie has a big game.  Charlie, reasonably, wants his dad to be there.  Keaton has to go to the studio to lay down a track which we hear playing over the game.  It wasn't worth missing the kid's game for.  On his way out the door to the studio, Keaton half-assedly shows him the “J-Shot” where he moves the hockey stick slightly before hitting the puck.   I know nothing about hockey but I can't really work out how a minor bit of stick movement is helping anything.  Charlie, of course, loses the big game by over shooting the net and he feels bad about it.  

As an act of contrition Jack offers to take his family up to a cabin for Christmas but, gasp!, gets a phone call from a record company who might sign them if they are willing to drive somewhere on Christmas and play a Christmas party.  Jack tells the kid that he'll meet them at the cabin afters and heads off.  A midways there, Jack decides that he'd rather not have a deal if it means he has to work for it and calls the trip off.  The rest of the band seems fine with it because fuck success.  Admittedly they were heading there to compete against a couple of other bands and I was imagining a battle royale where the bands fight to the death for the contact but that might make the movie interesting and we can't have that.  So Keaton borrows the car of a band mate and heads off to the cabin.  The car is, of course, a Fonzie style affair where one has to punch the dashboard in the right spot to get the windshield wipers to work because lord knows that last thing one wants to do in a snowy area is keep one's car maintained.  Keaton flies off a cliff and-


Charlie is a broken shell of himself and has turned to booze and whores to help with the pain of losing his dad without having had a chance to take back all his mean words.

Not really.  He seems like the same kid only maybe slightly sadder.  Maybe.  Projecting emotion isn't in the kid's acting repertoire.  The seasonal bullies imply that he isn't as fun to pick on now that his dad has died and should stop being an asshole about it.

Charlie decides to build a snowman and use his dad's stuff from last year's snowman and wouldn't you know it when he places that zabadadblat on the old cat's head he skibbidy scabbity YEAAHHHHHH!!!.

So, anyways Charlie is understandably frightened by a talking snowman and generally refuses to believe it to be his dad.  So Keaton the snowman wanders around wondering why he is a snowman.  Is it the name?  Probably.  Even though Jack Frost the anthropomorphic representation of ice scrappers' mortal enemy is actually a sprite and not a snowman.  As the movie progresses, we are led to believe that God really has it in for Charlie and will not rest til he is dead.

So Jack follows the kid to school and decides that throwing a fuck ton of snowballs at children would rule!  The logic behind this is that being made of snow makes one a natural at throwing snowballs.   No one questions how a kid standing in plain sight is able to throw hundreds of snowballs in seconds; they just decide as a group to murder him.  The movie does a poor job of establishing it but the school is apparently built on the side of a goddamned mountain.  We get Charlie and Jack on a sled being chased down it by little Shaun Whites on snowboards.   Charlie and Jack trade terribly quips while causing these kids to fly off the trail and hit trees and shit.  So, at least, Jack doesn't just endanger his own child in all this.

At some point they end up in the set-iest looking set ever.  Even movies from the 30s and 40s like The Wizard of Oz fool the eye more.  Jack finally teaches the kid the “J-Shot” using branches that are shaped like hockey sticks and real pucks that I guess the kid had.  Why he carries 6 pucks I'll never know but I probably shouldn't be so literal about a kids' fantasy movie.

Charlie, to the surprise of no one, uses that shot to win the big game and then hops in the back of a truck so he can take Jack to the top of a mountain where it is cold cause, gasp!, global warming or something.  Jack never says, “You know, hopping in the back of a truck and hoping for the best is a bad idea.”  Instead as they near the cabin he has the kid jump from the back of the truck.  Worst.  Father.  Ever.

We then get the bittersweet ending and bleh.

Jack Frost never really works for several reasons.  One, we never can buy the puppet/CGI snowman.  There is never a moment when one looks and say, “I totally buy that these effects are real.”  Two, Jack, a terrible dad, is given a second chance and with that second chance, endangers his kid at every turn.  Which can only mean that God exists and fucking hates Charlie.  Three, the vaguely naughty dick and tit jokes are so bizarre sitting next to the treacly message of “Our dead never leave us if we remember them”.  Four, the story was brought to us by the writer/director of Daredevil AND Ghost Rider and seriously fuck that guy.  Five, it is just absolute Shit... mas.

Merry Christmas everyone.

- Bill

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