The plot is simple in fact, too simple for most people over 10
years of age. Keaton plays a struggling blues singer from Denver who happens
to bear the same name as the famous cold-weather delivery boy, Jack Frost.
He has a lovely, loving wife named Gabby (Preston) and a son, Charlie (Cross).
Jack loves his family very much, but his career always seems to pull him
away. He frequently misses Charlie's hockey games (in which his team is
usually defeated), and also fails repeatedly to help Gabby around the house.
But they all have a happy, sappy relationship anyway. When he returns home
after one of his long absences, he gives Charlie his most prized harmonica,
telling him that if he (Charlie) plays it, he (Jack) will always hear him.
Soon after that, Jack gets killed in a car accident while trying to make
it home in time for Christmas. The film immediately cuts to a year later,
when the family is trying to prepare for Christmas while still not really
over their tragedy. Jack's former bandmate Mac (Addy) has given up playing,
Charlie is antisocial at school and quits hockey, and Gabby is trying to
keep Charlie in good spirits despite her own melancholia. But then Charlie
builds a snowman using his late father's hat and scarf, and also comes across
the harmonica and blows a few sad notes. With that, the spirit of Jack magically
enters the snowman and he comes to life (with Keaton's voice).
After father and son both get over the fact that Jack is now a snowman,
they resume their old relationship, with Jack trying to make up for the
fact that he never spent enough time with Charlie. They go sled riding,
get in snowball fights, and practice hockey together. But everyone else,
including Gabby, Mack, and the kids at school (none of whom know about Jack's
chilly resurrection) see Charlie talking to the creature and think that
he has gone completely off the deep end.
Despite its simplistic story, the film has a good cast and provides a
campy holiday feel. Keaton's patented confused-but-cool act works well in
this role, and his relationships with the others are satisfying. There's
plenty of fun and adventure, and comic relief is thrown in with a subplot
involving Charlie's confused coach (Henry Rollins). The effects, some created
by Jim Henson's Creature Shop and some by George Lucas's Industrial Light
and Magic, are not as sparkling as past projects by those two companies
(Jack the Snowman isn't exactly Yoda), but they provide serviceable results
for the film's target audience.
Directed by Troy Miller (TV's Beverly Hills Family Robinson) and written by Mark Steven Johnson (Simon Birch, Grumpy Old Men) and Steven Bloom (James and the Giant Peach), Jack Frost doesn't have much for adults, but at least you can rest your feet while your kid enjoys a light romp through a snowy fantasy. ***½
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