Jack Frost (1998)


USA. 1998.


Director – Troy Miller, Screenplay – Steve Bloom, Jeff Cesario, Mark Steven Johnson & Jonathan Roberts, Story – Mark Steven Johnson, Producers – Irving Azoff & Mark Canton, Photography – Laszlo Kovacs, Music – Trevor Rabin, Visual Effects Supervisor – Joe Lettri, Visual Effects – Rainmaker Digital Pictures (Supervisors – Mark Franco & Peter Sternlight) & Industrial Light and Magic, Miniatures – Vision Crew, Special Effects Supervisor – Jeff Frink, Live Action Frost Effects – Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop (Supervisor – David Barrington Holt), Production Design – Mayne Berke. Production Company – Azoff Entertainment/Canton Co/Warner Bros


Michael Keaton (Jack Frost), Joseph Cross (Charlie Frost), Kelly Preston (Gabby Frost), Mark Addy (Mac MacArthur), Taylor Handley (Rory Buck), Henry Rollins (Sid Gronic)


Jack Frost is an aspiring rock musician just on the verge of making the big breakthrough that he has long sought. He is constantly having to sacrifice quality time with his son Charlie in order to do so. Jack throws away a holiday with his family to play a gig on Christmas Day that will give him the opportunity at a recording contract. On the way there, he realises it is wrong to do so and turns back. However, his car skids in the snow and goes over a cliff. One year later, Jack returns and finds he is now inhabiting the body of the snowman that Charlie has built in the yard. Trying to avoid snowplows and sunlight, Jack manages to convince Charlie of who he is and sets about, despite the bizarre body he is trapped in, to make up for lost time with his son.

In an environment like Hollywood where cautious conservative thinking rules the types of films that get made, occasionally there are projects that make one do a complete double-take. Jack Frost is one of these. Even before you sit down to watch the film it has a premise that makes you think “WTF!!!!!! A film about a man who is reincarnated as a snowman?” You wonder what bizarre hiccups in studio-thinking could have ever allowed such a film to be greenlit. (Although, one supposes it is not that odd as only a few years before Sam Raimi has been trying to mount a Frosty the Snowman project).

It is possible with the right spin that Jack Frost – not to be confused with Jack Frost (1997) and its sequel Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000), which had a serial killer incarnated as a snowman – could have emerged as something akin to the appealing offbeatness of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990). Alas, the film lacks a Tim Burton at the helm. It starts out quite well. The initial family scenes are conducted with warmth and believability rather than schmaltz. For a time, it seems like a film that could go the way of an E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and generate soft tender feeling. Unfortunately, it all goes downhill after the introduction of its snowman. All the warmth and soft believability is abandoned and Jack Frost becomes a cartoony live-action fantasy film with a single gag premise. There are a good many predictable jokes with people being scared and with the snowman trying to avoid revealing himself to people. The film’s set piece highlights are a snowball fight and a snowboard chase with a skiing snowman (where a group of kids suddenly become instant stunt skiers).

Michael Keaton is okay. Henry Rollins, the former lead singer of punk band Black Flag and since a distinctive performer on his own, seems way out of his territory in a small supporting part as one of the parents who is scared by the snowman.

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