(Troy Miller, US, 1998)
This debut feature from TV director Troy Miller is a lightweight 'family feel-good movie'. Michael Keaton plays musician Jack Frost who dedicates more time to his struggling band than his only son. Killed in a car accident before he can correct the errors of his past, Jack reappears one year later as a snowman. In his new incarnation, Jack sets about doing the things he should've done when he was a regular dad.
The premise is ludicrous with nothing but a jokey aside to explain just how Frost returns in snow form. Not that that really bothered me. I am a fan of the fantastic and a sucker for snow films - that is films that have snow in them. I know how ridiculous that sounds but it is true, a film will automatically receive brownie points from me if there is plenty of snow in evidence. Being set across two Christmases in picturesque small town America there's plenty of opportunities for snow on screen in Jack Frost. This is very much a kids film concentrating as it does on the hardships of a growing schoolboy - avoiding the local bully, trying to get on the school ice hockey team etc. And as such it's not bad. It felt like a good 40 minutes before Keaton makes his transformation into the snowman and when he does you can't help looking for how they achieved the special effects shots. It's a combination of ILM computer graphics and Jim Henson Workshop puppetry and animatronics. The overall effect is good enough and provides a couple of laughs, as does Henry Rollins in a strange piece of casting as the school hockey coach.
Unfortunately, despite the fantastic scenario the script is mundane and the efforts of a good cast aside, the result for adults is uninspiring and occasionally embarrassing - see the oh-so-fashionable (and jarringly out of step) snowboarding sequences for example. Others have trashed the film along with its central idea but imagine the same concept as directed by Tim Burton and I think you can see that the idea has some mileage. But (unfortunately) this wasn't directed by Burton. I caught it in a very undemanding mood on a Sunday evening with my equally undemanding girlfriend and it didn't feel like a waste of time. You might think differently if you were to rent it on video.