Jack Frost (1998)

 jackfrost1998a

Director: Troy Miller

Cast: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross, Mark Addy, Henry Rollins

Screenplay: Mark Steven Johnson, Steve Bloom, Jonathan Roberts, Jeff Cesario

101 mins. Rated PG for mild language.

 

Hey everyone, another year, another 12 Days of Christmas! I’m glad you joined me on this ride again. Let’s begin by looking back on a film that I initially didn’t care for but wanted to revisit: Jack Frost.

jackfrost1998b

No, I’m not talking about the horror film, but yes, one day I’ll show you that. This is the Michael Keaton (Birdman, Spotlight) film.

From director Troy Miller (TV’s Arrested Development, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd) comes the story of a musician named Jack Frost (Keaton) who hasn’t been able to juggle his personal life with that of his family, including wife Gabby (Kelly Preston, Jerry Maguire, Casino Jack) and son Charlie (Joseph Cross, Lincoln, Milk). Then, one fateful snowy night, Jack is involved in an accident while driving home to set things straight with his family and dies. Yeah, you heard right, he dies. Deadzo. Then, the following year, as the Frost family struggles to cope with the anniversary of Jack’s death, something magical happens. We don’t really know what, but the important thing is that Jack Frost comes back in the form of a wise-cracking pun-filled living snowman. Jack has little time to set his affairs in order and right the wrongs of his life, so with help from his son Charlie, Jack sets out to prove he’s the “coolest” dad ever (hot damn, even I can’t believe I just wrote that).

On second viewing of Jack Frost, I was sad to find that my initial thoughts on the film hadn’t changed. I felt this strange feeling of disappointment that so much could go wrong here. I happen to think that Michael Keaton is one of the greatest and yet underappreciated actors currently working (and I love that he received such notoriety for last year’s Birdman), but I don’t think he had much to work with here. The script is so poorly written, giving way for too much fluff in a film that should be a dad trying to right his wrongs. For one thing, a ball is dropped by never letting Jack interact with his wife. Being a man back from the great beyond, I would want to see my wife, tell her I love her, and give everything I could to make her understand that I’m okay up there, but Jack doesn’t get to do that. Instead, he has a snowball fight, and a sledding scene, which could be fun, but give me something here.

I didn’t have a lot of problems performance-wise because I don’t think the fault can be placed on the performers. This script is riddled with disappointment.

And don’t tell me that the film is meant to be a heart-warming tale of a father and son, because I see what it wants to be and raise it a level by asking why the story exists. What’s the why here? Why did Jack come back? Why as a snowman? And why not let him have the chance to do something about this? This story seems like the biggest fudge-up in existence and makes whoever or whatever is responsible for Jack’s return seem like a jerk.

jackfrost1998c

In the end, I had a lot of questions hanging after finishing the film even on the second view. The visual effects were pretty good for the time and haven’t aged that poorly, but under better scribes and the work of a better director, this story could have given our actors a playground to explore, but instead, we get a botched attempt at schmaltzy sentimentality that fails to connect to viewers.

 

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 12 Days of Christmas, click here.

31 Days of Horror: Day 2 – Urban Legend (1998)

MV5BMjA4NTY2NzcxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjg4MTIyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_AL_

Director: Jamie Blanks

Cast: Jared Leto, Alica Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Tara Reid

Screenplay: Silvio Horta

99 mins.  Rated R for horror violence/gore, language and sexual content.

 

If I had to classify the 1990s with a specific kind of horror film, it would most definitely have to be the slasher film. In the 90s we had classics like Scream and its sequel, we had messes like I Know What You Did Last Summer, and we had Urban Legend, which exists somewhere in the middle.

urban-legend

Urban Legend is essentially Scream in practicality, but instead of horror film staples as the moniker, we get urban legends, the scary stories that everyone swears happened to someone who knew someone they know. Natalie Simon (Alicia Witt, Two Weeks Notice, A Madea Christmas) gets entangled with the killer after several close classmates get picked off, but who is it? Is it Paul Gardener (Jared Leto, Requiem for a Dream, Dallas Buyers Club), the strange school paper writer, or is it best friend Brenda Bates (Rebecca Gayheart, Jawbreaker, G.B.F.), or perhaps party king Parker Riley (Michael Rosenbaum, TV’s Smallville, Hit and Run), or could it be radio student Sasha Thomas (Tara Reid, The Big Lebowski, Sharknado 2: The Second One)? The answer is simple, if you know latin. In fact, in a SPOILER ALERT but not really SPOILER ALERT note, the killer’s identity is actually revealed in the school motto in latin.

The plot and slasher tool of Urban Legend isn’t all that bad. In fact, it can have some meta connotations in that the very belief of urban legend is that they are true, so turning fiction to fact would be a very interesting to play with, but screenwriter Silvio Horta (TV’s Ugly Betty) doesn’t play with it as much as just present the idea in its plainest of ways. That’s the real death of the story in that it is wasted. The main concept becomes little more than campiness on a stick.

None of the performances are very good, nor are any of the characters very likable. The greatest win of the acting in this film comes from the many cameos associated with horror films, from Brad Dourif (Chucky the killer doll) in the opening, Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) as the professor everyone admires and fears, and Danielle Harris (Michael Myers’ niece Jamie Lloyd) as the goth dorm mate to Natalie.

Take an opportunity to enjoy the 90s soundtrack as it pulsates of musicians you might find at The Bronze from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The sets are interesting. I love the university, it just oozes creepy.

axe

My advice, watch this movie as it does have some thrills to it (the opening itself is nearly perfect) but be warned that it is far from far from perfect. You heard that correctly, far from FAR FROM perfect. That is twice removed.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more from the 31 Days of Horror, click here.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑