Jack Frost (1998)

Review by Throwback

Every once in a while, you find a movie that so insults your intelligence that you actually become physically ill. Maybe you even question the need for the film media’s continued existence. After all, why expose the world to the chance that tripe of such magnitude might again be released upon the unsuspecting masses. It’s like trying to contain Ebola. Jack Frost (PG, 1998) is this sort of movie.


First off, don’t get this confused with the 1996 horror movie about the killer snowman. The killer snowman movie is way better. This Jack Frost came out in 1998 and starred Michael Keaton as a blues singer who dies but comes back to earth as a living snowman thanks to the powers of a magic harmonica. If you still wish to watch this film after having read that description, something is terribly wrong with you. However, I will endeavor to change your mind.


Let’s start with taking every “family” plot cliché and cramming it into about twenty minutes. Keaton is a great guy who loves his family. Except when he lies to them to advance his career. He promises to be at his son’s hockey game but decides to record a song instead. He’s going to take the fam on a vacation for Christmas but opts for a major gig. Blowing off his family gnaws at his conscience, though, so he changes his mind and turns back. Unfortunately, he winds up wrecking his car and dies. He returns as a snowman after his son plays the aforementioned harmonica. This begins a series of hijinx wherein Snowman Frost has some superficial bonding time with Son Frost.


Actual quote from the movie, “Could the universe be this unoriginal?”


Clearly, yes.


Michael Keaton is actually a good actor. Kelly Preston, who is cast as Wife Frost, really isn’t that bad either. They are in this. When he’s actually in the show, Keaton’s acting is basically just ripping off one-liners or saccharine schlock mined from the corpses of long-decayed after-school specials. Preston looks around wistfully and nervously frets about how Son Frost is handling everything from dad’s death to hockey, with equal treatment given to both. In other words, the acting couldn’t save this film from awfulness.


Maybe there is some salvageable value from the filmmaking, right? Wrong. Even attempting the impossible task of trying to ignore how dumb the things are that you are watching, the shoddy direction and overall construction of the whole movie shines through. It just occurred to me that the whole thing actually could have been an after-school special. That’s the sort of quality you find here. It is a patchwork of clichés wrapped together by the “special” effects of a talking snowman. Consider the first real interaction Snowman and Son have after his resurrection. There is a huge snowball fight wherein the Snowman reveals that he can throw snowballs at superhuman speed and detach/reattach parts of himself. This scene seems to take around half an hour, but its apparent purpose is nothing more than showing all the amazing Snowman powers that Jack Frost now possesses. Ditto for all the hockey game filler and just about every other scene.


I’d rather not even try to insinuate Catholicism into something this bad. I know a lot of folks who like (shiver) this movie. It’s “sweet” or “shows how important family is.” It’s actually the opposite. It shows family built around the completely shallow and banal. This isn’t Ghost, people. The dad isn’t coming back to love and protect his family. He’s back to teach his kid hockey. There isn’t an underlying spirituality of virtue (or evil in Ghost’s case). There’s only pablum. Not to mention that how anyone gets “sweet” out of a kid necromancer and a creepy Snowman fetish used to house a dead guy’s soul is beyond me.


Let me sum up the content factor with this. Anyone can watch this movie. Nobody should.


As a person who loves film, watching stuff like Jack Frost is especially painful. Really though, it’s so bad that only people who see its potential as an instrument of torture would like it. It’s the sort of thing that probably gets played on a non-stop loop at Guantanamo Bay. It’s the sort of thing you should avoid at all costs.


A flaming cow fart that hopefully burns up all existing copies of this movie.