Jack Frost

Jack Frost (1999)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Production Notes

Just in time for the holiday season, Warner Home Video is bringing us a stylish and highly entertaining Christmas movie. The problem with these holiday movies is usually that it seems to be hard for them to strike the right balance between entertainment value for young and adult audiences. Many of the films are too shallow or silly for adults to thoroughly enjoy them and on the other hand, many of them are a tad too sophisticated for children. On top of that, most Christmas movies are just too plain melodramatic for their own good. But here comes "Jack Frost", a holiday movie that is different and made a surprise impression with everyone here at "DVD Review". Once again, Warner Brothers managed to create a movie that is multi-layered and entertaining for the whole family.

Jack Frost (Michael Keaton) is a blues and rock’n roll musician. Due to his tight touring schedule his not able to spend much time at home with his wife (Kelly Preston) and his son Charlie (Joseph Cross). It is hard for him to juggle his fatherly duties with those of the road, but whenever he finds his way home, he is the most loving Dad, Charlie could ask for.
Just in time for Christmas, Jack is making it home after an exhausting tour and is excited about he prospect of spending his holidays with his family. But then a phone call disrupts the idyll. During their tour "The Jack Frost Band" had made a great impression on an agent of a major record label, who now wants to sign the band. To put their skills to the test, he wants them to play a Christmas bash to the company’s executives, much to the dismay of the band members and families, who had hoped to finally get some time to spend at home.

Jack makes his way to the concert but halfway into it he realizes that nothing in the world is so important as to leave his wife and son on Christmas Eve. He turns back and heads home when a thick snowstorm begins to unload its fluffy flakes over the landscape. With inhibited sight, Jack keeps going and the inevitable happens – the car skits off the icy mountain road and Jack is killed.

One year later, Charlie is still thinking a lot of his Dad, especially as Christmas comes around. Lonely, he builds a snowman in front of the house, just as he and his Dad used to do and then something magical happens. Jack’s soul is manifesting itself in the snowman, and he is out to right all those things he did wrong during his short lifetime.

Michael Keaton is fuelling "Jack Frost" with an energetic and charismatic performance. Even when his articulation is somewhat hampered because he is ‘disguised’ as a snowman, his charisma and his delivery are there, giving the snowman personality, individuality and charm. He is supported by a great cast, and especially Joseph Cross as his son Charlie is showing signs of vulnerability without being an overly weak or tragic figure. While he is missing his Dad, he is still living a regular life and takes the challenges that lie ahead. The movie is quite humorous, but never actually silly. The comic momentum is one we are all familiar with, creating an easy going and charming atmosphere of grown-ups mixing with children, to re-discover their own youth.

Apart from the well-written script, and the great cast, the film’s photography is truly remarkable. Every picture has been carefully framed and composed, giving each one of them the look and feel of traditional Christmas postcards and paintings. Many of the images in the film resemble Norman Rockwell’s romanticized idyll of America, but with a distinctly modern touch. Never really nostalgic but always beautiful, these images are a true pleasure to behold.

Warner Home Video is presenting "Jack Frost" in <$PS,fullframe> and in an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer on this DVD. The movie is framed at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and contains an incredible amount of detail. The film transfer does not exhibit even the slightest defects, creating a stark and solid picture for the entire presentations without any distractions. Colors are strong and naturally drawn, bringing out the best of the movie’s beautiful photography. Deep blacks and good highlights create a balanced picture with faithfully rendered fleshtones throughout. The compression on the disc is also great without artifacting or color bleeding.

One thing you will immediately notice about "Jack Frost" is the powerful soundtrack. Presented in a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix, the soundtrack has plenty of punch and a wide frequency response, making the movie dynamic sounding. Especially during the concert scenes, the <$5.1,5.1 mix> is creating a great live atmosphere through the use of a wide reverberation field and early reflections that bleed in through the rear speakers. But also during the movie’s regular sound track, the sound designers made great use of the split surrounds, creating a very lively atmosphere through the entire movie. If your family’s coming around this Christmas and you throw in this movie they will certainly take notice how surround sound capabilities can enhance even the most seemingly mundane movie experience.

The film contains a great music score, featuring a number of blues and rock and roll tracks – some of them actually performed by Michael Keaton on vocals, a number of re-recorded Christmas classics, as well as a fully orchestrated score by Trevor Rabin.

Together they create a very modern, yet wonderfully romantic atmosphere for the film. "Jack Frost" contains an English and a French soundtrack, as well as English and French subtitles. The movie’s theatrical trailer and productions notes round up this great family release from Warner Brothers.

I have to admit that I was very pleasantly surprised by "Jack Frost". The film was much better than I had expected and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is a touching tale but at the same time wonderfully told without being melodramatic at any time. It is a modern tale about modern day people, but presented in slightly romanticized and visually striking images that create an enchanting Christmas atmosphere. If you haven’t found the perfect movie for the Holiday homecoming yet, "Jack Frost" is definitely one of the contenders that won’t disappoint anyone.