Young Charlie (Joseph Cross) loses his musician father Jack Frost (Keaton) in a car crash during a snow storm. A year on, a still grieving Charlie constructs a snowman, adorns him with Jack's clobber and the next time he looks out of the window he sees his wintry sculpture has come to life and is telling him it is the reincarnated form of his dead dad.
In real life, most likely the shocked kid would go into psychological meltdown and be bouncing off the walls of a padded cell for years while shrinks try to rebuild his young life. Not so here. For Jack is back to catch up on the missed time with Charlie and help his son and his wife Gabby (a delectable Preston) get over his demise, albeit as three balls of frozen water, some coal and a carrot.
It's a fantastical concept that despite uniformly decent performances in gleefully underwritten roles - The Full Monty's Addy in particular enjoying his Hollywood debut as Jack's trusty mate - suffers thanks to a single central problem: the snowman. Part CGI, part puppet, what should be an excuse for the filmmakers to flex their technological muscle is most of the time quite blatantly a bloke waddling about in an absurdly unconvincing foam suit. Who cares if Michael Keaton is doing the voice if the character looks like the booby prize winner at a Christmas fancy dress party?
That said, while adult chaperones may be less than impressed, younger kids will probably enjoy the snowball fights, James Bond-style ski chases, and pleasingly schmaltz-free father-son bonding.
Despite an astoundingly dodgy-looking central character, this is a children's flick that doesn't apologise for being so and in an environment where even cartoons are stuffed full of gags purely for the grown-ups, that's remarkably refreshing.