Hello again, friends! Are you all having a holly jolly Friday? I certainly hope so. After kicking off my second 12 Films of Christmas series with this post last Friday, I’m back to discuss the second most popular batch of films that you, my beloved readers/Christmas angels, picked from this poll. I’ll warn you right now: this post does have a big ol’ lump of coal in it. I…erm…didn’t quite jive with one of these films. But I’ll just let you read about that…
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Synopsis: “A creature is intent on stealing Christmas.” –www.imdb.com
In a Nutcracker’s Nutshell: Y’know, I hadn’t seen this in a long while, and for whatever reason, I kind of expected to dislike it this time around. But it turns out that I have a weird soft spot for Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas because I had fun with it! Is it better than the original 1967 cartoon? Not really. But if Jim Carrey doesn’t drive you completely crazy and you can stand a little cheese, then it’s pretty enjoyable. Actually, about Carrey driving people crazy…Funny thing is, he tends to have that effect on me, yet I really like him in this role. His Grinch is much more manic and obnoxious than the quiet, sly character we all know from the cartoon, but I still find him weirdly likable, and Carrey clearly goes all out to make him that way. I’m also pretty fond of how vividly the Whos and Whoville are brought to life—their strange, mousey Who faces and all of their wild gadgets and decorations. I don’t even mind the heavy-handed message reminding us that Christmas is about the love and not the consumerism (a message the cartoon handles with much more subtlety, but whatever). Also, I’d completely forgotten this was narrated by Sir Anthony Hopkins, but that’s a win. Personally, I don’t think this is too shabby for a family Christmas film.
My Glad Tidings: B+
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Synopsis: “A father decides to dream the impossible: to get a Turbo Man action figure for his son just before Christmas.” –www.imdb.com
In a Nutcracker’s Nutshell: Guys. GUYS. What the hell did I just watch?! How did this tie for third place on my poll?! Is this supposed to be a “so bad it’s good” type deal?! Because all I have to say about that is nope. Naw. No way. Uh uh. NO. Like, I don’t want to be a Grinch, but that was…painful. I’ve never been big on Arnold Schwarzenegger, so that doesn’t help, but really, could he be any more miscast as the lead in this movie? The man may be a decent action star, but let’s be real: Schwarzenegger doesn’t have a comedic bone in his body. He is so, so out of his element as goofy workaholic Howard Langston. Every attempt to be funny comes off as forced and awkward. (Sidenote: Why “Howard Langston?” He has the thickest Austrian accent ever, and his name is Howard? Sigh. Whatever, writers. Whatever.) Also, Sinbad…Sinbad?! Honestly, I’d completely forgotten he existed until I watched this, and now I just want to forget him all over again. He simply could not be annoying as Howard’s sidekick/rival. Everything about this film screams cheese—the dialogue, the characters, the story, all of it. I can’t count the number of times I said “What is this?” or “Why is this happening?” or “Why did my readers vote for this? Do they hate me?” If I have to find something redeemable…I guess the very end is okay since it lets Schwarzenegger be the action hero/cool dad, and it also finally takes the time to tone down the consumerism. Also, the film might’ve made me laugh, like, once. But that’s not enough to make me want to watch it ever again. Yikes.
My Glad Sad Tidings: D
Bad Santa (2003)
Synopsis: “A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.” –www.imdb.com
In a Nutcracker’s Nutshell: Fortunately, today’s post won’t be ending with a bah humbug. I’d only seen parts of Bad Santa before I sat down to watch this, and I actually kind of hesitated to put it up as an option for my Christmas movie poll because I don’t always love Billy Bob Thornton, but in the end my curiosity got the best of me. To my pleasant surprise, Thornton’s performance as anti-hero Willie, the worst shopping mall Santa of all time, is probably the best thing about this movie—even if he is a bitter, misanthropic drunk for most of the film. Seriously, this guy is messed up. But, admittedly, he can also be very funny and even a little endearing when he befriends an awkward kid (Brett Kelly) who clearly needs someone to look out for him. That friendship is what ultimately keeps this dark comedy from being too dark. It was kind of a shock, I think, to jump to this R-rated film after a handful of feel-good family-friendlies—especially since every new scene seems to try extra hard to make the viewers cringe at whatever outrageous shenanigans Willie gets into next. Some of that seemed a little too forced to me. Still, with Thornton’s spot-on performance, a hilarious turn from Tony Cox as his elf/partner-in-crime, and a pair of fun performances from a couple of comedy legends (R.I.P. Bernie Mac and John Ritter), this one is worth a watch. Just make sure the kids are nestled all snug in their beds before you watch it.
My Glad Tidings: B