12 Films of Christmas 2014 (#4-6)

bad santa 2.5

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)

how the grinch stole christmas

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)

jingle all the way

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)

bad santa

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

23 thoughts on “12 Films of Christmas 2014 (#4-6)

  1. I’ve seen probably 90% of Arnie’s filmography, but I never watched this Jingle All the Way. I don’t like his straight forward comedies so I never bothered. Strangely, I find him hilarious in many of his action flicks.

    I also have a soft spot for Carey’s Grinch. I know lots of people hate it, but I had fun with it, too.

    I love Bad Santa and I’ll just leave it at that.

    • If you’re an Arnie fan, maybe you’d find a reason to like Jingle All the Way…but ugh. Did not do it for me. Lol. But yes to The Grinch and yes to Bad Santa. 🙂

  2. Bad Santa is so much fun. I can understand the sentiment towards Jingle All the Way, the commercialism in that film is pretty much beyond ridiculous and it is overly cheesy. But I still love it, I think for pretty much the exact reasons it didn’t really work for you. 🙂 Haha! The brilliance of films and film blogging. Love seeing the different perspectives on it all.

    I am embarrassed to admit I don’t remember anything at all from my one (or maybe two) viewing(s) of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. So unfortunately I can’t comment there.

    Nice calls here Cara!

    • Haha yeah sorry buddy–Jingle All the Way was not my cup of tea. I’m sure I would feel differently if I’d seen it as a kid. You should rewatch The Grinch! I’d be curious to see who else likes it as well as I do. Thanks, Tom! 🙂

      • Always! JAW I get a kick out of b/c Arnie SO totally does not need to be in that Turbo Man suit.

        “It’s.. ..Turbo Time!!!!” (That’s gonna be a quote I’m going to haunt you with now. Oh Cara, you make it too easy 🙂 )

  3. Who voted for Jingle All The Way?! Lol – that movie sucks ass. Not as much as The Grinch, though – one of my most hated movies EVER! God I hate that thing. ARGH!!!!!! Love Bad Santa, though. Woohoo! Great reviews again, Cara! 🙂

    • Yeah Jingle All the Way is SO not my thing. But awww I kinda like The Grinch! Not as good as the cartoon, I know, but fun in its own way…I liked Bad Santa pretty well though, so we’re on the same page for 2/3. 🙂 Thanks, lady!

  4. Nice reviews Cara, I also forgot that the Grinch was narrated by Hopkins, that’s pretty cool. Sinbad! Lol what happened to him, that movie is horrible, do you notice that they rarely replay that one during the holidays. Bad Santa, I enjoy all the crass dirty humor in that one, nice to see Santa being a jerk every once in a while.

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