Nationals Baseball: Christmas Movies

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Movies

It begins (way late) My Blog. My Rules. You can always skip with your eyes and with button clicks. Biology and Technology working as one to avoid my obsession with bad holiday movies. It's your only hope, really. In fact I'm trying to come up with a biology + technology angle on a bad Christmas movie. Cyborg reindeer? I love it.

Run now.

Christmas Movie Reviews
Wish Upon a Christmas
X(Mas)-Factor: Like a mall before Halloween. Sparse but there.
Kids acting: Is this a kid? Is expressing little more than "I love Santa" acting?
Watchability: If you can stay awake, it's fine.
"Hey it's"! : Alan Thicke!  The younger daughter from "10 Things I hate about you"! (Yes yes she's Alex Mack and Ken Cosgrove's wife and like a half-dozen other things. Sorry. Mad Men was fine, but Julia Stiles dancing to Notorious BIG on a table is definitive cinema.)

Here's my guess. The original plot of the movie was a Lifetimeified "Up in the Air". This woman travels around and fires people as her job and she's good at it. She's forced to go to her hometown and do something similar to a factory there, but it turns out it is run by an ex-boyfriend. He teaches her the value of not being a corporate stooge. She teaches him how to not run a business into the ground. Add some magic with his kid wishing on star yada yada yada happily ever after. The end. Then someone told the writer what they really needed were Christmas movies to which the writer replied "I can make it a Christmas movie!" and sold! Everyone is happy except me.

What happens when you Christmasfy a movie? (1) Corporate sends you to fire people, not on a random day, but on Christmas Eve. No business would do this. Forget that it's unnecessarily mean it's not even practical. It's the holidays. Who's working? Not you, not them. Too many people would be out to judge the business and then fire people. But not in this world where ornament makers are in such demand, even with the business in trouble, that they are working literally up until Christmas. How does this work logistically? The time I've lost trying to figure it out... (2) The factory, instead of furniture or whatever, becomes an ornament factory. Seriously. Why not toys? Overdone? It's a Lifetime Christmas movie, an overdone plot point is not frowned upon but cheered. I suppose it was the best choice though if you didn't go toys. Can't be a nativity factory - too religious. Can't be a Christmas tree factory - real trees=good guys in these movies. Wrapping paper? Candy Canes?  (3) The falling object isn't a star the kid wishes on. Instead it's Santa's sleigh crashing. Why? Because this movie still needed to be Christmas-fied by 40% It's not like you actually have to show it crashing either. Or crashed. Or the crash site. Or really deal with it at all as it's apparently gone immediately. They just say they found a hole. And anyway the titular wish is just in a letter he writes to Santa so it's not like he wished on the sleigh, even if that would make sense, so... what's the point again?

Oh that's right - his Dad pointed out a bauble in a Christmas book that he said was Santa's magic thing needed to get to everyone on Christmas to his 12 year old who still believes in Christmas like all 12 year olds do. The kid finds that bauble (apparently falls off sled in crash) and that becomes something to bring Santa in as he's looking for it. It gets lost again and finding it is what brings the woman back a final time. But why do we need Santa at all? Because he's delivering the kid's gift of NEW MOM aka business woman! Huh? Why would he need to be there at all? Why the bauble? Why not do some other magic or...

Or maybe it was originally just some random piece of jewelry connected to his mom that got lost and when business woman brings it back it's like the mom is bringing her back implicitly saying it's ok for the guy to move on! Oh that makes so much more sense! Then the fact the kid never says anything about missing mom, or the fact he has no personality (To wit, he likes baseball. Which team? No team. Just the sport. He's got posters like you had growing up. Some unidentified player hitting a ball, some unidentified field, a bat and glove) makes more sense because his "miss mom, mom wants you to move on" scenes had to go to fit in Christmas junk. Am I giving the writers too much credit for their original script that may or may not exist? Maybe.

I haven't even talked about Alan Thicke! He phones-in his performance and I mean literally. This is my favorite role you occasionally see in these movies, the name they can attach to it that is never actually on set with anyone else. Think Randy Quaid in Major League 2. Better yet, don't ever think of Major League 2. Thicke walks in set at 10AM, shoots 3-4 phone conversations with someone reading the lead's lines, walks out at 10:50 saying "Bada bing, bada boom, I'm done" Did someone involved in the movie sell it with Thicke's name? Did a corporate stooge demand it? Do either of those questions make sense in a world that exists outside of Alan Thicke's head? His character is actually supposed to be wherever he is with her mother but what daughter wants to talk to their mother when she costs the price of another speaking role?

Anyway this isn't a movie. It's an office that was decorated for the holidays. We see the festive trimmings, but we also see the dull sadness underneath.

3 out of 8+1 reindeer, who they say in the song is the most famous reindeer of all, but preface it with "do you recall".  That doesn't make any sense, especially after assuming I know all the rest of them. WRITE BETTER SONGS.


SM said...

You've become one of those Cahiers du Cinema pointy-heads: Too smart for a genuine, heartwarming tale of redemption, second chances and belief in something bigger than all of us. What are you going to grouse about next? The mise-en-scene?

As for Alan Thicke, Lifetime's go-to Canadian guy, I'm convinced he's Orson Welles's love child (conceived on the set of Lady From Shanghai with the Irish dialogue coach). He can phone it in because Orson's talent is encoded in Alan Thicke's DNA. He's that good.

Granted, even pointy-heads are entitled to something meatier on their Christmas movie menu. Although it's too edgy for me, let me suggest something more compatible with your high-falutin' tastes.

Lay off the Lifetime stuff and go straight to the gritty Hallmark Channel for Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery.

It's a tough watch for most, but your inner-Godard will probably drool over it. Lots of grim Robert Bresson-esque touches, but clearly an hommage to Jean-Pierre Melville's hard-boiled existentialism. You'll fall in love with the Auteur Theory all over again.

Matt said...

In honor of the release of the latest Star Wars movie, you should review the Star Wars Holiday Special! Be warned: this was one of the worst things that I've ever watched, worse even than troll 2 and highlander 2, and that's saying something...

Matt said...

Also on the theme of truly putrid holiday movies (although not related to anything topical), there's Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Shudder.

Harper said...

SM - I'm all for a good sap-fest if done well. I can recommend some to you if you want. This one was just dull and like I said - I'm like 90% sure it was a re-jiggered non-Christmas movie so it didn't flow well. I also know none of those names in your email except Alan Thicke. Ok I know Orson Wells too. He was Unicron!

Matt - Seen it. Got a VHS of it a while back. You don't lie, it's amazingly bad like in every way. Boring, incomprehensible, unfunny It hits every insult you can think of. But anyone that doesn't think this is an amazing performance is no friend of mine.

I've never watched SCCtM outside of MST3K. I don't think I could.

Clip&Store said...

Bring in "Dat Dude BP"!

Jay said...

I know it's off topic - but thoughts on the idea of Brandon Phillips coming to the Nats. He can hit but he is very right handed.

As far as Christmas movies - the Star Wars special was bad. Of course so were the prequels. I predict that they will reboot the prequels in my lifetime. Worse Christmas movie I have actually watched - Santa Paws. Ugh. A two-hour gut punch.

Harper said...

So you saying Joss Whedon is going to reboot the Holiday special. That's what I'm hearing.

Santa Paws? I do love movies written around a rhymey title.

SM said...

I'm a day late and a whiskey short, but . . . I was--what's the word?--joking. Yeah, that's it.

There are no--and never have been--well-done sapfests on either Lifetime or Hallmark. Ever.

The original Die Hard--now there's a well-done sapfest.

Harper said...

SM - "When the camera focuses in and you see it was Al that shot him... uh oh... here comes the waterworks"

SM said...

Every time, Harper. Every damn time.

Wookiee of the Year said...

I headed to the comments section just to suggest a review of the Star Wars Holiday Special, but I see Matt beat me to the punch.

It's the year for a full review, Harper! And apparently there's a waiting audience of at least two of us...