Christmas Film Heaven and Hell

November 28, 2014

So I decided to write about my plan this Christmas. Starting November 27th (coincidentally US Thanksgiving, though I’m not in America) I’ve decided I want to watch as many Christmas movies as possible between now and the big day. Ratings are out of snowmen, and the movie is being rated as a CHRISTMAS movie, NOT as a movie in general. So without further ado:

Movie #1: Holly’s Holiday

An overworked executive falls for a store mannequin. Yes it sounds like a Mannequin rip off, except she never realizes that he’s a mannequin. It’s predictable, but doesn’t hammer you to death with Christmas.  Stars the lovely Claire Coffee who is currently best known as Adalind on Grimm. She’s not as lovely in that because she’s an evil Hexenbeast. It was great to see her star in something and not be evil. She’s lovely, the movie is predictably cute, and I can think of a worse way of spending 90 minutes. Three out of five snowmen.

Movie #2: A Snow Globe Christmas

An overworked executive falls for a store… Oops, nope, an overworked TV exec who has a very Scrooge like quality get smacked in the head. Shenanigans ensue. Alica Witt stars, with Donald Faison (Turk from “Scrubs“). Very sweet movie. Way more Christmassy than Holly’s Holiday. What’s fun is I follow Alicia Witt on Twitter (“Ooot”) and she was tweeting pics and Vine’s from the set when she was shooting this. The fact I knew it was filmed in the summer tarnished it a bit as I see poor Alicia standing there in scarf and wooly hat… Really loved the movie. Has a nice twist. Four out of five snowmen.

Movie #3: Santa’s Slay

A change of pace to a more adult movie. Everyone always mentions Bad Santa as a good adult Christmas movie, but it’s not that funny, and it’s pretty dark. This is actually a fun Christmas movie. With possibly the best opening in cinematic history, former wrestler Bill Goldberg plays Santa. Only in this universe Santa is an Icelandic demon who lost a bet to an angel, and for a thousand years had to be nice, deliver toys, and basically be the Coca Cola Santa we all know these days. Well the thousand years are up, and Santa is back in all his demonic glory. The movie is very funny, has some great cameos, all put there to be killed in amusing ways, and then there’s Goldberg himself. I was a big fan of him in his wrestling days, and he’s absolutely superb as demonic Santa. HIGHLY recommended. Also of note it was filmed just a few miles away from me. Definite five out of five snowmen.

Movie #4: A Cookie Cutter Christmas

Hateful rival girls grow up to be hateful rival women. In the first ten minutes it’s hard to cheer for anyone as the two lead characters suck. As the movie progresses though things improve. It’s about two rival schoolteachers competing in a cookie baking contest. Usual shenanigans ensue. It’s not SUPER Christmassy. Perhaps the highlight is Alan Thicke (father of misogynist piece of crap Robin Thicke, and also the father in Growing Pains whose son was another piece of crap, Kirk Cameron) who was basically paid to eat cookies in this movie. Nice work if you can get it. Two snowmen out of five.

Movie #5: Mrs Miracle

Last year the wife and I watched a Christmas movie called Call Me Mrs Miracle (or apparently Miracle in Manhattan is its alternate title.) It stars Doris Roberts as Mrs Merkel. A Mary Poppins-ish character who shows up like Sam Beckett and fixes everything. Doris is absolutely superb and brings a warmth that I can think of few other actresses bringing. It’s typical holiday fare, and has JAMES VAN DER BEEK in it, who is a bit of a twat and won’t tell his twin six year old boys anything about their dead mother. There’s also love etc… It’s predictable, but Doris is just so damn lovable it elevates the movie. Four snowmen out of five.

Movie #6: Christmas Angel

WordPress ate the review for this, which is a shame, as it was awesome. (The movie. My writing… Meh…) Five out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #7: Window Wonderland

I wrote a long glowing review of this movie. And WordPress bloody ate it. So I won’t rewrite it. Suffice to say the leads are awesome, the movie avoids a lot of the usual Christmas cliches, and it’s the best one I’ve seen so far over this little project. SIX out of a Five Snowmen. Yes. It was that fun.

Movie #8: Christmas Town

Stereotypical hard ass Christmas hater hates Christmas. Gets convinced to take her son and stay in this weird town called Hollyville that appears on no map and seems oddly Christmassy… Lazily made movie. No attempt made to hide the fact that it’s filmed at Burnaby Lake in BC. Can clear see “Burnaby Lake General Store” in one shot. Very poor. Also clearly shot in the middle of summer. It’s supposed to be Christmas. No sign the usual Christmas tropes like snow etc… Nope, clearly it’s the middle of summer. What a piece of crap. Words cannot express how terrible this movie is. I couldn’t even finish it. Zero out of Five Snowmen as they all melted due to it clearly being summer.

Movie #9: On Strike For Christmas

Bunch of angry wives go on strike when their deadbeat sons and husbands do bugger all at Christmas. Hilarity briefly ensues. Three Snowmen out of Five.

Movie #10: His and Hers Christmas

Rival newspaper columnists document the holidays, fall in love, the end. The sets for their houses are awful as the view from the windows is clearly added in post. Very rough. Also a terrible movie. Also for a supposedly family friendly Christmas movie there’s lot of sexual references. Also almost nothing Christmas related in the first hour which is all I could manage before my hand slipped and I deleted it off the DVR… Such a tragic accident… *cough* Utter crap. Zero out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #11: Pete’s Christmas

A teenage boy has to relive an awful Christmas over and over until he gets it right. Immediately scored massive points with more Christmas in the first five seconds than movie #10 had in the first hour! Really fun movie. With a teenage lead it really hung on him being likeable, being able to act etc… No worries at all there. Very good movie. Bruce Dern is the kids grandfather, and is also awesome. As is the teen female lead. Great twist on the Groundhog Day plot device. If anything it has more depth than the original movie! Really enjoyed it. Five out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #12: Christmas Mail

A postal worker is assigned to spy on a strange woman who is replying to letters mailed to Santa. Sweet, predictable, and not bad. Three out of a Five Snowmen.

Movie #13: National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

A classic. Probably my favourite Christmas movie. TOO MANY SNOWMEN.

Movie #14: Naughty or Nice

A woman named Krissy Kringle accidentally receives Santa’s Naughty and Nice list. Hilarity ensues. Very cute movie. Really liked it. Worth seeing for the parents from Family Ties being the lead’s parents. Really good movie. Only caught it because my wife saw it listed and thought it sounded good. It got past my Christmas movie radar. Five out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #15: Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

The Internet meme becomes a Christmas movie. This was on Lifetime. The channel renowned for cheesy, sappy Christmas movies. This turned that on its head. Grumpy, voiced by Aubrey Plaza, makes fun of Lifetime, routinely breaks the fourth wall, and interjects at various points. Thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Very funny. So very UNLIKE a Lifetime movie… Really, really fun. Five out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #16: Kristin’s Christmas Past

Spending Christmas alone, through a magic Champagne bottle, Kristin is sent back to what was her worst Christmas, 17 years ago. Cute take on the Christmas genre. Judd Nelson is utterly wasted in it. (And not in the drunk sense.) Elizabeth Mitchell plays Kristin’s mother and is, once again, a bitch that warms near the end, just like she was in The Santa Clause 2. I’ve certainly seen far worse on this little movie binge. Three out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #17: Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger

I admit the only reason I bothered with this is David Tennant is in it. I’m a big Doctor Who fan, all the way back to Pertwee, and Tennant is one of my favourites. The movie basically rips off School of Rock and revolves around a Christmas song contest. Shenanigans ensue. David is awesome, because he always is. It’s not bad. Very silly. Frankly without Tennant to enjoy it’d get a snowman less. Two Snowmen out of Five. (Revised down from an earlier Three when I realised it wasn’t a Two Snowmen movie without Tennant.)

Movie #18: A Merry Friggin’ Christmas

One of Robin Williams’ last films. Now first off I’m a big fan of Community and this stars Joel McHale from the show, is directed by a director of 24 episodes of the show, and the music is done by the individual responsible for the epic incidental music of the first three seasons of the show. So I was naturally predisposed to be interested in this. It’s about a guy whose Dad (Williams) is an ass and he’s avoided going to stay with his parents for Christmas. A word of warning: A large part of the movie is about Santa not being real, so this is not for younger kids who still believe. Christmas movies that do this piss me off. Wife and I watched it with the volume down while kids were distracted elsewhere. One thing that does pain me is my Dad and I don’t talk, so movies about strained father/son relationships hurt to see as they invariably are all fixed by the end because the father stops being an ass. It’s not a bad movie. Apparently was re-edited in the wake of Robin’s death. I guess maybe to increase his role. Movie does seem oddly edited at times. If you see it, be sure to stay to the very end of the credits. To put it in sarcastic terms, of all the Christmas movies I’ve watched, this was one of them. Two out of Five Snowmen

Movie #19: Christmas Bounty

I love pro wrestling. For my sins, among actual good wrestling from other companies and the likes of New Japan Pro Wrestling, I also watch WWE. I am not a fan of The Miz. I picked up this movie in the hopes that maybe it’d make me a fan. Holy crap what a turd of a film. A former bounty hunter has her old life interrupt her new life as a teacher when someone she put away in prison gets out. Movie is a shameless cash in on both The Miz, and the word “Christmas”. The former is in it, the latter barely is. A few decorations DO NOT MAKE A CHRISTMAS FILM! I mean yeah, Die Hard takes place at Christmas, but has a lot of Christmas stuff in it, such as “Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.” Die Hard is a titan of the non-Christmas Christmas movies. This is just a terrible, terrible movie I recommend avoiding like the plague. The ending especially is horseshit. Never have I wanted a movie to end in slaughter more. Sorry Miz.  Zero out of Five Snowmen

Movie #20: A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas

Probably the hidden gem in this experience. Seen it four times now. Twice this season. (Once before I started this, so I didn’t count it, so I had to watch it again. HAHA!) Fantastic movie. Adult, crude, but has a huge heart. Really sweet movie ultimately, and the only movie I’ve ever wanted to actually see in 3D. You see it was originally released in 3D, and has LOTS of pandering 3D effects. In 2D it’s still just as awesome, but it’d be fun to see it in three dimensions. Can’t recommend it enough. In the small field of adult Christmas movies this is easily the best out there. Five out of Five Snowmen. And frankly I may watch it again before the big day as it’s so fun.

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