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12 Ways of Christmas Vol. II — #11: ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’

Meet Me in Saint Louis christmas movie review Judy Garland

Welcome to The Twelve Ways of Christmas, where we discuss holiday films you’ve already seen or never plan on watching. And why not, right? Every other damn movie site’s doing it, and since when does giving in to peer pressure put you on the naughty list?

With little rhyme or reason, check in from now until The Day That Must Not Be Named for a new entry. And Happy Kwanzaa.

Despite beginning mid-summer in 1904, Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis feels like a Christmas movie because of its narrow emphasis on a single family: Having long enjoyed the pleasures of cushy middle-class St. Louis, the Smiths must deal with an impending move to New York, away from friends, suitors, and the home they’ve grown to love. It’s that problem that forms the core of this 1944 musical, but the disruption doesn’t actually occur until nearly halfway through. So much of Meet Me in St. Louis simply glides past day-to-day goings on. Eldest daughter Rose (Lucille Bremer) can’t seem to tie the know while Esther (Judy Garland) aggressively pursues bachelor neighbor John Truett (Tom Drake) with little regard for adhering to courting norms. The youngest, Tootie (Margaret O’Brien), is trying to fit in with the other kids still, pulling risky pranks on Halloween on the chance that it gets everyone to forget her morbid habit of burying her dolls.

Tensions escalate when Tootie comes home badly injured, (mistakenly) claiming John Truett ran her over, and Esther storms next door and confronts him. Even for the film’s most passionate character surrounded by corsets and 20th century temperance, it’s a fiery moment, but this is a picture that never gorges on its musical numbers. Minnelli plays with shot blocking and frames in moments of change — a long track on Tootie or a push in on Master Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames) — but Roger Edens’ arrangements are provided static treatments. The Smiths’ living room breaks into song at a neighborhood party, with bodies hustling and bustling about to “Skip to My Lou,” but the frame remains largely unchanged, as if Minnelli wants this Missouri clan to contain just how much they are a part of their place.

The same holds true for Garland’s famous rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which Esther sings to comfort an upset Tootie on Christmas Eve. Minnelli strips down the elements in his frame to basics, relying on nothing more than a two-shot and Garland’s vocal chords to do the lifting. It’s a wise gamble, as Garland wraps the holiday tune in a palpable sadness. Although the Smith family’s move to New York promises fresh beginnings and new opportunities, they’ll still be “miles away” from St. Louis. It’s a somber and reflective moment in a film often filled with poppier ditties like the jaunty, fun “Trolley Song.” The Smith family may sing together, but it’s Garland’s solo number that reinforces their familial bonds — even in the midst of displacement, especially around the holidays.

Way #1: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Way #2: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Way #3: Jack Frost (1997)

Way #4: Jack Frost (1998)

Way #5: Jingle All the Way

Way #6: Santa’s Slay

Way #7: Scrooged

Way #8: The Ref

Way #9: A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas

Way #10: Rare Exports

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12 Ways of Christmas Vol. II — #9: ‘A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas’

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas review movie stoner John Cho Kal Penn claymation

Welcome to The Twelve Ways of Christmas, where we discuss holiday films you’ve already seen or never plan on watching. And why not, right? Every other damn movie site’s doing it, and since when does giving in to peer pressure put you on the naughty list?

With little rhyme or reason, check in from now until The Day That Must Not Be Named for a new entry. And Happy Kwanzaa.

With its gratuitous 3D effects (including loads of CGI pot smoke), A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas definitely feels like another entry in the stoner franchise. Consider the low humor, munchies, and plenty of Neil Patrick Harris (once again, reprising his man-whoring caricature) as damning pieces of evidence. The third installment even ups the ante, anticipating stoner expectations with psychedelic WaffleBots, newspaper headlines that explode like motion comics, and even a full-on claymation sequence. But how much is this a Christmas joint?

That a franchise like Harold and Kumar could A) actually be a franchise and B) stumble into its own mythology is a tough burger to bite, but for the less stoner-inclined, it’s been six years since the events of Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. Harold (John Cho), now sober, is a successful Wall Street business type while Kumar’s (Kal Penn) failed his medical profession, gaining twenty pounds and a gnarly breakup beard while toking away in grimy, stoner solitude. Oh, and “NPH” is presumed dead after he’s shot down by a gang of angry prostitutes. Not exactly rosy stuff. Thankfully the holidays should bring some warm back into everyone’s spirits — even if A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas is set in the middle of the Occupy protests and the aimless Kumar’s just learned he’s fathered a child.

In wholly expected fashion, Kumar crashes a mall santa’s (Patton Oswalt) gig looking for a Christmas Eve weed hookup, and the pair blaze up in Oswalt’s “sleigh” while trading names of punny holiday strands like “Rudolph the Red-Eyed Reindeer” and “It’s a Weederful Life.” Kumar’s not having any of it, wondering why everything’s gotta be related to Christmas. (for the record, the Jewish schoolboys bought up all the “Hanukkah Hash” already.) Kumar may be a scrooge, but Harold’s in the full swing of Christmas trappings, going for broke on lawn ornaments and lights in the hopes of impressing his wife’s (Paula Garcés) intimidating father (Danny Trejo), who just so happens to be a Christmas nut; growing his own Christmas firs each year is but a taste of how serious he is about this stuff. Harold’s serious too, though — as he might put it, a prim and proper “adult” — and his weekend hinges on impressing his in-laws. Things get a little awkward when Kumar shows up at his doorstep to return a package, mysteriously addressed to Harold when the pair still lived in the same dingy apartment.

Like in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, the story pitches a lot of crap at its tightly wound “square” counterpart, and also like the original, Harold eventually snaps under the pressure. Out all night chasing after an elusive “perfect tree” to replace the one Kumar burns down is a weak MacGuffin, and all the ugly Christmas sweaters in the world couldn’t make a holiday nut out of Danny Trejo’s rock solid bad ass persona. Likewise, Kumar cruises by on the knowledge that he could pursue a profession in the medical field — he resuscitates a concussed and bleeding Santa Claus after Harold shoots him out of the night sky — but he’d rather just kick back and smoke weed all day. The crassness is the same (kids on cocaine, poop jokes, boobs galore) and the jokes just as crude, but only sparing parts of A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas have a deliberate holiday bent to them. At least Santa wants the two to make amends and start hanging out again.

The trouble is, Cho and Penn are at their best when their stoner alter egos are at odds. If only by comparison, the more singular narrative in White Castle gets a kick to the groin here. It’s the series’ way of telling its two crutches to get over themselves. Stressed about landing the perfect weekend? Can’t get your shit together? Relax. How exactly Harold’s highstrung mentality and Kumar’s “devil may care” worldview align is a bit perplexing, but it’s a hazy kind of logic the films have run on for two installments already. There’s a weed for whatever ails you, but ya still need to get it together on your own. We can’t all be pals with Neil Patrick Harris.

Way #1: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Way #2: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Way #3: Jack Frost (1997)

Way #4: Jack Frost (1998)

Way #5: Jingle All the Way

Way #6: Santa’s Slay

Way #7: Scrooged

Way #8: The Ref

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12 Ways of Christmas Vol. II — #8: ‘The Ref’

The Ref Denis Leary Christmas movie review Kevin Spacey Judy Davis dinner scene

Welcome to The Twelve Ways of Christmas, where we discuss holiday films you’ve already seen or never plan on watching. And why not, right? Every other damn movie site’s doing it, and since when does giving in to peer pressure put you on the naughty list?

With little rhyme or reason, check in from now until The Day That Must Not Be Named for a new entry. And Happy Kwanzaa.

Opposites attract. At least that’s what they say, isn’t it? Presumably at some point in the lives of Caroline (Judy Davis) and Lloyd Chasseur (Kevin Spacey), passionate discord begot hot and heavy romance. Caroline’s a frazzled, noncommittal creative type while Lloyd’s buckled down, black-and-white understanding of right and wrong trembles in the shadow of his controlling, penny pinching-mother (Glynis Johns). These days, Caroline and Lloyd can only bicker over money, failed restaurant businesses, affairs, and the rearing of their delinquent military cadet son (Robert J. Steinmiller, Jr.). Whether their marriage was always this divided is up for debate — a debate with no foreseeable end in sight.

Regardless of how “game” he is for the task (read: he’s not game), serial burglar Gus (Denis Leary) falls, quite literally, into the position of family referee. While finishing up his “one last score” at the suburban palace of the Chasseur’s neighbor, Gus lands himself into a booby trap of Merrie Melodies proportions, getting sprayed with cat urine and falling down a secret chute next to an ornery rottweiler. However Gus manages to escape, he besets a visibly distraught Caroline in a local convenience store, fresh from a draining therapy session with Lloyd and Dr. Wong (B.D. Wong), coaxing the couple at gunpoint to their home, where he ties them up and waits for his getaway driver to snatch an unoccupied boat.

Often typecast as the wry asshole, Leary’s persona is tailor made for Gus’ no-nonsense vigilante. (he towers over the likes of Spacey and Davis in the film’s poster.) Stuck between a bickering couple, and later a full-on Chasseur family Christmas dinner, he soon learns he may have bitten off more than he can chew, and while threats and waving his big gun around work well enough for a while, Gus eventually names himself as the evening’s de facto therapist. Unable to leave this domestic chaos until police finish their sweep of the neighborhood, Gus poses as Caroline and Lloyd’s therapist as Mama Chasseur and Caroline’s in-laws arrive for the evening. Predictably, Lloyd’s prodding mother soon tires of ribbing Caroline’s aggressively authentic candlelit feast and Gus is forced to improvise in his new role. His cocksure dismissal of both marital strife and psychiatric disorders write large raises more than a few eyebrows, but the candid attitude is enough to spark the family into voicing long held grievances. The holiday juxtaposition is further enhanced by the amber hues of cinematographer Adam Kimmel, as the warm glow of ambient mood lighting and a roaring fire come to run sour and yellow under the catharsis of group “therapy.”

As Caroline’s “lucia wreath” headgear demonstrates, the holidays can bear down on us like a gaudy, flaming burden. The Ref enjoys upending rosy Rockwellian portraits of the holidays, and its setup promises interesting directions for its two leads; it also helps to place the frayed ends of an unraveling marriage in the hands of Spacey and Davis, the latter of whom is particularly excellent as a walking, empathetic disaster. but what’s gained from a few more shouting matches and an airing of dirty family laundry on Christmas Eve? With Gus in control, it’s easy to root for Leary’s ironic voice of reason, but barring his formulaic lesson of “right and wrong,” Gus’ lack of emotional baggage turns him into the least interesting eccentric of the bunch. It’s a shame too, given how easily the Chasseurs come to sympathize with their captor, biding time and mapping out a credible escape route to the New Jersey docks. Back at the trashed Chasseur home, Caroline and Lloyd toast glasses, apparently satisfied the latest direction their marriage has taken. Were it not for the visible shocks and squeals but an hour ago, one might think these ugly slugfests were a part of an annual Christmas tradition.

Way #1: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Way #2: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Way #3: Jack Frost (1997)

Way #4: Jack Frost (1998)

Way #5: Jingle All the Way

Way #6: Santa’s Slay

Way #7: Scrooged

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12 Ways of Christmas Vol. II – #2: ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

The Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween or Christmas movie review

Welcome to The Twelve Ways of Christmas, where we discuss holiday films you’ve already seen or never plan on watching. And why not, right? Every other damn movie site’s doing it, and since when does giving in to peer pressure put you on the naughty list?

With little rhyme or reason, check in from now until The Day That Must Not Be Named for a new entry. And Happy Kwanzaa.

Christmas and Halloween are, respectively, America’s first and second most commercialized holidays, owed in part to the sheer mountain of decorations either demands. From fake spiderwebs and wreaths to carved pumpkins and decorative strings of plastic lights, it’s generally stuff my father would refer to as “crap.” On grumpier years, you might even catch him grumbling a few words for why the Christmas tree was too much of a pain to bother with. Yet for all the stress that comes with decorations, their aesthetic potency has remained timeless, and it’s that aesthetic potency that’s at the core of the debate over Henry Selick’s 1993 debut. Either a Halloween film wrapped in yuletide trappings or a deranged Christmas tale decorated in macabre garb, The Nightmare Before Christmas begs its viewers for a classification: Just what kind of movie is this?

Admittedly, the mashup takes some getting used to. Halloween Town’s covered in an ashy brown, with tree limbs curling  like overgrown fingernails under the omnipresent full moon light. Everything in Halloween Town looks like it’s drying, but Selick tops these ghoulish confections with musical delights. In Halloween Town’s introductory number, the town’s vampires and werewolves emerge from crypts and rundown houses to bleat a declarative “This is Halloween!” capping a celebration on the town’s sole holiday. The booming heart throbs ache and jangle against the bony clangs of rattling xylophones, adding offbeat liveliness to so much death.

All of this is merely lead in to introducing Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon, sung by Danny Elfman), Pumpkin King of Halloween Town. With lanky appendages and a permagrin slapped on his sunken-eyed face, Skellington doesn’t seem like the “Christmas” type, but something’s missing this year. He’s removed from the festivities. He doesn’t even stay for the annual awards (although what are the chances the vampires don’t win “Most Blood Drained in a 24-Hour Period?” Year after year of being inundated with Halloween successes, Jack’s looking for a change, to move on to bigger and better things. So when a soul-searching walk in the woods leads him to a ring of doors, each corresponding to its own holiday realm, Jack finds himself overtaken with curiosity over the door with the funny, pointy tree. In he jumps, arriving on the snowy outskirts of Christmas Town — populated by elves, run by Santa, and covered in rosy holiday cheer.

To the credit of Selick, writers Michael McDowell and Caroline Thompson, and producer Tim Burton, Christmas Town’s depiction is wholeheartedly earnest, a more idealized setting than later cynical Selick/Burton collaborations would offer. Shop windows glow with a supernaturally warm yellow, and the fresh cover of snow seems more “new” than cold to Jack’s sensations. As out-of-place as Nightmare’s “Dickens Village” might seem, Selick uses Jack’s surprise as an avenue for unfettered wonder for the holiday season, returning to Halloween Town to calculate the essence of his new obsession. His plan? Assume Santa’s annual responsibilities and bring Christmas to Halloween Town for once. Jack’s town proposal, however, is met with a macabre one-upsmanship. Beyond the shiny tree, the frankendogs, vampires, and ghosts only seem in interested in the purpose of stockings and gift-giving so long as there’s a gruesome element lurked behind the mistletoe. ‘Here’s a Christmas stocking, everyone!’ ‘Okay. What’s messed up about it?’ Like it or not, when Jack abducts Santa and dons his own raggedy beard, he’s not bringing Christmas to Halloween Town; he’s bringing Halloween Town to Christmas.

That Nightmare Before Christmas is aggressive enough in dampening holiday spirit gives some credence to parental concerns. It also explains why, 20 years ago, Disney was “terrified and a little embarrassed” by the film. With the perpetually limbless Sally (Catherine O’Hara) and devilish menace in Oogie Boogie (Ken Page, relishing in everything), Halloween Town is creepy enough; skeletal reindeer and gift-wrapped shrunken heads ain’t exactly the stuff of sugar plum visions. It’s why Jack’s usurping of Christmas, whatever his intentions, eventually crumbles to reality. Scaring’s for Halloween Town, so leave Christmas to Santa. It’s wonderfully distilled in a final exchange between the two figureheads, as Jack wonders aloud if there’s still enough Christmas Eve left to salvage the holiday. “Enough time to fix Christmas?” Santa scoffs. “Of course there is. I’m Santa Claus.”

For a film seemingly so subversive in playing with conventions, there’s a strange restoration of the status quo by Nightmare’s end. A cute romance gift wraps Jack’s emotional through line, realizing the hole he was feeling needn’t be filled by a new project but rather the comforts of Sally, someone in Halloween Town who’s beyond an annual obsession with two-dimensional scares. Jack’s restlessness dissipates almost as swiftly as the tears of his traumatized tikes, whose Halloween Town gifts of snakes and demonic dolls are swapped for baseball bats and puppies. Considering the promise of Selick’s aesthetic shuffling though, the restorative sequences are a tad disappointing.

Rather than answer that initial question — Is this a holiday or Halloween movie? — a better question might posit whether it matters either way. Even as instigator of this stop-motion foray, Selick ultimately implies some things had best remain separated.

Way #1: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

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12 Ways of Christmas: #6 & #7 ‘Lost in New York’ is the Superior ‘Home Alone’

Home Alone 2 Lost in New York Kevin Christmas in the trenches

Welcome to The Twelve Ways of Christmas, where we discuss holiday films you’ve already seen or never plan on watching. 

Why not, right? Every other damn movie site’s doing it, and since when is giving in to peer pressure a bad thing? With little rhyme or reason, check in every day from now until The Day That Must Not Be Named for a new entry. And Happy Kwanzaa.

Two in one? This isn’t a cop out. Like this feature’s poorly riffed on namesake, Home Alone II actually features a prominent reference to TWO TURTLE DOVES as an emotional anchor. As in from the 12 Days of Christmas? Damn, I’m good.

Say what you will about the weird uberviolence of John Hughes’ script. Pick on Daniel Stern or Joe Pesci for hamming up their performances. Or if you’re that heartless, you could even rip Macaulay’s less than okay acting skills. But I will be damned if Home Alone isn’t a fantastic Christmas movie. Whether it’s Kevin MacAllister’s ingenius trap-setting skills, or his uncanny ability to top burglar pursuers with snarkier, quotable comebacks. Maybe it’s simply that same gift-wrapped sociopathy found in Bad Santa or director Chris Columbus’s knack for handling the maudlin mother-son moments. Or maybe it’s John Williams’ haunting yet soothing main theme. Honestly, with the Christmas music market as tired and overstuffed as it is, Williams deserves credit for finding a recognizable melody that sounds as old and time-honored as it was in 1990.

Home Alone, if it excels at nothing else, does a damn good job of juggling horrible, death-defying booby traps and suburban America’s naivete toward traditional family values. (Seriously, is anyone else getting sick of this recurring theme? Annoying.)

Still, something’s… off in the original Home Alone, where “Have Yourself a Merry Little Chritsmas” plays over a young boy at a window, as the two burglars he’s just finished beating are towed off in squad cars. By the time Catherine O’Hara shows up for the big hug and bigger musical swell, the whole experience feels endearing and funny and well, jarring, Its tone is all over the place — perfect for a “family comedy without the family,” but problematic in its aftertaste.

Lost in New York fixes all that, by going louder, funnier, and bigger.

Home Alone 2 Lost in New York Marv Merchants slap

Kevin, now a year older and removed from his abandonment in Chicago, gets mixed up at the airport and misses his family’s flight to Florida, instead getting on a plane to the Big Apple. Ah well. It’s not like Florida has Christmas trees anyway.

Kevin’s disgust at the idea of decorating a palm tree actually makes Lost in New York more of a Christmas movie. Just as the original became a family film in the absence of one, Lost in New York holds a fondness for holiday essentials: Christmas trees and cold weather go hand in hand, right? Not to mention Kevin’s weird adult mentor triangle between Mr. Duncan and Brenda Fricker’s “Bird Lady” really lays on the yuletide schmaltz. Fricker satisfies the now required discussion of FAMBLY, and Duncan’s Toy Chest just so happens to be the same store Marv and Harry are holding up at midnight. Perfect.

Lost in New York does for children on the holidays what The Goonies did for nerds: gives them a patron saint that kicks ass. Kevin MacAllister is the brick-throwing avenger who dares you to mess with kids on Christmas. And the dickish opportunism of Pesci’s vendetta against Kevin, for nabbing the Wet Sticky Bandits the year prior, makes us want them to suffer all the more.

Well, they do suffer. Lost in New York is every much the pillar of heightened sequeldom it gets ripped for, but that’s not a weakness. It’s a strength. The tonal problems of the original are gone because Kevin’s a year older, a year wiser and even more of a smart ass. (As a child who was repeatedly reprimanded for shouting “I’m down here ya big horse’s ass!” I stand by this.) The traps Kevin sets even seem bigger, as a renovated New York apartment building offers far more destructive opportunities than the MacAllister’s Chicago palace.

Lost in New York’s shining gold star moment happens when Kevin lures his two favorite burglars to his house of horrors. The simple negotiation of Kevin’s camera, which holds incriminating photos of their Toy Chest break-in, is executed without any elaborate staple gun rig or tool chest set-up. All it takes is bricks and a little bullshit to execute the strongest scene in the film, in the series really. Kevin’s… tumultuous relationship with Marv and Harry plays out in smart-mouthed, quick-witted fashion. That fact that Marv should’ve been dead twice over from the head trauma is besides the point. It’s a rare moment devoid of elaborate flash, one that bothers to tease the familiarity between two idiot convicts and the kid who put them away.

There’s a micro-sized version of epicness in the original Home Alone, when Kevin dashes home for the trap-settin’ as Williams’ Carol of the Bells rendition booms over it.  In its sequel, Christmas becomes more than a great musical cue; New York is a gigantic playground for a kid you just don’t want to mess with. Christmas Eve doesn’t get much more legendary than a punk boy, armed with a camera and a 2×4, who’s ready to stop two morons from robbing a toy store at the stroke of midnight. Lost in New York doesn’t go too far. It goes as far as the original premise needs to. It’s a snot-nosed packaged of kerosene-soaked goodness, placed under the tree, in a spot reserved for only the most hardened of troutsniffers. Game on.

Way #1: Christmas Carol: The Movie

Way #2: The Santa Clause

Way #3: Die Hard

Way #4: Bad Santa

Way #5: The Family Man

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12 Ways of Christmas: #2 ‘The Santa Clause’

Screen shot 2012-12-15 at 3.41.58 PM

Welcome to The Twelve Ways of Christmas, where we discuss holiday films you’ve already seen or never plan on watching. Why not, right? Every other damn movie site’s doing it, and since when is giving in to peer pressure a bad thing?

With little rhyme or reason, check in every day from now until The Day That Must Not Be Named for a new entry. And Happy Kwanzaa.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa fell and died. On Tim Allen’s lawn no less. Allen, a successful suit at a toy company, is then magically carried to the North Pole by eight animatronic reindeer, where he becomes contractually obligated to don the red coat and put on some belly jiggle.

Sounds charming right? Parts of The Santa Clause are categorically “cute,” namely Allen’s incredulity that he is in fact becoming Santa Claus: jiggling his belly at a physical exam or inhaling chocolate chip and macadamia at a board meeting. A man’s slow degeneration into an elderly diabetic is captivatingly weird stuff, but Allen on the fringes of his transformation isn’t nearly as exciting, in or out of the red coat and hat.

But it’s all the hokey North Pole tech that morphs a passably silly story into ridiculousness. The “CD” in “CD Player” stands for Cookie Dispenser. And don’t forget we just installed a new hot cocoa dispenser in your sleigh. Flame retardant suits and a hat complete with wire and mic communique are all just too much. Never mind that Santa still somehow squeezes down a chimney without any Holiday Spy Kids contraptions. It’s simply maaaagic. If screenwriters Leo Benvenuti and Steve Rudnick didn’t think the logistics of gift-delivery were important enough to explain, why bother with technology for anything else? This isn’t an issue of unreality; it’s one of consistency.

Don’t get me started on The Santa Clause’s disturbing central moral. Allen, having fully changed into a living, breathing, cookie-eating Santa Claus, is cut out of his son’s life with a hasty sole custody sub plot. Why? Because Allen starts to look and dress like Saint Nick himself.

Really? I can believe Allen’s absenteeism from being a father and once a supportive husband pigeonholed him into this position of the ostracized family man. I just don’t get how dressing like Santa makes things worse.

Screen shot 2012-12-15 at 1.36.44 PM

And then things get weird. Santa Allen decides to take his son Charlie along for a midnight ride, so naturally Mom and her douchey new husband Dr. Judge Reinhold call in a citywide manhunt for the boy and the creepy old man who kidnapped him. To be fair, when a court orders deems you unfit to raise your own child (for whatever reason), you probably shouldn’t snatch him up for a transcontinental night of roof-crashing and present-dropping.

The cops bust Crass Cringle and bring Charlie back to his mother. Safe and sound. Until Mom lets Charlie go back to his deranged Santa father because get this: He’s Santa now. That’s it. That’s the reason. There’s no further explanation. Santa Clause’s relationship mechanics are so wondrously fucked, even the resolution makes absolutely no sense. Sure you sort kidnapped our kid and yeah you clearly think you’re a fictional person. But what the hell, it’s Christmas!

In typical bridge-burning Twitter fashion, I called out First Showing’s Ethan Anderton for his claim that The Santa Clause is a top five Christmas film. Among other reasons, Anderton defended his opinion by claiming that an analysis of the film’s views on family and its ensuing resolution isn’t fair to the movie’s intentions, considering its target audience and the creative studio behind it. As a fan of Beauty and the Beast, Pinnocchio, and Snow White, I think that’s bullshit. The Mouse House has shown dozens of times it’s capable of a moving story that appeals to audiences across ages. This is not one of those stories.

An emotionally crippling, physically debilitating aging condition seriously puts Tim Allen’s health and relationships at risk. So naturally he should regain his family’s trust in the end. “Spy Kids meets a Christmas Carol” doesn’t even sound good on paper. Who in their right minds thought it would make a fun ninety minutes? Oh. Right.

Way #1: Christmas Carol: The Movie

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