Saturday Morning Reviews - Christmas Movies
Trying out a new format for Saturday Morning Reviews, Blog style! Wake up Saturday morning with the Movie Babies! Put on your PJ’s, pour yourself a bowl of cereal and cozy up to the comforting glow of your computer screen as we review your favorite flicks at the speed of a click!
This week is a special Christmas Edition as MuBae Devin recently watched It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977) and Netflix’s newest original The Christmas Chronicles (2018) starring Tango & Cash’s Kurt Russell.
All films will be rated using the Movie Babies Rating System. “I Love Robots” = Hate it! “In Space with Zombies” = Middle of the Road “Like A Lot” = Loved it!
SPOILERS! Minor spoilers for all the films.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Considered “The” Christmas film, that praise may leave you baffled if this was your first viewing of what was voted American Film Institute’s #1 most inspirational film of all time. With over a 2 hour runtime there are no signs of Christmas jolly until nearly the end of the flick! Before this year I’d only seen It's a Wonderful Life once and had little to no memory of it. In fact, I had wrongly believed the start of the film was James Stewart drunkenly totaling his car and the movie followed an alternate time line in which he didn’t exist, a classic “be careful what you wish for” scenario. So, I was pleasantly surprised that most of the film was a rather tragic character study of James Stewart as a wide-eyed dreamer slowly realizing he may never escape his small town. And how about that Jimmy Stewart? He seems to have quite a career in front of him! He’s the Tom Hanks of the Golden Age (or rather Tom Hanks is our generation’s Jimmy Stewart) no matter how much of an asshole Tom Hanks might be in a film e.g., You’ve Got Mail (and yes, You’ve Got Mail is my Tom Hanks comparative movie!) you can’t help but love the guy. It’s a Wonderful Life is an amazing film, period. Don’t make the same mistake I made sleeping on this classic as it lives up to any hype attached.
Fun Fact: Apparently two of the multiple writers called the finished film "horrid" and refused to see it when it was released. Would really love to see a breakdown of the differences.
Rating: Like A lot!
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Another classic Christmas film and it’s easy to see why. Edmund Gwenn truly is the silver and gold standard for Santa Claus even when he’s bopping people with his cane. I was pleasantly surprised the film remained somewhat ambiguous on if Kris Kringle truly was The Santa Claus. I was fully expecting the all too common scene where Santa “proves himself” by data mining adults and spouting out what they wanted for Christmas when they were wee little brats. But none of that “Santa Magic” was lazily leaned on and by the end you believe he’s Santa not because of “magic” but because of the twinkle in his eye and the joy in his heart. Very curious if the ‘94 remake sticks with this narrative. Leave a comment if you’ve seen that one recently!
Fun Fact: The scenes of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are of the actual parade held in 1946, and Edmund Gwenn was the Santa!
Rating: Like A lot!
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
Jim Henson and family holds a very special place in my heart, especially around this time of the year. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) likely holds the number one spot for my favorite Christmas flick if it wasn’t for the other Muppet Christmas special, A Muppet Family Christmas (1987) which sees all of Henson’s creations from Sesame Street to The Muppets and even Fraggle Rock get together for a family Christmas (luckily I own the DVD as it’s not available streaming and goes for 50 bucks on Amazon!) So, it may come as a shock that Emmet Otter’s Christmas Adventure wasn’t a film I grew up on and thus was never part of my yearly round of Xmas movies. To no one’s surprise, Jug-Band Christmas is just as charming as any other Henson property. Jim Henson can make you care about inanimate fabric in less than an hours’ time, yet Hollywood can’t make you care about any of its characters with bloated two hour plus run times! The attention to detail is fascinating, the music is heartwarming and it’s a movie worth seeking out next holiday season!
Rating: Like A lot!
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
Where to start?
This “Netflix Original movie” should more aptly be changed to “Netflix Original Sellout”. The Christmas Chronicles is a nonsensical, paint by number, studio directed Christmas movie that seems more occupied with ticking off moments from the Christmas checklist than actually putting together a coherent film. No one was checking this script twice, as it was littered with clichés, plot holes and lazy attempts at humor. Just some of the many offenses that put this film on this year’s naughty list includes an awkwardly forced ‘dad recently dying before the holiday’ subplot, the teenage son stealing a car and suffering absolutely zero consequences, Santa Claus aiding in the theft of another vehicle, Santa spending the majority of the film in prison, an embarrassing amount of “topical” references such as a Trump “fake news” jab, and large portions of the film featuring CGI Troll rip-offs who are frantically dabbing, flossing and memeing their way across the screen. But none of that even comes close to the north pole sized plot hole that almost ruined Christmas.
Early in the film Santa loses his reindeer, his bag and his hat and has just hours to save Christmas or the apocalypse will happen (that’s not a joke, that’s actually the consequence of Christmas not happening). The film explains that Santa’s ability to quickly fly and zip around the world are all due to his hat’s magical powers. So basically, these fools are screwed unless they get this hat! After almost failing and bringing on another dark age (again, this is the actual plot of the movie) Santa finally gets his hat and saves the day! Seems like a pretty dorky McGuffin but ya know, movies gotta ‘guffin. Except at the end of the film we come to find out Santa never needed the hat to do his magic. The magic was inside him all along! Meaning the whole entire film was a giant waste of time! Santa could have saved the day at ANY POINT during the film and chose not to because, well, he’s a dick. All I want for Christmas are these two hours of my life back!
Rating: I Love Robots!
Comment below if you like this new format for Saturday Morning Reviews and if so, expect more! And if not, expect more! Happy Holidays!