Thursday, December 1, 2016

EDITOR'S NOTES: A guide to great and not-so great Christmas movies

By David Kennard
dkennard@journalscene.com

Christmas in the Kennard house doesn’t begin until the last turkey sandwich from Thanksgiving leftovers has been eaten. That’s usually around the first week of December, but it varies a bit.

Like most families, part of our celebration includes a fair amount of movie watching. So, I’ve compiled a list of the movies that will probably get some play time in our home this year.

“A Christmas Story.” While we may not watch this from start to finish, we’ll certainly catch most of it as we flip through the TV channels. Movie Quote: Father: “He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny. Mother: “He does not. Father: “He does too, he looks like a pink nightmare.”

“Elf.” This has become one of our favorites with just the right amount of charm and humor. Quote: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

“Miracle on 34th Street” The 1947 version is great, but the 1997 does a great job of telling the story of a little girl who has a nearly impossible Christmas wish. Quote: “Maybe he’s only a little crazy like painters or composers or ... or some of those men in Washington.”

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” In 1964 movie makers used really bad Claymation to tell the tale of misfit toys, an elf who wants to be a dentist and a gold miner named Yukon Cornelius — oh yeah and also a reindeer with a red nose. Quote: “Didn’t I ever tell you about Bumbles? Bumbles bounce.”

“Home Alone.” We enjoy this one more for the slapstick humor than anything else. I mean how could anyone take their family to Paris for Christmas and leave a child behind? Whatever, it’s fun. Quote: “Guys, I’m eating junk and watching rubbish. You better come out and stop me.”

“The Santa Clause.” Starring Tim Allen as a father just trying to help his son enjoy Christmas, this film takes you behind the scenes of Santa’s workshop. Don’t worry, there’s still some Christmas magic involved. Quote: “The Santa Clause: In putting on the suit and entering the sleigh, the wearer waives any and all right to any previous identity, real or implied, and fully accepts the duties and responsibilities of Santa Claus, in perpetuity to which some time the wearer becomes unable to do so, by either accident or design. It means: If you put on the suit, you’re the big guy.”

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Watch the animated version, not the horror film with Jim Carrey. Although even in the original, noted scary movie actor Boris Karloff’s baritone voice creates the perfect narrator to the story. Quote: “You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch. You’re the king of sinful sots. Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots. Mr. Gri-inch! You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!” — Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft.

“A Christmas Carol.” This is probably the most remade Christmas tale of all time. From Disney’s Scrooge McDuck to the Muppets with Michael Caine to a horrifying characterization of Ebenezer Scrooge by Jim Carrey (you loved him as Ace Ventura now see him in this Christmas ghost movie) we just can’t get enough of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and those three wacky ghosts, Past, Present and Future. My favorite is the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. Quote: “Humbug!”

Not on my list

Here are few more Christmas-themed movies that didn’t make my favorites list, but are still worth mentioning.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Clark and the rest of the Griswolds stumble through Christmas, chasing squirrels and blowing the city power grid in this spinoff of the original “Vacation” film. Quote: “Oh, the silent majesty of a winter’s morn... the clean, cool chill of the holiday air ... an (expletive) in his bathrobe, emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer …”

“Scrooged.” Fellow SNL pal and Lowcountry local Bill Murray plays a modern-day Scrooge who learns his lesson thanks to some very “Ghostbuster” looking ghouls. Quote: “Back off big man, that may work with the chicks, but not with me.”

“Bad Santa.” Don’t tell my wife, but I totally enjoy this film about the least likeable shopping mall Santa in the world. He drinks, he smokes, he wets himself and sleeps with loose women, but still manages to find some Christmas spirit. Be warned, this movie is offensive and R-rated. Quote: “You’re an emotional (expletive) cripple. Your soul is dog (expletive). Every single (expletive) thing about you is ugly.”

Christmas movies?

Here is a short list of movies with a Christmas theme, but arguably not Christmas movies.

“Batman Returns.” Michael Keaton wears a bat suit and Michelle Pfeiffer wears (sort of) a cat suit. Quote: “Mistletoe can be deadly, if you eat it.”

“Die Hard.” It’s your typical office Christmas party, but with terrorists. Quote: ““Yippie-ki-yay, (expletive).” Bonus Quote: “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”

“Lethal Weapon.” It doesn’t snow much in L.A. and the shooting gets in the way of the storytelling, but it’s Christmas time nonetheless. Quote: “What did one shepherd say to the other shepherd? Let’s get the flock out of here!”

Oddball movies

These are oddball Christmas movies that are worth watching once, if you have nothing better to do

“The Muppet Christmas Carol.” Quote: “Belle, you know, I love these annual Christmas parties. I love ’em so much, I think we’ll do it twice a year!”

“Edward Scissorhands.” Quote: “Eddie. The guys and I were talking, we’d like want to invite you to our card game on Friday night. Would you like that? Only thing is, you can’t cut!”

“The Polar Express.” Please, if enough of us don’t watch this horror movie, it might just go away. Quote: “Caribou Crossing?” Sorry, that’s the best one I could come up with.

David Kennard is executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at dkennard@journalscene.com or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.