Yep, it’s that time of year again …
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (2011) is the third Christmas film to use Groundhog Day as a template (following Christmas Every Day [which is covered in my Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan reference book] and Christmas Do-Over; I’m guessing it’s a combination of Christmas’ status as Alpha Holiday and that it’s a better time of year for tackling family issues and personal problems. In this particular version, Amy Smart discovers her efforts to win back her ex-boyfriend have derailed a promising romance with Mark-Paul Goesselar, only to get a chance to set right what once went wrong when she relives Dec. 24 over and over and over … This is a bit too sugary, with Smart converting from naughty to nice after just a couple of cycles, not to mention her pairing up two other couples successfully strains credulity (since she’s not really using her added do-over knowledge to make it happen). I’m sure we’ll see more in this vein, though. “I’m a member of a concerned citizens group that believes in the right of every teenager to have a puppy.”
SANTA CLAUS (1959) is a Mexican import in which the Devil plots to turn Good Little Children evil (with a Rich Boy and a Poor Girl as the main targets) only to be thwarted by the other guy in the red suit with the help of his sidekick Merlin. Even for Mexican fantasy, not A-list. “A Sputnik might be faster, but I can’t imagine Santa without his sleigh!”
HOLIDAY IN HANDCUFFS (2007) has newly dumped Melissa Joan Hart kidnap Mario Lopez in order to deliver the promised boyfriend to the family Christmas dinner and thereby prove to the family (including Mom Markey Post) she’s Not A Pathetic Loser, with results I’m sure everyone reading this can anticipate as well as I did. Of course, the point in a film like this is not where they end up but how they get there (as I’ve noted before). The journey here never really catches fire and the set-up is ridiculous (though Pretend To Be My Fake Significant Other is a romance plot with a long history) but it’s watchable if you’re not feeling demanding. “It’s one of those weekends where we tie each other up a lot.”
MERRY MADAGASCAR is a TV special in which the Madagascar-stranded zoo animals of the movie unwittingly bring down Santa’s sleigh and leave him amnesiac, forcing them to deliver all the presents for him. This is further complicated by the penguins having a bloodfeud with Santa’s reindeer (“Santa was based at the South Pole until they tempted him North with candy canes!”). A fun one. “I can’t believe you delivered the toys everywhere—even Lichtenstein!”
THE LIVES AND TIMES OF EBENEEZER SCROOGE by Paul Davis tracks the interpretations and adaptations of A Christmas Carol from its first publication through the late 20th century, showing it’s one of those works that have been consistently seen in a new light. Early stage adaptations overwhelmingly emphasized the Cratchetts’ Christmas feast as the hart of the story (some kept Scrooge offstage completely) while later film versions would play up the poverty surrounding him or his personal torment and its causes (in Alastair Sim’s classic adaptation). Plus, of course, long-running criticism that Dickens’ economic theories are completely wrong. A very good overview.