Christmas movies, good and bad (#SFWApro)

storyA CHRISTMAS STORY (1984) or as TYG calls it, Eyes Shot Out, is one of our annual traditions. See a boy’s tongue freeze to a flag pole! See an icicle almost kill someone! Listen to Ralphie compare the taste of different soaps! Watch Ralphie’s mom convince everyone from the teacher to Santa himself that her little boy shouldn’t get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas! So much fun (all rights to image with current holder)  “Victor was the name of the Lone Ranger’s nephew’s horse.”

Later on Christmas Day I watched my DVD of Akira Kurosawa’s THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (1958) as a follow-up to my Star Wars viewing. In the aftermath of a clan war in feudal Japan, gruff general Toshiro Mifune must get his princess safely across enemy territory to safety, accompanied by two squabbling low-comic fugitives who are as much a hindrance as a help. George Lucas has acknowledged the influence this had on A New Hope; in its own right, I don’t think I rate it as highly as some of Kurosawa’s work, but it’s definitely a very good film. “Very well, I shall allow you to fool me this one time.”

Now the bad—happily I think I’ve exhausted the Christmas time travel well so these may be the last bad Christmas movies I watch out of duty rather than choice. A CHRISTMAS EVE MIRACLE (2015) wastes Olivia D’Abo (admittedly she’s not putting much effort in) as yet another mother torn between Career and Family (and like so many women, she’s in marketing/advertising—is it because that’s what Hollywood considers Important Work?) who makes a Christmas wish … and learns that if she’d never had kids, she and her husband would be obnoxiously selfish rich jerks, and their kids (they don’t disappear but now they’re someone else’s) would be equally shallow and spoiled, so wow, she had a wonderful life after all! Weak, and the ending is a cop-out as D’Abo’s demanding boss suddenly goes all warm-and-fuzzy. “Kris Kringle—you know now that you mention it, it does sound a little odd.”

BY GOD’S GRACE (2014) is actually A Christian Carol as a selfish young man forcing his staff to work Christmas Eve gets a ghostly visit from his dead sister to witness Past/Present/Future and learn he shouldn’t have rejected God just because an accident killed the sister and their parents. The performers are competent, but not quite competent enough to pull off such a stock version of Dickens; and as someone who doesn’t believe “it’s God’s plan” explains people dying in fatal accidents, I found the moral message less than convincing. “You were surrounded by love and support that day—but you chose to look at the darkness.”

And some non-Christmas time-travel—ALADDIN AND THE ADVENTURE OF ALL TIME (1999) is a Roger Corman-produced ‘toon in which Aladdin and a shy present-day bookworm must travel across time seeking to recover the magic lamp after the evil sorceress Scheherezade steals it. Other than making the Kid Who Gains Confidence Through Time Travel a girl, stock and forgettable. “You have such a grasp of the obvious, it’s scary.”

I’m not sure what made me think NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: Secret of the Tomb (2014) had a time-travel elements, but no—and in its own right, forgettable as Ben Stiller attempts to revive the dying Egyptian tablet by taking it to Pharaoh Ben Kingsley in London. The shift in location doesn’t juice this up much and the ending with everyone become Just Exhibits again is way too downbeat (I think they were trying for a Toy Story 3 Passing of the Torch, but it doesn’t work) “You will rue the day you mocked us with your big sword and hypnotic blue eyes.”

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Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

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