Monday, November 21, 2011

Some Mini-Reviews

True to my goal, we've been watching loads of holiday films lately.  While there have been standouts like the last few I've given full reviews, most of them have been absolute shite - Too bland to elicit a reaction, too crap to ever be allowed to air in any other season.  Either that, or they're so hideously offensive that I'm restraining myself from doing a full review, lest it be another mouth-frothing session like my review of The Christmas Box.  Instead of wasting time on these individually, I thought I'd whip together a quickie rundown of some seasonal movies so far...

Holiday in Handcuffs utterly wastes a great title.  It missed all the opportunities to make a cool movie from this concept (Why couldn't it have been the logical sequel to Secretary, anyway?). Astonishingly bad. Like, "Did real people actually write this?"-bad. Lonely crazy artist/waitress girl kidnaps professional-looking guy to force him to pose as her boyfriend for her family's Christmas get-together. Reality is bent out of all proportion trying to explain why anyone with more brainpower than a hamster could not get himself out of this situation. But this being a chick flick, the guy is too much of a gentleman to "Punch her. Take her car keys. Leave. Call the police." Instead, he spends the entire weekend with her duck mouth and constant pouting, while putting on a good show for her insane family.  Can you possibly guess that they fall for each other, for real?  My Rating:  3/10.  Sanity Cost:  -15 points.  I wanted to kill everyone in this movie.

The Santa Trap.  Look at that cover.  Look at it!  Horrendously bad child actors mug for the camera while young daughter sets a household trap for Santa, intending to prove he is real to her doubting brother.  Her family is sad, see, because they've moved from a big city to New Mexico and it's 100 degrees outside on Christmas day, which really ought to be outlawed.  Dick Van Patten plays a god-awful Santa who gets caught by the brat, and then thrown in jail for some mistaken identity shenanigans with a bearded Stacy Keach, who later went home to flog himself for all that coke he did in the 80's that derailed his promising career and landed him in this sort of glop.  The family gets taken hostage, Keach is inept, Santa saves the day, the kids deliver gifts to the children at the local hospital, and perhaps the most brain-rending moment is when they encounter Adrienne Barbeau living homeless with her children and bring her a gift.  But she tells them she doesn't need a gift, because even though she's a lone single mom living in the street and her children are sleeping under cardboard, "It's Christmas Eve and we have love, and that's all we need."  Their consciences thus salved, our well-off family go back to their expensive suburban house and gorge on holiday food and expensive toys.  Hey, you might at least bring the homeless woman a sandwich, huh??  My Rating:  2/10.  Sanity Cost:  -35 points.  I wanted to kill almost everyone in this movie, except for Stacy Keach, who had a few funny lines.

The Netflix streaming poster previews are too small for me to have been able to read the fine print on this one, which is, "Putting Christ back in Christmas".  If I'd known I was getting into an overtly religious movie, I'd have watched something wholesome like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" instead.  Christmas with a Capitol C is about a homey Alaskan town that is putting out their city hall nativity scene when they are interrupted by the return of the rich guy that went off to the big city, Daniel Baldwin, who spends the whole movie in a black coat driving a really stupid Porsche with his hair oiled back. He is an angry atheist and gets a court order to stop the town hall nativity scene because he wants to ruin Christmas, like all atheists do.   Self righteous rants are triggered from the religious characters on subjects like wishing Happy Holidays ("It's Christmas...MERRY CHRISTMAS! It's the ONLY holiday this month that anyone celebrates! Happy Holidays is liberal doubletalk!").  Yes, people actually deliver, straight-faced, lines like, "98% of America is Christian", "Hanukkah...Right!  Who celebrates that?", and so on.  Our "heroes" go berserk when the town banner is changed from "Merry Christmas" to "Season's Greetings". All this "ruining of Christmas" is done by the angry city atheist because he is lonely, has no family and no one to care for him, and is bitter and full of spite. One character opines, "Why can't these god-haters just leave us in peace?"

Amazingly, throughout the whole film no ones makes the argument of, "Hey, celebrate however you want, just please don't use my tax money to promote one religion over all the others, because we both know Christians would go BERSERK if their town hall sunk tax money into promoting a Muslim holiday."

By the end of the film, the townspeople learn that the angry city atheist is bankrupt, both morally and financially, and all his god-hate comes from the emptiness of his life, so an angelic young girl brings him Christmas cookies and all the townspeople come to his house to goddamn force him to celebrate Christmas like a proper person and in the end he's converted to the wonder of religion. And the Grinch himself carved the roast beast.

Except that the Grinch managed to get across pretty much the exact same message without being obnoxious, preachy, pandering, or making me want to attack the television set.  This movie is everything bad about religion rolled up into a ball, pressed, and steeped in oil of self-righteousness for seven days.  Truly awful.  My Rating:  0/10.  Sanity Cost:  -95 points.  I wanted to kill everyone in this movie, bury them, dig up their corpses, and hit them again with hammers just to be on the safe side.  Especially that bearded guy trying to be the hard right's answer to Robin Williams. 

My Rare Exports DVD can't show up in the mail soon enough...