A Christmas Movie Advent Calendar
This year, rather than just have the usual Lego or chocolate advent calendar, I thought I’d watch a Christmas movie a day. I’ll post each day with the movie I’ve watched and let’s see if I can’t get 24 in :)
It should be noted that I’m not limiting myself to traditional movies, as you’ll see…
24th: A Muppet Christmas Carol
I let Connor choose today and this is what I get – darn muppets! I’ve not been a fan of the Muppets since having to watch them every Sunday night after my bath as a kid. It was a reminder that the weekend was over and we were back to school in the morning. Even Michael Caine doesn’t redeem this and only Jim Carrey’s version is worse in my opinion. Still I’ve made it to 24 movies which is an achievement. Looking forward to some mindless violence for January ;)
23rd: Iron Man 3
Shane Black again and, as promised, the third of his movies to appear in my advent calendar. And before you all start arguing, yes it is a Christmas movie. It’s also my favourite in the Iron Man trilogy. The first set up the character nicely – and it was a stroke of genius to get Robert Downey Jr. to play the role. The second was the weakest, but not that weak that it wasn’t a strong film in its own right – just when compared to it’s bookends. This one though is perfect. We get Stark at his weakest, worried about those around him and attempting to protect them by distancing himself from them. He’s obviously also suffering PTSD following the events of The Avengers (I refuse to use the UK name!). He’s the most human of all the Marvel-verse heroes we’ve seen so far and the cast and crew have nailed it. Now, what do I watch for my final advent movie?
22nd: Four Christmases
Jude picked this one. I wasn’t too sure to be honest and, in places, my concern was correct. Some of the situations were so contrived as to be chringe-worthy. At the beginning, at the airport, a TV camera is thrust in your face while you’re angry. My first thought wouldn’t be to start “umming and ahhing” it’d be “get that thing out of my face! Still, without that we don’t have the initial opening to the film and there are some funny moments (and moments I relate to – I start gagging around any bodily excretions from babies as well!) It’s not a bad film though and we get a near repeat of the start at the end – again, my first words would be to tell the cameraman to take a long walk off a short cliff but there you go. Only a couple of days to do now and I’m looking forward to the movie for the 23rd :)
I don’t recall seeing this version of Scrooge before but as we watched I must have seen bits and pieces of it over the years as I remember certain scenes (and actors). Unfortuantely we watched this on 5 and the editing for the adverts was appaling in places. I’m not entirely sure that making it a musical worked and, in some scenes, I felt echoes of Bill Murray’s Scrooged. Or, rather, the “live production” that was the backdrop to Scrooged was obviously (to me at least) a kind of homage to the musical numbers in this film. I’m not entirely certain about the scene in Hell though ;)
BBC2 comes to the rescue and serves up Nativity only a couple of days after I watched the sequel. In hindsight I was perhaps a little too critical of the sequel. The first was a fun film but some of the best bits weren’t quite as good as I remembered. Aside from the children (I found Bobby hilarious) Wooten as Mr Poppy was a highlight while Freeman brings a sense of grounding to it and you can’t help but feel sorry for him that his “little white lie” was actually a “big black Protestant lie” ;) TV is coming to my rescue now though as you would expect. I might not even have to reach for the DVD shelf in the coming days!
Who doesn’t like Bill Murray? He’s at his best here in a modern-day (well, 1988!) retelling of A Christmas Carol. It’s great and this version is one of Jude’s favourites – although Sir Patrick Stewart’s TV movie version is the one we both love but don’t own on DVD!. If truth be told, we don’t own Scrooged either, but this is where Netflix helps us out (and a shout out to New on Netflix UK here – if you have a Netflix account, you need his website and social media feeds). Only a handful of movies left to watch. What will be next?
I’m not too sure why we have this but not the vastly superior Nativity but there you go. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun film but David Tennant just phones it in really and the gags and one-liners were better in the first movie. Still, it was Christmas-y and fun and that’s all that matters (and Connor loved the poo and wee jokes ;)) It’s getting close now – 6 days left and I only have 3 more DVDs – here’s hoping that the television channels can help me out for the last three movies…
17th: Trading Places
I loved this movie when I was younger – it was one of the first movies I remember seeing after we rented it from the local video store! We weren’t a Betamax family though ;) Eddie Murphy was riding high at the time: 48 Hrs, Delirious, and Beverly Hills Cop were all big favourites, but Trading Places is the only one with a Christmas theme. Again, like all my non-traditional choices, its tenuous but who cares? I certainly don’t and I enjoyed watching it again today. Not sure what I’ve got planned for tomorrow yet though…
16th: Home Alone
Back to the traditional movies again, and the second with a namesake (Kevin McCallister) in it (the first was Lethal Weapon’s General Peter McAllister ;)) Of course, being American’s they can’t spell it properly :P Names aside, I love this film. It’s every kids dream to have the run of the house like that and being able to beat up on adults is an added bonus. Of course, with it being Christmas, there’s some smaltz but, all things considered, it’s not as bad as it could easily have been (and became in Home Alone 2). Back to something less traditional tomorrow though…
15th: Die Hard 2
Another sequel today – Die Hard 2. It’s been a while since I’ve watched this one as it’s considered to be one of the poorest in the series (Die Hard 5 notwithstanding!). If you can get past all the factual errors (especially that there are plenty of airports around Dulles that the aircraft could divert to as soon as Dulles stopped transmitting rather than circling and running low on fuel) it’s a fun action movie. You have the same ingredients as the original (bureaucratic bumbling police office, helpful and comedic aide and, of course, Christmas) but with a few less laughs. Things thankfully picked up with Die Hard 3 and 4 though ;)
14th: Santa Clause 2
Connor also got to choose today’s Christmas movie and so we have our first sequel! It’s strange watching it so soon after the first one as some of the actors have aged so much that you’re not sure if they are the same or not. The sequel isn’t as good as the original but Allen goes to town as a plastic Santa and Connor enjoyed it which I’m sure is the main aim. I’ve had enough smaltz though so tomorrow is going to be something non-traditional ;)
13th: The Santa Clause
Connor’s choice today and a family favourite all round if truth be told. It’s a very clever play on words and Tim Allen is perfectly cast. The stars of the movie though are the elves – Judy’s reply about seeing someone in wrapping when “Santa” compliments her on looking good for her age went straight over Connor’s head the first time we watched this movie but now it gets a laugh from him ;) Judge Reinhold appears, in another supporting role, in his second Christmas movie on this list (previously appearing in Gremlins) but he will always be Billy Rosewood to me :D
12th: The Long Kiss Goodnight
My second Shane Black movie (out of the three on this list ;)) and like the others, Christmas is definitely in the background. Still, it has Samuel L Jackson and, my personal favourite, Geena Davis (hubba, hubba!). Plot-wise, it’s your standard buddy-buddy action movie with the “twist” being that the main lead is female. It works though and some cracking one-liners (as you expect from Black) appear. We’re half way through the calendar now and there’s not many non-traditional movies left but I’ve no doubt the weekend will see a return traditional Christmas movies as Jude and Connor get to choose…
Did you know it was the 30th Anniversary of the release of Gremlins this year? I didn’t until about 5 minutes ago when I was looking for it’s poster image. I’ve not seen it for years and was really looking forward to it having had fond memories. The problem is, those memories were the best bits! Until The Goonies (not a Christmas film, but of the same period), Gremlins hasn’t aged that well for me. It’s a fun film but not one I’ll hurry to watch again which is a shame :(
10th: Deck the Halls
Back to the traditional today. After all, what’s more traditional than gaudy lights everywhere and families splitting up on the eve of Christmas? What do you mean that’s just me? ;) Deck the Halls is your typical Christmas tale with a moral. The moral being “love thy neighbour”. It’s fun and light-hearted although some of the jokes flew right over my son’s head I’m glad to say (“Who’s your Daddy!”).
9th: Lethal Weapon
Another non-traditional movie :) I’ve loved Lethal Weapon for years – the partnership of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover was inspired – and the opening notes of Jingle Bell Rock let you know exactly what time of year the film is set. Of course, being set in Los Angeles means that we don’t get the usual snow scenes but the addition of the drugs bust in the middle of a Christmas Tree lot basking in the Californian sun makes up for it: “Now that’s a real badge, I’m a real cop, and this is a real %*&#ing gun! ;)
Jude’s out tonight (taking her Brownies to their Christmas Party) so Connor got to pick tonight’s movie. His choice was a little non-traditional but it does have winter, snow and Father Christmas in it so it counts. I’m quite a fan of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe anyway having loved the book when I was a kid. I always loved the BBC adaptation but this version has since become my favourite. It’s just a pity they couldn’t/wouldn’t continue the series past the third movie :(
A favourite of Jude’s today with the dear departed “Sir Dickie” taking on the mantel of Kris Kringle. A typical smaltzy affair, with extra sugar on top for good measure, but enjoyable nonetheless. My favourite bit is when the city pulls together with the “I/We Believe” notices – I did say there was extra sugar on top ;) I think tomorrow’s movie might be a little less traditional…
A bit earlier than usual (I’m a traditionalist at heart) but today has been spent putting up the Christmas decorations. Another tradition we also follow since Connor was born (more or less) is watching Elf (or, at least, having it on in the background) while decorating the tree. This year was no different and it provided a perfect tonic to the usual cries of anguish as we tried to untangle the lights from the tinsel. It’s a fun, feel-food movie with some excellent one-liners (syrup in coffee!). If you haven’t watched it yet, you should.
Back to the traditional Christmas movies and I challenge anyone not to be moved by this classic. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t a success at the box office but perhaps it was too sentimental for the time – being released just after the end of World War II. Still, it’s a classic today and one of the few films that brings tears to these heartless eyes even today…
4th: Batman Returns
Another that’s not a traditional Christmas movie (to be honest I think about half of my list fit that bracket) but it’s set at Christmas in Gotham and the young Penguin is born around the same time (some 33 years previously) so I think it counts. There’s certainly plenty of use of the typical Christmas themes though: newborn baby, mistletoe, presents and, of course, bats hiding in a giant Christmas tree ;)
Not a movie really, but a Christmas Special. Still, great fun to see the character reversed like that, if only for 35 minutes. The only downside is the quality of the recording which is very grainy – probably why there isn’t a Blu Ray release!