Friday, December 21, 2012

It's a Christmas Special! Part 2

31: A CHRISTMAS STORY - Haven't seen this one in years. What I did see of it really didn't seem pleasent and didn't give me any sense of Christmas magic at all. Bottom line: it's waaaay overrated.

32: THE SMALL ONE - A really good short about a boy and his small donkey, set in ancient Israel. With that sort of set-up, you could probably guess how it ends and why it's a Christmas special.

33: MIRACLE ON 34th STREET - A very good movie about Santa Claus' visit to 34th street and how he gets proven to be the real Santa Claus. And I mean the original, not that Mara Wilson remake!

34: SOUTH PARK: A WOODLAND CRITTER CHRISTMAS - The South Park Christmas episode with the style that's most like a classic Christmas special. It's really unusual, weird, dark, inappropriate, and even a little offensive, but what else can you expect from South Park? It's still great, especially how all the twists and turns of the story are handled and how they all make sense in the end.

35: HE-MAN AND SHE-RA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL - One of those specials that is hilarious in how bad it is. It's so cheap and hokey, with most of the entertainment coming from Christmas Skeletor!

36: A GARFIELD CHRISTMAS SPECIAL - An average Christmas special about Garfield, Odie, and Jon spending Christmas with Jon's family. It's okay to watch, but only really memorable for the family antics. Especially from the grandma, voiced by Pat Carrol, who's just so outrageous and cool.

37: THE NATIVITY STORY - An excellent film portrayal of the very first Christmas and all the events that led to it. The story of Mary and Joseph is given a great amount of depth and heart, King Herod is repugnant and frightening, and the Three Wise Men are dignified but surprisingly hilarious too.

38: JOYEUX NOEL - Another outstanding Christmas movie based on the true story of how the US, Brittish, and German armies of World War 1 called a ceasefire on Christmas and celebrated with each other, as human beings rather than enemies. It's a touching event that depresses you with the nature of war but is also uplifting in it's proof that miracles can happen. Though what I still remember most about this film is that crazy young Scottish soldier pronouncing "cake" like "geek!" Yeesh!

39: THE SNOWMAN - A silent short animated film that looks like moving illustrations. It's really quick and doesn't have a real plot aside from a snowman coming to life, taking a sick boy on a fun little romp that cheers him up, and then melts. And yet it's still very well done and very memorable, particularly for it's mysterious sounding theme song. But really....WTF is up with that ending???

40: DIE HARD - So you insist that "Die Hard" ISN'T a Christmas movie? F**k you, it's "Die Hard!"

41: SCROOGED - A comedic modernized telling of "A Christmas Carol" starring Bill Murray. It's set in the modern real world where "A Christmas Carol" is a story and Bill plays a stingy, hard hearted TV producer who cares more about fame and fortune than his fellow man. The ghosts of Christmas visit him and he changes his ways from bad to good, with lots of hilarious moments along the way.

42: A PINKY AND THE BRAIN CHRISTMAS - If there was any justice in the world, this would replay at Christmastime every year. It's one of "Pinky And The Brain"'s absolute best stories. It has loads of good humor, a very nearly successful Christmas toy based plan by Brain to take over the world, and a surprising, incredibly moving climax that has caught many by surprise and touched hearts.

43: ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS - Movies starring Jim Varney as Ernest are Guilty Pleasures
in general, but this one's actually close to being pretty good. This mostly has to do with Douglas Seale's performance as Santa Claus. He is very believable in the role. "The Santa Claus!"

44: BABES IN TOYLAND - There are actually a lot of versions of this one movie concept. As of now, the ones I've seen were the animated one, and the live action TV one with a young Drew Barrymore and Keaneu Reeves, and Pat Morita as an Asian Santa Claus. They were both pretty damn bad, the latter even moreso due to it's terrible production value, poor acting, and ungodly bad writing. I mean, it's hilarious just how horrendously bad the writing is! But to be fair, that's enjoyable. WELL YES!

45: THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS - We do own this one, but we keep it in our Halloween stuff instead of our Christmas stuff. Try as Burton might've to make a holiday special of his own, this movie is simply too dark, creepy looking and grotesque to associate with Christmastime.

46: A YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA - A classic Rankin/Bass where Mickey Rooney again voices Santa. But let's be honest...does anybody actually remember anything about this one other than Snow Miser and Heat Miser? Those characters and their song is what everyone takes away from it.

47: A MEISER BROTHERS CHRISTMAS - A sequel to the above-mentioned special made years later. This one is CG animated and stars the Miser Brothers that everyone remembers. In fact, I think it only got made just for that one sequence where they sing their song verses as one song. But it's okay and faithful to the spirit of Rankin/Bass. But what was up with that Jay Leno-esque villain?

48: FROSTY'S WINTER WONDERLAND - The real sequel to the Rankin/Bass Frosty special, made by Rankin/Bass themselves. And it's pretty bad. Not only does it shit all over everything that made Frosty and the magic that brought him to life special, but it doesn't have a good story either. Bleh!

49: RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR - The sequel to the Rankin/Bass Rudolph special, made by Rankin/Bass. This one is also pretty bad. It's a New Year's special rather than a Christmas one, throws in all this time/nursery rhyme/fairy tale nonsense, and a pretty weak designated villain. Bleh!

50: RUDOLPH AND FROSTY'S CHRISTMAS IN JULY - The finale to all Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials. It stars Rudolph and Frosty together and throws in references to past specials as it ties the mythos together. It's actually really entertaining, but could've been better had the time been cut down. Then we wouldn't have so many needless songs! The best thing in the film is King Winterbolt. He's an enjoyable hammy villain on the level of the Evil Vizier from "Care Bears Nutcracker Suite". What also stands out is just how much bad dialogue this special is riddled with! Like Rein-SNAKES!

51: I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS - An enjoyable but average Christmas comedy film starring Johnathan Taylor Thomas in the lead role of an asshole who gets stranded out in the middle of nowhere while wearing a Santa suit and he has to do everything he can to get back home for Christmas. IIR, Jessica Biel and Adam LaVorgna's characters were the most amusing part.

52: HOLIDAY IN HANDCUFFS - An average Christmas TV movie starring Melissa Joan Hart as
a heartlorn, sociopathic girl with serious issues who kidnaps a random guy, brings him home to her family, and presents him as her boyfriend. Yeah, it kind of a Stockholm syndrome story but it does manage to be touching and funny at enough places to make it pleasing to watch whenever it's on.

53: ANNABELLE'S WISH - A nineties' animated kids' film about a talking calf named Annabelle who helps a mute farm boy, eventually giving up her ability to talk in her titular wish so that he can talk, and she ends up becoming one of Santa's reindeer. It was okay. The only other details about this one I remember are the very moving song at the end, Jim Varney voicing a grumpy old man, and the main villainess making dealings with an unseen attorney who was quite obviously Lex Luthor.

54: THE STINGIEST MAN IN TOWN - Oh dear. This one was just godawful. It is among the worst versions of "A Christmas Carol" I have ever seen, if not the worst. In fact, the story of Scrooge is tacked on and rushed in this. I'm convinced that someone just wanted to make a cheaply animated Christmas special and just used the story as an excuse plot to get it going. I mean, during the Ghost of Christmas Present's sequence alone we get a pointless song sung by Christmas toys, a song by Mrs Cratchitt about how there is a Santa Claus (with the implication that the Ghost of Christmas Present IS Santa Claus!), a song about the birth of Jesus on the first Christmas, AND a song that makes Scrooge look like a pedophile for Tiny Tim! And then it does the unforgivable thing of absolutely rushing through the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come's visit in literally 2 minutes, which culminates in Scrooge hammily screaming "OH NO! IT'S ME! IT'S EBENEZER SCROOGE!" upon seeing his gravestone. This was just about the lowest a Christmas special could get! UGH!

55: SONIC CHRISTMAS BLAST - A Saturday morning cartoon Christmas program starring Sonic the Hedgehog. It's really weird. It's based in the universe of "The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog" and yet there are humans living there, and they introduce concepts like Robotropolis, Swat-bots, and Princess Sally into it! And the plot is so dumb. Robotnik kidnaps Santa Claus, builds a robot Santa just so it can announce to the world that "Robotnik Claus" is taking his place, and he changes Christmas in Mobius to be all about everyone giving presents to him! And yes, that includes everyone coming down the chimneys of his headquarters. But Sonic ends up stopping this by discovering the secret of ultimate velocity through a ring he just happened to be given by Princess Sally as a gift, and then Santa Claus retires, appointing Sonic as his replacement "Sonic Claus"! Sonic Claus! That is seriously how it ends. Wow, we might as well have kept Robotnik Claus if Santa was going to give up anyway! So yeah, it's really goofy and yet perfectly enjoyable to watch,

56: WINNIE THE POOH AND CHRISTMAS TOO - The "New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh" Christmas special that should have been on "Seasons Of Giving!"

57: THE SANTA CLAUS BROTHERS - A CG animated movie about Santa's three sons who all look like him and are out looking for the true meaning of Christmas in order to see who becomes his heir. Yeah, it was pretty lousy. I can't remember much about it aside from the bits and pieces I saw.

58: THE NUTCRACKER PRINCE - An animated movie based on the story of "The Nutcracker."
I haven't seen it in ages. I recall it being okay, pretty good even. But for some reason, this is a movie that Roger Ebert railed against because our heroes needlessly kill the Mouse King...except they actually don't. The wounded, crazed Mouse King dies by falling off into oblivion at a point later on from the one Ebert described. Yeah, I seriously think he was drunk when he wrote that review.

59: TIMOTHY TWEEDLE: THE FIRST CHRISTMAS ELF - An animated kids movie that tells a very different origin of Santa Claus and his elves. It stars Johnathan Taylor Thomas (again) as the titular character and Howie Mandel as the narrator, the reindeer Comet. According to this story, a runty woodland elf named Timothy Tweedle is the one who got elves to start making toys for St. Nicholas, got him into the toy delivery business with reindeer and a slay, and also invented candy canes too. This one was okay. I think it could've been a bit shorter, the story and characters could have been stronger, and those crooks should've been a one-time thing rather than the main villains. The best thing it had going for it was the music. The opening song, the Fabulous Flo's villain song, and especially "AT My Journey's End" are all very good songs. Those alone are worth checking out.

60: BLUE TOES THE ELF - An animated special about the elf who invented Christmas stockings. "Santa called him small one, mischief was his claim to fame." wasn't. At all.

61: JINGLE BELL ROCK - WTF did I just watch? But hey, it has another elf named Buddy in it!

62: THE STORY OF SANTA CLAUS - An animated kids movie that tells yet another origin of Santa. And hey, this Santa is voiced by Ed Asner! But his singing voice is by Jim Cummings! And Tim Curry voices the designated antagonist! This should be a great holiday treat, right? Eh...not quite.

63: THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS - Yet another origin of Santa. Does any kid really want to hear that, anyway? Don't they just accept Santa and everything about him? This one, however, is based on a book by Frank Baum. There were actually two TV versions, one done in Rankin/Bass style and one in 2D animation. Why do the Agwas look like gorillas in the former?

64: SANTA CLAUS THE MOVIE - Oh man, this one started out with so much potential to be a very mythic take on the origin of Santa Claus, and how he got to becoming what he is today over the centuries. But then it shifts gears and becomes a horrible movie with unbelievably cheap and date green-screen effect sequences, Dudley Moore as an annoying traitorous elf, and John Lithgow as a one-dimensional, over-the-top, totally illogical villain who screams "FOR FREEE?" Major letdown!

65: THE CHRISTMAS SHOES - The song sucks, so why the hell would the movie of it NOT suck?

66: MICKEY'S TWICE UPON A CHRISTMAS - Woah. Talk about a HUGE step down from "Once Upon A Christmas". This one is done in really, really bad looking 3D animation and none of the stories in it are half as well done and memorable as the ones from the first. The magic of Disney and Christmas that was abundant in the original is absent here. It is insanely forgettable, so I say skip it!

67: MICKEY'S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS: SNOWED IN AT THE HOUSE OF MOUSE - As with the Halloween-themed DTV "Mickey's House Of Villains", the title is misleading. You'd think this would be about a snowstorm keeping all the Disney characters from leaving the House Of Mouse to go back home for Christmas, so they'd all have to cope somehow. But no, the "snowed in" part has nothing to do with the plot. Everyone's all hunky dory about being snowed in at the House Of Mouse and so they watch cartoons 'til the morning light! It's only Donald who isn't into the Christmas spirit for no good reason, so his friends keep trying to cheer him up. And that's it. What a rip-off! The brief character cameos and interactions aren't well done. At one point, Jafar says he's glad to see everyone is having a Merry Christmas. Um, since when did Jafar care about whether or not everyone else was having a Merry Christmas? And the cartoons aren't all well done either. I mean, they show the entirety of "Mickey's Christmas Carol" in this! A whole 'nother Christmas special altogether is thrown in here! But there are two major good points in this DTV. One is the Nutcracker cartoon, which is hilarious, features Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Ludwig Von Drake playing great roles, and is narrated by an increasingly stressed out John Cleese. The other one is the lovely song at the end, "The Best Christmas Of All", sung by a whole chorus of Disney characters. But that's not quite enough to save this one from being a disappointment. It's better than the above, but still pretty weak.

68: LOONEY TUNES: BAH HUMDUCK! - A really bad "Christmas Carol" parody starring Daffy Duck. It's not funny, it's not developed, it's not memorable, and it does not at all appeal to today's kids!

69: GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER - A terrible animated Christmas special based on a terrible, unmerry, annoying as heck Christmas song! Whose bright idea was it to make a special off of that? And what in the song indicated Cousin Mel was a bad guy? Or even NOT a guy? Just WHY?

70: THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL - This one is....really terrible. How do I even talk about it? Of course I haven't actually seen the whole thing! I only saw it through the Nostalgia Critic's review of it! And if this is the thing that caused the review that caused Santa Christ, then it HAS to be bad!

UPDATE: FRED CLAUS - Saw this on TV the last few years, and to be honest I'm really confused as to what all the critics hated about this movie. I thought it was great for the most part. The origin story they give to Nicholas Claus and his brother Fredrick at the start of the film is just fascinating, the rest of the film is comedic and surprisingly touching and dramatic in just the right moments, the North Pole is as fun and magical seeming as the version from "The Santa Clause". the actors are do splendidly (particularly Vince Vaughn as Fred, Paul Giamatti as Santa Claus, John Michael Higgins as Fred's elf friend, and Kevin Spacey as the nefarious antagonist), and it sends a great message that I think needs to be heard more often - that the very nature of the "naughty and nice list" and how it rewards good children while punishing naughty ones is actually heavily flawed and showcasing conditional love at Christmastime, which is not the example Santa ought to be setting for the kids
of the world. Christmas should be a time of love, kindness, and giving for all people regardless of the mistakes they might have made throughout the year, rather than one big end-of-year reward for good behavior. And the story between the two brothers ends up being super emotional - it gets me in the feels every single time. Screw the critics, I recommend this one. It's a terrific Christmas experience.

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