5 Ways to Prep: Christmas
By George Rose
December 7, 2017
It’s that magical time of year when movie theater activity picks back up during a bountiful Thanksgiving and holiday shopping is in full swing. Thor: Ragnarok is a rollicking blockbuster hit, Pixar once again made me cry with their latest successful emotional terrorist, Justice League is surprisingly not total garbage (despite its lackluster earnings thus far) and Lady Bird is kicking off awards season with “the best reviewed film ever on Rotten Tomatoes.” With Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji, and Pitch Perfect 3 still to come, there’s plenty to look forward to. Oh, did I forget to mention The Greatest Showman? It might be too soon to call but I’m placing my early bets on Hugh Jackman taking home his first Oscar. Can you tell I’m excited?!?! IT’S CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE! It’s time to get pumped and be happy and joyous!
Except… the next two weeks kind of suck. There’s nothing worth mentioning coming out in theaters because this is a time meant for more shopping and catching up on recent releases. This is also a time to acknowledge that Christmas isn’t the only holiday. It happens to be the what the majority celebrate and what I personally partake in, but there are more people out in the world than the few that attend whatever church you belong to. There’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day (whatever that is) and many more. There’s even NOTHING! Literally. I have a coworker that’s a Jehovah’s Witness and he’s a close friend, but in his culture they don’t celebrate holidays or birthdays. There’s a dry erase board with some drawings of mine that include a Christmas tree, a Jewish star and a snowman; to include this friend of mine that has no holidays, I gave the snowman a speech bubble that says, “Today is just a normal day!”
What a glorious time of year it is that we can all come together by celebrating… separately. I mean, celebrate our differences together! Except in this article. At the end of the day, I celebrate Christmas and most of you do too. In Hollywood, the Christmas fan would be considered the “target market.” They’re the biggest slice of the pie and everyone else is basically just an independent movie waiting to be found OnDemand for free in six months. But, hey, Lady Bird is killing it and so could you! For now, what I know and what I have to offer to help you prep for the upcoming festivities is a list of my favorite Christmas movies from five different emotional arenas. I can’t suggest a movie for every culture out there but I can try to get you through all the different genres that Santa has magically appeared in over the years.
#1) Superhero Genre - Batman Returns (1992)
Since I’m already imposing my own religious beliefs and holiday upon you, it should stand to reason that I would also force my favorite genre on you first. At least it’s not that nasty fruit cake loaf thing we all dread getting. Anyway, superheros are all the rage and they’re the only movies still making money at theaters anymore… unless you’re Justice League. Even though DC can’t seem to do anything right these days and Marvel rules the world, there was once a time when DC was the king of vigilantes running around the streets at night. During this time, Tim Burton was the ringmaster that led the first Batman film to blockbuster glory in 1989. A few years later Batman returned in… Batman Returns. It didn’t quite earn what the record-breaking initial entry pulled in but it had better reviews and the most iconic version of Catwoman to date. Michelle Pfeiffer is equal parts sexy, seductive and sadistic as the best anti-hero ever.
To take our hero back to his brooding roots, Burton moved the action to Winter for Batman’s second adventure. Taking place mostly at night while snowing, the haunting black and white backdrop would be used again in 1993 for Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas to equally chilling effect. Though his signature flair would become redundant a decade later, this holiday drear proved a perfect atmosphere for Gotham’s most sinister villains to dress all goth and cry about the terrible life that led them to crime as white flakes tumble down like little frozen tears. In sad a time when Justice League is struggling in cinemas against Thor: Ragnarok, it’s nice to have Batman return once in awhile to remind us that no matter how much of the galaxy Marvel dominates, they will never have the title for Best Superhero Christmas Movie (sorry, Iron Man 3).
#2) Family Genre - How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
It’s the holidays on heroine! In the midst of career highs for director Ron Howard and comedian Jim Carrey we got the ultimate Christmas movie. Turns out, what people want during this cheerful season is a movie about a miserable grouch. In the eyes of the Grinch, people are selfish and corrupt and Christmas is an illusion that masks our truly horrible nature. Maybe the Grinch is right. Maybe we really are all just a bunch of wasteful babies with long wish-lists and short tempers. Maybe the Grinch is really the good guy and the terrorists have won because here I am questioning the sanctity of Christmas. Or maybe this movie is too trippy for kids. Dr. Seus has always been known for deep, borderline psychedelic stories; as a kid it seemed so magical but as an adult you have to wonder if there’s hidden messages that aren’t kid-friendly.
What was once a picture-book story about a hairy monster that learns to have a heart around the holidays quickly became a PSA for anti-bullying; a green orphan gets picked on, runs away and returns years later to torture the townsfolk. Sounds like fun for the whole family! Despite a divide with critics, the box office results were astounding. It dominated the holidays and earned $260 million, which is $430 million adjusted for inflation. That’s more than most holiday films (not named Star Wars or Avatar) could wish to earn. It’s not like the Grinch is an original story but you could tell, even with some flaws, that the production crew tried their best and cared deeply about making this movie. Though often creepy, the outcome is a wondrous thrill-ride and a feast for the eyes. In a time when Hollywood is full of horror, who couldn’t use some magic?