Monday, July 14, 2014





Bah! Humbug! 10 annoying holiday movies


August 24. 2013 11:11AM
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I love the sentimental holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1947), but friends put it at the top of their list of annoying holiday movies. “It’s too sappy,” they say. Like the Grinch says, “One man’s toxic sludge is another man’s potpourri.”So what’s on my list of 10 most annoying holiday movies? Here they are, listed by release date. Compare them with movies on your list.“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (1964). Not the worst movie ever made, but a contender. Inept and tedious. Listless Martian children spend their time watching bad Earth TV. It saps them of their sense of fun. So what else is new? Martian leader Zimar kidnaps Santa Claus. “He’ll bring the Christmas spirit to Mars,” says Zimar. “Santa will cheer up our children.” I’m not making this up. It’s the plot. In her film debut, Pia Zadora is Girmar. Not rated. Not worth watching.“Black Christmas” (1975). A holiday slasher flick, remade in 2006. Sometimes shamelessly titled “Silent Night, Deadly Night.” Billy Lenz, convicted of killing his mother and stepfather at Christmas 15 years ago, escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the scene of the crime, now a Clement University sorority house. Billy uses plastic bags and sharp pointy objects to dispatch his victims. Truly awful. Deservedly rated R for horror, violence, gore, nudity, sex and language.“Jingle All the Way” (1996). Arnold Schwarzenegger is Howard Langston, workaholic businessman, with no time for his family. To cover a lie he told his wife, Howard spends Christmas Eve day battling crowds (literally) and destroying property, searching for TurboMan, the year’s most popular Christmas toy, an action figure his son wants. Despite his energy, Schwarzenegger is neither funny nor likeable. Violence and mild profanity. PG.  “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000). Director Ron Howard’s bloated, loud and garish live-action version of the famous story. As the Grinch, Jim Carrey is way over the top. “You’re an idiot,” his echo tells him. I agree. Even with charming Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who and a semi-sweet ending, I still don’t like it. Watch the Chuck Jones animated film instead. PG.“The Santa Clause 2” (2002). Unfunny sequel to the 1994 original in which Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) inadvertently killed Santa Claus. What a hoot that was. In Part 2, Scott/Santa has to find a wife by Christmas Eve or he’s out of a job. During Scott’s absence from the North Pole, a fascist replacement for Santa takes control, staging a coup with toy soldiers. Kids will have a lot of fun with that plot twist. PG.“Bad Santa” (2003). Actually, I like this Billy Bob Thornton picture. It’s well made and funny (in a perverse sort of way), but is on my Annoying Movie List because it’s not family-friendly. R-rated for profanity, vulgarity, sex and violence. Thornton is Willie T. Soke, foul-mouthed, loser alcoholic who, with a dwarf friend (Tony Cox), works once a year as department store Santa. Willie and his holiday elf partner rob the store when it closes on Christmas Eve. It’s a Scrooge story, although Willie reforms only mildly at the end.“Surviving Christmas” (2004). Drew Latham (Ben Affleck), self-absorbed Chicago ad exec, plans to fly to Fiji with his girlfriend for Christmas. She wants time with her family. Rich and lonely, Drew taxies to his boyhood home and offers the current residents, a dysfunctional family named Valco, $250,000 to pretend to be his family until Christmas. They agree, except for grown-up daughter Alicia. “You’re what in real life we call a jackass,” she says to Drew. That sums up my feeling about Drew and this witless movie. PG-13 for profanity, sex and violence.“Christmas with the Kranks” (2004). Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) plan to skip Christmas and cruise the Caribbean instead. The subdivision Conformity Squad will have none of that. Its members leap into action, picketing the Kranks and singing endless repetitions of “Jingle Bells” while Luther and Nora cower in the cellar. Finally, the Kranks repent and put Frosty the Snowman on their roof like everyone else. In this way, the Kranks learn the Christmas spirit. A creepy fable about conformity. PG for language and sex.“Deck the Halls” (2006). When car salesman Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) announces his goal — to decorate with so many Christmas lights that his house can be seen from space — Dr. Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick), a Christmas traditionalist, is horrified. A vicious battle ensues. “They’re acting like a couple of 12-year-olds,” says Buddy’s wife Tia. She’s right. And they are about as funny. A sappy ending can’t save this loser. PG for violence and language.“Fred Claus” (2007). Vince Vaughn stars in this unfunny and talky Scrooge story. He’s Fred, Santa’s older brother, bitter because he’s been upstaged his whole life by his saintly sibling. Fred hates Christmas, but for $50,000, he agrees to help Santa at his workshop. Fred’s a screw-up and, as a result, the Board of Directors may shut down Santa entirely. Paul Giamatti is so spiritless as Santa, I didn’t care. PG for language and rude humor.





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