I like all of my holidays with a glass of good cheer! And yes, I enjoy my Ho Ho Ho with a little Ha Ha Ha.
Not everyone one likes their Christmas entertainment to be syrupy-sweet or full of good tidings. Sometimes, you just want a side of snide with your Christmas cocoa. A shot of whiskey, neat, to wash away the slog of Christmas carols on repeat at the Mall…
One of my favorite Christmas films,The Ref (Ted Demme, 1994) is only Christmas in that it’s setting is a snowy holiday night in suburbia. A thief kidnaps a bickering couple preparing to host their Saint Lucia dinner. I’m generally not a fan of dysfunctional families but when the couple is played by the brilliant Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis and the inept burglar is Dennis Leary in peak caustic form…hilarity ensues.
The Ref has a big heart hidden under all that snark. Bad Santa (Terry Zwigoff, 2003) is bad to the bone. Here we have Billy Bob Thornton as an alcoholic thief set on robbing a department store. Dressed in a Santa suit with a sidekick, a bickering elf (Tony Cox), Billy Bob mistreats children and has an affair with a woman with a Santa fetish. Cast against-type, Lauren Graham is hilarious. This is not a film for the kiddos and I recommend the director’s cut. Bad Santa is crass but it’s a bracing antidote to the holiday treacle and it was successful enough to spawn a sequel, which is in the works.
I’m also a fan of Scrooged (Richard Donner, 1988). How can you not love watching Bill Murray get clobbered with a toaster-to-the-face by the delightful Carol Kane? Yes, it’s a remake of A Christmas Carol but it’s a great subversive look at the crass commercialization of Christmas with a little redemption at the end.
For those of you venturing to the movie theaters, there is quite the Holiday Buffet this year. There are orphans, penguins, sex (Horrible Bosses 2), sleaze (Nightcrawler), biblical tales and sequels. You can go Wild, or be Unbroken, take a gamble or visit a museum. I look forward to seeing Into The Woods. It looks like a fun one to share with friends and family. I’ll save the darker films for those long months of winter when there are no festivities. For now, I’d rather see something set in a fantasy world that doesn’t involve death and destruction and “where everything will come to a happy end.”