Throwing Rocks At Trains

Christmas is about traditions. Visiting Santas. Opening presents. Seeing old friends. And in case you’re maxed out on sentiment, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is here with “A Very Sunny Christmas” to turn those traditions on their heads and remind you that Christmas sucks and nothing matters.A_Very_Sunny_Christmas_(27)

Mac fondly remembers taking presets from other houses and Charlie can’t remember anything because he typically spent Christmas huffing glue. Dennis and Dee are looking for revenge after the years of being punked by Frank who would buy them amazing presents and them keep them for himself, his attempt to teach the twins a valuable life lesson.A_Very_Sunny_Christmas_(2)

As Mac and Charlie confront their childhood traumas, Dennis and Dee try to “Christmas Carol” Frank using his old business partner, Eugene, whom he believes to be deceased. Their plan backfires of course, and they end up part of Eugene’s own revenge plot.

The two part episode is one of the best of the entire series. The soundtrack is fire, filled with holiday favourites the ever present jangle of jingle bells. Everything is decorated to the max and they had the foresight to write in a snow machine so the episode had a wintery feel despite being filmed in a sweltering Philly summer. There’s even a claymation dream sequence featuring Herbie the Elf.A_Very_Sunny_Christmas_(43)

As always, everything goes back to normal and the gang is left to do as they do best. Disrupt the neighbourhood and drink too damn much.A_Very_Sunny_Christmas_(45)

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻

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Happy Jane-Mas!

Happy Endings was the best sitcom ever written and I miss it every day.

They gave Christmas a try in the second season but it was dragged down by one of those weird sitcom contrivances that would be solved in the real world with a simple conversation. But it does have Adam Pally dressed as Santa!ADAM PALLY, CASEY WILSON

For season three’s festive episode “No-Ho-Ho” they present the idea that Jane was born on December 25th but changed her birthday to July 16th because she doesn’t want to share it with Christmas. Classic Jane. So the gang decides to postpone Christmas so she can have her birthday on her actual birthday aka Jane-mas. And yes I totally believe that Alex has no idea when her sister’s real birthday is.ADAM PALLY, ELISHA CUTHBERT,  ZACHARY KNIGHTON, DAMON WAYANS JR., CASEY WILSON

The road to Christmas is paved with good intentions. Brad gets sucked in by Hip Hop Santa, Max can’t lay off the Egg Nog, and Alex succumbs to her present-opening compulsion.

Meanwhile Dave and Penny try to find the perfect present for Pete, on Christmas Day, and they plan an elaborate scavenger hunt. It’s a weird plot line in the weird season arc of Penny’s weird love story. It’s completely irrelevant and goes nowhere. I was full time shipping Dave and Penny by this point and I firmly believe that if they show had continued they would have ended up together. he_a.jpg

Jane eventually leaves and finds a bar full of Christmas babies to commiserate with. Although they’re a lot more angry about their shared birthday and things soon turn violent. Brad of course comes and finds her and Jane-mas is saved. Thank god for Brad. Sometimes he is the most levelheaded and morally good person on the show and I love him and Jane together. In the end, they all get their perfect Christmas.

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻.5

Surviving Christmas

This Christmas, celebrate with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon as they try to go to Fiji and avoid their crazy families in Four Christmases. I totally called that Brad and Kate were faking the bar scene meet-cute from the jump, but I still enjoyed it. Then they had me completely sucked in during their “why would we ruin our perfect relationship with marriage?” defence. Yup, fully onboard. Love these two.B002N1MPPM_FourChristmases_UXNL1._V144373257_RI_SX940_

First up it’s Brad’s dad’s house and uh, Jon Favreau looks incredible y’all. Brad’s family is a nightmare of stereotypes and I sympathize with him for choosing to change his name and not tell Kate his deadname. The whole point of changing your name is not having to use or acknowledge your old one.fourchristmases-mv-35

Next we have Kate’s mom’s house and oh wow Kristin Chenoweth is perfectly cast as Reese’s sister. Like genuinely perfect. But why is everyone judging her relationship? Are we really obligated to tell our partners every ugly detail from our past lives?? Also her niece is a fucking monster. And I love how invested Brad gets in the nativity play.original

I didn’t know this movie was about their relationship problems. I thought it was kind of just a bunch of jokes vaguely relating to Christmas. But it gets hella serious after visiting Brad’s mom. Jon Favreau and Katy Mixon were amazing in that Taboo scene though.

Obviously in the end they make up and decide to buy into heteronormativity (snore) and do the whole marriage and kids bullshit thing. They were so interesting before.72a3f21e2c

Oh well, another one bites the dust.

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻.5

The Only Way Is Essex

A benchmark of British culture is the Christmas Special. Americans settle for the occasional festive episode but the Brits make an event of it. One such event is the Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, and the world is a greater place for it. James Corden actually invented Carpool Karaoke in 2008 when he rocked out to “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and regardless of his other transgressions, I’ll always hold that moment in my heart. That and sight of Nessa dressed as Santa. I can’t get enough of her, truth be told, but especially in this episode. The bathtub scene, playing battleship with Stacey, exchanging glances with Smithy. It’s all good as gold it is.3B21CBA100000578-0-image-a-2_1481106991341

Rob Brydon is one of the UK’s greatest performers and I love him as Bryn. He’s so cheery and amenable. Every family needs a Bryn, toting around mistletoe and Mint Bailey’s. There’s a lot occurring this episode, most notably, Gavin and Stacey planning to move to Wales. Nessa and Smithy are navigating co-parenting young Neil (the result of some “rubbish” in the garden at Pam and Mick’s) and managing quite awkwardly due to his stunted emotional maturity and her tendency to shut everyone out.gallery-1481818945-gavin

Co-creators Ruth Jones and Corden have created quite a village to surround themselves with. Between the Welsh side and the Essex side, they’ve got all their bases covered and a Christmas gathering is the perfect setting to let them all loose. I love Mick and Pam so much. Michael Shipman is honestly one of the best TV dads. And I swoon for Gwen. She’s so pure. Just a beam of unconditional love and generosity. She reminds me of my Aunt Adele actually. I strongly recommend watching the rest of this series but if you can’t swing it, the Christmas Special is worth your time on its own. It’s like a warm hug on a cold day.65C88A2A-98A9-CE0D-F29913A067C50E09

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻

Making a King

Well lord knows I love a movie about journalists, so sign me the heck up, Netflix Original A Christmas Prince. I already love Amber, our put-upon protagonist who gets an assignment to track down Prince Richard of Aldovia OVER CHRISTMAS, which is fine because she’s extra single and the only person who’ll miss her is her diner-owning father.1510940167-24428-454

Aldovia, which I think is fake, is a tiny country out of a storybook. It’s what Americans imagine Europe to be like if they’ve ever been there, sort of a cross between Finland and Switzerland. Everyone sounds British though.

Amber immediately gets an inside look at the Royal Family by pretending to be the tutor for the young Princess because of course she does. She’s nice to the little brat and gains favour with everyone in the palace quite quickly. When she finally gets a moment alone with the Prince, he reveals himself to be more thoughtful and reserved than his reputation suggests because of course he is. Naturally though, being royalty, he’s been promised to Lady Sophia and isn’t too happy about it because OF COURSE HE ISN’T.19d5929e-cccc-49be-9b2b-08b2a300946a-screen-shot-2017-12-04-at-32705-pm

He is obviously attracted to Amber because she’s cute and smart and doesn’t care about being a queen and she pretends not to like him because she’s a professional and needs this assignment to launch her career. Also he looks a bit too much like Mike Birbiglia for me too take seriously. Like I actually checked to see if they were brothers.maxresdefault (2)

There’s a lot more drama to be had than I expected. It follows the typical romantic comedy plot but with a side twist that (SPOILER ALERT) the Prince is actually adopted. Everyone finds out at the same time Amber’s identity is revealed and it tears them all apart. The romance kind of takes a back seat to stuffy bureaucratic procedures and like, a lot of conversations about duty and bloodlines.

Luckily it all gets sorted out in the (Saint) nick of time and Amber loses her job so she’s free to start a blog (honestly love don’t bother; blogs are so done) and well, you know, become the Queen of Aldovia. I like how when he proposes she’s like “No I can’t because of  these perfectly good reasons!” And he’s like “Nah babe, I’m a King. Normal people problems don’t apply to us.” And they lived Happily Ever After. I mean, we’ve all seen Into The Woods. These things always work out perfectly forever.f532be354e280d84f25f0782200cf2e133c54ce4

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻.5

Maybe This Chrismukkah

For this purposes of this blog and my sanity, I am only acknowledging the first two Chrismukkah episodes. I know there are four. I don’t care. 120516-christmakkuh-lead_0

The first Chrismukkah introduced the concept of the bi-religious holiday but the second one perfected it. In season one of The O.C., Ryan is still going hard after the title of Broodiest Boy in all of California. He had a HORRIBLE first Chrismukkah. I prefer the second one. He’s happier and he’s with Lindsey who has NEVER been arrested at the mall. Although for the record that’s not how mall security would deal with shoplifting.Inchpes_en_hamburvum_horoskopi_nshannereh_57168

In season two, Ryan tries hard to keep Chrismukkah contained but it spills over and ruins multiple lives. His heart was in the right place, of course, how was he to know he was dating his adopted grandfather’s illegitimate love child? What are the holidays for if not exposing family secrets?Although Lindsey telling Ryan her sad Christmas story without a hint of irony is atrocious. As if one year away from Chino means he suddenly loves all December holidays.oc-206-ryan-lindsay

Season one Seth and Summer are still dealing with Anna the Interloper (I don’t have a problem with Anna but we all know she doesn’t belong in The O.C., the county or the show) and he makes them each Seth Cohen Starter Packs. They return the thoughtful gifts and he gives them to his parents because one can never have too many copies of The Gooniesgallery-1499866678-theoc-seth-summer-anna

Summer became one of my favourite characters mostly because of Rachel Bilson. She’s feisty and smart and much more compassionate and intuitive than she’s originally portrayed as. In season two she saves Chrismukkah for completely unselfish reasons. She has a couple nice moments with Seth even though they are broken up and both seeing other people. She’ll always be too good for him, full offence Cohen. header__span

Season one Marissa is obviously going through something and she’s not going to get better for a very long time. And then well… we all know what happens in season three. In Ryan’s defense though that car door slamming scene was cathartic. She’s being an absolute terror and he deserves better. At the end she finally goes to therapy and we get the first appearance of Oliver! Is he even in therapy? We already know he’s a batshit crazy liar.  I bet he’s just there scamming on damaged girls like Marissa. He’s so gross and slimy already, I hate him out of the gate. Marisa-And-Summers-Sweaters-And-Hat.jpg

Season two Marissa has calmed down and is kind of boring. Her parents are having a ridiculous affair and she still manages to make the Chrismukkah drama about her by announcing,  “My ex-boyfriend is dating my step-sister,” yeah, so? No one cares about you, shut up.

Also the indie band Christmas tunes in these episodes are fantastic. I highly recommend The O.C. Mix 3: Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah for your upcoming non-denominational holiday parties. Ocmix3.jpg

Season One “The Best Chrismukkah Ever”

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻

Season Two “The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn’t”

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Some idiot gives him advice on an airplane and John McClane has the worst Christmas of his life.McClane-hanging-from-a-fire-hose-Die-Hard

Full disclosure: I watched Die Hard for the first time about five years ago. It wasn’t a part of my childhood and I saw the fourth one first, entirely because Timothy Olyphant is in it. As such, John McClane will always just be a lesser version of Korben Dallas as far as I’m concerned.

Speaking of McClane, it’s so interesting that this is the first time we meet him and he’s completely out of his element. He’s already divorced. He’s not even on duty. It’s supposed to be a nice Christmas movie about broken homes and then Hans Gruber happens.rickman-web-1

I do genuinely miss Alan Rickman and he is outstanding here. From his precise diction to his immaculate facial hair, he is the perfect 80s villain. He is in total control of every aspect of his operation, menacing, and unflappable. His plan is flawless of course but he made one crucial mistake: not knowing that New York Super Cop John McClane was in the building.

There are some incredible set pieces here. The elevator shaft scene is fantastic study in tension. The air vents crawl, the mini-car chase, Hans Gruber pretending to be Bill Clay and the ensuing shoot-out. I still don’t know if McClane ever believed him. My instinct says no and he was just playing along for Hans’ sake. You know, to lull him into a false sense of security.die hard

I have to say, the scene with the glass is unnerving. It’s an iconic moment for good reason. McClane is a confirmed badass and he isn’t afraid of anything. Not even a few shards of glass. Not a helicopter pummelling to the ground. But he is an honourable man and he doesn’t want do die without apologizing to his wife. He is selfless and self-sacrificing, willing to do anything to save a bunch of people he doesn’t even know. He could easily just grab Holly abs get out but as she tells her co-workers, he’s doing “his job.”

I love how terrible all the other cops act just to show who the real heroes are. Al Powell deserves a promotion for taking command of the Nakatomi Plaza incident and saving so many innocent lives. He and McClane hugging at the end is so precious and pure. I actually wish all the sequels were just about them.AlPowellradio5

I don’t understand the debate over whether this is or isn’t a Christmas movie. It most clearly is. People are constantly talking about Christmas. There’s Christmas songs over the end credits. It takes place during a Christmas party. It may not be about the sentimental meaning of Christmas but it certainly is a Christmas Movie.

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻

The House of Mouse

I’m not much of a Mickey Mouse stan. I prefer the Duck family. Darkwing, Donald, the triplets, etc. Which is why I was surprised to learn while doing research for this piece that Scrooge McDuck was not originally created for Mickey’s Christmas Carol. He had existed for almost 40 years already when Disney decided to do their own take on the Christmas Classic.MickeysChristmasCarol-2

The story itself isn’t long, but trimming it down to 25 minutes does rush along the redemption arc to the point that it’s not entirely believable. We all know Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning a changed man, but in this version, we don’t really see why. But for children it’s perfect. It covers the main beats and well, Mickey Mouse is there. What more could you ask for?Mickeys-christmas-carol-17

Pretty much everyone who had been in a Disney film up to then was included in the supporting cast.  I like that they’re still themselves, but playing another role. Also I really like the credits music, “Oh, What A Merry Christmas Day” by Fredrick Searles and Irwin Kostal.blu496423LARGE

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻.5

He Sees You When You’re Stealing

The year was 1997. Titanic was dominating the box office and the Spice Girls were dominating the world. If you wanted to watch TV you had to look in a paper book at the “listings” and then be home at a certain date and time. This was called “Appointment Viewing” but, I digress. If you were lucky enough to have cable, you might have witnessed Mary Stuart Masterson and future Academy Award Nominee Mark Ruffalo revolutionize Christmas and Made-For-TV Movies with the Lifetime Holiday Classic, On the Second Day of Christmas.

The movie tells the heartwarming tale of a petty thief and her niece, both named Patricia, who become the problem of a lonely and grouchy department store security guard called Bert. Normally this situation would be resolved in an afternoon but IT’S CHRISTMAS so they have to stay with Bert for three whole days. Just long enough for Trish and Bert to pretend to be dating so she can avoid her ex and he can attend his family’s Christmas without arousing suspicion. By Boxing Day, they’re hopelessly in love. Spoiler alert.
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Obviously these two are some of our most talented actors so their performances are flawless. Mark is pure light and goodness as the eager to please Bert and Mary has just the right level of acerbic wit. She’s charming and flirty and is always working a con, without crossing over into complete deviousness. As movie kids go, young Patsy isn’t completely annoying but she gets too many lines that are supposed to be funny because kids using grown up expressions is inherently hilarious. Except it’s not and she’s not. She’s better when she’s just being a kid obsessed with Christmas.

I like this movie but it’s hard to sympathize with Trish. She could have gotten a normal job by now, she just doesn’t want to. But poor Bert. His entire family are police officers and he can’t pass the physical exam because he has astigmatism. Something his brother will never let him forget.
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Bert is also a talented musician and it takes meeting Trish to make him realize that music is his true passion. In the end everyone is happy. Bert finally has a family that accepts him for him and Trish never has to deal with any consequences for her crimes. It’s a Christmas Miracle! Or white privilege. Or both.

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻

O Tannenbaum

I have a distinct memory of the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and Linus wrapping his blanket around it but I completely forgot that they originally needed it for the school play. The school’s nativity play that Charlie Brown was poorly directing. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this particular Christmas Special but it more than holds up. 1506557147-1479760942-Charlie_Brown_christmas_tickets

The character are all in fine form. Charlie Brown is having a crisis over the meaning of Christmas which Linus solves by giving a speech that is essentially the passage of the bible where Jesus is born. In fact, this whole special is a lot more Christian themed than I remember it being. That’s not a criticism, it just must have seemed more normal when I was a child and still regularly attending church. You don’t see a lot of mainstream Christian programming anymore.

I love how Snoopy just hangs out with the kids. That scene where he starts dancing and Schroeder and Lucy get annoyed is peak Peanuts comedy.gettyimages-112799184

The plot, aside from the tree is fairly light. Linus gives a speech which is basically word for word the passage of the Bible where Jesus is born. There’s a constant soundtrack of “Oh Christmas Tree.” Snoopy wins a prize for decorating his doghouse. And then all the kids sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” And in the end, isn’t that really what Christmas is all about?a-charlie-brown-christmas

Entertainment Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Christmasyness: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻