Saturday night coming up to Christmas, you want something everyone can watch on a couch, maybe with a loved one, or maybe stroking your favourite pet dog, and just laugh like it’s nearly bloody Christmas (it really truly honestly is nearly bloody Christmas folks). Why not give these two light hearted holiday films a go – both are very mainstream and easily accessible for a Saturday night that doesn’t need a single thought.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Bob Clark, 94 mins To many, “A Christmas Story” is a classic that has to be seen but until now it had resolutely been off my radar. This is a comedy by former Porky’s director Bob Clark, and plays around the story of a child living in America in the 1940s. All he wants for Christmas is a red bb gun. Hilarity ensues, and rediscover the true meaning of Christmas… an American Christmas. The film is probably more suited to children than it is adults, but it tries to present comedy on two levels – on one, the very physical and visible level for children, and the other the knowing voice of Christmas seen with experience in hindsight – with the protagonist’s voice-over revealing like an aside, the truth and conspiracy of what is going on.
Bad Santa (2003)
Terry Zwigoff, 91 mins Yes, it really has been that long since this bizarre piece of holiday nastiness was released, and maybe time to reconsider how you felt about it. Billy Bob Thornton plays a conman out to swindle various shops and establishment’s using a Christmas themed scheme that works like a charm, until his ability and determination fade with the onset of alcoholism and exhaustion. His life slowly declines into a ceasepool of his own foils, until he accidentally falls into the company of an eight year old child – fat and bullied without a father figure in his life. As with every film about Christmas, the characters learn “the true meaning” of Christmas, disguised in a comedy film that deserves more affection than has been given it previously – but don’t expect these revelations to be as finely tuned as one might expect. There is 2/3 of a good film in there, tangled between a christmas plot, a frustratingly juxtaposition
of rudeness and sweet sentiment, and vulgour attempts to be crude that aren’t nearly as funny as you’d imagine, which with a good edit or a rewrite could have been saved. As it is, the late Bernie Mac’s character in the film adequately expresses the frustrations inherent in the film – he is utterly irrelevant to the plot, and confusingly inconsistent, but still hilarious in small doses.
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