You know it's Christmas because the heads of state get involved, kinda. First up, the Prime Minister of Canada had to go on TV last week to clarify that that Die Hard is indeed a Christmas movie (because apparently there are internet dickweeds out there who don't think it is). And while it warms my heart to know our tax dollars are being spent defending the Christmas street cred of a movie that takes place at an office Christmas party, on Christmas Eve, and is filled with holiday music and themes of familial love, togetherness and forgiveness, it also kind of pisses me off because, where is that kind of leadership when it comes to the stuff that matters?
But don't worry. It's always weirder down south, where their current commander in chief doesn't defend Christmas movies so much as try to appear in them. Fans of Macaulay Culkin (that's everyone, right?) will recall Donald Trump's cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. The scene adds nothing to the film but back in 1992 it was probably considered funny. Random though, and the backstory reeks of narcissism.
According to Matt Damon (speaking to The Hollywood Reporter) any film that wanted to shoot in one of Donald Trump's buildings had to write him into their script. Damon recalls working on Scent of a Woman, "The whole crew has to waste an hour of the day with a bullshit shot... You waste a little time so you can get the permit, and then you can cut the scene out. But I guess in Home Alone 2 they left it in."
I guess so, and to be honest, it didn't hurt the movie that much either, because Home Alone 2 stinks worse than the manger floor on Boxing Day. (Not a lot of biological detail in the nativity stories I recall, but surely that placenta ended up somewhere??? Maybe they fed it to the goat.)
In any case, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. And so is (the arguably better) Die Hard 2. I also heard some internet jizztards are doubting Gremlins as well. That movie is so Christmas it even tackles the reality of Santa Claus (so parents of little ones be wary).
Other kickass Christmas movies to check out on the weekend include Fubar 2, Beat Street, Go, Scrooged, The Night Before, and Treevenge — a 16-minute Canadian-made environmentalist splatter-horror short film that should be a staple at every family Christmas event. In my opinion, It's a Wonderful Life can suck a soft-boiled egg, but we don't need a world leader to stand up for it, do we? It's a Christmas movie.
In the theatres this week, there's a whole slew of new flicks but no real standouts. There is some Matt Damon though. He stars in Downsizing, the latest from Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways). The concept is that people unhappy with their lives (or broke) can permanently and irreversibly get shrunk down to tiny five-inch versions of themselves and live the good life for cheap in a sort of miniature utopia called Leisureland. Payne is aiming for a satirical comedy about what we will sacrifice to find out how green the grass really is on the other side of the fence, but Downsizing lacks humour and focus. There are enviro, socio and class-struggle subthemes in there but they shrunk the script before they tightened it up.
On the other end of the spectrum, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is big, loud, and mildly entertaining. Director Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard) updates the 1995 classic by turning the board game into a video game console. Four very different teenagers (stock characters) get sucked in and inhabit the game's archetypical avatars. So, the popular girl becomes a schlubby male scientist and the nerd becomes Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Cue the life lessons.
Jumanji 2 is like a body-swap mash-up of The Breakfast Club and Romancing the Stone plugged into the plot of a 1990s arcade game. The character arcs are predictable and the CGI isn't jaw-dropping. But the good news is the in-game avatars carry the picture thanks to the talents of The Rock, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) and scene-stealer Jack Black (School of Rock). And bonus points for using Guns n Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" in the soundtrack, at least. Kids will dig it, and adults with open minds might, too.
Father Figures, The Greatest Showman, and Pitch Perfect 3 also open this week at the ineffable Village 8. Only one of them is a musical, so buyer beware.
Merry Christmas, let it snow.