🎶It’s that time (again), Christmas time is here🎶
This time last year (roughly), I released my review of the best Christmas films for your viewing pleasure. It was always going to be a challenge to curate, any list of beloved films would be. I could have reviewed every Christmas film ever made and I most likely would still be writing the post, so I missed out some of the more popular selections for the sake of brevity. Coupled with the release of some new Christmas films this year, it felt like it was time for a second review, so…
Here we snow again…
As with last year’s review, I have kept the same criteria I judge a good Christmas film against:
Firstly, and obviously, it must have something to do with Christmas. It does not need to have Santa and elves, but it would certainly need to be set around Christmas. Secondly, it needs to have some humour in it. Christmas film plot lines are fairly generic, so I’m not expecting Shakespeare, but a joke or two does not go amiss. Finally, we need a warm, happy ending. Christmas films are shamelessly feel good, and ending on a downer is just not in keeping with the season. Once I have considered the films using these criteria, I shall be awarding them a Ho Ho Ho Rating from 🎅🏻 to 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻 (with a 1/2 score possible too, though I’m not prepared to cut the Santa’s in half…).Me, 2020…
To begin, I present some more of the Christmas films my family and I have loved over the years. These are films we return to year after year, so as you will probably guess most(…) are fairly highly rated.
Now technically this is not a Christmas film. Technically.
But also, it is always on at Christmas and never any other time of year so it is definitely a Christmas film, and let’s not forget it is brilliant. Some of the casting (Gibson) is a little suspect in hindsight, but the animation, story and comedy are brilliant. Definitely a non-Christmas Christmas film to have on your to watch pile.
(Not exactly a) Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🐣🐣🐣🐣
I want to really like this film (my parents certainly do). Superficially it has all the same elements which make National Lampoons my all time favourite Christmas film. Unfortunately Deck the Halls is weighed down by a hefty wooden log, also know as Matthew Broderick. If he was playing a man who cannot act with anything close to feeling, then bravo, give him all the awards. Otherwise, his performance is dire and makes the whole film a drag. We didn’t even managed to finish it this year which is a shame.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻1/2
After saying most of these films are highly rated, I seem to managed to review two of the worst offerings towards the beginning. I’m not exactly sure what it is about Elf I don’t like. On paper it has everything it needs and… oh yeah it’s Will Ferrell. Will Ferrell is what I don’t like. Subtle comedy he does not do, and even the festive fun of the film cannot save it from the disaster of a leading man.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻
I’m not sure why these gems were missed off the list last year (OK I do, the post was getting long). I love the Home Alone films (just the first two, let’s just pretend Home Alone 3 onwards never happened). I think all of us at some time have wanted to set a series of intricate traps around the house for whoever is unfortunate enough to walk by (no, just me then…) and these films let out inner devils live vicariously. Even a cameo from the former dipshit president in the second film (seriously) cannot put a dent in the fun.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻
More commonly know as The Grinch, this film should have been better than it was. Jim Carrey was his usual energetic self and carries the film, but for me the Dr Seuss-ness distracts too much from the fun. I have yet to see the animated version released in 2018, but given it is (slightly) better rated on IMDb, it might be worth give Seuss a second chance…
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻 (and two of those Ho’s are for Carrey alone)
You might have imagined Arnold Schwarzenegger would be the most wooden actor on this list, but he actually holds up well in this film. Having him play a reluctant superhero plays to his strengths, and his comic timing is not bad. Definitely worth a watch if it is on this Christmas (which it almost certainly will be…)
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻1/2
If you know me you will know I am not religious. The idea of sitting through a school nativity play hurts my non-existent soul. That being said, Nativity! (the exclamation mark is compulsory) is a really good bit of family fun, so much so we went to see it in the theatre a couple of years ago and it was just as exciting. Nativity 2 and 3 are poor imitations not worth your time (even the wonderful David Tennant cannot rescue the second instalment), but the original is good fun and definitely worth a watch this Christmas.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻1/2
I’m really not a fan of Tim Allen (I think I mentioned this when I reviewed Christmas with the Kranks last year) but I have to admit he can get a few laughs when it comes to a Christmas film. The Santa Clause is for the most part clever and witty, and I am sure the kids will love it. For me it is average, and as with Nativity! the sequels are worse. Looking to keep the kids entertained this Christmas, check out The Santa Clause, otherwise I would probably give it a miss.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻
I know what you are thinking, I reviewed this film last year, but it is just so damn good I wanted to remind you about it again. Watch this film if nothing else this Christmas!
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻 (yes I’ve added a Ho this year, it is a film which only gets better with age! It’s my review, I can do what I like…)
The new additions
From reviews of the family favourites, we now move onto some of the new offerings I have watched this year (either new releases or new films to me at least).
(If you look really hard, you will probably see two films interloping in the new additions section which are neither new releases nor new to me. There is a good reason for this I assure you, even if it does mess with my nicely ordered alphabetised list…)
OK so this is not actually a Christmas film, and the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed I reviewed the film last year (it remains really good, first on our viewing list this year once more). Rather, this is a review of the book the film is based on. I decided to read it after watching the film again, and I am very glad I did.
Actually a collection of three interwoven short stories by three different authors, the book varies considerably at parts from the film (or should that be the other way around?), and some of the elements I love from the film are missing. That being said, it is still a really good Sunday afternoon read. Is it as good as the film, not quite, but is it good on its own merits? Definitely.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻
It feels like Netflix either gets it absolutely spot on or is completely terrible when they release a Christmas film. Love Hard is firmly in the former camp, it is brilliant.
It took me a little time to get into it (the first 5 minutes gave me flashbacks of Emily in Paris which the wife tortured me with last year) but as soon as the action moved from LA to New England (I think) it ticked every box for a heartwarming Christmas romp. If you have never seen anaphylaxis karaoke before, you don’t know what you are missing. Definitely one to add to the watch list for next year.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻1/2
So you might have guessed from the title of Love Hard, it is a portmanteau homage to two controversial Christmas films, Love Actually and Die Hard. Given I did not review them last year I thought it would be good to cover them here
First, Love Actually. After discovering my wife has never seen it, I will be subjecting her to the delights of a dancing Hugh Grant and an octopus nativity tonight. Unfortunately for me I have seen this film too many times (several times in summer if I recall) and if it ever was funny, it has pretty much lost what joy it had. Coupled with it not being particularly family friendly, I’m not sure I can recommend this one too highly…
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻
Right, let’s get this over with. Is Die Hard a Christmas film? Personally I think the answer is obvious…
Ok, now we have got that sorted, what about the film for your Christmas viewing? Definitely better than Love Actually, with more laughs in my book despite being an action film. While I have to dock it a Ho Ho Ho for not being family friendly, it is a fairly good romp and worth a watch if you have the time.
(And before you say anything, let’s just pretend Die Hard 2 and the rest do not exist…)
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻🎅🏻
Continuing my theme of is it a Christmas movie, I give you a film which is neither very Christmassy or in fact actually a film. Elves is a Danish TV series created by Netflix telling the story of a family getting away to the country for the Christmas holidays.
So far, so festive. Except, this series is best described as a horror story. The Elves are not pleasant (at least they do not seem to be in the first couple of episodes) and I suspect it is building to a big grizzly finale.
I’m currently two episodes in and it is OK. The scenery and setting are beautiful, the concept is a good one, I’m just not sure whether I can put up with the slow pacing for the next four episodes. and as far as family friendly goes, this “film” is a big no no…
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🧝🏻♂️🧝🏻♂️1/2
I seem to recall this film being hyped as a potential classic when it was released. Somehow I managed to miss it, and after watching it this year, I cannot decide whether this is a good thing or not. While certainly not family friendly, it does have the odd funny moment and I managed to stick it out to the end.
Unfortunately, it is held back by one teeny, tiny little problem; the plot! Does it exist? Is there a point to the movie? Is this film so meta it does not need a plot? I simply do not know. You should probably watch this movie once to say you have seen it, there is definitely potential. To watch it a second time though, I suspect not…
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻1/2
Is there anything Aardman Animation cannot do? From Chicken Run (see above) to the ever brilliant Wallace and Grommit, they seem to pump out hit after hit.
Robin Robin is good, the animation alone really good, but I’m not sure it is in quite the same league as the other Aardman offerings. The singing (dear god the singing) in particular was a drag for me. I’m sure I will watch it again at some point, but if I have a better choice on offer it is unlikely to win out.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 🎅🏻🎅🏻1/2
We come finally to the Christmas film to avoid this year. Without a Wikipedia page or even a proper IMDb entry, I should have known this was going to be bad. In the end, it was worse than the forgettable mess we watched last year (what was that called again…)! My wife keeps trying to tell me it was a good film, but I am not for a moment buying it. Avoid this at all costs.
Ho Ho Ho Rating: 1/4 (and once again this is being generous)
The End, again?
I think I have done it, I think I have reviewed all the Christmas films ever made…
Oh who am I kidding, I am sure there are more out there worth watching, or avoiding, and of course there will be new releases in the coming 12months. But don’t worry, I won’t be doing part 3 of my reviews next year, promise… Was your favourite film in the list? What have I missed out? Do you agree with my ratings? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
And if we do not speak before, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🎅🏻