Just like any other genre, the Christmas movie relies on a laundry list of tried and true formulas to get you into the theater, and some of them are becoming a bit tiresome. If you want to avoid getting suckered into watching the same old holiday schmalz-fest this year that you've seen the last ten years prior, and you're not sure how to go about it, take this list as my gift to you.
It Tries to Make the Nativity Dramatic
Movies that try to make a compelling drama out of the birth of Jesus Christ often hit a brick wall when they realize that there's really no story there. Sure, if you're a Christian the birth itself is a compelling moment -- key word being moment -- but there's nothing before or after that lends itself to the structure of modern drama. Witness the recent live-action drama, The Nativity Story, a horrid film that resorted to making Three Stooges of the Three Wise Men and creating entire absurd subplots about astrophysics in order to get around the fact that there's about five minutes worth of compelling material here to work with. Hopefully it will be a long, long time -- never, please -- before anyone makes this mistake again.
It's Called 'Jingle all the Way'
Seriously, let's all just agree on this one. There are many things that Arnold Schwarzenegger is suited for -- or was suited for around 1987 -- but one of them is not showering an audience with holiday merriment. The other day I was at Best Buy and the guy behind the counter actually tried to convince me that Jingle all the Way was a beloved classic that belonged in my DVD library. That's when I put on my glasses and took a closer look -- turns out the guy behind the counter was Sinbad. Enough said. Let's also point out that Turbo-Man seemed like just about the lamest toy since Tom Hanks trotted out that keyboard in Big that you had to play by dancing on the keys.