Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Repost: The Play of the Nativity of the Child Jesus

Bringing it back from last year, not just because I'm crunched for time, but because it was a really, really good (non-) Cheesy Christmas Movie!

I've been saving this one for last, because it's decidedly not cheesy.

If you're looking for a plain old Christmas pageant on screen, you're going to be caught a bit off-guard, especially by the dialogue. This isn't some hokey Hollywood bastardization of the Christmas story. This is modeled after the medieval Nativity plays.

The archaic, rhymed dialogue and the lighting give this an overall tone of reverence and age befitting to such a holy narrative. Notably, the commercials are only at the beginning and end; the play is uninterrupted.

Such a solemn, joyful treatment of Christmas on TV is impossible to imagine today. I doubt it was commonplace even in the early 1950s. If you've watched none of my Cheesy Christmas Movie series, watch this and leave me your thoughts in the comments.

Available for streaming and download here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let's get childish

After the festival of banality that was the last Cheesy Christmas Movie, here's a bit of a palate-cleanser. Santa's Magic Toy Bag is a cute little TV special from 1983. The characters all appear to be Muppets, but not connected with Jim Henson. (What would you call those? Pseudo-muppets? Muppetoids?) There seems to be some connection with the TV series ALF.

The protagonist is a good-hearted bumbling elf called Sherman, who has managed to make a shambles of every department at the North Pole. He expects to be sacked, but instead is trusted with Santa's titular bag. Hilarity ensues.

It's cute. It's lightweight. It's a pleasant half-hour. Drop the whole adulthood thing for a bit and get childish.
Part 1:

Part 2:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Because every dead horse deserves one more flogging

I'm getting a late start on the Cheesy Christmas Movies this year, because I'm trying to branch out a little bit and find some new films. That means I actually have to watch these stinkeroos, at least enough to be able to review them a little bit.

Let's kick off with a fairly recent one: The Christmas Clause (2008). Apparently somebody in Movieland had a brilliant idea: "Hey! How about this for a premise? A person is unhappy with their lot in life and a guardian angel changes the past to give them an entirely different one! And they end up appreciating what they had so much more!"

It was magnificent in It's a Wonderful Life. It was even pretty good in The Family Man. But for heaven's sake, can we just let the horse corpse decompose in peace?

True, Lea Thompson gives a fair if not overly inspired performance. The viewer can feel the frazzlement right along with her during the first pivotal scene in the mall. (The hot chocolate incident alone would make Mother Teresa drop-kick the kid across the food court.) And I really, really hope that husband of hers turns out better in the second half of the film, because he's a bit of a useless oaf in the opening.

One thing they must have gotten right is that her new-and-improved life is much more unappealing than her old one. I'd take Jimmy Stewart's non-existence over her two-dimensional fantasy any day.

Presented for your revilement:

As always, do please leave a comment.