It's 2010. We demand a solution to our seasonal movie needs that doesn't require leaving the house. Netflix Instant Streaming is our usual go-to in these sorts of occasions, but holy crap, have they dropped the ball on this one. There is no convenient way to browse what's out there, but that may have just been a subtle way of discouraging you from looking. Because Elf Bowling: The Movie is one of the better options. And it's among the worst movies we've ever seen.
Yes, folks, Elf Bowling: The Movie is a real thing, an entire hour-and-22-minute animated ode to a downloadable computer game. We are ashamed to admit that we sat through the entire thing (while cutting out paper snowflakes, but still) and it was, well, exactly what you should expect: Santa's a pirate, the elves are unionized, and on two separate occasions is control of Christmas offered as the stakes in a bowling contest. And now, on to a few of Netflix Instant Streaming's Christmas offerings we didn't make it through:
Christmas Carol: The Movie: The 2001 animated version starring Nicolas Cage and Kate Winslet. Just an extremely average affair, not bad enough to keep watching out of pure disbelief (see: above) and not good enough to bother getting through.
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Christmas Classics: Vol. 1: This series of shorts from the early 50s represents a huge portion of what's available (read: very obscure and even older cartoons). We got through a pretty standard Rudolph, some other generic Christmas thing we literally can't remember and about three quarters of the way through a story involving the children of the world cleaning up Santa's house after he delivers all the presents. Which is a fine concept, except there's roughly one child from every continent. And we'll just say that different ethnicities were painted with very broad, very inaccurate strokes in the early 1950s -- although the American kid is super bossy and domineering, so they nailed that. Also, the Dutch kid is completely unhelpful. Clomping around in his wooden shoes and getting in everyone's way. Come on, Dutch kid: The African kid has boots to shine (no, seriously: that's what they have the African kid doing).
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: So this is the best option by a mile and a half. It's not as good as the first one, but it's a damn sight better than Barney: Night Before Christmas, which is also available. Macaulay Culkin outwits his pratfall-prone assailants yet again, and we all learn some stuff about the True Meaning of Christmas.
Santa Claus: Can't beat Netflix's own description of this one, which ends like this: "But there's another big twist worth mentioning: This Santa Claus lives in outer space, and his only hope for saving Christmas lies in the hands of Merlin the Magician." Fuck. Yes.