It's the most wonderful cash crop of the year, this Christmas thing. And while we feel there's been a decline in the quantity of Christmas movies lately (a political correctness issue, perhaps?), Hollywood can't help but put out one or two cheer-baiting full-lengths annually. Not to sound cynical -- we love a good Holiday tale. But what to see?
By our count, you have three options in theaters this year; one of them's Finnish -- that would be Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale -- and the more mainstream offerings are The Nutcracker in 3D and second-sequel Little Fockers. Below is our breakdown of all three. Because if you must see a Christmas movie this year, we would hate for it to be the wrong one.
What's it about: Gaylord Focker's got a couple kids. Homicidally suspicious Grandpa-In-Law comes to town for Christmas. Middle-age dick jokes, pratfalls ensue.
Target audience: Parents trying to seem cool by taking their high-school kids, hipsters.
Best case scenario: The first two movies are actually incredibly funny in retrospect. Ben Stiller is awesome even in crappy movies, and the rest of these people ain't exactly his worst surrounding cast. Could be one of the year's best family comedies.
Worst case scenario: We're working from basically the same comedic material as in the first two movies, and just adding kids doesn't necessarily change the formula. This one could sour the whole legacy.
Festivity (scale of one to five Hos): Ho Ho Ho
NUTCRACKER IN 3D
What's it about: You know the story: little girl gets a toy from her crazy uncle and goes on a sugary acid trip for a couple hours.
Target Audience: Ostensibly, little kids and grandmas. But they've gone and made the rat kind some kind of totalitarian dictator figure and given him a video game army, so we're guessing the audience will wind up being no one.
Best Case Scenario: Based on the reviews, the best we can hope for is, umm, technical malfunctions in theaters and money back.
Worst Case Scenario: The Tchaikovsky original is, by design, almost completely devoid of plot (see: Act Two, where literally the whole thing is our lead characters watching people dance). So what happens when you take out the music and the dancing and turn it into a one hour and fifty minute movie? Nothing good.
RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE
What's it about: The Finnish legend of Santa Claus is a little darker than ours. Namely, he shows up and demands presents. And the version of Santa Claus in this movie is after more than presents. Basically, a greedy corporation unleashes demon Santa from his icy mountain and he starts nabbing kiddies. So a couple trappers have to end his ass.
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Target Audience: All the people who wretch a little every time they get near a mall from Halloween to New Year's.
Best Case Scenario: All the early reports are that this movie is straight-up awesome. The shorts it's based on are wonderful, dark and witty. The full-length is supposed to add some heartfelt to that formula, so we're feeling pretty solid about calling this our Christmas movie pick of the year.
Worst Case Scenario: It doesn't actually turn out to be particularly redemptive, and you just wind up creeped out every time you see a Santa.
Festivity: Ho Ho Ho Ho