Do you want to shove Buddy from Elf‘s candy canes where the northern lights don’t shine?
Do you actually give a shit whether George Bailey was born or not in It’s A Wonderful Life?
Me too, in my darker festive moments. I actually LOVE Christmas. But it’s expensive, and hard work – with the highlight sticking your hand up a partially-defrosted turkey’s bum at 5am on Christmas morning, and hoping it’s actually dead and not just in cryogenic sleep.
And everyone else seems to be having such a great time, with their well-behaved children who simply want a hand-carved wooden toy and a book token in their stocking, unlike my ungrateful wretches, the youngest of whom told a charity Santa last year that he wanted £1,000 and a car.
So put the little rotters to bed (who cares if it’s 3pm, it’s bedtime somewhere in the world), pour yourself a stiff drink, open their chocolate advent calendars, and check out my Bar Humbug movie reviews. (And just to prove I’m not entirely evil, scroll down for a few links to, um, cheery Christmas films! Well four, anyway. I think that’s as many as we can handle.)
Merry Christmas, misanthropes!
Why John Wick Is The Ultimate Alt-Christmas Movie – Forget Die Hard, this has chocolate money, family arguments, a middle aged guy who can’t dance going clubbing and a whiny snowflake in Iosef Tarasov.
Bad Santa – (4 stars) it’s 14 years old but how many nicely matured 14 year olds do you know? Exactly. Still a sweary shagathon with some Christmas spirit thrown in (spirit of the alcoholic kind naturally), this film about a misanthropic safe-cracking career criminal Santa who forges a genuine if still sweary friendship with a lonely boy, is one of the delights of any festive season.
Bad Santa 2 – (1.5 stars) ten years on from the darkly funny yet rather uplifting original, this sequel is a bad-tempered misery fest which laughs at the weaker or less privileged. Which, if I were more of a chin-stroker, I would suggest is much like society now.
Still, you get Kathy Bates as Willie’s mom, and Willie shagging Christina Hendricks up an alley (and no that’s not a euphemism).
Rare Exports – A Christmas Tale – (4.5 stars) an unnerving, funny and quirky Santa Origins story set on the border of Finland and Russia. What’s Santa Claus really like? Well imagine Krampus but with all the nice bits taken out. Plus a herd of naked marauding elves who look like they should be in ZZ Top tribute bands.
Office Christmas Party – (3 stars) a funny but patchy adult comedy that offers more than it delivers, though to be fair it does deliver a drunk office worker 3D-printing his dick.
A Bad Moms Christmas – (2.5 stars) Not the best Christmas film ever, but at least you get to see you’re not the only parent with a homemade decoration that looks like poop hanging every year at the back of the tree.
There’s a countdown, and I’ll admit that two days before Christmas I was ready to go home and start peeling sprouts. Still, Kathryn Hahn is fabulous and the grandmas are a hoot – even if no one drinks enough.
Black Christmas – (4 stars) a horror classic. One of the first slasher films and something of a period piece, though an influential one; this is still an unsettling and effective festive horror, as a killer stalks a sorority by hiding in their attic. Margot Kidder is fantastic as the damaged young student Barb.
The Ref – (4 stars) a warring family ruin the Christmas of a poor jewellery thief who’s taken them hostage, this is a film so bleak even Krampus had to watch “Elf” immediately afterwards to regain his Christmas spirit. Rude, loud, funny and (apart from the home invasion by a gun-toting jewellery thief bit), pretty realistic about families and Christmas.
A Christmas Horror Story – (4 stars) an underrated movie that is, strictly speaking, four interwoven Christmas horror stories. And all happening to the rather unfortunate residents of Bailey Downs, a town so riven with terrifying goings on that having William Shatner as their local radio DJ is the least of their worries.
Unlike those piles of beautifully wrapped presents from my childhood, this festive horror delivers considerably more than it promises. The last of the four linked stories is melancholy, brutal and very chilling – and that’s the one about Santa!
Krampus – (3.5 stars) Comedy horror where a dysfunctional family are menaced by Krampus the “Shadow of Christmas” and his hoards of evil elves. It’s not that scary but Krampus and his murderous gingerbread men are fun.
Watch after losing your own Christmas Spirit: when you’ve run out of sellotape while wrapping presents and then realise someone’s eaten all the purple ones out of the Quality Street.
And you’re feeling really miserable, cheer yourself up with these, including the HOTTEST Santa ever – KURT RUSSELL:
The Christmas Chronicles – (3 stars) a traditional Christmas tale lifted higher than the big man’s sleigh by a superlative performance from Kurt Russell as Santa. He’s old yet modern, and, dare I say it, hot? Clad in a long red leather coat, with a huge grey beard and hair so big and bouncy it wouldn’t look out of place on a 1980s Dynasty matriarch, he works out daily to stop all those free cookies taking their toll.
When two children stow away in his sleigh and cause it to crash and the reindeer to go AWOL, it’s a race against time to save Christmas.
The Muppet Christmas Carol – (4 stars) A remarkably faithful adaptation with a classy straight man and a dark side. Plus jokes galore – whoever felt it was appropriate to use Rizzo as a pair of bellows to get the fire going deserves an extra helping of plum pudding.
The Man Who Invented Christmas – (4 stars) Beautiful and darkly festive. Dan Stevens’ Charles Dickens is prone to bah humbug himself, with six weeks to write A Christmas Carol. Victorian London is bustling and clean; Plummer’s Scrooge dour and mocking; gratifyingly, ordinary people are assumed to be well-read.
The Night Before – (3.5 stars) Three friends on their final Christmas Eve night out take drugs, have sex in toilets, spoil a Midnight Mass service and finally – FINALLY – make it to the near-mythical Nutcracker Ball. Of course, on the way they work out what Christmas, and friendship, is really about. A little patchy but with some great jokes and epic Christmas jumpers.