Thursday the 18th was a tale of made for TV gems, without any classics represented. Friday the 19th, it seems, is the complete inverse of that. Three theatrical classics and one made for TV movie that should be considered a classic within its classification. Also, a made for TV movie that has some intrigue. Believe it or not, the aforementioned made for TV movie is one that is new enough that even I haven’t seen it yet. It’s on my DVR, just haven’t seen it yet. So if Thursday was not your cup of tea, Friday certainly has a shot to be. Only seven items on Friday’s list, but a solid list.
Holiday In Handcuffs. Replay from Thursday (and probably many times before that). I feel compelled to stump for Holiday in Handcuffs. The cast is not A list material. However, I think you should recognize at least 5 actors from this smallish cast. Melissa Joan Hart is obvious. Clarissa Explains it all. Sabrina the Teenaged Witch. Currently on the show Melissa and Joey. Which might be the pinnacle of cashing in on previous stardom. Joey Lawrence and Melissa Joan Hart on the same show would be like watching a sitcom today putting Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) with Helen Chapel (Crystal Bernard). There is also Mario Lopez, who took his success from the film and a recurring role on Nip/Tuck and parlayed it into a Celebrity Gossip News career. Timothy Bottoms plays the father with unrealistic expectations. Markie Post as the Christmas crazy, stick to the itinerary Mother. You may remember her from Night Court or even The Fall Guy. Then there is Kyle Howard, who I remember from My Boys. The movie is simple enough. Girl gets dumped before Christmas. Girl freaks out. Girl kidnaps well put together man of comparable age. Girl thinks he’ll just play along to impress her parents. There is more to it than that, but you get the basic idea. Aside from the leap of faith it takes to consider that AC Slater would ever end up with Clarissa, it actually has a very nice ending.
A Princess for Christmas. Also a replay from earlier in our journey. Unlike Holiday in Handcuffs, A Princess for Christmas is predictably exactly what you think it is. And that’s before you sit down to watch it for the first time. The royal family sells itself. The maids and butlers are every bit as important as any other secondary characters. There is an attractive but evil Duchess trying her best to mess everything up. And then there’s Roger Moore as the head of said royal family. It has its moments and does end on a high note, but it is nothing if not predictable.
Fred Claus. At first glance it would seem that a Christmas movie starring Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, and Kevin Spacey should be a no brainer for induction into the Christmas Classics realm. Despite relative star power, you will rarely find Fred Claus high on anyone’s list. Generally that comes from not meeting expectations. With any holiday movie, it is important to temper expectations. If you go in expecting to see a disgruntled, jealous, envious, and angry brother of Santa Claus, a jolly fun-loving Santa Claus, and a consultant hell-bent on bringing the whole operation down based on some perceived slight from his childhood, then you won’t be disappointed. If you go in thinking this cast is going to blow away Christmas Vacation, Scrooged, etc then you’re going to be disappointed. Fred Claus is what it is. It’s solid. Very good even, depending on your sense of humor. But it is not a classic.
Home Alone. We’ve covered this one pretty well. This concept absolutely would never happen in today’s society. It damn sure wouldn’t happen twice to the same kid. The movie is relatively unrealistic, but who really cares. A kid gets left behind in his house and ultimately learns a valuable lesson about family and the holidays. In the meantime he whoops some burglars with the precision of a trained adult. Not realistic but very fun and if I were inducting movies as ‘Classics’ Home Alone makes the cut.
Elf. It took me years to come around to this movie and now I know why. I love the part of the movie that involves Buddy as an Elf, in New York, working in a toy store, experiencing human life as opposed to Elf life, and the ultimate save Santa moment. I can do without the drama of grown man reuniting with his ‘naughty list’ father who never knew he existed, part. Take Walter Hobbs out of the equation completely and I think it’s a much more enjoyably movie.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Unquestioned, first ballot hall of famer for Christmas movies. I won’t go into detail about where it ranks on the all time list. I will, however, say that anyone who does not have this movie in their top 5 is crazy. Anyone taking the time to read this needs no introduction to Christmas Vacation. Arguably the most quoted Christmas movie of all time. Vacation checks all of the boxes. As of this moment, I’ve seen Christmas Vacation at least 20 times since Halloween. If you haven’t seen this one recently I think it’s time to set that DVR.
The Christmas Parade. Full disclosure, I have not seen this one yet. Seriously. My wife insisted we record it because Drew Scott is in it, more on that later, and I’m still waiting on her. She’s currently watching an old episode of Breaking Bad and not a new Christmas movie. Go figure. Here’s what I know. Annalynne McCord of the Beverly Hills 90210 reboot fame (can’t believe I just typed that) and Jefferson Brown whose credits include more horror and action type stuff star in this Christmas movie that will feel very familiar, especially to parents of young children. Hayley (McCord) a TV host finds out her fiancé (Drew Scott) is cheating on her, on the air. She drives off, crashing into the car of a judge of the nearby town. If this sounds like the plot of Disney’s Cars with added romantic angst, you’re not alone. When the court ordered community service keeps her in town, he helps build a float for the town’s parade. In the end Hayley re-discovers the “spirit of Christmas”. For the uninitiated, Drew Scott (in real life) is the twin brother to Jonathan Scott. Together they are the hosts/co-stars of a number of shows on the HGTV network. Property Brothers, Buying & Selling, and Brother vs Brother. Drew is a real estate agent on his reality based shows on HGTV, so seeing him as the jerk of a boyfriend should be interesting.