I decided to start this series, because sometimes, you just want to crack open an IPA, watch something with a ridiculous cover on Netflix, and wonder, "how did this get made?"
Every year, my wife and I pick out a ‘bad’ Christmas movie to watch while we put up the Christmas tree and decorations. This year, we were browsing the Netflix queue, and came across this gem. Judging by it’s cover, you’d think that it was a good natured Christmas caper in the ‘Home Alone’ spirit – I mean, we’ve got a young Ethan Embry stringing Santa up while his sister reads her list of demands. There’s even a cheap rip off of the Home Alone theme in here. A sticker on the front reads, “Award Winner”, but according to IMDB, it’s never actually won anything, aside from the award for shittiest Christmas movie ever.
It’s directed by Rob Leiberman, who to that point hadn’t made a movie in 7 years and made only shit afterwards (unless you were the person who loved The Mighty Ducks 3) and written by the guy who wrote Captain Ron. Sounds like a winner already.
The general plot is nothing like the cover might suggest. There are no traps for Santa, no elaborate rope setups designed to string a fat man in a red suit by his ankles...no, there's none of that. Instead, it features Ethan, a retarded amalgam of Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years and Kevin McCallister from Home Alone wants to help his sister out after she asks Santa for her parents to get remarried for Christmas. To do this, he needs to find a way to get his parents back together, as well as get his mom’s new boyfriend Tony (played by Kevin Nealon at his career low, unless we're counting the rest of his career) out of the picture.
The problem with this situation is that Tony isn’t a piece of shit. For the most part, he’s just a regular guy. It really seems like no one in the movie likes him at all, and for no reason. Sure, he’s not a fun loving, diner owning son of a bitch that their dad is, but he certainly doesn’t deserve to get locked in the back of an ice cream truck to be left for dead just because he works on the stock market (which is how they try to set him up as a fun hating villain). This really just makes the kids look like a couple of assholes, unless you've got some weird grudge against stock brokers.
Along the way, Ethan enlists a love interest to help him get his parents back together, the daughter of a family friend named Stephanie. The movie can’t seem to decide if it want’s Ethan to be Zack Morris or Screech, because at times, he displays traits of both, and honestly, the two have the chemistry of two painted rocks at opposite ends of a playground. Most of this can be attributed to Embry’s awful acting (he did get better with age…barely), but I have to blame the writer here.
Speaking of the writers, this movie has absolutely no voice. To get a sense of the tone of this movie, there’s a throwaway line at a Christmas party about Nazis, with one of the craziest responses I’ve ever heard. Basically, Ethan is dancing with some bird brain, and he’d rather be dancing with Stephanie (no one would blame him in this situation). Stephanie is dancing with some other goon. In order to get his partner to dance with the other goon so he can dance with Stephanie, here’s the exchange:
Ethan – “You know who I heard likes you?”
Girl – “God, who?”
Ethan – “Kevin Mars, and he’s really into Nazis.”
Girl – “God, really?”
She starts dancing with the other kid and instantly says,
Girl – “Kevin, Ethan told me we have a lot in common.”
WHAT THE FUCK?
Anyway, their very elaborate plot involves basically just putting a tie on rugged ol' dad and getting their parents alone in their dad’s apartment by locking Tony in the back of a Ben & Jerry’s truck after infesting his home with rats. What kind of dickheads do that? This guy could have (and probably should have) died in the back of that thing amongst the Cherry Garcia. In real life, this would have led to this kid getting tossed in the slammer or at the very least, a serious pounding while his parents just go back to their normal, separate lives. However, in this 'lighthearted' comedy, Nealon comes into the house pissed off (rightfully so) and frozen as fuck and yells at the kids, so he gets dumped for it. Then the parents kiss, and are magically back together and happy again. Ethan explains why he nearly turned a man into a popcicle, and it’s all laughs and smiles! This'll make a hell of a story next Thanksgiving! And hey, just for good measure, the Macy’s Santa shows up at the end to make you question whether he really exists or not…and no, Ethan doesn’t hang him up with tinsel – the cover really is just bullshit.
It's about an hour and a half long (but feels twice that) and there's really not a fun moment in here, save for the surprise Nazi talk that brought me up from decorating the tree like, "hang the fuck on, I need to rewind that."
All I want for Christmas is my hour and a half back.