Well folks, with the holidays fast descending upon us and many lamenting the lack of a decent theatre in the Yukon, I know what you’re all thinking—how am I going to get my movie fix? Don’t worry, with all the streaming services that exist today, one need never leave home to get their share of movies, both new and old. This year I took a dive into the Netflix catalogue to see what they could offer for holiday cheer and here is what I came up with.
Christmas Break-In is a 2019 movie directed by Michael Kampa and starring Danny Glover and Cameron Seely. I had the privilege of watching it as my introduction into the world of Netflix holiday movies and what can I really say about it? This movie is a lot of special. I kind of feel that Danny Glover (I kid you not, Danny Glover is in this) was stuck between flights at an airport and just decided to bang out this movie while he was there. The premise is that three robbers rob all the coins and a fur coat from a Salvation Army Thrift Shop. Yes you read that correctly. Their haul was two sacks full of quarters. With this, they intend to retire in Acapulco, but while attempting to drive there, they get lost in a snowstorm. Meanwhile, a pair of terrible parents forget their nine-year-old daughter at school just as the Christmas break begins. For reasons not entirely made clear, the robbers also stop at this school and the child and the janitor (Danny Glover) must fight off the robbers using discount Home Alone-style antics.
This movie offers everything the above premise sounds like it’s going to offer. The acting is terrible, the characters cartoonish and ridiculous, the in-movie logic is almost non-existent. It’s bad, folks. It may be one of the worst holiday movies I have ever watched. That being said, it’s a special ‘so bad it’s almost good again’ movie. This could be a very solid Christmas movie for you to sit down and rip apart with some friends while lamenting how far Danny Glover has fallen in his acting career. I can’t say it was good, but I can say I had a good time with it. If that sounds like your particular cup of egg nog, check it out!
This movie gets 2 out of 5 candy canes.
Christmas with the Kranks
The next stop on my holiday tour was 2004’s Christmas with the Kranks.
Directed by Joe Roth and starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd.
Sigh. This was hard to watch because 2004 feels like it was a very different time and the movie just doesn’t hold up that well. On one hand, you have Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd. Heck, there’s even that annoying kid from Malcolm in the Middle! The star-studded cast knows their trade, the lines are delivered well, the chemistry is decent between them and they are skilled enough to play off each other. On the other hand, I just can’t get behind the premise. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis are sad because their daughter joined the peace corps and won’t be home for Christmas. They opt to go on a cruise instead of doing the regular Christmas stuff that makes them feel depressed. They let their friends know that they won’t be doing Christmas this year in order to save money to go on a cruise. Then the entire neighborhood proceeds to bully them and torture them for not participating in Christmas. Everyone comes off as shallow and cruel in this movie and the movie never really turns it around to give you that heartwarming Christmas feeling that we all wait for in act three of any holiday show. Looking deeper into this I found it was based on a John Grisham novel called Skipping Christmas. This has made me morbidly curious if this was some kind of dark horror about a community turning on people when they stop celebrating Christmas, or a weird community with a Christmas cult in it. The movie is played for laughs, but it could just as easily have been played darker and that might have made for a far more interesting movie. Whereas Christmas Break-In was so bad it was good, this movie was awkward and lacked the heart of a solid holiday special.
This movie gets 1 sticky candy cane wrapper out of 5 candy canes. Definitely skip it.
Up next, 2011’s Arthur Christmas, directed by Sarah Smith and Barry Cook, starring James McAcoy, Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy.
This might just be one of my all-time favourite Christmas movies. It is fresh, funny, delightful and heartwarming, all in just 97 minutes. The premise is that Santa’s clumsy son Arthur discovers a child was missed during operation Christmas, an operation conducted mostly by Arthur’s older brother Steve with ultra-high tech gizmos and navy seal-style elves. Santa, who is being pushed to retire by Steve, (who wants his job) ignores the issue, as does Steve who says it’s “good enough.” This leaves poor Arthur and an elf from the wrapping division to help save Christmas for this one little girl. The movie has spectacular animation and a great soundtrack, but what I love about it is how it tackles the big topics. It looks at family, work, how we can disagree with someone and still love them, and it takes a deep, hard look at what Christmas is really all about. This movie is perfect for the entire family to sit down and enjoy together, but if you don’t have kids, there is plenty there for adults to enjoy too.
This movie gets 5 out of 5 candy canes. The perfect addition to any holiday list!
The Christmas Chronicles
Last, but not least we have 2018’s Christmas Chronicles
directed by Clay Kaytis and starring Kurt Russell, Darby Camp and Judah Lewis.
What to say about this movie? It’s campy, but just the right mix of camp and heart to make it a movie that will likely become a classic. A sister and brother have lost faith in Santa after their firefighter father passed away the previous year. Their mother has to work the night shift on Christmas Eve and they awake to meet Santa, as played by Kurt Russell. This isn’t your ordinary Santa, no this Santa is annoyed that everyone thinks he is fat. This Santa likes to bend the rules and play the blues and, through a wild series of wacky adventures, he and the two kids manage to save Christmas and get some closure about their lost father. This movie has some great music, and plenty of jokes that will keep the adults entertained. It does, however, go down an odd cul-de-sac in the middle involving CGI elves that are more akin to Pixar’s Minions than anything else. All in all, it is great fun for the entire family and worth with watching.
This movie gets 3.5 out of 4 shiny candy canes.
Well, there you have it folks, your Netflix Christmas rundown. Whatever your holiday style is, from romance, to comedy to drama, there is something there for everyone. Grab a cup of cider and a gingerbread cookie, cuddle up under a blanket and, from all of us here at What’s Up Yukon, have a safe and happy holiday season.