Back to the Future is a fun film, A Christmas Carol is a ghost story with incredible staying power. Both are touching, engaging, imbued with adventure. Ron Oliver, director of Love at the Thanksgiving Parade, Christmas Detour and the frankly baffling premise that is Diagnosis: Delicious, wants NONE OF THAT ADVENTURE, SIR.
Chasing Christmas squanders every chance it’s given for interesting world-building. Case in point: the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future are seen all working together. Where? An office. The Bureau of Yuletide Affairs, to be precise. Gee, thanks, the thing I love most about Christmas escapism is being reminded of work…
These ghosts are being sent to the home of Jack, a businessman who hates Christmas but loves slutshaming his teenage daughter. Cool cool cool, stand up guy. He’s all jilted from when his ex Alison ran off with the dentist and I gotta say, Jack is really miserable and Alison is living it up against a greenscreen simulating London. She’s decked out in a bathrobe, drinking fizz and eyeing up a naked man. The film’s moral: adultery… good?
Like most of us viewers, the ghost of Christmas Past gets fucking sick of Jack and abandons him with the ghost of Christmas Present (imaginatively named Present) to chase him through Jack’s previous Decembers. Can you guess they’re all dull as balls?
At one point Present begs for “just an hour to enjoy myself”. Lady, same!
The pacing flees through the window, leaving us with plenty of jokes about mental illness (“Did you forget to take your meds?” Jack asks glibly) and a slew of ways in which Jack blames women for his behaviour. It’s ex-wife’s Alison’s fault that Jack has an eating disorder, apparently, and daughter Suzanne is relentlessly called a sex-worker, not to mention Jack’s insistence that his mum is hot when he sees her in a 60s flashback. He tries to make out with a ghost on two occasions and at this point you’re thinking, is it possible for him to change his ways? Was Alison kindof on the money back there?
To clarify: obviously adultery is bad. BUT within the universe of this movie… I’m just saying she’s not the villain she’s painted as.