My Dad is Scrooge (2014, dir. Justin G. Dyck)

Retelling A Christmas Carol is so common a TV movie trope that this particular retelling has a production of A Christmas Carol within the film. It’s a village play performed by the kids (some of which piss on the stage), directed by Heather, who is separated from meany businessman E.B. In case this isn’t clear, he is the Scrooge insert (non pissing edition).

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The Town That Banned Christmas (2006, dir. John Dowling Jr. and Karl Fink)

I don’t want to lie to you so I’ll be brief: this film is pretty garbage. There’s a lot of potential here, but shoddy filming and a seeming lack of editor really grind the action to a slow and painful halt.

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Christmas Do-Over (2006, dir. Catherine Cyran)

Don’t let protagonist Kevin conjure up comparisons with Home Alone. Kevin McAllister learns to appreciate his loved ones; this Kevin learns to cheat his. He’s an out-and-out wrong’un, the kind of guy who buys gifts last minute whilst grabbing store employees roughly. He’s also got a kindof Logan Paul, arrested development look which is not endearing me.

Continue reading “Christmas Do-Over (2006, dir. Catherine Cyran)”

Baby in a Manger (2019, dir. Justin G Dyck)

Now why isn’t this film called A Babe in a Manger? Mark my words, the moment I get asked to write punch-up for a seasonal movie there will be marked improvement across the titles.

So the local nativity is interrupted by the presence of an actual abandoned baby, placed in the manger during a powercut- but the show’s already pretty weird from the off. We’ve got a dog playing a donkey, a *checks note* witch, I think? There’s canned laughter which makes me wonder 1) what nativity is this funny and 2) where a church got a laugh track from. All this scene-setting and the surprise baby is probably the most actual Nativity thing to happen. Oh, and the NYPD storm the stage before the Virgin Mary whips out her Child Protection Services badge.

You get him, Mary.

What follows is an incredibly eked-out Christmas Eve as CPS Mary (who is called Alison) and NYPD stage-raider Brock Clayton (we get it, you’re very manly) looking after baby Joy (yes, even man’s man Brock Clayton has time for childcare. A surprisingly progressive statement) and not trying very hard to track down her birth parents.

All we know is that “it’s possible this baby was found in a stolen car” which if you ask me sounds like this is a pretty cool rule-breaking baby. Is Joy short for Joyrider?

Sadly, no. This is not Baby Driver (though it would’ve been far more literal). On meeting Joy’s teenaged birth mother, Baby in a Manger nosedives into full-on Lifetime movie drama. All issues, no real plot progression. It puts this cool grand theft auto baby to shame.

Rating: Ho/HoHoHo

Christmas Caper (2007, dir. David Winkler)

ABC Family film Christmas Caper is a pretty well-made if toothless romp that’s shamelessly copying the main plot of Uncle Buck and the sub-plot of Home Alone. My guess is screenwriter April Blair was haunted by John Candy for the entirety of writing this.

Cate is just your friendly neighbourhood jewel thief who’s looking to hide out following a disastrous heist (least of all because the jewel they’re trying to swipe is a pink teardrop which looks like you could buy it from QVC for forty dollars. Steal smarter, Cate!). Luckily, her sister Savannah has made the terrible decision to go to the Bahamas days before Christmas and is now stuck there. Cate’s off to babysit her niece and nephew in Comfort, USA!

Cate has to look after nephew Parker (or Hunter? A name for a pen or a car)- he’s wayward!- and small niece Annie who is a snitch. All the while there’s a Christmas party to organise, that cheap-looking gem to recover, a preppy schoolfriend to comfort, and a love interest in the form of town sheriff and old flame Hank.

Hank the cop. Hank the cop who jokes about being trigger happy. Hank the cop who jokes about being trigger happy and mimes shooting loads of people. ACAB, baby!

“Hmmm…I think I will get together with him though…”

The film is keen to gently nudge the idea that everyone is complex. Hank is a cop you can smooch. Annie is a little killjoy, dressed as a teeny tiny Conservative, but asks Santa for universal healthcare. Yes, inevitably Cate comes good and decides to return the town’s presents about five minutes after stealing them. Her heart grows two sizes I’m sure.

The film skimps on set (nearly every other scene is shot in a furniture shop where her mate Duffy works) and also loves to recycle dialogue. Cate’s catchphrase is a snarky, “now THAT’s x”. Cf. “now THAT’s entertainment”, “now THAT’s assaulting an officer”.

“Now THAT’s a poncho”

Look, it’s fine to pop this on in the background but it won’t change your life. It is a humble joy to see the elements of the film that firmly root it in 2007. A flip phone! A fashion poncho! The orange colour-scheme of a film poster that is so unmistakably Spider-Man 2. Ah, to be a young teen again, watching Sam Raimi sequels.

Rating: Ho and a half/HoHoHo

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