After the massive weekend box office revenues “Four Christmases” received, despite unspectacular reviews, it caught my attention that mediocre holiday movies are becoming the rule instead of the exception.
I began to contemplate why this was the case with the American public craving compelling entertainment in this season, while only receiving efforts that lack passion or originality.
Ron Howard, Academy Award winner for “A Beautiful Mind” and director of such great films as “Apollo 13” and “Cinderella Man,” made the awful Jim Carrey holiday epidemic “Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
It seemed incomprehensible that the people involved who worked tirelessly at this project could make a film so misguided.
Bill Murray, who gave superb performances in the serious “Lost in Translation” and the comedic “Groundhog Day,” starred in the dreadful and manipulative, “Scrooged.” It attempted to tell the famous Dickens tale in a “comedic” fashion but lacked the charm, subtlety, intelligence, or realism the original story possessed, especially heeded by being set in the present day.
Although poor holiday movies litter the landscape, there are such classics as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” that are shown multiple times in an attempt to get individuals excited for the season.
Despite the flaws inherent in those films, they were still pieces of art that were focused and successfully expressed the spirit of the season.
The best effort chronicling Thanksgiving in the last quarter century has to be “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” which was a hilarious and touching 1987 film starring Steve Martin and John Candy.
It may seem odd but in the past few years the best film about religious themes and characters is one that appears to have a story encompassing the Russian mafia in London.
“Eastern Promises” was a masterpiece in which each character mirrored a biblical figure in a present day setting, with illegal activities being the norm. It was both a riveting thriller and fascinating outlook on religious beings with soft, meaningful symbolism.
But the film still lacked any holiday feel, despite being set around Christmas and its title referring to the wise men traveling from the east.
This is applicable to Hannukah as well, with “Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights” being the only example celebrating the Jewish festival of lights without rave reviews.
It just seems odd that multiple movies can be made about alien invasions without a compelling holiday movie to boot. Where, oh where, have my good holiday films gone?