The Worst Christmas Movie Ever (Viewed 12 Times in a Row)
I don't mind A Christmas Story (and I appreciate the hell out its lack of saccharine holiday spirit bullshit), but I have no desire to sit down and watch it for 24 hours like Ted Turner insists I do (and amazingly, some people actually do). Maybe it's just not the film for me. The sequel, on the other hand ...
Yes, the sequel. A Christmas Story 2 takes place six years after the first movie and features a horny, car-obsessed teenage Ralphie. Because I'm sure everyone watched the original and thought, "Gee, I wonder if that kid will grow up to have typical teenage issues and like typical teenage stuff." But I know better than to judge a film simply by its overwhelmingly negative reviews. I needed to watch this thing myself and, in the grand tradition of the series, I needed to do so 12 times in a row. Allowing for some imaginary commercial breaks where my brain hawked products I don't use, I sat in front of my screen for 24 hours, because that couldn't possibly be a terrible idea. It's just a movie, after all.
I tried to remain optimistic and ho-ho-hoey -- this IS a Christmas movie, after all. So I sat down in front of the fire (if you wish to nitpick, you may call it a thermostat), with a glass of eggnog and a shiny new Santa hat.
Screw you Santa, I'll pout if I want to.
One second in, I'm already depressed. The pan down to Ralphie's house is some of the fakest-looking CGI I've seen in years. Plus, it teases an apocalyptic-looking background that leads to nothing. This isn't an alternate universe where Japan dropped the bomb on us, though that would've been far more entertaining.
"Mom's insides slowly melted while she was still alive and conscious? Oh, fudge."
Outside of that, the film's biggest weakness is how utterly pointless it is. Everything's the same. The Old Man still hates his furnace. The mother still collects bacon fat. The kid brother still gets wrapped in 25 layers of clothing. The only real changes are that Ralphie is older and his dad is ... younger?
"'Blood-of-vir-gins.' Must be Italian."
Whatever the Old Man uses to make his skin look so young, I want it. Were there seriously no actors both out of work and crusty-looking? They had to cast the junior member of the Wet Bandits? Why not just write off the character by throwing him into the furnace like Sweeney Todd's ex? Sure, he gets so much screen time that offing him would make the movie 30 minutes long, but that would mean the movie's 30 minutes long, so they absolutely should've gone this route.
I'm not kidding -- the Old Man is the star of this fucking film. His quest for a new furnace is front-and-center for no reason besides Daniel Stern being the only recognizable name in the credits. It doesn't help that Ralphie's story is thinner than Wite-Out dumped in the toilet. He wrecks a used car and, to pay the dealer for the damages, he and his buddies Flick and Schwartz get mall jobs. This was back when you could just waltz into a mall and walk out with a job. They suck at them, as proven by scene after scene of the most tired slapstick imaginable.
Also, this film noticed the original's lack of sticky-sweet moralistic bullshit and doubles up in response. Ralphie earns all the money, but blows it on feeding an adorable homeless urchin and his equally adorable family because he's such a good soul and blah blah LEG LAMP.
Multiple viewings of a movie can help you discover little things you didn't catch the first time, especially if you were too busy weeping with self-pity to pay attention.
Bad idea. My first impression of this movie was bad enough, but now I see how soiled it truly is. The Old Man, for instance, earned my undying hatred during Round 2. For some reason, he's become a penny-pinching psychopath -- he vetoes the annual Christmas turkey because the price rose a couple cents, opting instead to ice-fish for their dinner because that would be free. He refuses to buy a new furnace despite his frequent, violent, and uncomfortable battles with it, finally succumbing to a cheap model that doesn't even last six months. His wife, a long-suffering sack of misery and barely contained rage, stashes away any cent she can so she can actually buy shit without risking inevitable domestic abuse.
"Three more dollars and I can finally afford that divorce lawyer I've had my eye on."
He never gets his comeuppance, either -- she snaps at him once and ... that's it. He doesn't get kicked out, never apologizes, and even has his shitty behavior enabled by his wife secretly buying a fish and telling the kids that their father caught it. Seeing Stockholm Syndrome in action is never not depressing.
The only thing more depressing is eating one small fish on Christmas.
Once the credits rolled, though, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had spent 24 hours watching this movie, and though it went snail-slow, I was bored shitless, and I felt more beaten-up than a 100-year-old chain-smoker trying MMA, I had pulled through. I had persevered. The shitty movie's tacked-on moral was true -- determination pays off. My hell was finally over.
Then I snapped out of it and realized I had 10 more viewings to go.
Ever been 19 and a half pages into a 20-page paper and had the computer erase the whole damn thing? This is worse.
So fuck the plot, fuck the main characters, what about everyone else? Like this Little Shop of Horrors ripoff:
That's Dr. Gunter Strassen, a sadistic dentist known affectionately as "the butcher." And this isn't exaggeration from a kid's overactive imagination -- he is evil. He doesn't use anesthetic, powers his drill with a creaky foot pedal, and literally laughs while children scream for mercy. The adults are fully aware -- we see the mother fret while the dentist's secretary crosses herself -- but do nothing about it. Why don't they go elsewhere if they know how monstrous this guy is? Or here's a thought: fucking report him. He's torturing your kids. What, did he draw and quarter the other dentists and threaten the same for any parent who dares snitch? So many questions, but none answered, because somebody decided "boy likes cars" and "Daniel Stern is still alive" were enough to fill 90 minutes.
Butcher Dentist needs his own horror movie. It wouldn't be original, but fuck, this movie lost the originality battle from minute one. Let's at least get some gore out of the deal.
You know who else needs a movie? Zombie FDR.
That's President Roosevelt congratulating Ralphie on getting a part-time job. The movie's set in 1946. FDR bit it a year prior. Yes, it's Ralphie's fantasy, but why the hell is he not dreaming of Harry Truman, the current president? A later Easter egg shows a movie theater playing It's a Wonderful Life, a 1946 release. This proves they at least tried to research, so why slap a dead president in there? Unless he's not actually dead.
"The only thing you have to fear is me."
At this point, the marathon is starting to hurt me. How can I be on only my fourth viewing when I've clearly been stuck in front of this screen for 10 years? I need distractions, before the dozens of Daniel Stern money rants turn me into a stab tornado.
Luckily, I found one: porn. It's amazing how even the shittiest film turns tolerable when you multitask and focus on naked people instead. The trick, however, is to time your climax so it doesn't come at the wrong time ... like anytime the 15-year-olds show some skin. The absolute last thing you need is to finish just as you catch a glimpse of Ralphie and Flick ripping off Schwartz's pants and double-teaming him in the bedroom.
"Mr. Grey will see you now."
Also, steer clear of the scene where Ralphie wrecks the car. He does so by getting his pants caught in the e-brake, causing the car to roll off its stand and into a pole. Ralphie can't remove his pants from the brake, so he escapes by removing himself from his pants.
"This winter's been unseasonably warm, like apple pie."
Plus, cumming when Daniel Stern does anything is grounds for self-castration, so watch out for that landmine too.
At this point, I enabled YouTube's double-speed option, making this the best viewing yet. If YouTube let me speed up three, four, or five times over, I'd choose five and then complain that there was no option for 10. Less time cringing and struggling to stay awake, more time doing literally anything else with my life.
Of course, you can still hear the words. Those oh-so-stupid words. Present-day Ralphie is the narrator again, and the way he gushes about his teenage crush is ... disturbing. "My sweet Drucilla Gootrad, beauty incarnate, the hands-down heartthrob of Holden High," says the 80-year-old man. He never says he's still with her (which would justify the gushing), so I'm forced to assume they quickly broke up, as teens do. Which means an octogenarian is still pining for a girl he probably saw for two weeks six decades ago. That's basically the saddest thing ever, and it made me a sad drunk. Good job, movie.
"Every day I curse that shrew I married for not being you."
Though it could be senility. At the end of the original, he makes it 100 percent clear that his Red Ryder rifle was "the greatest Christmas gift had ever received, or would ever receive." Did he forget about the fucking car his Old Man bought him half a decade later? He is so excited, he does the Curly shoulder spin in celebration.
I didn't mean to watch this movie over and over, honest -- I'm a victim of coicumstance.
But I can see how such a memory would grow foggy over time, while a goddamn toy stays front and center. Now take your meds and see if Santa brought 18-year-old you anything better. Like a lap dance.
How have I gone this long without noticing Ralphie's fucking reindeer outfit? It's amazing what the brain blocks out while trying to survive.
Do you recall the saddest reindeer of all?
After getting fired from the mall, Ralphie begs for a second chance. He gets it, though it involves him prancing around in a Prancer suit, because they needed something wacky for the DVD cover. He then gets into a turf war with a testy Salvation Army guy for reasons I still don't understand. They stare at each other, the Army guy starts hyper-ringing, Ralphie starts hyper-prancing, the bell's dinger falls out, and that's it.
A murder-suicide would be out of place in this film but highly welcome anyway.
The scene technically exists to drive the plot (Ralphie stands up to a thug stealing charity money, which quickly turns Drucilla hot and bothered), but he could've accomplished that without the pointless suit and even more pointless North Pole Side Story holiday cheer-fight. It didn't make me like the movie more -- all it did was make me crave venison, followed by the comforting finality of death.
Halfway there and I need another way to get through this. My solution? Mute the fucking movie and open a second tab full of old-timey silent movie pianee:
Though not hearing the movie made it better than ever, it did not make the slapstick any funnier. Nothing could -- some bad jokes get funnier with repeated tellings, but these poor excuses for offbeat shenanigans somehow got sadder each time.
Then there's this depressing anti-gag I noticed only because I was no longer distracted by Daniel Stern ranting about money:
Get it? He can't read upside-down, that would be silly! Unless he can. A lot of people can read that way. Maybe Flick's one of them. Did you ever think of that, Joke? You're a disgrace to your family name.
Drunk, cranky, and horrifically sleep-deprived, I found myself obsessed with one thing this viewing -- Flick's tongue. Remember the famous frozen-flagpole scene that accidentally launched a porn career for the actor behind it? The sequel brought it back. Kind of.
That's not Photoshop. While working in the mailroom, Flick sticks his tongue into a suction tube and can't get it out. And as annoying as the original scene is (every scream, shriek, and cry makes me want to shoot my eardrums out), at least it looks realistic. The new version, however, could only seem realistic if they replaced Flick with Jar Jar Binks.
Hell's kissing booth.
You know what? Fuck nog.
How the fuck does this movie keep getting longer? I briefly considered giving some neighborhood kid five bucks to watch it for me but quickly realized that would be child abuse. So I just stared and stared some more, like I was stuck in detention and trying to Jean Grey the clock into moving faster.
On the bright side, I finally figured out which character I most relate to: the drunken gift-wrapping manager who barely trains the boys for barely 10 seconds before sneaking out to chug from a flask while sitting alone in a cold stairwell.
She is my spirits animal.
At this point, I was so far gone I found myself actually analyzing this piece of trash -- namely, the ending, which happens 10 minutes too late.
The scene opens with Ralphie meeting the dealer whose car he moronically wrecked. Thanks to feeding the homeless and buying a Leg Lamp, he doesn't have all the money. The dealer forgives his debt anyway, because he tried and never gave up. From there, we see Ralphie walking back home, with the narrator orating, "My car was gone. I had nothing in my pocket but a hole. Yet somehow, as I walked home on that bone-chilling night, all was right with the world."
"Even the horrible CGI moonlight looks like Oscar-winning artwork."
THAT is when you roll credits. Ralphie doesn't get what he wants, but he gets what he needs -- a lesson in the value of perseverance and hard work. Yes, he doesn't have anything material, but he isn't even 16. He has plenty of time to collect stuff, fall in love, and fatten his bank account (back when people could actually fatten their bank accounts). But at a young age, he receives an enduring life lesson about the value of determination and experiences how good it feels to succeed after busting your ass, rather than just having shit handed to you.
And they ruin it by handing shit to him. His Old Man gets him his dream car. Drucilla stops by just to throw herself on him. About the only thing he doesn't get is his money back, though I'm sure Mom gives him some of her stash off-camera.
To buy a real gun this time. For protection.
This epilogue serves simply to satisfy the four people who would have been devastated if Ralphie didn't get the happiest of happy endings and to pass the torch of terrible Aunt Clara Christmas costumes from Ralphie to his kid brother. Though, if this is the first year Ralphie didn't have to play dress-up, that means he was still submitting to it at age 14.
Coming soon, A Christmas Story 3: Shock Treatment for All.
For the home stretch, I broke out every shortcut in the book to get this disaster over with. I set it to double-speed, stuck it on mute, and synced it up with Dark Side of the Moon.
And no, it didn't sync perfectly. But neither does Wizard of Oz, or any movie for that matter. So it's in good company. Though "ticking away the moments that make up a dull day" fits the past 24 hours perfectly. And tired old Christmas carols gain instant life when you replace all the words with the wailing gospel solo from "The Great Gig in the Sky."
As Ralphie and his very best girl drove off into the sunset for the final time, I reflected on what I had learned from this experience. Was I an idiot? Sure, but we already knew that. Did my determination pay off, like the movie said it would? Only if someone at Warner Bros. feels bad enough to refund my three bucks. And then fill my apartment with 700,000 more stacks of neatly bound $3 bundles.
So maybe I didn't learn anything, but you can. When times are tough and all seems hopeless, just remember the useless idiot who watched the bloody-stool sequel to A Christmas Story a dozen times, just to see what would happen. And now he wants to shoot his own eye out. Suddenly, your life is tons better. You're welcome, and Merry Fuckitallmas.
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