Monday, December 25, 2006

Traditional Christmas Post

It's Christmas, boys and girls. Let's not be political today.

OK, one thing. There is no "War on Christmas." And anyone who says so is not, themselves, a good Christian. Know why?
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
But here in America, we have people trying to start fights based on preventing their neighbor from celebrating Hanukkah, Ramadan, the Hindu festival Makar Sankranti, Shakyamuni Buddha Day, or a day to meditate on the Tantric Bodhisattva Goddess Red Tara, or basically any holiday other than Christmas.

That's not "loving," that’s "discriminating." It's a subtle difference, but I'm pretty sure that it's one that Christ would have made, too.

Anyway, let's talk about movies.

I was watching the kids of some friends of ours, and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" came on. The real one, not the Jim Carrey bastardization.

I'm willing to say that two out of three Jim Carrey movies are worth watching. His Grinch is a nice homage to the original, but it isn't as good as watching Chuck Jones' animation, and listening to Boris Karloff reading the story and Tony the Tiger (Thurl Ravenscroft) singing. It just doesn't get any better than that.

But, as I said, the real Grinch came on, and I told the boys that "this is the best Christmas movie ever made." There was a little fussing at first (Spongebob Squarepants was coming on, after all), but within seconds, they were hooked.

Grinch, however, was followed by A Christmas Story. And, you know something? I've never seen that movie. I know dozens of people who can quote lines by heart, and who see it every year. So I tried to watch it.

You know something? I think that I'm too old to watch it. You had to be a certain age, and interested in a certain type of humor, to see it the first time (or maybe to be old enough to remember when life in America was like that), and apparently I don't fall into the right era or something. I was bored.

I tried to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas this year, too. Again, I was bored. Maybe I've seen it too many times. It was cute, but it didn't do much for me.

On the other hand, some of the Christmas specials I watched as a child probably wouldn't do much for me anymore, either. And in that category, I count pretty much all of the Rankin/Bass collection ("The Little Drummer Boy" disappeared many years ago from the major networks - did you know that José Ferrer was one of the featured voices in that? - but I'm willing to bet that it's available on one of the religious cable channels).

Every few years, I watch It's a Wonderful Life again. If you don't watch it too often, it's good - it holds up a lot better than most movies from 1946. I'm pretty sure that it would get old if I watched it every year, but I know people who do just that.

I mean, if you're seriously looking for a new holiday movie, let me just give you a few choices. Try The Nightmare Before Christmas (which Disney wouldn't release under their own imprint because Michael Eisner felt it was "too dark for children" - it ended up being released under Touchstone).

There's always the obviously-named Christmas Vacation - definitely the best of a played-out series. Chevy Chase does the slapstick and deadpan acting that would have made him rich (if it wasn't for the drugs, anyway). This movie actually can (and probably should) be watched without ever seeing any of the other movies in the Vacation series. (This movie, by the way, includes the last screen appearance of Mae Questal, the voice of the original Betty Boop).

If you're in the mood for an action film, you can't really beat Die Hard (although God knows they tried to beat it to death with the sequels).

However, for the most recent "Christmas Classic," I'd say that my money would have to be on Denis Leary's The Ref, an amazingly funny movie about dysfunctional people running full-speed into each other.

There. That pretty much covers it. Except, of course, for the movies I completely ignored. Maybe I'll talk about them some other time. Maybe not.

Deal with it.

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