Dann Gire’s Take on Santa Movies

Posted on December 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm

My friend Dann Gire writes about Santa Claus movies, from the naughty to the nice.

Traditional Christmas movies showcase St. Nicholas as a generically sweet, generous fellow with a belly filled with jelly and the gentle disposition of a giant stuffed panda.

Popular Santa Claus movies such as “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Santa Claus — The Movie” perpetuate the pop-culture image of a highly industrious bearded saint who dispenses Christmas spirit, delivers toys on time and treats his reindeer like family pets.

But then, there are those other Santa movies. You know the ones, featuring alternate, even subversive views of the beloved holiday icon.

Some are naughty — ranging from mildly frightening to downright homicidal. And some are nice — ranging from paternalistically caring to sweetly ineffectual.

My favorite movie Santa is still Edmund Gwenn in “Miracle on 34th Street.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDC5H2MdtEw
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For Your Netflix Queue Holidays Lists

Rise of the Guardians

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm

The daughter of writer/illustrator William Joyce (“Dinosaur Bob,” “Robots”) once asked him whether the Easter bunny knew Santa Claus and that inspired him to create a series of stories about the characters of fantasy and folklore who care for children.  They come together in an Avengers or X-Men-style team known as The Guardians in this visually rich but cluttered film.

Those characters are a Slavic-accented, scimitar-wielding Santa (Alec Baldwin) with “naughty” and “nice” tattooed on his burly arms, an Easter bunny with an Aussie accent and a lot of attitude (Hugh Jackman), a silent sandman who communicates with dreamy designs made from glistening specks, and the feathered Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), who presides over a battalion of hummingbird-sized minions who collect baby teeth and leave coins while children sleep.  When the happiness and comfort of the children of the world is threatened by the Boogeyman (Jude Law), they need more help and so they invite Jack Frost (Chris Pine) to join them, explaining that they are responsible for making sure the children of the earth have “wonder, hope, and dreams.”

Jack is a loner, haunted by not being able to remember anything before he woke one day in the ice, somehow knowing that his job was to bring the fun of winter to children.  At first he has no interest in joining the others.  But when he makes things worse, he has to help make them better.

It’s a sweet idea and there are witty and charming moments and some lovely visuals, especially the sandman, the elves, and the iridescent little tooth fairies.  Like all great villains, Law has an English accent and sounds nicely sneery.  But the storyline gets lost in a whirlwind of locations and plot twists.  Each of the characters has its own mythology and home base and alliances.  The goal of the Guardians is for children to have faith in them, so it makes no sense that they accomplish that only by showing themselves, which is proof, not faith.  There is no suggestion that some of the world’s children may not have these characters as a part of their traditions or faiths.  While the movie asks its characters and its audience to find their centers, the story itself is oddly hollow.

Parents should know that this fim has a scary villain, characters in peril, a sword-wielding Santa, a character who sacrifices himself to save a sibling, and issues of believing in fantasy characters.

Family discussion: How are the characters different from what you expected? What do they have in common? Which is your favorite and why?

If you like this, try: the book, Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce and the movie “Robots”

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3D Animation Fantasy

Christmas Movie Quote Quiz

Posted on December 10, 2010 at 8:00 am

Everyone knows “God bless us, everyone!” and “You’ll shoot your eye out!” But can you name the classics from these quotes?
1. “Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.”
2. “I washed my hair with adult formula shampoo and used cream rinse for that just-washed shine.”
3. “I’m going to find the answer to a question that’s puzzled the world for centuries. Does Santa Claus sleep with his whiskers outside or in?”
4. “Did you have to borrow a reindeer to get down here?”
5. “Whoa, Dad! You’re flying!” “It’s okay, I’m used to it. I lived through the ’60s.”
6. “Zuzu’s petals!” Santa-In-Sleigh.jpg
7. “Give me one reason, one good reason, why we should spend our last two hours in Florida looking at the sisters of Freckle-Face Haynes, the dog-faced boy.”
8. “It’s a major award!”
9. “I don’t deserve to be so happy.”
10. “Come around with your husband, we’ll have a blizzard. Ha ha ha ha.”
11. “That’s one thing I hate! All the noise, noise, noise, noise!”
12. “Do innkeeper’s wives have naturally curly hair?”

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Quiz
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The Search for Santa Paws

Posted on November 29, 2010 at 8:00 am

B
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: NR
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: None
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to DVD: November 23, 2010
Amazon.com ASIN: B003E4B0H6

The Search For Santa Paws is the latest in the wildly popular series of “buddies” films from Robert Vince (watch for an interview with him posting later today). When Santa (Richard Riehle of “Office Space”) loses his memory, he will need the help of an elf, a magic crystal, and of course some very special dogs to save Christmas.

Be sure to check out the Santa Paws coloring and activity pages. And I am very excited and honored that Disney has given me FIVE copies of this DVD to share with my readers. This one is only for those who have never won anything from me before. If you qualify, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “Santa Paws” in the subject line and tell me what you like best about the buddies movies. Don’t forget to include your address! Good luck and keep checking as I have more giveaways coming all month. (My policy on conflicts is available on the blog.)

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