Alex: This film is a little old (came out in 2004) by the Hallmark/Lifetime/Ion Christmas Movie Review standards. And it wasn’t even originally aired on either of those channels. It came from the A&E Network, who I guess used to be in the game. Maybe it is because of these things that Karroll’s Christmas feels very different than the other movies I’ve reviewed this far. Like while many of them are strange and kind of off, Karroll’s Christmas is what I believe people refer to these days as batshit crazy. The plot, acting, and overall tone is pretty over-the-top, and from the get-go, you feel like you’re on some kind of wild, roller coaster ride, one which you have no idea where its heading.
It does borrow from the classic Christmas Carol story, so at least there is that familiar element. But the twist here is that the ghosts of Christmas past/present/future go to the wrong house. They were supposed to go see this old curmudgeon,named Zeb Rosecog (sure, why not?) and played by Wallace Shawn but instead end up at Alan Karroll’s place. He’s a younger man who writes greeting cards for a living and is having a particularly bad day. Apparently his company has fallen on hard times and if he can’t deliver one really amazing card soon, they are going to shut down the orphanage or something like that. I know that the card industry certainly isn’t small potatoes but the movie treats it like it’s this huge deal, the lifeblood of the American economy or something, as well as a major art form. Then Karroll has a girlfriend who wants to propose and/or do it with him on Christmas Eve but he’s so distracted with all of his own problems, it ends up killing the mood and she takes off. I guess he’s had trouble becoming fully committed because he had proposed to his former girlfriend – at a hockey game, as a caribou mascot, on the ice in front of everybody – and she didn’t just reject him, she announced that she was cheating on him with one of the other mascots, a guy who played the bottom end of a donkey. That’s the kind of thing that can stick with you. Anyway, in keeping with that classic Dickens story, the first visitor of the night is Jacob Marley. But this time, instead of being an old co-worker of the Scrooge character’s, the writers couldn’t resist this unique approach:
I mean, of course we always assumed but Karroll’s Christmas was the first film which had the balls to come right out and say it. I also thought it was a little odd that he didn’t seem to care that he was at the wrong house. None of the other ghosts do either. They just go right ahead and show Karroll visions of this other guy’s past, present, and future. As luck would have it though, he starts to develop sympathy for Rosecog, as well as discovers that he used to work at the very same greeting card company and helped turn it into the juggernaut it is now. Unfortunately, this is where things fall apart. It suddenly gets too serious and sad. The same movie that makes jokes about Bob Marley and Wise Men wanting to “lay off the myrrh”, thinks they can just spring a tear-jerker on us when I wanted to stay on the crazy train
We had some good fellow passenger guest stars too. There’s Richard Kline, aka Larry Dallas from Three’s Company as Karroll’s boss ( think), Very Troyer, aka Mini Me, as the Ghost of Christmas Future, and Larry Miller, whose filmography can officially replace my Christmas list this year and why the hell is this the first I’m hearing of “Frankenstein: The College Years?” I wish I could tell you something about that movie because I don’t really have that much to say about Karroll’s Christmas. Things must have been different in 2004. A&E probably had some different standards too and this all leads to a film that is too good to be bad and too bad to be good. It’s wacky, sure, but wacky in a self-aware kind of way that lacks some of the charm of say, a Holiday Road Trip. For these reasons, I can’t in good faith give it any Eggnogs. I don’t want you to wait in vain for its love. But in the spirit of Christmas and even Kwanza, I would like to give it a little something. How about…