Christmas With a Capital “C” – 12/22/13

Christmas with a Capital C

Alex:  Holy shit. And I mean that quite literally here. The newest addition to our little family, the Up Network, managed to blow my mind with Christmas With a Capital “C” the other night. You’d think at some point, after being hopelessly adrift this sea of yuletide insanity for almost a month-and-a-half here, I would get numb to some of the bizarre twists and turns these films can take me on but this one proves otherwise. And despite watching over 30 so far this year, I can say no Christmas movie is quite like CWACC.

Since it comes courtesy of Up, there is certainly a Christian component to the storyline. But while God played a supporting role in Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas, He is much more of a headliner this time. The plot revolves around a small town in Alaska where Ted McGinley is the mayor and nothing is as it seems. Well, I guess some things are as they seem, I just kind of wanted to say that for some reason. Anyway, this other dude, Mitch, rolls into that town and you can tell there is some tension between he and McGinley. They were kind of high school rivals before Mitch eventually left to see the world. You can also tell that Mitch is doing a straight up Alec Baldwin impersonation from 30 Rock. Wait a minute, Mitch actually IS a Baldwin! Not Alec, not Billy, and not even Stephen but Daniel, I guess. Whoa, there was really not a very fair dispersal of looks in that family. Alec is/was handsome, Billy was handsome at least for a second in the movie Sliver (I think) but quickly became a toad, Stephen has always been a toad, and Daniel is an actual goblin. My wife said he is also a toad, maybe even a cross between a toad and a toadstool but I am still thinking pure goblin. Actually, you know what? He’s a hemogoblin. My wife also asked me a while ago why there wasn’t a hemogoblin. There are goblins and there is hemoglobin, like in your blood, so why not a hemogoblin? I thought it was one of the better questions I’d ever heard at the time and perhaps this is her answer. There is a hemogoblin. It’s Daniel Baldwin.

And again, he is just completely copying his brother’s character here. Or trying to. I mean, of course being siblings, they might have certain similarities but that Jack Donaghy breathy talking style is not hereditary. So back to the story, like I was saying, the Hemogoblin was McGinley’s high school rival and now he’s come back to town. But why? That’s exactly what McGinley is trying to figure out. He thinks Mitch might be up to something. After all, he is a Hemogoblin. He’s not the only weird dude in this movie either. Christian comedian Brad Stine plays McGinley’s brother and is the ultimate spazz. He’s prone to speeches and manic diatribes that even Robin Williams thinks need to settle down a little. Want to see an example? Well here you go and merry Christmas, pal:

BRAD STINE CAN TELL YOU WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT, CHARLIE BROWN

This seen goes on and on too. That was just Part 1 I showed you. The brother kid is rightly embarrassed but definitely not as embarrassed as he should be. I was more embarrassed them him and I was just sitting on my couch, miles and years away, not connected to this fictitious story at all. Carly Rae Jepsen there hangs in though, giggling away like it’s the funniest thing in the world. Even after a good ten solid minutes. Even if she is not the real Carly Rae Jepsen.

So that was the story of Christmas (I think), and it provides the backdrop to the story of Christmas With A Capital C as well. The little town in Alaska puts up a manger scene in their main square and the Hemogoblin sues them or sends them an injunction or ordinance or some other legal term I and the movie don’t understand, saying that they need to take it down. You can’t put religious stuff on city property. Somehow, plenty of other places across America have dealt with this issue but Trapper Falls is flummoxed. They’ve put this manger scene out there for years, it’s tradition, and most of the 4000 residents are pretty pious. But technically, it is crossing that fine line between church and state. Wait a minute though. So the Hemogoblin came back to Trapper Falls simply to get them to take down their Christmas decorations? That’s his only motivation here?

Much of the film is a pulpit to discuss religion versus political correctness and provide ample jumping off points for Brad Stine. Both sides take things WAY too far. Hemogoblin calls the police on a little girl who sings “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” on a city street (I’m not kidding) and even though I am on Team Jesus here, McGinley needs to dial back the Christian indignation about a smidge or two. There’s a scene where he acts like it’s absolutely absurd that anyone would celebrate any holiday other than Christmas in December and mockingly says the word, “Kwanzaa.” Then they cut to the black lady in the group just to show that she’s not outraged (still not kidding). Now Kwanzaa may indeed be a joke but we have to at least pretend like it’s legitimate, right?

The rest of the town goes nuts too. Somehow they either misunderstand the injunction or just life in general and think that they have to stop saying “Merry Christmas” to each other and instead go with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” or whatever. I think I understand the injunction as well as the premise but this isn’t a real problem. It’s true, there are some conflicts between our country’s religious roots and the freedom we’re so proud of but for the most part, Christmas still works in America. Much larger, much more cosmopolitan places, have managed to weather the storm and I have to believe Trapper Falls will figure this out too. The movie doesn’t though and they end up taking the easy way out, which is to reveal that the Hemogoblin coasted into town on fumes. He was fired from his last lawyer job (the explanation of this makes about as much sense as me glossing him, “The Hemogoblin”) and has no money and somehow suing Trapper Falls over this Nativity scene was going to get him back into the black. But once everybody learns of this secret, he is somehow not the Hemogoblin any more and turns into this nice, caring guy who is no longer concerned with all of these philosophical, moral, or legal principals he seemed so convicted of a minute ago. Nothing changed, mind you, other than just his awareness of other peoples’ awareness of his fiduciary state. But what about separation of Church and State? And religion, which is the one true faith? I thought this movie was finally going to tell us this but instead, we are just left to our own devices here. So I will just have to guess myself and say that the answer is a combination of snake-handling and Methodist. Hope that helps.

I also never figured out why it was called “Christmas With a Capital ‘C’.” I mean, I guess the “C” is for “Christ” but Christ or not, it would still be capitalized, right? We capitalize all our other holidays. Even National Egg Day, which is something I just made up. I feel like I’ve been kind of duped on titles three films in a row here. First we had Finding Christmas, which didn’t really apply and now this one. Yes, I know that’s only two but today, I remembered Action Jackson, that movie with Carl Weathers from the 80s and it occurred to me that it really wasn’t an apt title either. Not because it didn’t make sense, the Carl Weathers character is referred to once, as “Action Jackson”, it’s just that the name sounds so awesome and the movie isn’t nearly that good. But look, much like the Capital C Himself, I am willing to forgive Christmas With a Capital “C” many of its faults because ultimately, it was so strange that I will never forget it. Plus it also helped remind me of just how much Christmas rules. Thank God, literally, that I’m not celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or anything else I can barely spell. Not only is Christmas way cooler but it gives us movies like this. Thus, I will give it in return…

…a million Eggnogs. No wait, that’s way too many. And I don’t want to insert a million pictures of eggnog. How about just 4 EggnOgs, but with a capital “O”, towards the end for some reason. You can say that doesn’t make any sense either and I can counter with, “Action Jackson.” And God bless America. Now I had seriously better run here because the Hemogoblin just called the police on me. eggnogeggnogeggnogeggnog

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