It’s Christmas Eve-eve and while I’m settling down to watch my copy of A Claymation Christmas Celebration (featuring the California Raisins) with a glass of scotch, I’m guessing that a few of you are engaging in the tradition of last minute shopping. A tradition which is extra dumb this year for obvious reasons, but if you’re running out to Shopper’s Drug Mart, Walmart, Target or wherever right now you probably don’t care about spreading disease and misery in your wake.
But I ain’t judging.
The goal of this Holiday Gift Guide entry is twofold: Inexpensive, last second gifts that are easy to find and ALSO make a game of it. The game? “Will It Christmas?”
Personally, I am sick as shit of the annual, pedantic “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?”discussion that crops up on social media the day after Thanksgiving. So much so that I’ve muted the phrase on my various social media presences so I will not see it and have it offend mine eyes. There are so many other, better movies worthy of that discussion which is where my game comes in. I’ll list some genre movies down below that are prefect gifts for the nerd on your list that just MAY be Christmas movies you can grab while you sprint to the checkout lanes with gift bags and tissue paper (because who has time to wrap when you can just toss it in a bag?).
So….Will It Christmas?
One of the weirdest sequels in the Bat-game, Tim Burton fully unfurled hist Burton Banner with this follow up to 1989’s Batman. The first movie was a huge success but Burton admittedly played it a bit close to the vest with that movie and with its runaway success he was allowed a little more creative latitude with the follow up.
Batman Returns is pretty easy to find on Blu-ray or DVD, and if you really luck out you can find the first four Bat-movies (two Burton, two Schumacher) packaged together for under $10. However, some may take offense to the inclusion of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin so it’s best to just stick with Returns.
Will It Christmas?:Yes. The holiday has featured prominently in a lot fo Burton’s work so it’s fair to say he has an affinity for the subject. Batman Returns is positively bursting with Christmas imagery such as giant presents (which contain freaky Red Triangle Gang members), winter in Gotham City, not one but TWO tree lightings, Alfred Pennyworth trimming the tree at Wayne Manor, and that whole bit about mistletoe. Since the movie was released a full SIX MONTHS before Christmas it takes up “summer blockbuster” status in a lot of people’s minds but the movie is undeniably a Christmas movie.
I love that I can write “Joe Dante’s finest film” about almost anything he’s made and not be wrong. Over his career Dante has turned in some of the most enjoyable movies out there along with THE best sequel in Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
Even though it was only rated PG, I was not allowed to see Gremlins when it was released. It had been deemed “too scary” by my mother so I had to wait until it was out on home video and watch it at a friend’s house. Oddly, it was okay that I was allowed to get the storybook/ 45 RPM record combo that came with the Hardee’s kids meal. It was also totally cool that I got a bunch of Gizmo toys for my birthday that year too. The marketability of a Mogwai is not affected by little things like context.
Will It Christmas?: Yes. Gizmo is purchased for Billy Peltzer by his father from a problematic Asian stereotype as an intended Christmas gift. The entire movie is framed as a cautionary “Christmas gift gone wrong” tale and the picturesque town of Kingston Falls is like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting…just with murderous creatures trying to destroy the town. Side note: wouldn’t the Gremlins get wet from the snow? I know they address the whole “no food after midnight” rule in the sequel but…snow IS water, y’know? Anyways, Gremlins is a Christmas movie and you can usually find a copy for five bucks.
Iron Man 3
In what is most definitely the third Iron Man movie, Tony Stark is suffering from PTSD and going up against problematic Asian stereotype The Mandarin in a film that takes place around Christmas. Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion but the Iron Man franchise dipped in quality with each subsequent film. The first one was lighting in a bottle, the second one was burdened with all the exposition of setting up The Avengers, and the third was trying to justify a solo Tony Stark adventure when you KNOW Cap, Black Widow, Hulk and Thor are all just chilling back in NYC. That said, RDJ is a joy to watch in the role and much like pizza, even when a Marvel movie isn’t great it’s still pretty alright
Will It Christmas?: No. Director Shane Black has set about half a dozen of his movies around Christmastime but that does not a Christmas movie make. Aside from the giant stuffed animal gift in Tony and Pepper Potts’ living room and it snowing in whatever town Iron Man crash lands in, there’s nothing explicitly Christmas-y about the movie. No passing mention of Stark Industries shutting down for the holiday break, most of the movie takes place in California (and possibly Florida? It’s been a spell since I’ve seen it) so there aren’t a ton of winter vibes to be had.
So there you have it! Three movies you can EASILY grab RIGHT NOW if you’re brave and/or foolish enough to be out shopping.
I’ll be back next week to take a look back at 2020…should be a real laugh. Happy Holiday everybody!