Christmas with a Capital C: Part 2

Escorting his son to school the next day, Mayor Dan runs into said son’s skiing coach, a bizarre man who apparently thinks he has to kiss the mayor’s ass:

Coach: Mornin’, Mayor.  Your son’s getting faster every day.

Dan: That’s what I like to hear.  How you doin’, Coach?

Coach: Good, good.  It’s been a good year thanks to you.  I hope this town keeps re-electing you as long as you’ll have us.

Oh, and when Coach says the above, Dan elbows his son, as in, “See?  See???  They like me!”

Coach bounces from one foot to the other as he delivers his line, grinning like a schmuck, so I’m thinking he either has a huge crush on Dan, or is afraid Dan will have him disappeared if he doesn’t get sufficiently brown-nosed.

Brown

***

Later, the Big Bad Event occurs—somebody—and I’m not saying who, but his name rhymes with Rich Right—has filed a formal complaint, and the town is not allowed to put up the nativity characters on city property.

Dan: Who filed this complaint?  The Grinch?

Yep, because the Grinch is the only person who could ever possibly be concerned about government endorsement of religion.

Willa, who appears to be the town’s attorney, seems oddly casual about the whole thing, and immediately suggests that Dan find a compromise, so the decorations can go up before Christmas (the judge won’t get to town for another few weeks).  This is interesting to me, and even more interesting is the fact that according to IMDB, Willa’s last name is Rainwater.  I wonder if that makes her one of those believers in hocus pocus” “Native religion that Dan worries about.

Dan: No, I don’t want to compromise.

Well, fine, Mr. Second-Grader.

What Dan does want to do is discuss this with his brother.  Because we all know what a level-headed guy Jesus-Greg is, right?

HA, just kidding!  Jesus delivers a rant of a full minute about the evils of tolerance and those horrible atheists who don’t want to hear “bless you” when they sneeze and oh boy, nobody better mess with the Reed brothers, because boy they will BRING IT because this is a Christian nation and–

JESUS, SHUT UP, JESUS!  NOBODY LOVES YOU!  NOBODY CARES!

***

Dan calls a city council meeting, and the city council consists of himself, Willa, Josie (wooooo!!!), Some Guy in a Flannel Shirt, and Some Old Guy.  In a shocking and refreshing twist, basically they are not on Dan’s side:

Dan: Willa’s got the legal under control; it’s not gonna cost us a thing.

Old Guy: It’s a waste of her time!

Hot damn, Old Guy, good for you!

Josie continues to be the most interesting character around—when Dan says…

“I assume you have enjoyed all these years [of the nativity scene on government property] as an indication of Christmas, right?”

…we cut to Josie, avoiding eye contact with a “Wellll…not really” look on her face.

I’m sure we are meant to see that as Mitch’s evil atheist influence working on her, but to me, it is more an indication that maybe Mitch was right, when he said at the party that some people might find Dan’s piety—and his use of government property to promote it—a bit annoying.

And they also have no patience with Dan’s little spat with Mitch:

Dan: Look, Mitch Bright has a personal vendetta against me–he has since we were teenagers.  I mean, you all know that.

Yes, Dan, I’m sure the entire town keeps track of your 20-year-old feud.  I’m sure everybody is so invested in you that they remember every tiff you ever had over a parking space.  NOTHING COULD POSSIBLY BE MORE INTERESTING.

Flannel Shirt: If this is personal between you and him, work it out.  Don’t drag the whole town into it.

Damn straight, Flannel Shirt!

Then Josie points out that Mitch has good business ideas for the town and that they shouldn’t be so quick to “push him out.”

So we can see that Josie and Flannel Shirt are the true heroes of this story.

***

More teenage flirting.  Still don’t care.

***

The next day, back in Josie’s coffee chop, Mitch is chatting up Old Guy and Flannel Shirt about getting more cruise ships to stop at the town and thus increase business.  Mayor Dan shows up to interrupt them…

Dan: Do you really care about city hall decorations?  Or is this about me?

…and Mitch asks the question we have all been asking ourselves since the movie began:

Mitch: You really think that highly of yourself?

BOOM

Of course, being an evil atheist, Mitch has a problem with “so-called Christians” who go crazy for Black Friday deals and are…

“…the most unforgiving, unloving, even bigoted people I’ve ever seen.”

And seeing as how he’s talking to the Christian who has spent 20 years nursing a high school grudge, it’s kinda hard to argue the point.

So Dan doesn’t even try.  Instead, he jumps up and snaps at Mitch in a coffee shop full of people that he will not let him “ruin Christmas for everyone” and “hold this town hostage.”

Boy, who says that RTCs blow things out of proportion and see persecution in every action, eh?

Oh, but he keeps going, accusing Mitch of trying to “tell people how to live and how to worship,” which…pot, kettle, Dan.  Mitch isn’t the one putting a nativity scene at city hall.

Oh, and it’s probably worth pointing out here that Mitch is calm and cool as a cucumber, while Dan grabs a chair and shoves it out of the way so he can get more in Mitch’s face.

Again, who says RTCs overreact?

Then Dan accuses Mitch of “already campaigning” for mayor by trying to appeal to the “common people.”

Mitch: I think it’s quite apparent why I’m here every morning.  *beat*  Free wireless.

OH SNAP.  MITCH, YOU ARE DA MAN.

I’m serious: I laughed out loud at that line.  All the more so because I just love a hero who can stay cool and keep his humor while the other party is trying to escalate.

And the hits just keep on coming, and Dan just cannot keep his cool.  When Flannel Shirt puts up a “Seasons Greetings” sign at city hall, to replace the “Merry Christmas” sign, it is “NOT OKAY” with Dan.

The battle for the holiday season is now ON LIKE RED DAWN, as a montage of the “War on Christmas” shows us that the town is just as divided as Mitch thought.

Hilariously, the first shot is of someone slapping a “Festivus for the Rest of Us” sticker on his truck.

Um.

Dude, is that supposed to be ominous?  Did the filmmakers actually think Festivus was a threat to Christmas?  Have they never watched Seinfeld?  Festivus is a parody holiday.

Actually, I take that back.  After Dan’s little meltdown and Mitch’s good humor in the coffee shop, it is apparent that there is to be NO JOKING about the baby Jesus’s birthday.

***

Dan and Kristin take a walk, and Dan, naturally enough, takes the opportunity to kvetch about Mitch, and to wonder if he, too, would have lost his faith if he had ever left the sleepy little town of Bedford Falls Trapper Falls.

BORING

***

But later, in the coffee shop, things are anything but boring.  You see, when Heroine Josie serves Dan and Jesus their coffee, she says two words that prove she has turned to the Dark Side, become an evil atheist herself:

Happy. Holidays.

Well.  Can’t have any of that.

Thus begins a nearly two-minute rant on how great Christmas is, and how nobody should even be thinking about any other day in December.

I won’t reproduce any of the ridiculousness that Jesus delivers to a coffee shop full of people that didn’t ask for this, except to point out that Jesus thinks that 98% of America celebrates Christmas.  Really, dude?

And there are two great things about this little rant: first, that it was occasioned by Josie, the woman on whom Jesus allegedly has a crush.  Well, one great way to treat your crush is to lecture her and all her customers while standing on a chair.

The second great thing is that when Jesus gets on the chair, Mitch calmly pulls out his phone and starts filming.

Why, Christian entertainment?  Why do you always make me root for your supposed villains?

***

Teenage flirting plus cross-country ski racing.  Even more boring.

***

Mitch is officially running for mayor, now, guys!  I’m going to pretend that I can hope that he wins, because that would be just so cool.  Also, Mitch tells Dan to thank Jesus for his stupid rant, because it helped him get all the signatures he needed to go forward.

Dan, of course, has zero plan in place for dealing with any challenge to his authority, and can only tell his family that he will “stand by what I believe in,” and that everyone should do the same.

Of course, this inspires our young DVD cover girl to don her angel costume and get on the empty nativity scene platform and sing her dear little heart out.

As she does this, Jesus sits slumped on the edge of the platform, acting as her (really bad) bodyguard.

Of course, atheist Mitch shows up to SPOIL EVERYTHING and tells her (very gently and kindly, mind you) that she needs to get down.  He reaches to take her hand to help her, and Jesus shoves him.  Because he’s just that mature.  Mitch, long-suffering martyr that he is, gives up the battle so he can win the war (on Christmas).

And by that, I mean that he calls the police.  Nothing comes of it except that they make Makayla stop singing, but they also don’t arrest Jesus for assault, so there’s that.  But Kristin decides it’s time to officially Do Something, and that something is call a meeting with Willa the Lawyer, the local Reverend, and Some Woman.

Ready for some Christian charity in action???

Dan: What are we supposed to do?  Uh, are we supposed to put up—y’know, we put up a menorah and then we put up the Kwanza—I don’t even know what that symbol is.  I mean, where does it end?

Our hero, everyone.

Reverend: The point is, the person bringing the complaint hates all religion.  He hates God.  He doesn’t want equal representation of religion, he wants none.

Some Woman: So, we’re supposed to bow down to these God-haters?

Oh, and she calls the matter “an injustice.”  And she doesn’t mean it’s an injustice that only Christianity gets government endorsement in this town, but that someone would complain about that.

As this meeting is going on, Jesus is back at the house with Makayla and Flirting Teenage Son.  Makayla is just about to start rehearsing for the pageant, when there’s a knock at the door: it’s Flirting Teenage Girl!

Flirting Teenage Son (or FTS for short) is understandably nervous and stuff, what with having FTG around, just hanging, and calls the Christmas pageant “the same boring old program.”

RIGHT IN FRONT OF JESUS

Well.

Time for Christmas Rant 2.0, in which Jesus and Makayla do their own version of the story, swapping parts every few seconds.

Trust me, that is way less interesting than it sounds.

Play

I guess it’s one of those things where you just had to be there to find it funny.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch meeting, Kristin gets the privilege of giving the show its title!

“Christmas starts with a capital “C.”  The “C” comes from the name, Christ.  Christ, the lord, is the center of Christmas, not our rights, not our tradition.  None of that matters if it starts to detract us from the one whose birth we celebrate, right?”

Huh.  She’s actually making sense.  I mean, she’s still buying into the idea that their rights are in danger, but at least she’s not being a jerk.  She suggests that they all spend more time worrying about “the needs of others,” which is also sensible and not jerkish.

Though I think it’s kinda funny that she’s the only one to even suggest charity to the reverend and the Good Christian Mayor, and it’s like two weeks until Christmas.

So, the “Christmas with a Capital ‘C'” campaign starts, which involves some charity:

Food

Just think, if Atheist Mitch hadn’t come to town, this never would have happened!

And they hand out “hot chocolate with a capital ‘C’” to sledders.  Har.

And Jesus even gets in on the act, sing-songing “Sorry” to Josie and wiping down the chairs in her coffee shop.  She still doesn’t seem warm to him, though, so go Josie!

***

Teen.  Flirting.  Bored.

***

Back at the mayoral casa, little Makayla has an idea that makes Kristin, in the words of the immortal Jerry Jenkins, shoot her a double take.  Makayla wants to bake cookies for Mitch, because “nobody’s done anything for him as far as I can tell.”  And that is very true, notwithstanding the Christmas campaign—even though he is new to town and grew up here, nobody has so much as swung by the house to say “welcome back.”

Kristin drives Makayla and the cookies over, but won’t even get out of the car.  Coward.  Or maybe she’s just a bit shame-faced that after guilt-tripping the reverend and her husband and brother-in-law into doing nice things, she has now been successfully guilt-tripped by an eight-year-old.

She needn’t have worried, because Mitch is not home.  Makayla double-checks at the window, then leaves the cookies on the frigid doorstep.

They get back to the house to the news that the judge is coming to town the next day (dun dun DUN), and Dan tucks Makayla into bed.  They have the following odd conversation:

Makayla: …[Mitch] makes people grumpy.

Dan: I think he makes people grumpy because he’s grumpy.

He is?  He does?  Far as I’ve seen, he’s been nothing but pleasant to everyone.  Dan’s been the one escalating and Jesus has been the one ranting, though I suppose it’s natural for Makayla not to see it that way.

Anyway, she prays for Mitch: for God to be with him and “make him nice.”

And on that note, waiting for the judge and for God to make Mitch nice, we’ll await Part 3.

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Posted on December 2, 2013, in Christmas with a Capital C, Movies. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. So here’s something funny: This thing just aired on TBN (without commercial interruption!) and I sat through the whole thing. Some thoughts:

    1.) I don’t know why you’re even bothering with that Cody and ski girl subplot, it’s entirely superfluous and only seems to be there to get this thing to eighty minutes (and someone must have believed in miracles if he thought this thing was getting a theatrical release). Here, I’ll spoil the whole thing: Girl blatantly flirts with Cody, who doesn’t get it because he’s amazingly thick. Then his father explains to him that, as a matter of fact, there might be another reason why this girl wants to hang around him all the time (and it ain’t his mad skiing skills). Then they both enter a race, he wins, and they get a burger. The end.

    2.) Greg is perhaps the most annoying character I’ve ever seen in a live action film. The Christmas Rant 2.0 is probably the worst – it’s like he did eight lines of blow and then put on his best Robin Williams impression. At one point, he has the Virgin Mary talking like a proper 80’s valley girl. It’s probably good that we cut away every thirty seconds or so to see more of Mayor Dan talking to the council. And speaking of which…

    3.) I realize it’s not as absurd as everything else, but it has to be said: The editing in this thing is weirdly awful. Between the smash cuts and the establishing shots that don’t establish anything, I kept getting the feeling that Dan and Mitch were teleporting around this town. And how hard is it to find appropriate foley effects, anyway?

    I have more, but I should really stop.

  2. So Mitch mobilizes half the town in opposition to the city hall’s nativity display within a week of his arrival, and yet the movie tries to tell us that it’s a harmless display that everyone loves. No, no, no! It is very clear that many people in this town are uncomfortable with this government endorsed display. You jackasses don’t get to dismiss that as not “bowing to god haters”.

    As to why no one spoke up about this before Mitch arrived: Gee, maybe it had something to do with the fact that the current town leadership contains a bunch of psychotic theocrats. We’ve seen them treat every belief system other than theirs as “hocus spocus” or “god hating”. We’ve seen them treat it as ridiculous that they might display any symbol of other holidays, not that they know what those symbols are. We’ve seen them launch into angry rants when anyone lets it show that they don’t agree with their religious-inspired politics. We’ve even seen them physically assault dissenters, for fuck’s sake. Mitch is the hero who finally lets the poor persecuted towns people know they can stand up to the despotic cult leader who intimidated them into meek compliance.

    And Kristin’s suggestion reminds me of Enemy at the gates. Specifically, the scene where the entire group of Soviet political officers are completely baffled by the idea of giving the troops hope, instead of intimidating them. As if communists had never heard of the idea of propaganda. Here, it’s Kristin who’s the first to suggest that they respond to their problems with a positive display of love instead of an aggressive intimidation campaign. And from what I can tell, her first motivation isn’t even that this will convince everyone that they are kind and loving so they should just suck it up, shut up about their “hocus spocus”-beliefs and let the Christians violate the constitution. I’m sure that’s what will happen anyway, but it doesn’t sound premeditated.

    By the way Ruby, do you still use that hotmail adres?

    • Actually, the implication is that no one really agrees with Mitch – either they’re following because they’re hoping his other plans will improve the local economy, or else they’re meekly bowing for fear of another lawsuit. To the movie’s credit, they did this with a lot more subtlety than you might expect, but it also really underscores the absurdity of the “OH MY GOD THE NIGHTMARE SCENARIO IS HERE!” payoff. It’s possible that this was meant to be some kind of “kindest, bravest, most wonderful” line to indicate that these people are being brainwashed, but I’m not sure the writers deserve that much credit.

      • I didn’t see the actual movie, so I’ll have to take your word for it. But still, it seems very implausible that Mitch could accomplish all of that so quickly after his return. The description really sounds like the people who didn’t like Dan’s religious entitlement are finally speaking up.

        • That’s more to do with that sinister beast known as bad writing. Everything happens on a super-compressed time frame because the people who made the movie don’t care to describe anything that’s not directly relevant to their message. It’s the same reason Cody winks out of existence for any scene that doesn’t directly involve his subplot.

  3. This movie could have easily been made by atheists to mock the “War on Christmas”, and the Christians just completely didn’t notice.

  4. I like to think that most of these Christian movies are filmed by people who know full well how ridiculous Christians look in these things but also know that most (if not all) the target audience members devour these movies cluelessly.

  5. Yeah, are you sure this is actually UNintentionally presenting the bigots as immature and moronic? Because from what I’ve been reading it’s hilarious how obviously Wrong they are in their frothy-mouthed Righteousness.

    • It’s simply amazing how few of these works made by RTCs for RTCs actually portray RTCs sympathetically. Just look at the list of critiques on this site. Only Apocalypse, Late One Night and maybe Second Glance don’t have one or more of the most important RTC characters who act like biggoted and/or narcistic assholes. And from other sites, we have the douchebag duo of Rayford and Buck, and Josh Jordan, the comic-book super villain who hijacked a governement doomsday device and uses his fortune to spread propaganda for himself.

  6. Jesus didn’t speak English. The Gospels were written in Greek, Christ was written as Χριστὸς, so they should be promoting Christmas with a Capital X.

    • It’s only a title, anyway — it just means “the anointed person”.

    • Ha, so X-mass is actually the more biblically correct term. Eat that, you ‘taking the Christ out of Christmass’-whiners.

      (Yeah, I know the greek letter chi sounds nothing like the X)

  7. This feels like a film made for those high school bullies and peakers — yeah, your successful big city rival may come back and be all annoying and better than you, but you’ll show him! So there! You don’t need to come up with those clever word thingies like he does!

    (Why is Mitch in this nowhere town, anyway? Do they bother to establish that?)

    Borrowing a concept from Fred, this seems all about punching down. The RTCs are already the town government, after all.

  8. Yup, they’ve sure done nothing for Mitch. Certainly not signed his petition to let him run for mayor anything like that.

    • True, but not really the same thing as welcoming him back as an old friend. I like to think that those people really did find Dan annoying, and just sign Mitch’s petition to be rid of Dan. It’s not because they show affection for Mitch as a person.

      Honestly, the women and children in this film sound like way better people than the manly men. They’re the ones trying to win the battle by not treating it like a battle. Instead, they’re all about Jesus-style showing love and kindess to convince people. Can’t Kirsten run for mayor instead of her immature whiny husband?

  9. Clearly the writers do, honestly, see others not bowing in defference to them as oppression.

    Now, I get how that arises, I really do, things become the norm and any attempt to change the norm seems like an attack, but will they really not step back and look at what’s actually going on?

    • I’m going to guess no. No, they will not.

    • I know what you mean. I can sympathise with the particular situation this movie describes. I mean, a nativity scene in the city hall that’s been there for years is a rather harmless-looking thing. To be honest, while I understand why its presence there is problematic, seeing it in my city hall wouldn’t really bother me personally. And I can understand that it comes across as mean and rude when someone demands to have it removed. It still wouldn’t hurt to check your privilige and try to wonder why non-Christians might be bothered by overt displays of Christianity from their government, but I see why a parent who just took his kids there every year might be upset

      But this movie wastes any sympathy I might have had for the protagonist’s plight, because they are such biggotted assholes about it. They don’t argue that it’s just a harmless little display that brings joy to those who like it and which others can just ignore. They openly admit its an expression of Christian dominance. They express disdain for any other belief. They see it as ridiculous that the city hall might give any floor space to any of those other beliefs. And they refuse to compromise on their displays, because this is a Christian nation dammit!

      I don’t mind a little attraction that happens to be Christian, but I do mind the idea that non-Christians are second-class citizens. So when the Christians are so upfront about how they view the presence of a nativity scene in the city hall as a symbol of Christian dominance, a sign that Christianity and only Christianity deserves to be promoted by the government…. yeah, then I’ll start complaining about that nativity scene too.

      • I think that the key to this dissonance may be that the RTCs can’t conceive of not being the powerful majority. Christian displays are, to them, OK because hey, look around, they’re obviously what most people want; any other religious display, or none at all, wouldn’t be. It’s the sort of democracy that’s four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.

        Which is presumably why they’re so scared of being out-bred by Those People.

  10. RTCs sure are good at making their “heroes” act like bigoted, immature assholes, while making the “villains” caring, decent, likeable people. I can’t fathom how anyone watching this movie would actually sympathize with Mayor Dan, Greg/Jesus, and their supporters.

  11. Mitch is supposed to be the bad guy, right? He stays calm while Mayor Dan and his brother (so that’s what happens when one of the Geico Cavemen finds Christianity) go into flaily hyperbole, he’s funny, people like him, and Mitch seems to actually want to do something good for the town by bringing in more business.

    This movie is doing a terrible job of convincing me that, one, Mitch is a bad guy, and two, that Mayor Dan is a good guy.

    • I have a feeling Dan and Greg’s freneticism is meant to be born of Passionate Sincerity. Somehow, RTCs tend to think it doesn’t just excuse everything, but exalts everything as well.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 7th, 2013 | The Slacktiverse

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