Monthly Archives: December 2015

Saving Christmas: Completed Critique

“I love hot chocolate!”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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Saving Christmas, Part 5

In an ironic twist, I was right!  I am posting the last part of Saving Christmas on garbage day!

How fitting.  Har.

So White Christian arrives back at his own front door, and with Kirk gesturing like he has just HEE-ALLLED him by the POWER of JAY-SUS, White Christian does a running bellyflop onto his own marble floor and into the pile of presents under the tree.

As seen here:

As he is sprawled there on the floor, Voiceover Kirk helpfully advises White Christian to see the gifts…

“…like a city skyline.  Imagine the new Jerusalem, a heavenly city whose builder and architect is God, and the wall of the city was adorned with all kinds of precious stones.”

Okay, now you’re really stretching, Kirk.  Like, even more than before.

JUST SAY YOU WANT A LOT OF PRESENTS!!!  I WON’T JUDGE!

Saving 11

Truly, a city made by God himself.

Then, remembering all the stuff about Santa being tougher than Chuck Norris, White Christian takes a flying leap onto Creepy Uncle Bill’s Santa couch…and gets a bunch of pictures taken with him.

Hey, it eats up some more screentime!

Then White Christian blunders over and gazes at the infamous nativity snowglobe.  Then he sees a GIANT Nutcracker, and mentally turns it into one of Herod’s soldiers.  Because nutcrackers didn’t have any Christmas meaning until White Christian turned one into a Herod Soldier.

Voiceover Kirk even adds:

“We need to make traditions of our own.  We need to infuse old symbols with new meaning.”

WAIT ONE SECOND, MISTER CHRISTMAS PANTS!!!

Didn’t you just spend forty minutes telling us that all these old symbols already HAD old meanings?  That nothing about Christmas was co-opted from anybody else and all of this was God’s idea to begin with?

Damn.  Kirk just admitted that he’s been bullshitting us this entire time.  I mean, we knew that, I just didn’t expect him to ADMIT it.

Then White Christian remembers that he’s married.  He struts into the kitchen and sorta apologizes to Kirk’s sister (though the actual words “I’m sorry” don’t leave his lips).  Then he says he wants to “give you something I’ve been wanting to give you for a long time.”

Nope.  It’s not even a kiss, because people don’t kiss people TO WHOM THEY ARE NOT GODFULLY WED in a Kirk Cameron movie, gorammit!

Nope, what he wants to give his wife is a dance party.

So, for another FOUR AND A HALF MINUTES, the guests dance in the gigantic foyer of the White Christian house.  I would say that the dancing is choreographed, but generally choreographed dances are in time with the music.  I wouldn’t care if this was presented as if it was an impromptu thing, but clearly people have been practicing—the teens dance in rows with the same moves, so apparently they meant this to look good.

Deandre directs the party in singing and (trying) to bop along with the beat.  And I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that he is the Black Partygoer.

Then it’s time to eat.

Yup, I’ve watched Kirk Cameron serve hot chocolate, sit in a car, and *snicker* dance.  Now I get to watch him eat a meal!

“Pull out your best dishes, your finest linens, your nicest silverware, the biggest ham.”

He makes it sound like the ham is in storage in the attic, too.

“Every side dish you can possibly imagine, and the richest butter.”

Just makes me think of White Christian’s complaint at the beginning, that with all the money spent on decorations and that monstrous ham, how much charity could be done?  I mean, geez, just get the second-richest butter and feed a few orphans, is all I’m saying.

Also, as Jenny said after Part 3, why doesn’t Kirk just say that he wants to have a feast, without all this stretching for biblical explanations?  Just eat some gorram food because you want to eat some gorram food, Kirk!  Once again, I promise I won’t judge!  (I’m hardly in a position to judge—I was “making rather merry yesterday” and didn’t get a chance to post!)

And then…I can hardly believe it, but there is drinking in this RTC movie!

Saving 12

I wonder what kind of sanctions Kirk will be subject to for this?

Anyway, Kirk has a response for the haters who might start whining about materialism and silly concerns like those:

“…remember, this is a celebration of the eternal god taking on a MATERIAL body.  So it’s right that our holiday is marked with material things.”

Not nearly as much of a stretch as making a pile of video games and socks into the New Jerusalem, Kirk, but that’s still reaching.

Two more mentions of the sainted (invisible) hot chocolate, and Kirk is out with a wink.  (Yeah, he winks at the camera.  Gross.)

But wait!  We still need ten more minutes to get to feature length!

So we end this on a credits-and-outtakes sequence that lasts over ten minutes.

Feature Length Achieved!

It truly is a Wintermas miracle.

 

Saving Christmas, Part 4

Back to the DISCUSSION GUIDE, since it’s important to have breaks in such a heavy discussion, lest we get tired.

Where do you get your tree each year?

My closet.  And I have three of them.

Are there traditions that surround it?

Yes.  Trying to remember where I put the goddamn ornaments.

What do you think of Christian’s argument that [a Christmas tree] has more to do with the Winter Solstice that the Son of God?

It has a lot of merit.

With a challenge to let your light shine brightly this Christmas, who is one person you will be praying for and looking to share Christ with this season?

N/A.  Wait, does this blog count?

On to Santa Claus!

“That’s the guy, Santa, that’s OBLITERATED Jesus.  Jesus is GONE!  The reason for the season is Santa Claus!

S-A-N-T-A.  Rearrange the letters: Satan.  Santa, Satan, same letters.”

So it’s come to this.  Kirk Cameron thinks he has to combat Church Lady arguments.

But first he has to sing incorrect lyrics to “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town!”

You better watch out
You better not pout
You better not cry
I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you are sleeping
He knows when you are awake
He knows if you’ve been good or bad
So be good for goodness’ sake

Actual lyrics here.  (And sheesh, Kirk, I learned this in America’s evil secular public schools.  How do YOU not know this?)

White Christian even hilariously throws in the idea that Santa is “works based,” when he has already been saved by grace, gorrammit!

And that makes my Top Five lines for this movie.

By the way, it takes White Christian THREE AND ONE-HALF MINUTES to voice this concern.  Santa isn’t in the Bible and has become more important to the Christmas celebration than Jesus: three and a half minutes.  Holy crap, but they pad this piece of crap worse than anything I have ever seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Saving 9

Above is Kirk and Kirk’s Sister’s unemployed “Uncle Bill” as the world’s creepiest Santa.  I would not let my kid anywhere near this guy.

Hell, kids would probably be safer in the same room as this Santa:

Unsurprisingly, Kirk links Santa to St. Nicholas.  Well, perhaps not so unsurprisingly, because it’s probably the smallest leap Kirk has made in this movie.

Now, Saint Nicholas has some pretty cool stories surrounding him, including resurrecting murder victims and giving dowries to poor girls.  But Kirk decides to focus on one particular Nicholas story…in which he beat up a guy who believed differently than he did.

Merry Christmas, kids!

“The real Santa Claus was a real bad, bad dude.  And when I say bad, I mean bad in the good way.”

Ooo, Kirk, you’re so hip!

Cut to the scraggly old dude from the beginning.  Yeah, we’re all shocked that he turned out to be Santa All Along.

“There were leaders in the church who had begun to deny the deity of Christ. … Nicholas did not take kindly to those who wanted to reduce Jesus to a mere man.

He was a real man who fought for a real truth against a real enemy of the faith.”

Yup, and Kirk isn’t kidding—“not taking kindly” really does mean “beating down.”

“Leading the charge in this heresy was a bishop named Arias.  He was known as a charismatic and compelling speaker.”

And as we all know, the free exchange of ideas is just plain wrong.

(Bizarre fact: Arias is played by Other Partygoer, the conspiracy theorist from earlier.  And sitting by Arias’ side is Deandre!)

“He was travelling from region to region spreading his heresy like a plague, saying that Jesus was less than God.”

Or, as a normal person might say, “talking to people about his ideas.”

“The official record says that at a critical moment during the Council [of Nicaea], Nicholas put the heretic Arias to shame, not only by word, but also by deed, smiting him on the cheek.”

Now, slapping someone on the cheek is one thing, but what Santa does here goes…rather beyond that.  He bashes Arias’ head onto the table, drags him outdoors, and proceeds to beat the everloving…plum pudding out of him with a rod.

Saving 10

A right jolly old elf

Throughout the scene, modern “badass” music blares, letting us know that it’s a good thing to beat up those who disagree with you on religious minutiae.

Kirk confirms this:

“Truth was on the line and it was not the time for this pastor to go soft on truth or stay quiet for the sake of being politically correct.”

Well, that’s just adorable…because apparently what political correctness means is NOT beating someone for the crime of disagreeing with you.

The DISCUSSION GUIDE brings it all home:

…[Nicholas] did what many wouldn’t have the courage to do.  He was willing to fight—literally—for the Truth of Christ to be known.

Yeah, it takes a lot of courage to sucker punch a guy who’s totally unprepared, then beat the snot out of him.  What a hero.

Which brings me back to that line that caught my attention back at the beginning of this “movie”:

“The stories we hear and the stories we tell shape us.  They teach us how to live by showing us how to live.”

Kirk could have told any number of lovely stories about Nicholas—especially about his generosity towards the poor (which would surely have pleased White Christian, as this is one of his chief complaints about the season: not enough charity).  But out of a lifetime that got him sainted, Kirk focused on Nicholas beating a guy for the crime of disagreeing with him, complete with rousing soundtrack.  Merry Christmas, kids!  Go beat up some Jew or Muslim or Wiccan or atheist or anyone else who disagrees with you on a religious point!  That’s “courage.”  That’s fighting for truth.  That’s being “bad in the good way.”

Wasn’t Kirk the guy who said in front of the giant fireplace that religious infighting is bad for kids?  Guy sure changed his tune in a hurry.

Once again, White Christian’s mind is blown!

“Santa is the man!”

Hey, y’know what we haven’t had in…well, about two minutes?  Some pointless time-wasting to pad out the film!  So after declaring Santa to be the man (and because Kirk has no more “points” he wants to make), White Christian hems and haws for OVER THREE MINUTES about what a jerk he’s been, before heading back into the house for the slide into home plate the tree, followed by the dance finale.

Tomorrow.  Christmas Day.  Or…

Merry Christmas, Ricky.

 

Saving Christmas, Part 3

This DISCUSSION GUIDE that came with my DVD is hilarious.  Two pages on each issue covered in the movie, with handy questions.  For the snowglobe nativity issue:

If you had travelled to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth, what gift would you have brought Him?  Why?

Well, geepers, I guess I should bring a funeral arrangement, since that’s what it’s all about.

What gift will you give Jesus this Christmas?

Funeral arrangement again.  Hey, these questions are easy!

On to an even easier subject: Christmas trees.

This is how this “story” works: White Christian complains, Kirk explains, WC’s mind is blown…then ONE SECOND later he comes up with a new complaint.

Much like Jesse in In the Spirit of…Christmas, White Christian has the memory of a goldfish.

“Christmas trees.  *chuckles*  News flash!  Christmas tree, not in the Bible.  Matthew Mark, Luke, John, Deuteronomy, did I miss it?  I miss Leviticus sometimes, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in there.”

Well, if Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus are your whole Bible, then…you have a weird Bible.

Also, yeah, you totally missed Jeremiah!

(Okay, so there’s an argument to be made that this passage is talking about idols in general, not Christmas trees in particular, but it’s still gorram accurate—and fun!)

And White Christian doesn’t think Christmas trees are Christian!

“That’s a pagan…that’s a pagan idol symbol worshipping thingy.”

Hey, at least the stammering and stuttering and pauses add to the length, too!  Thirty minutes in and counting!

He brings up the Norwegians, too, which is pretty cool of him, and mentions the Winter Solstice, and that Jesus wasn’t born in December (when pressed by Kirk, WC can’t say when Jesus was born, but only “not December.”)

He’s probably more right about that than wrong.

Weirdly, this segues immediately into a discussion of Christmas traditions at Kirk’s house, and how he makes his kids wait at the top of the stairs until he and his wife have everything ready, then they get to barrel down the stairs all together until they fall down and cry and Christmas is ruined.  (Okay, maybe I made that last bit up.)

Speaking of, where are Kirk’s wife and kids?  He’s been hanging with his sister and his BIL, with his own wife and kids nowhere to be seen.  Strange family Christmas party…

Once again, just like with the how-many-poor-kids-could-we-have-fed issue, Kirk doesn’t answer the real question asked (about the pagan origins of Christmas trees).  Instead, he points out trees in the Bible—in Genesis!

Saving 8

 “The whole biblical story starts in a tree lot.”

Look, I know it may seem like I make this shit up sometimes, but I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.  This is a line that Kirk utters in all apparent sincerity!

See, there were trees in the Garden of Eden, “the Garden of Eden was FULL of trees,” and so…we have Christmas trees.

Indoors.  Decorated.

Because that makes WAY more sense than the idea that Christianity adopted an extremely common tradition from several different cultures of bringing trees and greenery indoors during the winter.

Sure, there were also “paradise trees,” which had apples on them because of the Garden of Eden, but those came waaaaaay later.  To put it bluntly, White Christian is absolutely right—the pagans were there first.

Now, if Kirk wants to tell himself this little story about the Garden of Eden and Christmas trees in order to make himself feel better, that’s one thing.  But this kind of logic just won’t fly with anyone…well, with anyone outside the confines of his brother-in-law’s van, probably.

“When God created the world, he filled it with trees.”

He also filled it with water, according to you, but I don’t see you turning your entire basement into a pool every year.

Though that would be AWESOME.

Oh, and “the early church had PLENTY of good reasons to celebrate the birthday of Jesus birthday on December 25th.”

And no, Kirk does not list any of these reasons.  He simply asserts that “it had NOTHING to do with the winter solstice.”

Sure, Kirk.  Because you say so.

Oh, and Jesus was hung on a cross (which Kirk suddenly begins calling a “tree”), so…

“…when you walk into a Christmas tree lot, I want you to see hundreds of crosses that will never be used because of Jesus’ finished work.”

So…wouldn’t that mean that we should have Christmas trees at Easter, not at Christmas?

And hey, more death and torture for Christmas!

Gee, I wonder if White Christian’s mind will be blown again!

“That’s pretty cool.

Just…I wasn’t…and I almost feel bad…I wasn’t looking closely enough at…I just didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t see that.”

Just…just including…the whole, really the whole quote thingy…to show you how, in this particular way, adding words and repeating…just repeating things adds time to your slim, your tiny…little show to make it a film…a feature film.

And THE VERY NEXT SENTENCE, White Christian is on to his next point:

“Santa Claus…in the Bible.”

silent night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next time!

Saving Christmas, Part 2

Well, Kirk is no longer fooling around—he has gone out to the car to talk some sense into White Christian.

I like this part of the movie, because screenshots are a snap.  Here’s what we see a lot of:

Saving 6

Chronically contracted forehead alert!

And this:

Saving 7

So White Christian dives right into his list of Christmas grievances:

  1. Kids get all bratty when they don’t get everything they want
  2. Everybody gets greedy
  3. Kids are all excited about their presents on Christmas morning, but have forgotten them before February
  4. All this money is wasted on food and forgotten presents, which could be spent helping people
  5. He also doesn’t like nativity scenes in snowglobes, which I didn’t even know was a thing (our nativity scene was out in the open every Wintermas (yup, in out secular home!)

For a second, Kirk looks like he’s agreeing, even returning White Christian’s terrorist fist bump!

But then he says:

“YOU’RE all wrong.  About everything you just said.”

Yeah, White Christian!  Screw feeding the hungry and helping the poor!

To top it all off…

“Everything you see inside there, it’s all about Christmas, it’s all about Jesus, and you’re spoiling the whole thing.  Not just for your wife, but for everybody inside your house.”

Really?  Because everybody seemed to be having a good time.  As long as the hot chocolate keeps flowing, things seem pretty chill.

But Christian ignores this obvious guilt trip, and wants some FACTS, man, about how such a party as his “honors and glorifies Jesus.”

So Kirk starts with the nativity snowglobe.  As would be natural.

See, White Christian hates the snowglobe, but he also doesn’t like that the snowglobe gets stuck in a corner.

Because nobody puts Jesus in a corner!

Kirk is all for the snowglobe!

Although, “to think that [the nativity set] is only valuable because Jesus is there misses a huge part of what’s going on.”

Oh, bear with Kirk here.  Because the important thing about Christmas isn’t birth, it’s death.  Bloody, violent death.  Of babies.

“I want you to think of soldiers surrounding [the Holy Family].  You need to think of Herod’s soldiers moving through the streets, finding babies and murdering them.  And mothers weeping for their children.”

What Kirk is talking about here, of course, is the Massacre of the Innocents, an event mentioned in only one of the four Gospels.  It was just that important and historical, you see!

Then, more death!  Kirk focuses in on the swaddling cloth:

“What is this swaddling cloth?  Is it just a blanket for a baby?”

Doesn’t Kirk have a lot of kids?  Doesn’t he know what swaddling does?  No, Kirk, honey, it’s not just a blanket.

And it’s not a blanket to Kirk, either.  The swaddling cloth is also representative of the burial cloths that Jesus busted out of.

Seems a bit of a stretch.  I mean, I’m as atheist as anybody, but shouldn’t the nativity scene stand on its own without making it about Easter, too?

Why am I telling Kirk how to argue his points?

Eh, who cares?  On to more death!

See, the Wise Men brought Jesus frankincense and myrrh.

“Those are burial spices.  Why would they bring burial spices to a baby shower?”

Well, um, kinda.  I mean, they were, but they had plenty of other uses.  If you take something that you can have many uses, you can make whatever meaning you want.

Also, dude, depressing.  More death for Christmas!

Naturally, this talk of death and depression completely blows White Christian’s mind:

“I gotta admit, I never saw the whole swaddling cloth thing.”

Eh, guess you’re just not as RTC-savvy as Kirk, WC.

Either that, or it’s a silly idea.

This is our pattern for the bulk of the rest of the movie: White Christian complains about something, Kirk comes up with a bizarre, convoluted explanation, and WC’s mind is blown.

I mean, in a weird way, it’s kinda refreshing for Kirk to be condescending to other Christians rather than atheists, but it’s still pretty obnoxious.  And these are certainly the type of arguments that would only appeal to those who really (really, really) want to believe them.

Anyway, in order to provide a change of scenery, we cut back into the party, where Black Deandre has a bizarre conversation with another partygoer…about conspiracy theories…all tied to the War on Christmas.  Fox News, Area 51, Halliburton, they all make appearances.  Now, I can only assume that Kirk believes in the whole persecuted-Christian, War on Christmas thing.  So is he just providing Deandre and Other Partygoer as more examples of Christians who have gone over the top?

Maybe.  Or maybe they just found a way to add two and a half minutes to the screentime, BOOYAH!

Next time, Christmas trees!  Because White Christian’s mood swings like a gorram pendulum.

Saving Christmas, Part 1

Okay, guys, we all know I’ve been thinking of this one for awhile now…since last Wintermas, when it came out in theaters, actually.

But I’m too much of a cheapskate to pay theatre prices for this crap, and I couldn’t find it in a dollar theatre near me in time, so instead I waited a year and paid for the DVD.

Not that I can be blamed.  After all, now I have the FAMILY DISCUSSION GUIDE to help us as we watch!

Now, we’ve all heard the stories behind the horror that is Saving Christmas: how Kirk Cameron begged Christians to upvote the movie on Rotten Tomatoes (which didn’t work), and how it was nominated for six Razzies, winning four (including Worst Picture!).

And now there’s this: here is the poster:

saving-christmas-poster

And here is the DVD box art:

SavingChristmas Box

Kirk appears to have RENOUNCED OWNERSHIP OF HIS OWN MOVIE.

Hell, it’s kinda strange that it was ever “Kirk Cameron’s” anyway.  Darren Doane wrote and directed.

Now, I’ve been calling this a “movie,” but I’ve been using the term very, very loosely.  Because this…thing barely qualifies as a movie.  See, most movies have plots.  A bit of story.  A few ideas going on.

But this is just Kirk talking at us for four minutes, then taking us to his family Christmas party…which he immediately leaves so he can go talk to his brother-in-law us in a car.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with pushing the boundaries of what a movie can be.  But if you’re going to do that, you might want the result to be good.  Or at least interesting.

Nah.

Instead, we are greeted by Kirk, sitting on a set that vaguely resembles a living room that Christmas threw up on.  I’m talking the let’s-not-leave-one-single-bit-of-space-un-Christmassed school of decorating.  And look, I’m no expert (like, at all), but should he really be wearing a red sweater while sitting on a red chair, while “sipping” from a red mug?  I dunno, just looks a bit weird.

“Welcome everyone!  I am SO GLAD you’re here!  I love Christmas.  I admit it—I love everything about Christmastime.  I love the cookies, I love the fire, I love the presents, I love the stockings, I love the tree, I love the fudge, I love the lights.  It’s a great time to try winter beers!”

Okay, I swear I thought that’s what he said!  And I thought, “Holy shit!  Kirk Cameron and I actually have something in common!”

Because YUM.

But no, I see on repeat viewing that he said, “It’s a great time for growing out the winter beard.

Oh.

Yeah, dude, you’ve got a real Santa look going there.

Saving 1

Astonishingly enough, though, Christians ACTUALLY DRINK ALCOHOL in this movie.

Man, Michael Murphy and Paul Stepola and Rayford Steele would be very disappointed, Kirk.  Very.

But he loves hot chocolate way more, methinks.  He declares so as he fake-sips from an obviously-empty mug.

Saving 2

I started noticing something here, too: Kirk’s forehead is almost constantly contracted.  Hmmm…

On he goes, talking about the spirit of giving, and the “something big” that happened, which means that “everything is going to be okay.”

Kirk then tells us about two different groups of “wet blanket” people, the ones who want him to “tone it down” (presumably he means the “haters and atheists” here) and the ones “on the inside” who are hating on the partying and imagery, because “it’s all wrong.”

Hard to argue with that.  But Kirk will try.  Not that he’ll succeed.

After all, I haven’t seen his lucky crocoduck picture around.

Kirk blathers on and on, as he does, making no real point but at least eating up some screentime to get them to feature length!

Cut to the producer’s logo (over four minutes into the movie?), and then some old-timey scene with a teenage girl telling some scraggly old dude that “He’s here.”

Bet the old scraggly dude isn’t Santa Claus!

Then, because we haven’t heard Kirk babble on enough, he starts babbling about stories, and how we’ve toned them down for kids, taking out the scary parts.  This one minute after scolding us that the “bickering” around the meaning of Christmas isn’t nice for the kiddies.

Now, this really all amounts to a lot of nothing, except for one line that I want to note, which will become important later:

“The stories we hear and the stories we tell shape us.  They teach us how to live by showing us how to live.”

Then we cut to the end of the movie!  The shot we’ve all seen from the trailer—Darren Doane busting through the door in Christmas Awe.

Cue the opening credits!

Wow.  All that bullshit took up almost ten minutes, guys!  We’re gonna make length for sure!

We’re finally at the Christmas party that we will shortly leave.  It’s being thrown by Kirk’s sister.  And now we’re introduced to another little quirk of this movie: See, Kirk isn’t playing anyone.  He’s Kirk.  And that’s not some actress playing his sister.  That’s his real sister.  Never named, just “my sister.”  Writer, director, and ACTOR Darren Doane is the only one here actually playing a part: he’s not really Kirk’s sister’s husband…he is merely ACTING.

Of Kirk’s sister, we learn…

“She’s throwing the party.  NO ONE loves a Christmas party more than her.”

Yeah, she looks thrilled:

Saving 4

(Actually, she has the look that will be shared by countless moms this Christmas: “Why am I still here in the kitchen, three hours into the party, drying dishes?  Is it really too much to ask that I be able to talk to friends for even one minute?  I DID NOT EVEN HAVE TIME TO FIX MY HAIR.”)

Kirk’s Sister reveals to Kirk that her “husband,” Christian, is “just not into Christmas this year.”  Kirk gets a look on his face that says this situation is only slightly less dire than learning that a loved one has cancer, and responds to this horrible revelation by…pouring the kids some hot chocolate.

Because we know how much Kirk LOVES invisible hot chocolate!

Nice intro to Christian here, btw:

Saving 5

In order to see inside Christian’s head, horror movie music plays over the playing kids and decorations.  And seriously, this house battles the “living room” from the beginning for Most Overdecorated Space.  I can’t even begin to imagine how much this all cost, and this is a big house.  Christian White and Kirk’s Sister appear to be doing alright for themselves.

Oh yeah.  Christian’s last name is White.  And that’s no accident!

Now, it almost seems for a moment like we’re meant to have some sympathy for Christian, but Kirk immediately informs us that “SOME PEOPLE are determined to see the worst in even the best of things.”

Yeah, haters and atheists!  Stop being so determined all the time!

Then, shock of shocks!  ‘Tis another named character!  Since Kirk is obsessing over the hot chocolate, Deandre gets in a conversation with Christian instead.

Now, “conversation” is another term I’ll use loosely, because Deandre likes the sound of his own voice almost as much as Kirk.

Sure, it might seem just a tad racially insensitive to have The Black Guy be a loudmouthed boor who represents Annoyance to our main character, and who says things like “My people have been through enough,” but I can assure you that Deandre is a multi-dimensional character.  After all, he doubles as a bad guy in a “St. Nick” scene later, and then he leads the singing and dancing at the end of the movie!

White Christian tires of Black Deandre quickly, and festive, frenetic music plays over Deandre’s voice.  As happens.

Kirk, his hot chocolate lust momentarily sated, finally tracks down White Christian, who has retreated to his car.

And now the movie truly begins, when Kirk will (according to the back of my DVD case) provide us “with a biblical basis for our time-honored traditions and celebrations.”

Next time.

(Trust me, I’ll get through this by Christmas.  The real story is starting now, at the 15-minute mark, and end credits (with outtakes!) begin at one hour, ten minutes…and last ANOTHER TEN MINUTES.

Feature time achieved!

Mister Scrooge to See You, Part 4

Tim Cratchit has a busy Christmas Eve: after yelling at the office Christmas party and spooking the crazy old man who works with him by telling him when some other old man died over a century ago, he meets his lackey for lunch (or possibly dinner) in a private booth.  This is really so Ron can tell Tim about the findings of the “investigation.”

“The results are back from the blood test that we gave Scrooge during his physical.  The DNA test run against a sample of the original Mr. Scrooge found on artifacts in the corporate vault show an exact match.”

Damn.  The Innocence Project needs to get in touch with this Ron guy.  Sounds like the second-in-command at a financial firm, who also knows about “document recognition and identification,” is also a whiz at forensic analysis.

Either that, or Scrooge and Cratchit Financial is in such great condition that they can hire forensic experts with a two-week turnaround on DNA “found” on random old papers in a basement.

So Ron is shocked, but kinda accepts that this means Scrooge is Scrooge.  Which makes me wonder what he thought Scrooge was when they agreed to hire him, but we’ve been over that.

And we don’t need to worry about it anyway!  Ron glosses over the whole issue instantly by bringing up something Tim needs to know about Belle.  He hands Tim some papers, and Tim’s response is a shocked “It can’t be!”

So, yanno how I’ve admitted I’m not great with figuring out the endings to movies, usually can’t spot the killer, etc.?  Well, when Tim said that, I said (out loud, while watching the movie (yes, I’m a dork)), “It’s a V.C. Andrews story—they’re brother and sister!”

Then I laughed at my own silly notion.

What a fool I was.

But hey, forget about that, too!  Ron immediately glosses over that to rub it in that he’s going to help Belle close the diner.

Time for another shoehorn, and this one I want to look at in detail, because it is SO stilted.

The original, from Carol, speaking of Fezziwig:

“It isn’t [that Fezziwig only spent a few pounds on the party],” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”

And here’s what Ron says to Tim:

“Y’know, it’s remarkable how some people have the power to make others happy or unhappy, to make an individual’s service light or a burden, a joy or an unbearable suffering.  What is even more remarkable is that this person’s power comes from a look or a word, in things so subtle or insignificant that you can’t count them like you would money.  Yet the happiness given is as great as if it cost a fortune.”

He just declares this whole little speech to Tim (who has just had some serious knowledge dropped on him and really might not be in the best frame of mind to take it right now).  It just sounds stilted and silly—who says things in casual conversation like “what is even more remarkable is…” and “things so subtle and insignificant.”

Moreover, although we are shown that it kinda sucks for Ron to work for Tim, who is short-tempered and a bit of a jerk, Ron, unlike Bob Cratchit, is not underpaid, and seems to have quite a bit of power and influence in the company—enough so that it was initially his idea to turn the Dinner Belle into “boutique condos.”

If this little speech should be given by anyone, it should be Petra.  It would be a way for the movie to show why she’s sticking it out with a failing business.  (And don’t tell me it’s because she and Belle are best friends!!!  I have a best friend, too, but if my best friend was also my employer, I wouldn’t stick it out, even with her, for FOUR MONTHS without pay.)

This all goes back to the idea that Tim should be Scrooged.  For an example of how to do this, Belle, Scrooge, Ron, Petra, and the Bridge Club could look to the Christmas Carol episode of Quantum Leap, in which Sam shows a greedy jerk the error of his ways.  This particular miser wants to shut down a Salvation Army shelter to make room for a multi-level mall.

(By the way, this is exactly how I thought this movie would turn out: see, in the episode, the miser still builds his mall—he just puts the shelter on the first floor!  I thought for sure that Belle’s Diner would turn from a restaurant to a soup kitchen with Bible tracts…which is basically what it already is.)

Again, what a fool I was.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.  I almost forgot about the next bizarre scene, in which Scrooge is wandering around by himself, and comes across some giant Wintermas inflatables.

And battles them.

 

Scrooge 9Why is this Scrooge portrayed as a childlike doofus so often?

Oh, and he continuously quotes from Henry V.  Because he’s into Shakespeare, you see!

Around the same time, Tim is walking alone, too.  And as he stares in a Wintermas window, he sees Marley’s reflection.  Of course, since he knows nothing about Marley or the whole Carol story, he really doesn’t know what significance Marley in particular might have.

Or his chains!

So he’s reduced to just being scared by a random ghost:

“Who are you?”

“I am Jacob Marley.”

“Jacob Marley?  No…no, you’re dead!”

“And this surprises you, how?”

“Well, on two fronts, actually: 1) because I’ve never seen a ghost before, and 2) I’ve never heard a ghost talk to me like a 20-year-old hipster.”

Marley says they have a lot in common, then shows Tim an image of himself in ghostly chains (again, Tim has never been taught the meaning of ghostly chains, as this is a world without the story of A Christmas Carol), and then the Ghost of Christmas Future appears and spookily points at Tim, but again, he doesn’t know the meaning of this beyond that particular Ghost looking like the Grim Reaper.

Tim runs away, yelling all the time that he can change (though, once again, he has no context for any of this, and would have no real reason to know why these two ghosts want him to change, or what exactly they want him to change).  He gets a little ways away before darting out into traffic…and Scrooge, who just so happens to be there, yanks him out of the way.

Tim asks why Scrooge saved him since he’s been such a jerk and doesn’t “deserve to be helped,” and Scrooge uses this perfect opening to point out that nobody deserves help (?????) but Jesus is there to help us anyway.

Helluva way to look at things.

And it’s so fortunate that this conversation takes place here, because they’re in front of a big church!

That Matthew pastors.

Yeah.

This pisses me off to no end—AND LET ME TELL YOU WHY:

All this time, Matthew has been slumming, passing himself off as homeless when he is the pastor of a big, well-appointed church.

Scrooge 10

He’s been mooching off Belle and her kind, way-too-generous heart, and encouraging others to join him, thus running her business right into the ground.

Plus, he spends all his time loitering at Belle’s place with, at most, three other people.  WOULDN’T HE BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PASTORING MORE THAN THREE OTHER HUMANS???

How frakking DARE he use Belle’s business as a free soup kitchen that HE should be running?

Oh, and as previously pointed out, it’s Christmas Eve.  And Matthew’s beautiful church is not having any services.  Nope, Matthew is just loitering around as usual, just waiting for TWO whole people to show up so he can condescend to them.

“This congregation called me to be in the streets.”

“Yeah, they told me they didn’t need any sermons or services at all.  Funny, the kids even seemed relieved that there wasn’t going to be choir practice.  But hey, when you’re ‘called’ to pretend to be homeless and never do your job, how can you say no?”

Now, Belle does know what’s gong on, but has agreed to never being paid, apparently, because “She loves people, she loves the Lord.”  Loves ’em so much that she can’t make her mortgage or pay her employee.

Tim, no fool, points out that “Belle’s the one who needs help.”

To which Matthew oh-so-sensitively responds, “Maybe there’s a Belle-like person out there for her.”

Yeah, maybe.  OR MAYBE YOU COULD PAY FOR FOOD ONCE IN AWHILE AND NOT DRIVE PAYING CUSTOMERS AWAY.

Really, this is all very short-sighted of Matthew.  He’s driven Belle out of business, so now where will he take his congregation of three for free food?

Oh, and Matthew’s not done:

“Besides, who better to help Belle than her loving Father in Heaven, through the most glorious gift ever given, Jesus, his son?”

That’s one helluva religious get-out-of-responsibility-free card Matthew’s got going there.

Then he drops some great logic:

“In here, I’m reminded of the One who never changes.

With what I get in here, I know I can always face what may come out there.”

Well, isn’t that ducky for you, Matt.  As we sit here Christmas Eve with no services.  Little did his parishioners know what they were paying him for—using the church solely for himself and three homeless people, but providing nobody else with the comfort he claims can only be found in church.

Wait, WHY AM I TELLING A PASTOR TO PASTOR MORE???

Sick of hearing Matthew talk only about himself, Tim asks if it’s too late for him?

“You’re here [in church], aren’t you?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, then, it’s not too late.”

“Yeah, good thing you caught me here on the extremely rare occasion when I’m actually inside the church at which I am paid to pastor!”

I’m surprised Matthew doesn’t make the hard sell here, but he abandons his possible conversion prospect to head out to Belle’s.  Well, I guess it’s only nice that he help Belle pack up the business, when he’s the main reason she’s going out of business.

Tim agrees to go with, but adds that he needs to tell Scrooge and Matthew something about Belle.

FADE TO BLACK

At the Dinner Belle, the other homeless folks, Ron, and Petra are helping Belle pack and clean.  Again, WHAT was Belle’s plan for getting the money, which she swore on several occasions she would do?

  1. Accept that you are delinquent in your mortgage
  2. Run the business just as you always have
  3. ?????????
  4. PROFIT????

Yeah, not seeing it.

Neither is Belle.  After all that trouble teaching Scrooge coffee-ordering and Spanish-speaking, she has one bit of stragtegy left: “Pray.”

Pray in one hand and crap in the other, and see which piles up first.

But without anyone praying, Scrooge and Matthew enter, with Tim standing outside the door until he can be beckoned in dramatically.

Ron immediately jumps in, saying Belle “has until midnight to make the payment!”

That’s adorable, the way he says it like it might just actually happen!

Tim cuts right to the chase (I still like this cutie!), by handing Belle the deed to the diner.  (Still doesn’t solve the problem of no income because of all the homeless loiterers, but it’s the thought that counts, I guess.)  Then Tim hands a big check to Matthew for “his ministry with the Bridge Club.”

I mean, maybe it’s so that Matthew can actually pay for the food they eat every day, but somehow it doesn’t seem like it.

Carol shoehorn!  Tim says, “This is the first of many, I assure you.”

Then Tim drops the real bomb!

“I’ve come here to claim my family, my sister.”

Belle: “You know???”

Wait, Belle, YOU know???

Yup, she knew all along.  See, when her father forbad her from dating Tim, he revealed to her that she and Tim are brother and sister.  So wait, how did Belle’s father know?  Belle never mentioned being adopted: was she?  Or is Belle’s father Tim’s father, too?  What about Tim Cratchit the Fifth?  Did he know?  Or was his forbidding the dating really because he didn’t want Tim to date anyone below his social class?

And get this: they’re TWINS.

I’m sorry—I know brothers and sisters don’t always look much alike, but Belle and Tim don’t look like second cousins, let alone twins.

“Belle, why didn’t you tell me?”

Hey, YEAH.  Seems kinda cruel of Belle to keep such important information from Tim for so many years.

“Would it have changed anything?”

Um, YEAH.  He would have known he had a twin sister.  That would have changed PLENTY.

“The way I was, probably not.”

Yeah, I bet.

Then Tim asks Belle’s forgiveness, which she bestows.  Hey, how about asking his forgiveness, Belle, for keeping this from him all these years???

But there’s still this little matter of Tim carrying a torch for (and a picture of) Belle all these years.

Better sure the audience knows he still doesn’t have incestuous feelings for his twin!  So Petra hits on him, now that he’s “tall, apparently nice, and handsome.”

Scrooge 11

And Tim immediately returns her feelings of attraction!  (I suppose it’s fitting that the two best actors end up together…)

I guess it’s like having a Case of the NotGays.

The NotIncests.

At that moment, Scrooge sees Marley, who beckons him.  So Scrooge magically knows that it’s time for Marley to take him home, even though it makes no sense that Marley was in charge of all this in the first place.

“Yeah, Scrooge, your work here is done.  Your work ordering modern coffee and listening to some asshat preacher condescend to the person who really needed to change.”

Scrooge goes upstairs to Belle’s apartment to change back into his 1844 suit, and Belle and Tim catch him there.

“Well, if it isn’t the wombmates!”

WHAT???

Stop with the anachronisms!

Scrooge tells Tim that he’s glad “God did not give up on either of us.”  Yeah, because Tim talked to an asshat preacher for five minutes!  He’s a real RTC now!

Then we get proof that the writers of this skipped parts of A Christmas Carol!

“You know, I once knew another beautiful young woman named Belle.”

“What happened to her?”

“Sadly, I do not know.  But I think I would like to find out.”

YES YOU DO TOO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HER!!!  SHE MARRIED SOMEONE ELSE AND HAD SOME KIDS!!!

Sigh.

Scrooge gives Belle a key.

Scrooge and Belle quote Shakespeare at each other one more time (Belle adopts a horrible British accent this time!), then Scrooge flies off the balcony, becomes a spirit, then is transported back to 1844.

Because that’s…not at all how he arrived!  The hell???

By New Year’s Eve, Belle has made Petra a partner at the Dinner Belle (hope she gets paid once in awhile, now!), and Tim has made Belle a partner at Scrooge and Cratchit.

Ron has brought up a box from the archives, and .  It’s from Scrooge, from the past.  This is admittedly a cool touch, but also a bit of a paradox—hasn’t the box been there for over a century, now?  Wouldn’t somebody have broken it open before now?  (This is why time travel plots are tough.)

The box contains a letter (which contains more mentions of Jesus than the entirety of A Christmas Carol), Tiny Tim’s crutch, and a Bible.

What it doesn’t contain are a few more of those coins so they can have a nice nest egg and give even more money to those less fortunate.  Tim and Belle seem happy enough with it all, though.

ONE YEAR LATER

In the movie’s final attempt at “humor,” Scrooge arrives at his door, Christmas Eve 1845, only for Tim to suddenly appear!  Marley spontaneously transported him from the company gym to London!

“Marleeey!!!”

Har.  I guess.

***

Man, weird movie.  A Christmas Carol sequel without any Scrooging of anybody.  Still, a more enjoyable watch than, say the Reginald Owen version or the musical version.

Next up, what we’ve all been waiting for!

Yanno, it really is the best time of the year…

 

 

Mister Scrooge to See You, Part 3

So Scrooge conks out on his park bench, and has a weird dream about Jacob Marley, where Marley kinda abandons him in a snowstorm.  The movie’s exactly half over at this point, and this is the second time we’ve seen Marley, and we still have no evidence that he was behind any of the time-travel events.

Regardless, Eb is woken up at midnight by, of all people, Belle.  She has gone out alone at midnight specifically to find him, though her first reaction to him as he sits up is to threaten him with pepper spray.

Apparently Matthew clued Belle in as to where to find Scrooge.  (And okay, is there any timespan of over twenty minutes in any given day when Matthew is not loitering at the Dinner Belle???)  And what Belle wants to do is reveal to Scrooge that the crown he gave her for the tea is worth $2000.  Weirdly, Belle then corrects herself to “pounds,” which is so wrong, because one American dollar does not equal one British pound.  Today, as we sit here, one dollar is worth about .67 British pound.

In any event, according to this cool site, one crown in 1844 has the buying power of 31 US dollars today, which seems an excessive amount of money to toss down for a cup of tea you didn’t even have a chance to drink…even for a generous guy like Scrooge.

Also, one of the few intentionally funny lines happens here: Belle says that “Ebay says” what the coin is worth, and Scrooge scoffs, “I would like to have a talk with this Mister Ebay—it is preposterous for him to have you believe such a thing!

Except…Scrooge knows he’s traveled into the future.  Is this successful businessman really unfamiliar with the concept of inflation?

That little reveal over, Belle does something mind-bogglingly stupid: she invites this delusional homeless man to her home.  The home of a single woman.  And no, she tells nobody what she’s doing.

As Eb and Belle bond over tea in her kitchen, Scrooge marvels at “tea—in little bags!”  As well he might…he won’t see another one in his lifetime.

Still, I just can’t get over how these time-travelers aren’t surprised by electricity, electric ranges, and hey—refrigeration!

Instead, Eb fixates on that same photo(shop) of Belle and Tim, because yet another copy is tacked to Belle’s fridge.  That makes three that we’ve seen—one that Tim keeps in his desk, one that Belle carries on her person at all times, and another that she keeps tacked to her fridge.

Wow.  That’s some torch to carry.

It appears that neither of them sleep, with Eb still trying to convince Belle he’s from the past.  Finally, he gives up and changes the subject to Belle and her problems, and Belle says that the diner and Petra are all she has.

“That [sic], and my faith.”

(Indeed, Belle has a HUGE cross hanging on her wall, right next to a placard with “And Know That I Am God” on it.  And some trumpeting angels plastered on other walls, though those might be Christmas decorations.)

Scrooge quotes Hebrews at her, they quote Shakespeare at each other, and Belle fusses around with a teddy bear who lives on her couch (?????).

Suddenly, Eb remembers that he’s been carrying a copy of the partnership agreement for Scrooge and Cratchit around in his pocket all this time!  This is what sells Belle on the whole time travel idea, because the document “looks like it was made yesterday.”  Now, it was, as Eb points out, but it also could have been made yesterday, as in December 10, 2013.  I do some calligraphy myself, and could make a pretty little document with the numbers “1844” on it anytime.

So immediately that she believes him (and I do mean immediately), Belle comes up with an extremely bizarre plan for Eb to have another meeting with Tim.  I’ll try to lay it all out, but I’m honestly still unsure of what her ultimate goal is.

(And, again, it has absolutely nothing to do with “Scrooging” Tim.)

Belle’s plan involves schooling Scrooge on various things (with help from Petra).  Now, this in itself is not a bad idea, so that he doesn’t distract anybody by his fear of cars and televisions, but…the things she chooses to teach him run the gamut from the sensible to the pointless:

  1. How to use a cellphone
  2. The definitions of business terms (?????)
  3. How to order “modern” coffee
  4. Modern slang, like “swag” and “stoked
  5. How to speak Spanish

So, items 2 and 5 on this list: Belle and Petra, who together run an utterly failed business, propose to teach this seasoned, successful businessman terms like “enterprise” and “yield“???  SERIOUSLY???

HEY BELLE, HOW ABOUT LEARNING HOW TO PAY YOUR OWN EMPLOYEE BEFORE PRESUMING TO TEACH ANYONE ELSE ANYTHING ABOUT BUSINESS???

Also, Spanish?  Why in the multiverse would this time traveler, who doesn’t even know what a radio is, need to know how to speak another language?

I hate to jump to a conclusion, but did they really put this part in so Hispanic Petra would Have Something to Do?  Like the only thing she would be capable of teaching anyone is…how to speak Spanish?

And no, this skill in no way ends up being necessary.

Then, in yet another stupid business move by Belle, she cashes in Eb’s coin…not to help fund the mortgage, but to buy Eb an expensive new suit for the meeting with Tim.  And this is doubly unnecessary because 1) Eb’s own suit doesn’t look incredibly out of place and 2) it is revealed that Belle has several extra suits he can use anyway, that belonged to her father.

They have their meeting with Tim (and Ron), and turns out Ron “minored in document recognition and authentication” in college, which allows him to determine that the document is “authentic,” and I don’t see how he can possibly think so, when it was written last week.  It shouldn’t look old to Ron at all.  I could see him being flummoxed by the “olden” styling of the paper and type of ink, but it’s not a document that’s 169 years old.  Hell, Scrooge made sure we knew that!

In true stupidity, this means to Ron that “Mr. Scrooge is entitled to a half interest in the firm.”

WAIT, WHAT?

Are you saying you believe he’s a time traveler, Ron?  Like he is the Ebenezer Scrooge?  From 1844?  If so, why aren’t you calling every media outlet available to tell them about the time traveler, instead of acting like this is a slightly-out-of-the-ordinary business transaction?

And if you don’t believe he is Ebenezer Scrooge, why do you think he would be entitled to anything?  I could buy a document commemorating the founding of a business, but that doesn’t mean I then own the business.  The document only gives a partnership to Robert Cratchit (who at this point has been dead for over one hundred years), and changes the name of the company.

What the hell, movie?

“I don’t know what the two of you are trying here…”

Neither do I, Tim.  Neither do I.

Indeed, Belle sits there looking all smug, when I don’t see how this little con gets her any closer to getting her diner’s mortgage paid.

When Tim brings up the theory that this is a blackmail ploy, Belle condescendingly showhorns some Carol in:

“Tim, you fear the world too much.”

Who can blame him?  He has no idea what’s going on, and neither does anyone else in the room, apparently.

But Tim goes for it, for the really stupid reason, proffered by Ron, that kicking Scrooge out will bring bad publicity (?????) and thus adversely affect profits (??????????).

Would there even be any publicity from this?  What would the headline be?

“Delusional Homeless Man Demands Partnership in Successful Local Financial Firm; Security Throws His Ass Out”

Tim at least instructs Ron to have both Belle and Scrooge investigated.  So at least he’s not a complete fool.

And his parting shot is one instance where the Carol shoehorning works:

“When this is over, they’ll be spending eternity in chains.”

Tim sets Scrooge up for a physical, part of his plan for “investigating” him, and Scrooge declares himself “fit as a fiddle.”  A fiddle that has never been to a dentist, been exposed to any sort of modern medicine, and bathes once a week, that is.

Ron asks Eb what his plans are for the company, and Scrooge responds with a bunch of trendy business-speak that he just learned, and that confuses everyone.  This is played for laughs.

But the real laugh is that Belle’s lessons have actually made this intelligent businessman…stupider.  Good work, Belle, you’re a credit to…whatever.

And Scrooge really does have nothing to do at the firm at all—she spends his day sitting in Tim’s office playing Angry Birds.  (No, really.)  Way to Scrooge him, buddy.

Then he wanders the halls being friendly with people.  Then he unilaterally reverses Tim’s decision about raising the rent on the youth center.  Can he do that?  I doubt it, but so it goes.

(I guess even if he technically couldn’t, he does it in front of a TV camera, so Tim can’t take it back.  And I like Tim’s acting here—he actually looks physically ill at the idea of lowering the rent.)

Again, what the hell, movie?  Are we going to get around to showing Tim his past, present, and future, so he can change his ways?

(No.)

But Tim is so pissed off that he meets with Belle in private, offering her the deed to her diner so that she will “call off Scrooge or whoever he is.

AND BELLE REFUSES

Because of “loyalty and friendship.”

Um, what about her loyalty and friendship to Petra, the pal she hasn’t paid in four months?  WHY isn’t she doing this?  WHAT was her plan?

I don’t think even Belle knows what the plan is.  Which is just further evidence that she doesn’t have the brainpower required to run a small business.

Our heroine.

To top it all off, Belle acts deeply confused and insulted that Tim would think this was intentional on her part.

When she was the one who “schooled” Scrooge and brought him back to Tim in the first place.  Yeah, how dare Tim be suspicious of her motives!  How evil of him!!!

Back at the office, Scrooge has brought in Christmas decorations and is throwing an office party.  Tim loses it, and I really wish we knew (as we did with Scrooge) why he hates Christmas so much, but the movie isn’t letting on.

But we do learn that Scrooge has learned about artificial Christmas trees and big box stores.  Glad Belle has gotten him up to speed on the true necessities in life.

But Tim and Scrooge do have a little conversation, in which Scrooge basically plays the part of Fred from Carol, paraphrasing this.

But then he goes RTC on us!

FINALLY

Tim makes the (salient) point that most of the good at Christmas isn’t “lasting,” and he actually sounds kinda sad about that.  Scrooge then backpedals on everything he just quoted from his nephew (who is never mentioned once in this whole movie…shouldn’t Scrooge be just a bit sad at the thought that Fred has been dead for a century?).

“It is not what I give or do that is important at Christmas…”

Yeah!  What importance did Scrooge giving anything ever have???

Oh.

“But rather what has been given to me, to all of us.  Surely, the babe in the manger is cause for celebration.”

Now, this is actually where things get interesting.  Because he didn’t say anything like that in A Christmas Carol.  In fact, that’s why some hardcore RTCs take issue with Carol—not enough Jesus, works-based salvation, etc.

Tim dismisses this as a “fairy tale” and “a crutch.”

Scrooge counters that by Tiny Tim Logic, everyone needs a crutch sometimes.

Thus making Scrooge the second character profiled on this blog to straight-up admit that Christianity is a crutch.

He also tells Tim that he would be wise to think more about his ancestors and their kind-hearted dispositions, only for Tim to drop some knowledge on Eb:

Tim is adopted!  He was abandoned, and Tim Cratchit the Fifth adopted him!

Hot damn.  I admit, that’s a bit of a cool revelation.

It does raise a few questions, though: Where did Tim learn to be so Scrooge-ish?  From his father, the one who named him after himself and left him the whole business, but who also forbade him from dating Belle, “like [he forbade] everything else.”  Is Tim the Fifth the one who really needed a visit from the Spirits???

Now, this could be a real chance for Tim and Scrooge to bond, because Scrooge had a bad relationship with his own father.  (Carol itself isn’t specific about why Scrooge’s father isn’t “kind” to him, but most of the movies posit that Scrooge’s mother died in childbirth, and his father blamed him.)

But hey, who cares about that??  The important point for this Scrooge is that Tim is “not an orphan,” but “an adopted child not of man but of God.”

Which seems rather cruelly dismissive to a young man who’s just opened his heart up about his conflicted feelings about his very earthly adoption.

And Tim’s not having it, complete with stereotypical atheist logic:

“I don’t want you or anyone else, living or dead, to tell me how to live my life.  You don’t know me; no one does.”

And Scrooge could have known Tim.  He could have Scrooged him this whole time…though that would have taken a bit more effort and a bit less playing of Angry Birds.

Disappointed that he hasn’t gotten through to Tim in one four-minute conversation, Scrooge beats a hasty retreat, but Tim is hurt and lashes out with an awesome parting shot:

“Oh, Mr. Scrooge—June 6th, 1870…the day you die.”

OH SNAP

Scrooge has the temerity to look shocked and hurt by this, but I can’t help feeling he should be a bit happy.  One year ago, he was told he would be dead now.  Instead, he learns for a fact that he will live to be EIGHTY-FOUR YEARS OLD.  He has another 26 years to live.  For a man his age, coming from the 1840s, wouldn’t this seem like a near-miraculous lifespan?  Hell, millions of people today would love to make it to their eighties!

But no, Scrooge walks off disheartened.  And to think, all this time, he could have been Scrooging Tim.

As a bridge to next time, allow me to recommend some way more awesome versions of A Christmas Carol:

Obviously, the 1984 George C. Scott version.  The definitive version, as far as I’m concerned.  Amazing sets, great performances, every detail is just fantastic.  And I always, always cry when Scrooge goes to see Fred at the end.

Another TV version, entirely different: Ebbie.  Not perfect in every way, but a very cool modern take on Carol, and the first gender-bending version I ever saw.  My favorite versions of Carol seem to have in common that the Scrooge character is portrayed as a capable businessperson, smart and competent.  Ebbie (short for Elizabeth Scrooge) runs a department store.  Finally found it on DVD this year—so excited!

And, of course:

Because this is culture.

 

 

 

 

Mister Scrooge to See You, Part 2

So Scrooge has landed in Wisconsin, and we get his moment of shock—he hears sirens, and is almost run over by a car (which is inexplicably speeding down an alley).

“What is this place?  Marleeeeeey!!!”

That’s kinda weird: as though Marley does this sort of thing all the time, and Scrooge just knows that this is his doing.

Except that in Carol, Marley really didn’t have much to do with the actual proceedings.  He didn’t take Scrooge all over time and space; the Spirits of Christmas did.  Sure, Marley could do a few parlor tricks, but there’s no reason I can see why Scrooge should automatically assume this is Marley’s mission.

Now, this is all very reminiscent of the events in Time Changer…and what is also reminiscent is the hero being surprised by things which should not surprise him, and not surprised by things that should surprise him.

Case in point: Scrooge peeks into a dumpster, and make a face.  Okay, yeah, garbage is icky and all, but the guy is coming from Horse Dung Central, so you’d think modern small-town Wisconsin would smell like Heaven in comparison.

Anyway, cut to the offices of Scrooge and Cratchit, where Ron is trying to talk Tim out of foreclosing on Belle.  (And then what, Ron?  Let her run the business even more into the ground than she already has?)  Tim speaks truth:

“We’re doing her a favor.  The woman has no business sense.  Foreclosing on her now will keep her from sinking into further debt.  She owes me a thank you.”

Ron also bring up the fact that the Bridge Club will be “displaced” (by which I assume he means they won’t get three free squares a day from Belle anymore), and Tim shoehorns in a comment about “decreasing the surplus population,” which doesn’t make a ton of sense since Tim isn’t suggesting they should die…just stop being the only “customers” of a failed restaurant.

But the music of villainy is playing, so we know for sure that Tim is doing the wrong thing.

Hilariously, Time ends the scene with these two comments:

“Remember, survival of the fittest.”

Hmm, a veiled slap at the “evolutionists”?  You decide!

“There is no room for the weak.”

Damn straight.  ‘Cause mercy is for the weak.

Sweep the leg, Tim.

Tim then pulls out a photoshopped picture of himself and Belle in high school that he keeps in his desk, and stares at it.

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Back at the Dinner Belle, Belle is staring at the same picture.  Ooookay.

Out of all the buildings in New Britain, Wisconsin, Scrooge walks into the Dinner Belle.  Petra waits on him, but not before making a snide comment to Matthew, who is still hanging out there, in a booth all by himself, sipping coffee and reading a newspaper.  Because I guess he has nothing better to do.

So I don’t blame Petra one bit for making a comment.  One way of looking at this: he has all-but-singlehandedly cost her a wage for the past FOUR MONTHS.

So Scrooge sits down, and instead of being shocked by, say, electric lights or women wearing pants, his attention is taken by…a ketchup bottle.  (Ironically, ketchup is one of the few things in that diner that Scrooge might understand.)

Scrooge asks for “a spot of tea,” and then, again of all things, fixates on Petra’s accent (Hispanic).

And that’s pretty rich, considering the caliber of English accents we’ve heard so far.

He then asks for the date, which again is odd, because Scrooge has never time-travelled to any date other than December 24th or 25th.  He finally gets around to asking the year, and Petra (quite reasonably) thinks he’s crazy and heads off to get his tea, pawning him off on Belle.

Belle, of course, takes a shine to Eb immediately, and they chat about Shakespeare.  Why?  Hell, I don’t know!  But it’s going to become a theme.  And I don’t mean they discuss the thematic elements of Shakespeare’s work—they just toss random lines back and forth, citing Act and Scene.  Because that’s all that fans of Shakespeare can do, I guess.

Eb finally gets around to orienting himself to time and place, and when Belle tells him that it’s 2013, Scrooge suitably freaks out (as well he might, since it’s the first time he’s travelled more than one year into the future, and the first time he’s made it to “the colonies“).  He mentions the spirits, and Belle assumes he’s been drinking (as well she might).  He also mentions his firm, and Belle then assumes that this apparently drunk and disoriented man is Tim’s partner, sent by Tim to “spy on” and “harass” her.  Which doesn’t really seem like something Tim would do, but okay.

Scrooge tosses a coin on the table to pay for the tea and heads out, but not before asking Matthew for directions to Scrooge and Cratchit.

Matthew asks, “Why?”

Um, because he wants to go there, you snide jerk!  What, you need to vet his reasons before you give directions to a stranger?

There really aren’t words at this point to describe the depth of my hatred of Matthew.  But he finally gives the directions, and Scrooge thanks him with more civility than Matthew deserves.

You’re wellllll-come,” responds Matthew, with a weird waggle of his head, and I can’t decide if the snideness is intentional or not.

(The acting in this movie is all over the map.  Tim and Petra are the only ones with any sense of comic timing…which isn’t a good sign when the movie is meant to be at least partly comedic.  David Ruprecht (Scrooge) is a TV veteran, and does a perfectly fine job.  Belle…eh, she’s very…overdone.  And her style is totally at odds with Scrooge’s which makes their scenes together very jarring.)

Anyway, Scrooge gets lost almost immediately, which isn’t too surprising, since he’s understandably freaked out by all the cars.  But he soon comes across a sarcastic bell-ringing Santa.

And he thinks he’s the Ghost of Christmas Present.  This is quite natural and works pretty well.  Especially since the Santa’s reaction is similar to Petra’s—he assumes the ranting guy is crazy, and shoves him into a cab to his destination.  Thus Scrooge takes his first car ride.

(Yanno, thinking again of Time Changer, there is a big difference between 1844 and 1890.  Russell Carlisle would have some understanding of cars and electric lights, Ebenezer Scrooge would not.  Yet Eb, like Carlisle, is unfazed by the things that should faze him, like women walking around in pants, clean streets, and electric lights.  The biggest shocks he’s had are the cars (good one there), and the fact that strangers refer to each other as “buddy.”)

Finally, we arrive at Scrooge and Cratchit Financial, and I guess we need more evidence that Tim is a money-grubbing jerk.  He okays the annual gift to the local youth center…then raises their rent.  We also see that his office is adorned with portraits of all the past generations of Cratchits…and of Scrooge.

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As Tim and Ron talk business, Scrooge ceaselessly taps on Tim’s glass door, which seems very rude for a professional man like Ebenezer Scrooge.  (Not infrequently, the direction is quite “off” with Scrooge, showing him like some kind of innocent, overeager child, instead of a mature businessman.)

But Ron eventually introduces him, and we have a title!

“Mr. Cratchit, a Mr. Scrooge to see you.”

Tim is immediately taken aback, because this Scrooge looks like his Scrooge:

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Though his portrait doesn’t look a whole lot like typical portraits from the 1840s.

Eb and Tim have a talk, and Eb tries to convince Tim that he is actually a time-traveler, a theory Tim takes with more patience than I would have expected.

By way of “proof,” Eb says he was born on February 7, 1786.  Now, February 7 is Charles Dickens’ birthday, and only a few versions that I’ve seen even give Scrooge a birthdate (written on his tombstone, natch).  In A Christmas Carol: The Musical (a version I find all but unwatchable), Scrooge’s birthdate is February 23, 1795, and his death date is in October (????????) of 1850.

But anyway, back to Tim and Eb.  Now, it’s not like I expect Ebenezer Scrooge to have any working knowledge of time travel paradoxes and the like (hey, he’s not Captain Picard!)…

WAIT A MINUTE

But it’s also kinda odd that he thinks anyone would believe him.

It also doesn’t help his cause that he immediately decides to backhandedly insult Tim:

*sees a portrait of Tiny Tim*

“Ah, Tiny Tim!  Older, not quite so tiny, but I would recognize him anywhere.  Your great, great, great grandfather.  A remarkable person—a joy and a pleasure to be around.  *long pause for discomfort*  And you…his descendant.  Who would have thought…”

But then something strange happens: Scrooge ruminates on his predicament, and says to Tim that he has…

“…resolved to make the best of it, for…

*loooong pause as he gazes at Tim*

…whatever reason.”

Tim: So what does this have to do with me?

Scrooge: I fear, much.

OMIGOD, you guys, GET IT???  Scrooge is going to “Scrooge” Tim Cratchit!  He’s going to use the past, present, and future to show him the error of his ways and fix the future!

Well, that’s what I thought was going to happen.

But it’s not.  At all.

Bah, humbug, indeed.

So when the only reason Scrooge can give Tim for sticking around in the office is “Christmas,” Tim tosses him out.  I’m trying hard to blame him, but I really can’t.

So Scrooge wanders the streets of New Britain, as a contemporary Christian song plays.  The self-pitying little ditty is called “Say a Prayer for Me,” and it indeed implores the listener to pray for the singer when he is “all AY-lone and every friend has deserted me.”

As the singer continues to mournfully sing about how bad he has it, we see people who really do have it bad: Scrooge, lost in time and space, Tim, drowning his sorrows all alone in his office, and Belle, poring over her finances (okay, I don’t feel so sorry for her—she acts like she’s just now realizing she might just be in a bit of financial difficulty).

Scrooge ends up on a park bench, and he’s just settling in for the night when Matthew turns up!

Like a bad penny, this guy.

After initially being an asshole and trying to kick Scrooge off “his” bench, Matthew is actually nice for once: he gives Scrooge something hot from a thermos (not sure I want to know what it is) and they chat about Belle:

“Too bad about Belle’s diner, how she can’t make the mortgage payments and all.”  [says Matthew]

Yeah, too bad how you and your “club” have claimed her business as your own personal shelter and free fridge, driving away anyone who might want to actually pay for food.

Scrooge agrees that it sucks, and then then they talk about Scrooge meeting Tim.  In a cute moment, Scrooge says that Tim “reminds me of someone I used to know, someone I knew very well,” whose fate is “yet unresolved.”

It all ends with Matthew giving Scrooge a blanket and ominously saying “I’m here to serve.  How about you?”

Next time: the rest of Scrooge’s night as a homeless person!

 

Mister Scrooge to See You, Part 1

So I imagine many of you are most looking forward to the third part of my Wintermas offering this year:

And believe me, it’s coming.  Oh yes, it is coming.

But I am actually super-duper excited about this one.  See, I’m kinda in love with A Christmas Carol.  Yup, this atheist absolutely adores this freaking story.  I collect every version I can find.  So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that a little dream of mine had actually come true: there really is a Christian version out there!

Okay, technically, it’s a sequel.  Still, though.

Now, as weird as this gets, much of this will be familiar to regular readers of this blog: principally, the bargain-basement movie budget, but also the Christian travelling to the future and the recreation of a classic story, with Christianity shoehorned in.

Okay, so we begin in the past (long past, not your past), and Jacob Marley’s ghost appears to tell us that one year has passed since the events of A Christmas Carol.  (Now, versions of A Christmas Carol have been set in many different time periods, but this one takes the common view that the story happened the year it was published, 1843.  So it’s now 1844.  This isn’t always the way they go, though: to take one random example, Scrooge takes place in 1860.  So it’s pretty much up to the creators of the movies.)

Marley continues to break the fourth wall, informing us that Scrooge has indeed stayed changed, being now a kind and generous guy.  During all this, Scrooge is wandering home in the dark and keeps hearing something, but not actually tracking Marley down.

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So here’s the first example of our old-timey scenery.  I find it almost charming, though.

Here we get our first example of shoehorning Carol stuff into this movie where it doesn’t fit.  Marley blows a weird ghostly candle-thing at Scrooge’s face, and Scrooge hauls ass to his house, where a sign tacked to the door says, “Come in and know me better, man!

Except Jacob Marley never said that.  The Ghost of Christmas Present did.

Then Marley literally says “Boo!“…which causes Scrooge to wake up.

Yup, Jacob Marley was speaking to us, the audience, in Scrooge’s dream.  Which he had invaded.  And in which Scrooge could hear Marley talking to us, the audience.

What follows is a scene that desperately needed to be cut.  Scrooge startles awake in his room, which looks remarkably unlike a bedroom and remarkably like a living room with a bed shoved in one corner.

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This room is also extremely bright for 1844.

But aside from the budget really showing itself here, the whole scene is worthless.  It tells us nothing we don’t already know (Scrooge is a changed man and loves Christmas), and doesn’t deepen character or anything.  Marley narrates, a bit snidely too, as Scrooge putters around and gets ready for his day (which is Christmas Eve, natch).

The movie also squanders an opportunity here.  You see, Marley talks and talk about Scrooge and how he’s changed, and seems a just a bit…bitter over the whole situation (as well he might be).  Now, here’s what I mean about this scene being unnecessary—I thought, the first time I saw it, that Marley was going to play a big role in the events to come, perhaps guiding Scrooge, or perhaps working against him and his newfound kindness, jealous because he doesn’t have this second chance himself.  But no.  Shortly, Marley will completely disappear from the story, and we won’t see him again until the very end.

So, see what I mean about this scene being unnecessary?

Marley is also way too anachronistic:

“As I recall, they said [I was] ‘As dead as a doornail.’ *laughs* I kill me.  *beat* Actually, that would be a bit of an oxymoron, don’t you think?”

Shut up, 1840s man!  You’re ruining the atmosphere!

As Scrooge leaves (his bedroom door leads right out onto the street!), we cut to “New Britain, Wisconsin, Present Day.”

Har.

A young woman named Belle runs The Dinner Belle, an establishment that also serves breakfast and lunch.  At present, she is taking the breakfast order of a group of four homeless persons.  They all seem happy enough, if not particularly polite (not a “please” out of even one of them), and the reason for their happiness soon becomes clear: the Dinner Belle serves them free meals every day.  This, in itself, would hardly be a bad thing, except we are told by the Dinner Belle’s only other employee, Petra:

“They’ve scared what’s left of our paying customers away.”

Petra also points out that they wheel their shopping carts right into the restaurant and leave them sitting around.  We are given no reason to doubt anything Petra says, and indeed, Belle confirms it: the Dinner Belle is months behind in its mortgage payments, and Belle hasn’t paid Petra for FOUR MONTHS.  And yeah, there are zero customers except for the homeless group.  (Belle and Matthew, the leader of the homeless persons, refer to them as the Bridge Club because they all live under the same bridge.)

FOUR MONTHS.

Look, I’m sure I make more money than Petra does, and I have some savings, but even so, there’s no way I would be able to work for nothing for FOUR MONTHS.

And she barely notices how bad things are: she quotes Matthew 25:40 at Petra, and Petra’s response is:

“Does that come before or after the verse that says if someone doesn’t work, there is no way they’re going to eat?”

So, yeah, Petra rocks.  And despite her remark (entirely deserved though it is), she is a loyal and caring friend, inexplicably sticking around through all this bullshit.

Basically, Belle is shown in a mere minute of screen time to be someone with absolutely no business running a business.  She completely sucks at it.  I see this as Belle representing the opposite end of the spectrum as Former Scrooge.  See, there’s nothing wrong with being a shrewd businessman and saving money, as long as you also give back.  And there’s nothing wrong with giving, either, as long as you don’t give so much that you kill your own business in the process.

But the movie doesn’t see it this way.  This is just my own interpretation.

We know this because just that moment, two guys enter, and Belle immediately recognizes one of them as her almost-boyfriend from high school, Tim.

Timothy Cratchit.  The Sixth.

Petra notices Tim’s good looks (he is pretty cute), and can’t believe Belle dumped his ass, but we learn that both Belle’s father and Tim’s forbid the romance.  Tim assumes it was because of class differences, Belle just states that her father “had his reasons.”  Whatevs.

Belle greets the men with a “Merry Christmas,” which seems a tad premature since it’s only December 11th, and Tim shoehorns some Carol in:

“What’s merry about it?  It’s just an excuse to pick one’s pocket every December the 25th.”

That’s a fun song!

By the way, Matthew the Homeless Leader won’t even let Belle handle other customers for 35 seconds (literally, I watched the movie timer), before demanding more coffee.

So Belle goes to give them more coffee, and asks them if they need anything else.  “Just our foo–ood,” sing-songs Matthew, as though they’ve been waiting for an hour, when it fact it has been three and a half minutes since they placed the order.

I mention this because it is very clear we’re supposed to like Matthew, and I already hate him.  Belle heads back to her actual paying customers, and explains the situation to the guys, with the manner as though the Bridge Club is the most precious and adorable thing ever.

And then we get our first example of actual wit in this movie!

Belle: I inherited the Dinner Belle [when my father died two years ago], all lock, stock, and barrel!

Tim: And the debt?

Belle: Excuse me?

Tim: The debt.  On this property.  Upon your father’s death, you inherited debt.

Okay, the way he says it, with that emphasis, makes it sound like a nice little Dickensian wordplay.  I can dig it.

Tim also reveals that his father died recently and he also inherited the family business.  It is driven home that Tim is Scrooge-ish when he says of his father’s death, “What loss?  I got the business.

Anyway, Petra’s hopes for paying customers are quickly dashed—Tim isn’t actually here to eat, but to inform Belle that because she has been delinquent in her payments for lo these many months, his firm has snatched up the mortgage, and is going to foreclose on Christmas unless Belle pays up.

Belle has the audacity to react with complete shock when the term “foreclose” is used, even though she hasn’t made a mortgage payment in eight months.

She then retreats to Petra, who, loyal friend that she is, instantly proposes spiking Tim’s coffee with laxatives.

I love this chick so much.

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Petra (facing away from us), Belle, Tim, and Ron.  I don’t like the color scheme of the Dinner Belle—it looks like a preschool.

(The two actors are brothers, btw.)

Belle doesn’t let Petra go ahead with her spiking plan, and as Tim and Ron leave, the second moment of wit happens.  Belle says their coffee is on the house, and Tim has something to say about that:

“Some advice, Miss Dickenson: business transactions such as this, and…many more that I’m sure are made around here, are the reason the Dinner Belle will soon ring no more.”

*he smugly back away, bonking his shoulder on an actual dinner bell hanging on the wall, which rings*

I’ll admit it, that was pretty cute.

And yes, Belle’s last name is Dickenson.

Sigh.  If it bends, it’s funny, if it breaks, it’s not funny.

***

Back in 1844, Scrooge is in his office, and pulls the same trick on Bob Cratchit that he did the year before—pretending he’s still a jerk, then surprising him with money.  Except this time, he’s surprising him with a partnership!

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(To be honest, Scrooge drags the gag out way too long, to the point where it seems a bit cruel.  He succeeds in making Bob believe he’s gone back to his old ways, and that he’s firing him.  Again, if it bends it’s funny, if it breaks, it’s not funny.)

But then he springs the partnership on him, and they exposit for a bit about how Scrooge paid for a vague operation for Tiny Tim, who doesn’t need a crutch anymore.  In fact, he gifts the crutch to Scrooge, which is…sweet?  Bizarre?  I’m not sure.

And we get a little taste of Marley here—Bob wonders “what about Mister Marley” (in regards to changing the firm’s name to Scrooge and Cratchit)…and Marley whooshes the door of the office open with a burst of ghostly fog.

Both men seem little affected by this, and Scrooge gives Bob the rest of the day off.  Then Scrooge heads off to buy some Christmas presents for the Cratchits.  Locking up the office, he stoops to pick up his dropped keys…

…and when he straightens, he has traversed time and space to New Britain, Wisconsin, 2013!

Just critiquing all this, it’s very clear to me that these scenes are completely out of order.  The movie should have started in Scrooge’s office.  I mean, check that picture—they don’t look too bad.  And then Scrooge could have played with the audience, as well a with Cratchit, with the whole is-he-changed-or-not routine.  But Marley spoiled all that in the first minutes of the film.  And that bedroom scene serves no purpose.  So what they should have done was do the office scene, then, after we see Scrooge land in Wisconsin, cut to the diner.  That way, we see the results of the Scrooge and Cratchit partnership in a more dramatic way: Scrooge give Bob the partnership…169 years later, history is repeating itself…but this time Scrooge is a Cratchit!  It’s much more fun that way.

So, there’s our setup.  Next time, another Christian fish out of water.

Oh, and it’s never really Christmas until this music plays:

BEST.  VERSION.  EVER.