NATIVITY STORY (2006)
After the unexpected success of Mel Gibson’s The
Passion, New Line studio executives probably thought
that the biblical story of the birth of Jesus would
be a sure sell at the box office at Christmas. Unfortunately,
their predictions were quite wrong and this movie never
really took off at all. Whale Rider star Keisha Castle
Hughes stars as the Virgin Mary chosen by God to bear
his Son to the world. This retelling of the nativity
story was less than inspirational owing to director
Catherine Hardwicke’s leaden direction (yes, she’s
behind Twilight too). Good for a historical revisit
of the origins of Christmas but don’t expect anything
too rousing here.
a biblical story so forget anything naughty
FAMILY STONE (2005)
What an ensemble cast- including Diane Keaton, Claire
Danes, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson
and Sarah Jessica Parker- and not forgetting of course
Craig T Nelson as head of the family Stone. Every family
has its own dynamics and this is the story of a clash
of family culture when the eldest member of the Stone
children brings his uptight businesswoman girlfriend
home for the holidays.
Surprisingly sensitive and tender, writer-director Thomas
Bezucha’s sophomore effort after his critically
lauded Big Eden was a refreshing blend of comedy and
drama for the adults. Anchored by terrific performances
all around, this was one movie that truly made you feel
how important it is to treasure your family members.
POLAR EXPRESS (2004)
One of the most expensive Christmas movies ever made
(with a reported budget of US$150 million), The Polar
Express is memorable for a few reasons. It was the first
movie to use Imagemotion technology to digitally record
the actors’ physical performances before animating
them, resulting in criticisms that the characters had
soulless eyes. And yes, because of its technology, Tom
Hanks was able to play five (yes, five!) roles in the
Nonetheless, director Robert Zemeckis and his Castaway
screenwriter William Broyles Jr have crafted a timeless
heart-warming movie about a doubting boy who learns
the power of belief when he visits the North Pole and
meets Santa himself. The animation still takes some
getting used to; but the story packs a powerful inspirational
message. Alan Silvestri’s score for the film is
actually is one Christmas movie for the ages- you can
re-watch it every Christmas and still fall in love with
it all over again. Writer-director Richard Curtis’
story of eight very different couples in London dealing
with their love lives over the Christmas holiday season
is funny, sweet, warm and romantic. It is a grand celebration
of the greatest gift of the season- love.
Jon Favreau made a movie about a certain Iron Man, he
scored an unexpected Christmas hit with Will Ferrell
as Buddy the human-sized elf at Santa’s workshop.
Once a baby at an orphanage, Buddy unexpectedly ended
up in Santa’s toy bag and was subsequently raised
as an elf in the North Pole. Realising that his size
makes him somewhat different from his fellow elves,
he returns to New York City to find his true father.
There is great fun to be had here with its many fish
out of the water jokes, both with Buddy at the North
Pole and Buddy back in metropolitan New York City. But
it also has many surprisingly tender moments, such as
Buddy’s duet of "Baby It’s Cold Outside"
with Zooey Deschanel’s character, Jovie. And if
you’re not a fan of Will Ferrell, rest easy- he
very rarely goes over the top in Elf.
should almost be called the anti-Christmas movie. Bad-boy
Billy Bob Thornton plays a conman who together with
his elf-sized partner go around robbing department stores
on Christmas Eve. But one Christmas they meet a precocious
oversized eight-year old boy and eventually learn to
recognize the egotistical nature of their ways. Director
Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World) has made a very adult comedy
for the Christmas season so this is definitely not something
to watch with the whole family. But if you’re
looking for some dark humour with a perfectly nuanced
touch of sweetness, this is the perfect panacea to the
treacly schmaltzy movies of the season.
THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000)
Seuss’ classic tale tells of the Grinch that hates
Christmas and plans to steal it from the people of Whoville
for (whom) Christmas is a large annual celebration.
But beneath the gaudy lights and wasteful materialism,
Christmas holds little meaning for Whoville. Little
Cindy Lou Who decides to change that when she bravely
ventures to the home of the Grinch and invites him to
join the town’s celebrations.
The Grinch is a perfect match for Jim Carrey’s
brand of physical comedy under the sure direction of
critically and commercially successful director Ron
Howard. While some fans of the book have criticized
this adaptation for its not so faithful rendition of
the story, it still is great fun for the whole family
packed with a powerful social commentary on the commercialism
of modern day Christmas. Yes, it’s a movie about
the true meaning of Christmas but done with much sincerity
there is much gloom and uncertainty looming around these
days, we hope that Christmas will still be a joyous
occasion for you and your whole family. To one and all,
from all of us here at MX, "although it’s
been said many times many ways, merry Christmas to you!"
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