As the holiday season is all but upon us, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on Christmas movies of the past and the standards that have been set. There was one called Jingle All the Way that I liked very much indeed. It was about a man of foreign heritage who spoke in a heavy accent and had to go shopping for a Turbo Man toy for his son. This man was most amusing as he kept falling over into a fountain and even dropped a pile of packages on to a lady’s head and broke her hat. There was also a postman in the film who chased the man, and they both made fools of themselves. There was another excellent film, Elf, in which a man wore a green tunic and yellow tights in Manhattan and got arrested!
And so it is by these standards that we must measure This Christmas, which comes to this country very much endorsed by the people of the US of A. ‘A rare holiday treat,’ says the magazine that is called Variety. ‘A package that is both thoughtfully selected and is sure to please its intended recipients.’ This is a good thing to say about a film and its intended recipients, who I assume are also the people of the US of A, and who certainly get behind their films in a way we do not. Right at this very minute they are probably marching for a Fred Clause II, Santa Clause IX and Elf: The Return of Them There Tights. I do not believe there will ever be another Jingle All the Way as the amusing man with the heavy accent has moved on to other things. That Jingle has probably jingled as far as it can, I am very sorry to say.
And now I will talk about this new film. This Christmas is about a large family who gather for Christmas for the first time in many years. This is a family of a black nature and all the people in this film are of a black nature apart from one white girl, who does not get to join in the dance at the end. I cannot tell you for sure why the one white girl does not get to dance at the end but imagine it is because white girls cannot dance. This is a fact, as Ginger Rogers never said to Fred Astaire, but that is only because she was concentrating as hard as anything so she would not stumble or step on his feet.
This black family are the Whitfield family, and when they all come home for this Christmas they bring not just their actual baggage, but also a great deal of personal baggage. I think presents would have been better and much more exciting because the personal baggage here is not that interesting. One son is in debt from doing a bad thing called gambling while another son has secretly married a white girl who cannot dance. One daughter’s husband is not nice because he is doing the love thing with another lady; another daughter is a high-flyer who cannot get laid.
I do believe it is meant to be a comedy but, as I did not laugh the once, I am not sure if this could be upheld in a court of law. What this film needs, maybe, is a mailman or a fountain. What it does not need is a son who cannot tell his mother he wants to be a singer because his mother thinks that music is at the root of all evil, but he is in this film all the same. At the end the son sings and the debts are gone and the daughter who is not getting it gets it from the man who plays Dr Pratt in ER and everyone is happy and the mother says, ‘The Whitfields are a family and will always be a family and nothing will ever change that.’ I like it that the mother says this but would point out that some things do change families, like Aids, cancer, heroin and nuclear holocausts. And when it comes to white families, dancing lessons are always good.
This film tries to be a Christmas film about real ishoos but it is quite boring and predictable and sentimental and the acting is not very good. It is therefore perfect for Christmas, and upholds all the traditions very, very well.