The Top 4 Maybe/Maybe Not Christmas Movies
I had actually finished this article before I remembered this one. A particular recent trailer reminded me. Now since I plan on covering this film in more detail in a certain October theme set of articles next year I’ll try to make sure I don’t end up repeating myself. I’ll focus on how this is a Christmas movie… I guess. Aside from the scene with Idris Elba’s character putting up a Christmas tree showing that this is taking place during the holiday season there are some other points. First let’s put the Christ back into Christmas for this discussion. Just so we’re clear yes I’m aware that Christmas was a pagan holiday that the church attached the birth of Jesus to in order to help convert others to Christianity, but that’s not important right now. Point being a lot of folks see Christmas as a celebration of Jesus’ birth and one of the holiest days. Now this film deals with the concept of meeting our makers which in this case are the engineers. Our main character despite coming up with the theory that we were created by some other species still maintains her belief in God. She even wears a crucifix during the film. She also sort of ends up having a virgin birth later in the film. So there’s plenty of good old-fashioned Christmas themes in this film. Also, there’s a theory known as the “Space Jesus” theory that in an interview Ridley Scott basically said that they had it in an early draft or at least considered it. The idea being that Jesus was an Engineer sent to earth to get us back on track and well if you’ve seen any film about Jesus you know it didn’t end well. This angered the Engineers and is the reason for them hating and wanting to kill us. More of a head cannon sort of thing, but still interesting.
1.) “March of the Wooden Soldiers”
I remember as a kid my cousin had this on video and I would borrow it all the time. For those who don’t know this is the original “Babes in Toyland”… on screen. The opera is where it truly began, but this is barely anything like the opera to my understanding. In fact, most versions since then are more riffing off this 1934 version. One major difference that puts this above the other versions? 3 words… Laurel and Hardy. In most other versions they bring someone from the “real” world or in the Disney remake just have different main characters. However, here we have Laurel and Hardy as two screw ups who in most other films would be side characters and are instead made the leads. It can be hard to explain why it works so well for me, it just does. It’s not the most sophisticated film, the costumes and sets are very obvious and simple but I sort of feel it does help create this unique atmosphere. Another odd but fascinating thing about this film, there’s a live action Mickey Mouse. Which may shock you even more since this is NOT a film made by Disney. How does this work? Well Mickey is realized through putting a monkey in a mask and costume. And luckily for this film the producer Hal Roach was friends with Walt Disney. He even got permission to use the “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” song. However, there’s no word about if he asked for Mickey and when Disney later did their remake the henchmen for the villain feel like a spoof of Laurel and Hardy so maybe it wasn’t an amicable arrangement with the mouse.
Why the confusion? There is just an undeniable Christmasy feel to this film despite the fact Christmas doesn’t really play a role and it takes place in July. Santa shows up towards the beginning and it’s through a screw up with an order of Christmas toys (I guess Santa is outsourcing his elf jobs) that saves the day. Other than that it’s just generic mother goose fairy tale creatures living in a land together. Perhaps since for many of us Christmas is tied into our younger years which when we read/hear stuff like Little Bo Peep, Three Little Pigs, the old woman in the shoe, etc. that it just puts us into that mind frame of kids anxiously waiting to open presents in the morning. At least for me it does. Honestly, most of the time I tend to watch it around Thanksgiving and since there are so few Thanksgiving films to begin with, Christmas can spare this one. Still, if you’ve never seen it give it a watch. It’s one of those childhood classics that I put up there with “Wizard of Oz” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Also it’s one of those rare films that I think could work as a remake even though it’s a favorite of mine.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and I hope you have a lovely season!