Gutenfilm Presents: A Christmas Beeracle: A Christmas Too Many
Plunging into the depths of Netflix’s instant streaming service, I turned my eyes to the customer reviews of Christmas movies. After a couple of minutes, jackpot: a recent B-movie with a large cast of aging actors and an average user rating of two stars out of five. Obviously, this was going to be horrible. I hit the “Play” button and instantly hated myself.
The plot of the movie is this: a famous Hollywood actress (Ruta Lee) invites her quirky family to her California home for Christmas. “Hilarity” ensues.
This movie is really awful, more than making up for the merely mediocre Fred Claus. It’s got an extremely peculiar feel of a stage production that was never adapted into a screenplay. Oddball characters pop in and out of a scene, desperately scrabbling for the most stupid lines. It’s less of a collection of coherent characters, and more just a series of personalities, and bad ones at that. There is not a single character in this entire wretched movie that does not fulfill some sort of stereotype. There’s a hunter father that is obsessed with finding and killing some guinea pigs, a misunderstood son, two sides of a family that hate each other, a gay hairdresser, a jock brother, a timid nice-guy boyfriend (who constantly gets hurt) and his spoiled girlfriend–it goes on and on, and the more time I had to spend with these people, the more I hated them. The only character that was remotely funny, a chef with a strong Bostonian accent, was ruined by a running and depressingly obvious joke about him possibly being in the mafia due to his accent.
The mafia joke, as awful as it is, is one of the better jokes in the movie. The rest of them are simply horrible. A character is cutting carrots, and cuts off his finger but doesn’t realize he’s done so until another character comments that he didn’t think carrots could bleed. Another character has diarrhea and rattles off almost half a dozen jokes about fecal matter–followed by three or four more jokes about erections, all of them distinguishable and memorable only for how completely unfunny they are. Mickey Rooney’s “grumpy grandpa” shtick takes literally less than five seconds to get irritating. And for Mickey Rooney, that’s really, really sad.
While we are on the subject: Holy star power, Batman! A number of big actors and actresses are in this movie, from Rooney to Ruta Lee to Sam McMurray to Gary Coleman and more. I cannot imagine what compelled them appear in this movie. As a 2007 film, I can only imagine that it is has something to do with each of them making a desperate attempt to stay relevant. It’s actually kind of sad; Rooney was more lively in his two second cameo in The Muppets than any part of this film, and most of the rest of the cast, as good as they can be in anything else, find themselves working for a director who clearly has little skill in telling actors what to do. Of course, as I mentioned, this has a lot to do with the horrendous, smug script.
The icing on this crap cake is some of the worst cinematography this side of a high school drama project. Nearly every character is introduced via a slow tilt or pan from whatever they are doing, up to their face. The movie is filled with poor camera positions that are either too close or to far away. I’m not a director of photography by an stretch of the imagination, but I spent large stretches of the movie thinking about how I could have shot it better.
Overall, it just reeks of a made-for-TV Christmas special. While there have been some good TV films, like that one movie, A Christmas Too Many is not one of them. It’s below even what a broke college student would make by begging for favors. Amateurish, overwrought, and incredibly irritating, A Christmas Too Many is almost unbearable, and a sign that these bad Christmas movies are back with a vengeance.