‘Tis the season for Christmas movies

December 25, 2022

Looking for something fun to watch this Christmas and add a burst of festive cheer to your holiday season? Then you might want to give the following movies – well two films and a Christmas special – a try.

‘Tis the season for Christmas movies

Spirited ☆☆☆ 1/2

Starring: Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, Octavia Spencer,
Sunita Mani, Patrick Page, Marlow Barkley, and Tracy Morgan

Directed by: Sean Anders


n this umpteenth revisit to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Sean Anders chooses to take a musical route as he tells the story of yet another soul that could use some redemption.

As they usually tend to be, the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Sunita Mani), Present (Will Ferrell), and Yet-to-Come (Tracy Morgan) are on a mission to redeem humans, one soul at a time. An elaborate team of afterlife spirits helps them find and research a perp and the ghosts then visit him (or her, as the case may be) on their annual Christmas haunt in the hopes of making him see the error of his ways.

But this year’s perp – chosen on the insistence of Present, who has been refusing to call it a day for decades despite being eligible for retirement – is going to be a hard nut to crack.

Clint Briggs (Ryan Reyn-olds) is a media consultant who makes a living by causing rifts and divide. Present feels that converting him could have a ripple effect and cause a positive change for humanity. But there’s a catch: Clint has been deemed “unredeemable”.

The story takes a couple of twists and turns as the spirits attempt to help Clint see the light, their efforts often going either touchingly or comedically wrong.

It’s an old tale and you know exactly what direction the story is heading in at all times, but that doesn’t mean the journey isn’t enjoyable. Both lead actors are great fun in their respective roles and work well together (as sampled last year with that brief but delightful ‘Grace Kelly’ video) and their characters, despite their shortcomings, are easy to root for.

All in all, this spiritual intervention, powered by silly antics and autotuned singing, ultimately delivers an entertaining – and at times, even interesting – take on the classic Christmas tale.

‘Tis the season for Christmas movies

Violent ☆☆☆ 1/2

Starring: David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Alex
Hassell, Alexis Louder, Edi Patterson, Cam Gigandet,
Leah Brady, and Beverly D'Angelo

Directed by: Tommy Wirkola


anta Claus (David Harbour) is having a bad day. He’s cranky and he’s drunk and he’s tired of delivering cash and videogames to kids who have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas. But his day is just about to get worse.

A moment of rest at a posh estate takes an unexpected turn when mercenaries – led by the Christmas-hating Mr. Scrooge (John Leguizamo) – invade the premises.

The mansion belongs to preposterously rich matriarch Gertrude (Beverly D’Angelo), whose family – her son Jason (Alex Hassell), his estranged wife Linda (Alexis Louder), and their young daughter Trudy (Leah Brady); as well as her alcoholic daughter Alva (Edi Patterson), her online-influencer son Bertrude (Alexander Elliot), and her dimwitted boyfriend Morgan (Cam Gigandet) – are visiting the house on Christmas Eve.

At first reluctant to get involved, Santa eventually decides to help Trudy and her family, while the thieves try to get their hands on millions in cash from the mansion’s vault.

Like an R-rated Home Alone with a Die Hard fetish, Violent Night has a whole lot of silly, dumb fun with its hyperviolent comedy, making it an instant holiday classic for fans of the genre.

An excellent Harbour leads the cast, and a terrific Legui-zamo makes for a perfect antagonist. While the overall trajectory of the story may be predictable, there are many little touches throughout the movie – from the details that pop up on Santa’s naughty list to the references to other films – that are guaranteed to deliver a chuckle. And by the end you are actually hoping the film gets a sequel as there are several interesting elements still left to explore.

‘Tis the season for Christmas movies

Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder
☆☆☆ 1/2

Starring: Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Maya Rudolph,
Tawny Newsome, and Eliza Coupe

Directed by: Laura Murphy


Murderville had us at “improv”. The U.S. adaptation of – and improvement upon – the British series Murder in Successville takes a famous guest star and puts them in the middle of a murder mystery without giving them any details about the story or an actual script, leaving them to use their improvisational skills to make their way through the episode and figure out who the culprit actually is. All kinds of silliness invariably ensues, although the degree of hilarity largely depends on the comedic skills of the guest.

The series has now blessed us with a special, double-length Christmas episode that tries to unravel a new mystery: the murder of Santa.

As always, clumsy senior detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) is in charge of the proceedings. Aiding him are the very capable Jason Bateman and Maya Rudolph, both of whom have no idea what’s going on and are more than willing to embrace the absurdity of the premise … when they’re not too busy breaking character and laughing about it.

Three suspects – a sportscaster with ties to the victim (Kurt Braunohler), the deceased’s assistant (Courtney Parchman), and a disgruntled investor (Eliza Coupe) – are presented to our amateur sleuths, as the city’s mayor (Tawny Newsome) tries to hurry things along in order to save her job while a couple of familiar faces show up for some more chaotic hilarity.

Arnett continues to be perfect as the lead, while Bateman and Rudolph make entertaining guests, their final guesses serving as the epi-sode’s highlight.

The supremely silly Who Killed Santa? ultimately brings some much-needed joy to our improv-loving hearts. More please!

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection

‘Tis the season for Christmas movies