FOX has announced its holiday-themed programming for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. The network will air new and returning specials and several new holiday-themed episodes of its ongoing series, including: Son of Zorn, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bob’s Burgers, Lethal Weapon (can’t wait to see this!) and more.
For the schedule of FOX’s holiday programming, read on.
This evening, Syfy presents Christmas episodes for Eureka [8/7C], Warehouse 13 [9/8C] and, for the first time, Haven [10/9C]. Eureka’s Do You See What I See? is a slight bit of froth; Warehouse 13’s The Greatest Gift is a successful riff on It’s A Wonderful Life and Haven’s Silent Night is a genuinely unnerving tale of Christmas in July.
The trailers and TV spots for Four Christmases suggest that its lead couple, Brad [Vince Vaughn] and Kate [Reese Witherspoon] are going to have to cram in four visits to their divorced parents and their various dysfunctional families when plans to go to Fiji are ruined by flight-cancelling fog. The problem with the film is that the families get less dysfunctional as we get closer to the end of the film – and then there’s the cop-out Hollywood ending that recalls the plot point that precipitated the whole fiasco in the first place.
The merriment begins as Brad and Kate visit Brad’s father [Robert Duval], who is also hosting Brad’s two brothers-cum-wannabe-ultimate-fighters [Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw], one of whom is married and all of who, are rednecks who would make rednecks complain about profiling. A hitherto unknown pricing cap for gift exchanges and a satellite dish installation cap a visit that includes Brad being beaten half silly by his brothers – and a secret about Santa being revealed.
The second visit is to Kate’s mom’s [Mary Steenburgen] home – where cougars hold sway, according to Kate. These include lecherous Gram-Gram [Jeanette Miller], Aunt Sarah [Carol Kane] and Aunt Donna [Colleen Camp] – all of whom are upstaged by Kate’s pregnant sister, Courtenay [Kristin Chenoweth] and the revelation that mom’s new boyfriend, Reverend Phil [Dwight Yoakum], is the pastor of an aggressively ecstatic congregation, where Brad gets carried away with their Christmas pageant
By comparison, Brad’s mom [Sissy Spacek] is merely an aging hippie who is now living with Brad’s ex-best friend. By the time we visit Kate’s father, she and Brad have decided that they don’t want the same things and he drops her off, thereby missing the least dysfunctional part of the day – before waking up to the realization that… wait for it… he loves her. D’OH!
From a fast-paced dysfunctional family Christmas movie, Four Christmases devolves rapidly into a toothless tiger. The laughs that dominate the first half of the film [beginning to fade, rapidly during the second visit], are pretty much gone before we reach the fourth visit. By then, it’s time to trot out variations on most of the homilies we’ve come to expect in lazy seasonal films. The crazed energy of the first visit dies well before the last act and all we’re left with is a curiously lacklustre, meaningless film that can’t even get a laugh out of its call back to one of the film’s best scenes, involving an on location TV news crew.
Tim Burton is a genius. That’s been made apparent by films like Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, among others. He might not have directed The Nightmare Before Christmas, but it comes from his story and all the major design work, a goodly chunk of the song lyrics and the story are his – and Henry Selick does a marvelous job of bringing them to life.
The story – about how Jack Skellington, Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, gets bored with his life and decides to try his hand at Christmas – is bizarre, but only in the best of ways. It’s a holiday mashup, with Jack having “Sandy Claws” kidnapped so that he can deliver Christmas presents [and his idea of cool prezzies is certainly not anyone else’s. It’s a funny, scary and occasional poignant film that accepts the premise that kids like to be a bit scared now and then [and that stories fro kids do not have to be all sweet and nice…].
This new release comes in a box that features a 3-D plastic bust of Jack, which looks amazing. There is also a third disc which contains the digital copy for download to your computer or portable viewing device. Other features include: Commentary by Burton, Selik and composer Danny Elfman; What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour with Actual Narration, plus an optional Trivia Track, and Off Track – a look at how the Tour was adapted for Jack; Tim Burton’s Original Poem, read by Christopher Lee; The Making of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas; Disc Two: The Uncut Version of Frankenweenie [with new intro by Burton]; Burton’s first animated short, Vincent; Deleted Scenes [Deleted Storyboard Sequences and Deleted Animated Scenes – all with intros by Burton]; The worlds of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – Halloweentown, Christmastown, The Real World; Storyboard-to-Film Comparison; Posters; Teaser Trailer, and Theatrical Trailer.