A very Grimm Christmas

Our movie reviewer has concocted a sick and twisted holiday advent calendar

Onni Tommila stars as Pietari lerning about Santa in <i>Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale</i>.

Onni Tommila stars as Pietari lerning about Santa in Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.

This holiday season, we at the Reno News & Review want to give you the special gift of our very own Entertainment Advent Calendar. Starting on Dec. 1 through Christmas Day, I’m recommending the following pieces of entertainment to assist in making this a holiday season to remember. Many of them are staples in my holiday entertainment diet.

We shall start with a couple of Turkey Day movies, but then quickly progress into the Santa stuff. I’m sure some of your favorites aren’t included in here because, let’s face it, I’m weird and liable to make some strange choices in lieu of popular ones. I’m completely burnt on Home Alone and Vacation movies, and I hate The Polar Express! That movie is creepy.

So, here we go. Watch the noted movies on the dates specified, and enjoy a holiday season full of old classics, new classics, and, of course, plenty of stop-motion animation.

12/1: Grindhouse (2007): You don’t have to watch the entire Grindhouse. Heck, that would take three hours, and you’ve got shopping to do. Just watch Eli Roth’s fake preview for the fictional film Thanksgiving to jumpstart your holidays. Nothing says great holiday cheer like the sight of a homicidal maniac humping a turkey.

12/2: Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987): Yes, it’s a Thanksgiving movie as well, but Thanksgiving is still on the brain, and leftover candied yams are probably still polluting your refrigerator. Watch Steve Martin trying to make it home for turkey, especially if you plan on traveling this holiday season. His nightmarish travails might inspire you to opt for a home based Christmas.

12/3: A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! (2008): Make this one the first official Christmas offering. This would be my new favorite holiday special, featuring Colbert trapped in a cabin by a big bear, unable to make it to the studio, where Elvis Costello awaits, to tape his Christmas special. Also features Willie Nelson getting busted in a mini-Nativity scene for trying to give weed to the Baby Jesus.

12/4: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964): This particular special has never been anything short of badass. For guaranteed yuletide entertainment cheer, nothing touches it.

12/5: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977): I remember when I first saw this in the ’80s, and how this Jim Henson product struck me as offbeat and delightful. It still does. If you haven’t seen this one yet, get on it. Ain’t no hole in the washtub!

12/6: Miracle on 34th Street (1947): The original with a young Natalie Wood remains most awesome. I love Wood’s “Oh, you are so full of shit!” face during her first conversation with the department store Santa who claims to be the real deal.

12/7: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011): Hey, if it’s still in theaters by the time Dec. 7 pops up on the calendar, get yourselves out to see it. Otherwise, slot the eventual video into your home entertainment plans for next holiday season.

12/8: Die Hard/Die Hard 2 (1988, 1990): Hey, it’s Christmastime during both of these films, so that makes it the perfect candidate for you guys out there who are forced to watch stuff like Love Actually and The Holiday by their girlfriends. Use the violent exploits of Sir John McClane (Bruce Willis) as a bargaining chip!

12/9: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): Of course you have to watch this one.

12/10: Elf (2003): Makes me want to chug a two-liter bottle of Coke every time I see it. Also makes me want to marry Zooey Deschanel.

12/11: Fargo (1996): Look, you should watch Fargo at least once a year, anytime of year. It’s just that the Christmas season seems like the perfect time because of all the snow in the movie. Might not get you into a gift-giving mood, but most certainly could inspire you to be kinder to parking attendants this holiday season and take extra caution around wood chippers.

12/12: Star Wars Holiday Special (1978): You can’t buy it at Best Buy, but you can see segments of it on YouTube. One of the worst pieces of entertainment crap ever inflicted on the public, but you must watch anyway. I’m not sure why, but you must.

12/13: A Christmas Carol (various): There are so many versions of this classic to choose from, from the delightful Alastair Sim version, to the Albert Finney musical, from Bill Murray’s Scrooged to Jim Carrey’s awesome CGI take. You have many wonderful choices. For me, I have to go with the Mr. Magoo version. When the thieves get his sheets and sing “La, La, la, la, la la … we’re just blankety blank blank … no good!” I’m just ready to hang my stocking.

12/14: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010): Great movie where Santas are evil humanoid animals that need to be caged and trained for gift giving. It’s totally nuts.

12/15: Life of Brian (1979): I always get a Christmas vibe during the awesome three wise men prologue in this Monty Python film. John Cleese taking his Christmas offering back from Terry Jones and shoving his deplorable mother character to the floor is a precious moment.

12/16 Gremlins (1984): Santa dies in a chimney. Well, Phoebe Cates’ dad dressed as Santa dies a horrible death, in one of cinema history’s saddest Christmas stories ever. But Gizmo is real cute, so that sort of balances things out.

12/17 Frosty the Snowman (1969): I love how the snowman always says, “Happy birthday!” I got this in a Blu-ray package with Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and Rudolph. Oh yeah!

12/18 Bad Santa (2003): Billy Bob Thornton used to be so damned cool, and now he’s such a douche. Still, his present douche behavior cannot take away from this foul holiday classic.

12/19 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993): Made long before Tim Burton became a filmmaking cliché, and it’s quite decent in its new 3-D format.

12/20 Trading Places (1983): When I think of Christmas, I think of a drunken Dan Aykroyd on a city bus dressed in a dirty Santa suit trying to eat food through his sloppy fake beard, then getting pissed on by a dog. Merry Christmas!

12/21 The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974): Don’t watch the crappy recent live-action one. The stop-motion animation one is where it’s at, with the awesome biographical song numbers from Heat Miser and Snow Miser!

12/22 How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): Not the Jim Carrey version, the original animated classic. It’s just a few days until Christmas, and when the Grinch heart grows, so does holiday anticipation.

12/23 Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970): Mickey Rooney is the voice of Santa in the second-best stop-motion animation Christmas classic (after Rudolph).

12/24 It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): There will never be a better Christmas Eve movie than this one—never!

12/25 A Christmas Story (1983): Hey it runs on TV all day on Christmas day and it rules. “Sons of bitches! Bumpasses!”