The Grinch (2018)

The decently enjoyable lightheartedness of the first two acts (pleasant animation and voicework provide some chuckle-worthy gags and fun sequences) grows by three sizes in the third as the Grinch’s redemption arc is completed with a refreshing and poignant childlike straight-forwardness (“It was me. I stole your Christmas. I stole it because I thought it would fix something from the past. But it didn’t”). Doesn’t break any new ground but it sure broke my tear ducts wide open in the end.

Elf (2003)

Light on plot (feels like the climax in Central Park was the first major event), and the “Christmas spirit” motif feels a little shoehorned in on top of the family/redemption arc, but Ferrell’s goofy and (syrupy) sweet fish-out-of-water schtick is infectious (answering the phone: “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favourite colour?”) and is complemented by a good smattering of other delights (see Newhart’s matter-of-fact Papa Elf and the rest of the solid supporting cast; stop-motion North Pole).

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)

Never quite lives up to its outrageous, straight-forward title, sadly; creepy constantly-chuckling Claus does no conquering and weirdly seems kind of content on Mars (ham-fisted anti-automation sermon aside), while the amiable kidnapping Martians (sinister Voldar aside) are neither villains nor heroes (good thing jolly Dropo could take over). Poorly acted and made, but could’ve been an enjoyably campy romp (see the effects of the freeze ray) with a tighter edit (less stock footage, for example).

Jingle All the Way (1996)


A father vows to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas, however, every store is sold out of them, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else in order to find one. (IMDb)
It certainly does well in capturing that Christmas consumer craziness, with its over-the-top single-day plot filled with every-man-for-himself shopping shenanigans featuring the not-exactly-Academy-Award-worthy Arnold, his arsenal of awesome one-liners (“I’m not a pervert!”), and a couple of recurring antagonists. In terms of fitting in those Christmas spirit fuzzies, though, the film flops (Arnold’s redemption is almost all luck), the kid’s surprising and moving final act of generosity aside.
6/10 (Mediocre)