12 Days of X-Mas!


“We Claus’s used to be the only men in the world who could fly, Arthur. It was a gift.”

This is a new one, but it’s really a great film. It’s an interesting take on the Santa Claus mythos, it’s damn charming, and most of all it’s really, REALLY funny.

I like the idea that Santa has a long line of descendants, not just one magical man. It’s a family thing, and that’s where the heart of the story is. Every Santa Claus is different and each of them is a great character in and of themselves. Arthur (played by an almost stomach-churningly energetic James McAvoy) is caring to the point of almost hurting himself. His brother Steve, however, is more concerned with being efficient and strategic, letting some people get hurt in the process (“Arthur, Christmas is not a time for emotion”. Jim Broadbent plays a great santa claus with a bad memory and a genuine innocence about him. There are times when he seems a bit lazy, but honestly i think it’s just because he’s tired of being Santa. He’s watched the world go by and technology get better and better, and he just can’t keep up with it. And it’s understandable that Santa would be a lot less high tech than the elves (who do most of the work anyway). Speaking of the elves, the little Scottish elf has one of the best voices for an animated character i’ve heard in a long time. My favorite character in the whole thing has got to be the grandfather. He’s one of the funniest characters in any christmas movie i’ve ever seen. Everything he says is absolutely amazing from the tale of when he was shot during christmas of WWII (“Lost 3 reindeer and the elf. Fell out of the sleigh over Lake Geneva, never saw him again”), to probably the most absurd line i’ve ever heard in a children’s film (“That’s impossible!” “They used to say it was impossible to teach women to read!”) And he may not have the most… noble of intentions, but he’s still the greatest character in my opinion, and he gives Arthur the opportunity to deliver the last present in the first place. You could actually argue that he’s the most important character in the movie.


The animation is great too. Every flying scene is well designed, and absolutely beautiful. The opening cinematic with the elves delivering presents is so well done and fun to watch. The animation was done by Aardman Animations, who are most well known for the Wallace and Gromit films, and one of my personal favorites in the past year, Pirates: Band of Misfits. The models are much crisper and free flowing than you’re used to seeing with their style, and it’s refreshing for a christmas film. It takes a lot of things we know about christmas and puts a fresh spin on it. I like the idea that Santa’s sleigh is actually an air command center with hundreds of thousands of workers and that santa himself only does like, three houses. I like that they referenced other country’s traditions, like specifying that German presents should go in the shoes. The plot point about the ship being mistaken for a spaceship is also a nice touch.

And i can’t say enough how funny this movie is. The fact that the grandsanta doesn’t know that there’s people who live in Toronto, the detour to Mexico and Cuba (I didn’t know it was the Cuban Missile Crisis! I almost started World War III!), the bickering between Santa and Steve (This is about that pool table, isn’t it! You should have written to me!), and the elves all have funny moments too. My favorites are the crazy old elf warning everyone about 1816 when Santa was spotted, and how when every Santa goes to look for Arthur, the elves freak out and put the north pole into meltdown. But for every funny moment, there’s also a very caring one. You genuinely feel for Arthur as all he wants to do is help one little girl on Christmas. The scenes with the current Santa are also nice because you get a feel that he doesn’t want to leave his job but knows he just can’t keep up with it anymore. It’s also got a great ending with a lot of emotion for all the Santas at once.


This movie didn’t make a lot at the box office, and that’s a shame, because it’s really a nice picture with a lot of heart. It’s funny, it’s full of great entertaining animation, and it’s a pretty damn good story for the holidays. Not all the things i watch this month are all touchy-feely, but this one i hope becomes a classic in days to come. The next one will be more in my… age range. But dammit, this is great. So in the words of the Santa computer, “CHRISTMAS ACCOMPLISHED. COMMENCE DECKING HALLS.”

-Pat G

For more from Pat check out his YouTube Channel The GessNation or his Facebook page The Shred Shack


12 Days of X-Mas!


“Christmas comes but once a year, sir..”
“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th of December.”

A Christmas Carol is probably my favorite stage play, probably my favorite Christmas story in general, and I’ve seen A LOT of different versions of it. I recently saw the Jim Carrey version and there were parts of it that were absolutely brilliant. I always love the Muppets Christmas Carol, and Michael Caine plays a great Scrooge. But my favorite combination of everything, from the atmosphere to the acting to the truth to the original story, is definitely the 1984 television production starring the absolute man himself, George C Scott.

Scott plays probably the best Scrooge in my opinion. His absolute cold demeanor in the film is so genuine, and there are even lines where he seems to enjoy being so greedy. His face lights up when he basically robs a few men out of a few hundred dollars on a deal at the exchange. When delivering the classic “boiled in his own pudding” line, he’s actually laughing! What the hell man? But the part of Scrooge, as you should know, extends to a lot more than just being a curmudgeon for half of the film and then being happy about life. You need to see a genuine change in the character throughout the film, a visible understanding for the human condition by the time the last spirit gets to him. And that’s what you see in this version more so than any others. Scott plays an undoubtable bastard for the first part of the film, to the point where you can’t wait for the spirits to show up and knock some sense into him. But the thing is that really shows how great this Scrooge is being played are his reactions to each of the spirits. They are perfect. Christmas Past makes him sad that he’s let Christmas, and his family and loved ones for that matter, out of his mind. Present makes him feel that he should be more charitable to the people around him, from his employees to the homeless he called “idle people” earlier in the film. And then there’s Future which gives him perspective that even with all his money, nobody will remember him in the next generations and he has in fact ruined families. That’s what makes a good interpretation, and that is what makes this version shine. You see the change in him with every spirit, and the look of him happily getting ready to go out into the world on Christmas Day is just fantastic. You truly believe that this man is changed for the better.

The rest of the actors are great too. Frank Finlay is my other favorite part of this film, and his portrayal of Jacob Marley is the version that sticks out the most in my mind. Everything about his performance from the cold dead stare, to the rag he uses to keep his jaw shut until he has something poignant to say, to the powerful, foreboding voice. It’s just awesome. Even when he screams to prove that he’s a real ghost, it’s actually pretty damn scary. The Cratchit family is good too, but this needs to be said… THE TINY TIM IN THIS FILM IS HORRIFYING! I mean Christ on sale, he’s the scariest child I’ve seen outside of the Village of the Damned! The pale face, the sunken in eyes, the robotic tone of his voice, the Ghost of Christmas Future has NOTHING on this kid! The spirits are everything you’d expect them to be. Past is a brightly glowing woman with a very serious tone. Present is a very loud, booming man with a very sarcastic tone (It’s even more amazing when you realize that it’s the lead from The Wicker Man. I keep expecting Scrooge to see a sight that makes him say “Oh Dear God! Oh Jesus Christ!”). And future is… Death, pretty much. I’ve seen a lot of versions of the story where Future is portrayed by a woman in red, or someone with a scarred face, but it’s a lot more impactful when the spirit is a faceless spectre of death. In fact for most of his part, you don’t see him at all. Just his shadow. And it’s a lot more powerful than just some guy in a robe.

All in all, this is an amazing story and even if you’ve never seen A Christmas Carol, that’s the best thing about it. Every single interpretation is self contained, powerful, and memorable in some way. So as that creepy, dead eyed child says against all of our wishes, “God Bless Us, Everyone!”



-Pat G

For more from Pat check out his YouTube Channel The GessNation or his Facebook page The Shred Shack

12 Days of X-Mas!

DAY 1 MST3K: SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS “We’ve never disappointed the kids yet… (Except the poor ones!)” I don’t care who you are or what your sense of humor is, THIS should be a part of everybody’s Christmas schedule. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of my favorite shows, and I can’t thank them enough for introducing me to, and ripping apart mercilessly, the horrid 1964 film “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”. The movie is about Santa Claus being abducted by aliens because… hey, Santa is freakin’ boss. And since Mars does not have anything like Santa Claus, they decide to take ours. And with the help of two kids caught in the middle of everything, Santa… wins? Makes it home for a Black Tooth Grin before going off on the sled? I’m honestly not sure. It’s kind of weird and stupid, but god damn it I watch it every year. The music in the film is terrible, the acting is wooden, and the story is beyond ridiculous (even for a Santa Claus story). Which is what makes the riffing by Joel Hodgson, Crow and Tom Servo that much better. This is absolutely one of my favorite episodes of MST3K (along with Pod People and Final Sacrifice) and it’s one of those shows where I think almost every line added by the three riffers is absolutely gold. Everything from Santa’s first appearance being interviewed by a television crew (Get the Hell out of my shop!) to the outrageous porn staches on the “aliens” (We’re leaving tonight. Pack your other mustache), to where Santa is passionately telling the two children about his tour in ‘Nam, I laugh my ass off every time. “Worst. Idea. Ever.” [pause] “Let’s do it.”’s also this episode that got me to appreciate the show that much more, and I support the current projects of MST3K’s cast and crew in pretty much everything they do now (Rifftrax more than Cinematic Titanic, but still). This 12 Days of Xmas list I have will be mostly movies that I genuinely ENJOY watching, but with the riffing in between the lines of this awful film, there’s few things I love watching more around this time of year. And as usual I’d like to wish everybody to have more than just a Merry Christmas. Have a Very Patrick Swayze Christmas everyone!!


-Pat G

For more from Pat check out his YouTube Channel The GessNation