Imagine that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been re-imagined as a tone deaf, possibly gay allegory with no sense of historical perspective. Now make it set in Alaska. That’s pretty much what Christmas with a Capital C is. Ebeneezer Scrooge is here replaced by a man named Mitch Bright, who is played by Danny Baldwin, one of the lesser Baldwins known primarily for being a drug addict and for having a neck that is trying heroically to swallow his head. One wonders what it was like for Baldwin to be surrounded during this shoot by literal mountains of snow (waka waka).
Mitch rides into Trapper Falls, Alaska as a fancy lawyer from one of the gayer blue states who really hates nativity scenes displayed on public property. Struggling against this tyrannical one man war on Christmas are the Reed brothers, Dan and Greg (played by Ted McGinley and Brad Stine or, if you prefer, a Treat Williams Real Doll and a Bizarro Josh Holloway). Mitch doesn’t just want to burn down the Nativity scene and piss on its ashes (or move it to private property as the U.S. Supreme Court suggested in ACLU v. Scarsdale–basically the same thing, right?), he also wants to become mayor of the town, throwing his hat into the ring with campaign promises of (probably Socialist) income from whale watching tours, and let’s say, I don’t know… plans to build a thriving bath house district. Eventually everyone comes to their senses, no one learns anything, and Christ remains in Christmas (on private property, as the U.S. Supreme Court suggested in ACLU v. Scarsdale).
While every character in this film has absolutely no understanding of what the first amendment actually means, the ending does find our friends, Christian and Baldwin brother alike, compromising on the basics of constitutionality. It’s a nice little live and let live moment that underscores a core American value: you can believe whatever you want to, just don’t be a giant dick about it.
“Methinks I still question ye olde wisdom of including the phrase ‘giant dick’ in our founding document…” – James Madison
The Christians show compassion, and Danny Baldwin happily accepts it with grace worthy of Alec. America! It shows that maybe somebody was thinking when they wrote the ending in spite of the rest of the movie being a total clusterfuck. On to the beers.
One of the problems Christian entertainment has is its absolute sincerity. Because the people producing these films ostensibly live their values and have a very black and white view of wholesomeness, it may be difficult for them to predict what assholes like me will read into their creations. Case in point, Dan Reed has a son named Cody(!), played by Cooper Peltz.
On the surface, Cody’s subplot has to do with a depressingly chaste romance that might be blossoming with the Christian version of a manic pixie dream girl. But if you look at the subtext, and choose to read very very deeply into it (like I do), Cody is actually a closeted youth struggling to come to terms with the fact that he likes boys. All of his dialogue sounds as if it could be from the world’s most downtrodden twink porno (seriously, just play a baseline in your head every time he speaks). This issue isn’t limited to Cody; every time Danny Baldwin and Ted McGinley appear in a two shot together you’ll find yourself wondering when they’re just going to fucking do it already. God! This would be funny if it weren’t also quite disturbing given that the people who made this film, who will watch it and recommend it to friends, probably don’t like gays very much.
This tone deafness also extends to race. Somehow, Trapper Falls manages to be the one town in Alaska with absolutely zero indigenous people in it; perhaps they all turned into Ravens and flew away, or perhaps including them in the story would have complicated the film’s already stilted understanding of religious freedom. The town does have one black character, a large woman with braces who not only embodies sassy black woman stereotypes, but also doesn’t seem to get what the big deal about rights is. Yes, you read correctly: this is a film in which the only minority in town actually makes an argument for crapping on minority rights.
“Christmas without Christ is like having 3/5 of a Christmas.”
Then there is the matter of Greg Reed, played by “Christian Comedian” Brad Stine, who my buddy Chris likened to Robin Williams in every movie he’s not trying to win an Oscar for. Every scene he’s in stops the movie dead in its tracks. Stine plays Greg like the tweeker on the street corner manically jabbering about the apocalypse and the masturbation practices of Skull and Bones. At one point he forces his gay nephew and preteen niece to act out the birth of Jesus in an impromptu stage play for his nephew’s potential girlfriend/beard. How anyone thought this would come off as zany and sweet is beyond me. It’s more like what flashed through John Wayne Gacey’s head just before his heart stopped in the electric chair.
Sawyer never made it off The Island.
It’s at about this point that you’ll want to close your eyes and imagine that Danny Baldwin is actually Jack Donaghy–Danny does sound an awful lot like Alec. Start playing that movie in your head instead of this execrable mess, which doesn’t even manage to use its gorgeous shooting locations to much effect.
The man pictured below makes multiple appearances in the background and has, as far as I could tell, no purpose or dialogue. Is he the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come? Is he a wendigo, lurking about the edges of the story in hopes of devouring manflesh? These are questions that need answering.
‘Twas pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand…”
I’m a secular agnostic. I like Christmas. A lot of my friends are conservative evangelicals. With that said, here’s wishing you “Happy Holidays” on behalf of me and Danny Baldwin’s neck. Also… HOLY SHIT, A BEAR!
Bonus Drinking Game
Have a Four Horsemen: every time you see the old man above looking hungrily at his fellow characters
Have a Glass of Manischewitz: when you spot the really bizarre Seinfeld reference
Have some Jesus Juice: every time characters appear outdoors in jeans and light jackets in what is supposed to be Alaska in the dead of fucking winter.