By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Six Pack) –
The story begins much like the classic Nutcracker; a brother and sister await the arrival of their Uncle on Christmas Eve, who bears the gift of a nutcracker, and the boy wastes no time in breaking the toy. The uncle just happens to be Albert Einstein, and he sings a song about relativity. The girl goes to bed and enters a dream world where her toys have come to life, and evil NAZI rats (led by an Emo-Who from Whoville with a haircut stolen from Andy Warhol) have taken over the city.
What the fuck John Turturro?… what… the… fuck?…
Drink your first beer down fast, because you’ll need to pregame with this one. I cannot fault filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky for taking a truly unusual approach to one of the Holiday season’s most worn out stories. And to the film’s credit I can honestly say I haven’t seen anything quite like this movie.
Oh, yeah, and this happens…
Machete is envious…
Buckle your seat-belts though, because from this film tries to be equal parts The Christmas Toy, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
With decidedly more musical numbers…
At any point during production on this ninety million dollar movie did anyone question the director’s vision? I should be glad that a filmmaker can still be given the freedom to see his ideas reach fruition unabated… you know, for art and such. This film proved impossible to market truthfully and was promoted as an upbeat children’s film. Parents be warned: do not be fooled by the schmaltzy 30 second spots that aired on television, no child is going to want to see a distopian Christmas where their toys are stripped from them and burned in furnaces. (Although I think I’ve found my new Christmas classic).
Recently, I was in an argument with my mother about musicals. I explained that I am biased against them because I generally cannot stand broadway style show tunes. She told me that the songs are only a part of the muscical experience, and that I cannot judge one until I have seen “the whole picture”. I contended that the music is meant to be the main draw of one of these performances, and if you do not like the songs the sum of its parts can never add up to anything significant. Fortunatly with The Nutcracker in 3D, no matter how you look at “the whole picture”, it still finds a way to be unimpressive.
As for these songs, you’re gonna need a beer, and maybe a few shots of bourbon. The music in the film uses the Nutcracker Suite as a jumping off point for its own exentricities. Another of this film’s “Who thought this was a good idea?” moments: setting lyrics to the original music. This film’s version of the Nutcracker Suite sounds suspiciously like a previously recorded version ripped from a public domain library double-tracked against vocals from this film’s performers.
The next beer will go down faster than Paris Hilton after her allowance is cut off. Because the producers apparently thought it was a good idea to present the film in eye-raping 3-D
Like The Last Airbender, and Clash of the Titans, this film spent a few extra months in post-production to make the print darker, and blurrier. (Oh yeah, and once in awhile something will pop out at you) This is unfortunate, because it detracts from visuals that would be pretty nice on their own.
I have no joke for this section, so here are some racist caricatures
This goes to the missed opportunity for making something artistic. There are numerous points in The Nutcracker that enter territory familiar to filmmakers like Terry Gilliam. Indeed had Konchalovsky dispensed with the musical pretensions, and pandering to younger audiences, and simply made the film as a darkly-humorous fractured fairytale, I would argue this could have been a great movie. Indeed, this project was apparently a twenty year dream of the director come to fruition. This isn’t the first bastard child of a filmmaker’s blind ambition. Ask Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Orson Welles, Michael Cimino, and especially John Boorman.
This is what happens…
I mentioned the music, but an entire beer is also deserved for the lyrics alone. And I’ll let this video demonstrate:
A failure so terrible it almost does a 180 into complete success.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: when Nathan Lane sings
Take a Drink: any time the traditional Christmas story starts to go all “final solution”
Take a Shot: at every song, actually… you’ll thank me later