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Christmas at the Movies: Resistance is Futile

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 17, 2004 6:04PM

Well, it’s official. The start of the Christmas season is underway as workers have begun erecting the city’s official tree in Daley Plaza. You can’t fight City Hall and those who do get bulldozed so it’s time to wave the white flag in the fight against the encroachment of the holidays.

In the worlds of music and movies, the collision of art and Christmas Buddy indicates the number of times a day he's asked 'Do you feel a draft in that outfit?' often resembles a proverbial train wreck: a horrific spectacle that’s impossible to tear yourself away from. But the long-awaited (well, long-awaited by Chicagoist anyway) DVD release yesterday of Elf starring Will Ferrell gives us some hope for the future of Christmas movies. Though the ending gave us cold-sweat flashbacks to the Statue of Liberty scene in Ghostbusters II, it’s worth the price of a rental to hear Ferrell as Buddy The Elf intone the words “You sit on a throne of lies.” As for Christmas flicks hitting the big screens of Chicago this week, it’s a veritable good/bad/ugly situation:

The good: Santa vs. The Snowman in 3-D at the Imax Theater on Navy Pier which starts Friday and runs through the end of the year. Recalling the Planet Hoth battle scenes in The Empire Strikes Back, the film pits two titans of the season in an epic battle for yuletide superiority. Plus: giant igloo robots!

The bad: Noel at the Village Art Theatre on Clark. Robert Elder’s review in the Trib says it all about this film though his comparison of Noel to the film Magnolia seems largely based on both films having similarly large casts and three of the same letters in their titles. The only noteworthy aspect of the film is its distribution strategy. Due to a lack of interest from theater owners, the producers have resorted to releasing it on disposable DVDs. On the plus side, consumers can have the cathartic satisfaction of tossing it in the garbage immediately after its viewing.

The ugly: Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art will be showing The Nightmare Before Christmas as part of its Mad Scientist series of films on December 19th at 8 PM. Perhaps ugly is an overstatement here but Clint Eastwood never made a film called The Good, The Bad and the Vaguely Creepy so we’re stuck with it.