Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Hughes & Christmas

What does John Hughes and Christmas have to do with sports? You mean other than the love I have for Christmas and movies and then combining the two? Nothing. But the man sure can make the hell out of a Christmas movie(s). Enjoy a sports-less, sports column in tribute to the season.

Here at the Hang in There Sports website, we love quoting movies whenever we can. We especially love to quote some movies more than others. Below is another scene from one of my favorite movies, Dogma (edited for the PG readers), which pays tribute to John Hughes:

Bethany (Linda Fiorentino): McHenry is pretty far from Jersey, might I ask what brings you guys to Illinois?

Jay (Jason Mewes): Some guy named John Hughes.

Bethany: "16 Candles" John Hughes?

Jay: You know him too? That guy. Made this flick "16 Candles" right? Not bad: it's got girls in it, but no action. Of course Ebert over here don't give a crap about that stuff cause he's all in love with this John Hughes guy and rents every one of his movies. The "Breakfast Club" all these stupid kids actually show up to detention. "Weird Science" where this one chick wants to take off her gear and get down, but aw, no she don't cause it's a PG movie. And then there's "Pretty In Pink" which I can't watch with this tubby guy any more, because every time we get to the part where the red head hooks up with her dream guy, he starts sobbin' like a little eight-year-old with a skinned knee and stuff. And nothing is worse then watching a fat man weep.

(Wow, I had to edit that a lot more than I thought) Moving on.

Last night I finished watching one of the greatest movies ever made: Home Alone. It was likely my 97th viewing; I love it that much. “Ninety-seven?” you say. "Why such a small number for a movie you proclaim to love so much?" For your information, watching a movie ninety-seven times is a BUNCH. Everybody likes to throw around 1,000 or 1,000,000 but I think if you really want to brag about how much you’ve done something—especially when the topic relates to how many times you’ve seen a feature film—then throw out the real number. I stand proudly by mine. Good ‘ole ninety-seven.

Think about it, Home Alone released, in theaters, November 1990 and hit VHS later that next year. Watching a movie ninety-seven times over a nineteen-year span is an average of five times a year. Sounds about right. Unless I catch it on TV, I probably won’t see it again this year. I still love it, but the luster of being twenty years older is responsible for the dip in views. In 1991 I was seven or eight years old and I distinctly remember watching it for the first time over at Andrew Dyer’s house. The feeling of excitement as the tape was put in the VCR and magic of watching the previews is a feeling I wish I was able to still experience. To this day, I continue to quote the “Got a Pepsi for me?” line from the Pepsi ad before the movie. Some people get it, others do not. Funny how certain things are burned in to your memory.

To me, Home Alone has stood the test of time: it will never get old. Having said that, last night was the first time I noticed some of the gaping holes in the movie. Even when I watched it last year, these thoughts never crossed my mind.

Like, when the McCallister’s get to Paris and phone back to their hometown police department, why do the police take the issue so non-chalantly? Did the police department really have nothing better to do than sloppily eat donuts and wrap Christmas presents? Or when the officer went to the house and Kevin was hiding under the bed not answering, did the department really feel fine with looking in a few windows and scoffing, “There’s no one here, tell that lady to count her kids again”? I’ve seen plenty of episodes of Law & Order to know this would never fly. As a kid though, I completely buy the scenario.

There is more. As soon as Harry and Marv found out Kevin was home alone and Kevin overheard they were planning to come back at nine o’clock, why didn’t he just walk to the police station? He had time to walk to a Santa Claus exhibit in town, go to Christmas Eve mass, walk all the way back home, draw a super in depth bugler plan with crayons (raise your hand if you made one of those) and then make the most delicious looking plate of Mac n’ Cheese—all before the clock struck 9 PM. Or how about at the end when Old Man Marley knocks Harry and Marv out with a snow shovel and takes Kevin outside before the police arrive—how did the police not discover that Kevin was home alone. Winnetka, Illinois clearly has the worst police force in the world. The good thing however, is even though I noticed these plot holes, the movie still plays fantastically and is not ruined in any way, shape, or form (for me at least).

In the spirit of Home Alone and talking about Christmas movies, here is My Best Christmas Movies of All-time:

10. Jingle All the Way (1996)

This makes the Top-10 solely because the movie captures the essence of the captive power of commercial advertising. I cannot even list the amount of items I coveted between 1988 and 1995. The Turboman Doll represented them all. Plus it had Sinbad in it.

9. Miracle of 34th Street (1994)

My little sister and I watched the crap out of this one. My favorite part was when Dylan McDermott proved that Santa Claus existed because the United States puts ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ on all of our currency. I love the cleverness of it. Using the legal system to prove that Santa Claus is real.

8. The Santa Clause (1994)
7. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

The best character in the movie, hands down is Cornelius. The man rolls with a pack of sled dogs, strong enough to take down the Abominable Snowman. But the best part is his method for foraging for silver and gold: throwing a pick ax in to the air, letting in land, pulling it from the ground and then licking the tip. Foolproof. How could anyone NOT find gold? (Raise your hand again if you did this at some point in your childhood)

6. Elf (2003)
5. Christmas Vacation (1989)

Two most favorite lines from the movie:

(1) Totally engulfed by the drop dead gorgeous mall sales-woman “Can’t see the line can you Russ?”

(2) “Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head. And I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, d---less, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey s--- he is! Hallelujah! Holy s---! Where's the Tylenol?”

4. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

It is the earliest memory I have of watching Christmas movies. I watched the new one, with Jim Carrey, and it was downright frightening. Reading the book is on my to-do list.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)


2. White Christmas (1954)

Even more classic. I must watch this on Christmas Eve without fail. It is a Fish Family Tradition.

1. Home Alone (1990)

Some of the honorable mentions go out to A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), The Grinch (2000) and last but not least A Christmas Story (1983).

A lot of people I know LOVE A Christmas Story, but if I am honest with myself, I am not one of those people. Try as I may, I cannot put my finger on the exact reason why I am not one of them. Something to do with the color, the photography or feel of the movie doesn’t quite sit right. It’s weird, I know. I don’t trash it and I appreciate it for being a classic. TNT plays it for 24 straight hours every year for heaven’s sake, but I honestly would watch any other movie on my list before it. Hate me, but I do not like it for me. I guess I am just one of those people.

OK… I lied.

Lied about not writing about sports (seriously A Christmas Story is not in my Top-10). I just realized I can make a best Christmas movie list, than I can very well make a sports Christmas list. Readysetgo.

- I want the Red Sox to sign Carl Crawford, but not for a crazy amount because of the 7-year $126 million dollar Jayson Werth contract. Did you know, with Jayson’s new contract he could spend $30,000 dollars a day—365 days a year—and still have seven million dollars left over from the eighteen million he will make each year?

- I’d like the Sacramento Kings to tank for one more year and get that third piece they need to return to greatness. A few weeks ago I saw them against the Jazz and Demarcus Cousins is going to be legit. Maybe not Blake Griffin legit, but legit all the same. Imagine Cousins, Evans and Player-to-be-named-later. Maybe even trade the draft pick for someone. Who knows. Look out! Kings BABY!

- I hope Dez Bryant’s body will heal and somehow make him better like in Rookie of the Year. Also I want to be able to get him for $7 dollars again, like I did in this year’s draft.

- I want Oregon to win the BCS National Championship, Cam Newton to still go #1 in the NFL draft and have no other teams jumping their conference ship. It’s so 2-months ago.

- And I want a brand new Bugatti Veyron Super Sport for free. Even in the same color as the FIFA officials chose when they sent the games to Qatar.

Let that last one marinate as my final thought.

Merry Christmas.

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