Hangover Theater Guide to the 12 Days of Christmas
Gazing out upon the vast tapestry of Pajiban creeds and customs, I am certain that this time of year is feted is various ways. Whether you cherish Hannukah, Christmas, Ramadan, Yule, Kwanzaa, Decemberween or -- as my Jehovah's Witness friends call it -- Thursday, the holidays are about one thing: spending time with loved ones. This is usually accomplished in about 14 minutes. Then the rest of the time is spent caustically avoiding speaking to one another, drinking copious amounts of liquored nog, and remembering why you moved across the country and lost everyone's email address and phone numbers in the first place. Much of this awkwardness is spent sitting in some strange smelling house, a plate of half-eaten pie sitting in front of you, staring dully at a television while tuning out the mindless banter of distant aunts and uncles who are trying to figure out "why you aren't a doctor" or "when you got that pierced."
Me, I like to make lists. Usually sometime between "Eight Minutes of Near Heart Attack Inducing Inappropriate Wrestling With Small Children" and "You Married Yet?" I doze in a corner of the shag carpeted floor and lose myself in ham-inspired glazed daydreaming. A lot of times my lists will be along the lines of "Things That Might Stick In The Folds of My Cousin" or ranking family members based on how difficult it would be to kill them when I finally snap. Uncle Rick's got military training but a trick right knee, so you can take him. Aunt Shiela's good with a razor and fork. For this guide, I offer up films that loosely represent the Twelve Days of Christmas, a song which for all intents in purposes represents a lunatic buying spree during the doldrums of visitation and inebriation. A little something for you to ponder between sweaty cheek kisses and turkey comas this Thanksgiving. Enjoy your time off, and lay off my pumpkin pie, or you fuckers will learn why I'm currently ranked number three in The Prisco family melee.
First Day, December 25th, A Partridge in A Pear Tree: Grandma's Boy: I start with perhaps one of the worst movies ever made in the history of ever. Adam Sandler let his monkeys run the asylum, so can we truly be surprised we ended up with a shitsmeared banana? It's a stoner's boner: a 30-something who works as a video game tester and smokes pot all day. Oh no, trouble ensues, and he finds himself living with his grandmother and her fiesty gang of senior citizens. One of whom is Shirley Jones, the former matriarch of the Partridge Family. Jones eeks out Danny Bonaduce for my Partridge du Jour, only because she debases herself sexually with Nick Swardson, an actor who seems to operate on the premise that "I'll Do That In Your Movie for a Dollar." So far it's netted him a lucrative career, so who can blame him. Also, this is a grand reminder that nothing brings a family together like illicit drug usage, hard core alcoholism, and shameful sexual encounters.
Second Day, December 26th, Two Turtle Doves: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze: While it's easy to mock today's teens for worshipping at the altar of Miley Cyrus and praising sparkly vampires (and you should mock them, violently, by slapping them on either side of the iPod and driving the earbuds into the brainpan, screaming an Oscarworthy "Snap out of it!"), they've got nothing to be ashamed of. For we basked in the glory of four styrofoam-costumed turtles, who scarfed pizza, wielded various weapons of the ninja arts, and were named inexplicably for Renaissance artists. With a plot that rivaled the greatest of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers -- who would combine TMNT elements with those of Voltron to completely fail a later generation -- the turtles swiped our hearts and wallets. To top it off, it features a live performance by none other than Vanilla Ice, who would net his second major musical hit with Ninja Rap. Go Ninja Go Ninja Go! Suddenly, the gravelly voice Kinderskank and her bromo Jonas Brother minions don't seem so retarded, do they? Of course they do, jackass. Now go get more Cool Whip.
Third Day, December 27th, Three French Hens: Les Triplettes de Belleville: December 27th was always the day when I'd get to hang out with my grandmother, who reminds me of the bespectacled Nona in The Triplets of Belleville, a movie which will always remain in my heart. Barely any dialogue is necessary in this deceptively simple film, which taught countless people that, Yes, Virginia, you can watch a foreign film and like it. It's such a magically weird little picture, and one of those rare treats, like an unexpected gift late in the holidays from an aunt you didn't think you were supposed to like. While everyone else peppers you with ugly sweaters and books you like decades ago, she quietly slips you a twenty and your first copy of Catch-22 with an inscription that reads, "Don't end up like the rest of these Schiessekopfs." This film is that sort of magical secret. And it's perfect for a quiet smile.
Fourth Day, December 28th, Four Calling Birds: Mean Girls: There's a scene in the movie where the four Plastics are engaged in a four-way phone conversation where people are listening in to other people's secrets and hating on each other and hearts are broken and plans are crushed and it's FUCKING PERFECT. This is every conversation you hear during the holidays, these loud shouting matches across kitchen tables about NOTHING, about family members who aren't there, about everything, and it lets you know how grown you are. Children barely listen, then just pick up the mean stuff. Teens ignore it completely, trapped in their own worlds. College kids shout back, giving uninformed opinions based on the two minutes of life they managed to live out from under the umbrellas of their families. Adults shake their heads and wink at the kids. The eldest nap or go and get coffee. Mean Girls is also a sad reminder that, yeah, Lindsay Lohan used to be fucking awesome.
Fifth Day, December 29th, FIVE GOLDEN RINGS!: The Ringer: Thought I was going to go for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, eh? Wrong. December 29th is the dumbest day of the holiday season. If you work, chances are you're back for the inexplicable days between now and the New Year. Those days when you can't really figure out what work is supposed to be getting done, because seriously, who the fuck needs shit three days before the end of the year? If you're on vacation, it's that half-awake period when you cash in gift cards, and try to find ways to occupy your time until the drunken onslaught of the ball-watching. The Ringer was Johnny Knoxville's What The Fuck Am I Doing Here? movie. Knoxville owned teen hearts and the space where the brains were supposed to be with his Jackass stunts. So he cashes in on this by making a movie about a guy trying to fake a win in the Special Olympics. But to make this somehow less reprehensible, he casts actual mental handicapped people (all of whom are less retarded than the actual crew of misfits on Jackass), who upstage his ass and make him look stupid. And then he gets completely trumped months before the release of the movie by "South Park" and an afterschool special spoof. There is a lesson to be learned by this. I'm not sure what it is, but WHY THE FUCK AM I WORKING?!
Sixth Day, December 30th, Six Geese A-Laying: Sexual Healing: Logic strings are endlessly amusing, it's the entire premise for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Anthony Edwards played Goose in Top Gun, one of many enigmatic roles that would define his storied career. In the early 90s, he decided to star in Sexual Healing, an erotic drama with Helen Hunt, Jason Alexander and Mare Winningham. It's OK, you can go back and re-read that sentence. I thought to myself, and there we go: six GEESE a-LAYING. Because I figured it would be in poor taste to go the other way and use Hawks, where he and Timothy Dalton are terminally ill. It's a stretch, and it's a long way to get to a joke, but seriously, it's been six fucking days of gifts, and I'm running out of ideas, and WHY THE FUCK AM I WORKING on DECEMBER 30th?!
Seventh Day, December 31st, Seven Swans A-Swimming: Barbie of Swan Lake: Barbie amuses me and frightens the shit out of me at the same time. No matter how much you lambast her, no matter how much you try to protect the young girls in your life from her so-called negative influence, she will wheedle her plastic hands into their hearts. Barbie gets attacked by feminists because of her impossible physicality, and her negative influence on girl's lives. If anything, she should be lauded as the ultimate feminine role model. She's a young career woman, owns her own production company and business empire. Several vehicles, a dream home, all the materials in the world, essentially. And she did it all without any male interference or assistance. In fact, the only dude in her life literally has no genitals. Barbie gets what she wants, when she wants, and on her conditions. She a modern day Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. So what if she had work done? For shame. Now, let's go get drunk!
Eighth Day, January 1st, Eight Maids A-Milking: The Women (2008): Being a breast enthusiast, I was tempted to go the way of the hooter on this one. (True story: there are websites devoted to breastfeeding depictions in modern film.) But January 1st is the day of hangover and suffering. And I can think of nothing more painful than watching this gaggle of cackling hags destroying the empire Barbie worked so hard to create in this modern atrocity. It comes out on December 23rd, just in time to spike that relative you hate with a DVD guaranteed to set fire to future dinner invitations. For every 9 to 5 or Steel Magnolias, there comes this kind of tripe. Induce vomitting and realize you still have four more days of gifts to give to this mystery lover.
Ninth Day, January 2nd, Nine Ladies Dancing: Center Stage: Dance is incredible. It's a sex scene without nudity, a swordfight without blades. In other words, it can be pretty fucking boring if you don't do it right. Flashdance, Footloose, Dirty Dancing, White Nights: the 80s exploded with people in tights throwing down. Or tractor dancing. Hmm. But the ninth day, January 2nd, is bland and boring and sleepy. We start the new year, back to work, back to the grind, tired from our celebrating, trying to find time to return those lame ass gifts. And so Center Stage works, a movie about dance that serves only to be a template for the Wayans Family to resurrect their careers.
Tenth Day, January 3rd, Ten Lords a-Leaping: Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter: People forget about Jesus. Mostly because most of the world isn't Christian, and therefore doesn't care about Beardy McT-Hugger. This insane B-movie represents the true spirit of love that Jesus embodied. So he uses his Jesus powers to defend the lesbians of Ottawa against a vampire onslaught. The movie itself is a testament (ah ha ha) to bottom-barrel filmmaking, and it's a cheesetastic example of everything Hangover Theatre represents. It's total brainless entertainment, and a sure way to spice up any boring holiday get-together.
Eleventh Day, January 4th, Eleven Pipers Piping: Super Mario Bros.: If I told you I was going to show you a movie with Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Samantha Mathis, and Dennis Hopper, you would assume it was a gritty urban drama about drug users, wouldn't you? And you'd be half right. This cracked-out video adaptation is a gritty urban drama written by someone obviously on drugs. This was the first video-game adaptation and it failed SPECTACULARLY. Mostly because it began the fine tradition of Hollywood video game adaptations of completely ignoring anything having to do with the game itself, except character names. Alternate universes, dinosaur evolution, Fisher Stevens, it's MADNESS. At one point Mojo Nixon gets shot with a Devo gun, and I can't handle it anymore. Super Mario Bros is sort of a heritage point in the history of Hangover Theatre, because it represents the origin of the many terrible video game movies that end up as two star features filling the time on TNT between "Law and Order" episodes and Braves games.
Twelfth Day, January 5th, Twelve Drummers Drumming: Drumline: I conclude with a perfect example of a Hangover Theatre film, and a movie to watch during the holiday preparations. I will always stop whenever Drumline is on, just to note what time it's supposed to end. Then I will go about my daily chores: reading books, talking to people on the phone, making food whatever. Anything but actually watching the movie. Because nothing of any importance matters, except the last sequence. The last five minutes of the film, the awesome drum sequence showdown. And it is awesome. But it's awesome in the way that ESPN2 is awesome, with the Stihl Outdoor Games or National Jumproping Championship. You get sucked in by the insanity and athleticism of the people competing in this blatantly non-sport. Five hours later, and suddenly you realize it's dark out and you've been glued to the television watching trick-pool shooting. You can leave and come back and it never matters because you missed nothing. All that matters in the finale. The same can be said of Nick Cannon.
Hopefully this inspires you to do some meditative thinking during the holidays, to prepare lists of your own. Anything to avoid talking to your family. Feliz Decemberween, my friends.
This Guide was originally published during the holiday season of 2008.