As I’m sure I have made clear, I am a pop culture junkie. I love movies, the theater, television, books, and just about everything else that makes you believe a story. Especially movies. In a not-so-fantastic childhood I was able to escape my own life for hours at a time by living through the characters I saw on the screen. Great 1950s musical stars, old Hollywood contract actresses, even the kooky Helen Hunt in Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Great way of taking your mind off of things.
At no time is there a larger plethora of feel-good movies than during the holiday season. From the classic Dr. Seuss to the lovely Charles Schultz, there are many to choose from. (Side note: Did you know that the Charlie Brown Christmas show was originally an ad for Coca Cola? They took that part out of the now-shown version. Cracks me up. Movie noted for maintaining the true meaning of Christmas was originally a 60-minute commercial.) I have my favorites, of course. But there are a few that don’t exactly thrill me either. I’ve never cared much for Christmas Vacation, for example. I have never cared for the Nutcracker on Ice.. Things like that.
But the one movie that I absolutely cannot stand is It’s a Wonderful Life.
I know, I know, I’m a communist. Or at least that’s what I was called when someone found out how I hated the movie. Seriously. I cannot stand it. It ranks up there with Howard the Duck and Moulin Rouge as one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I think it’s slow and schmaltzy, full of cheese and completely unwatchable. And it probably doesn’t help that before I ever saw the Jimmy Stewart original I first saw the Marlo Thomas version called It Happened One Christmas.
What cracks me up is when people find out that I don’t care for this classic movie they act like I shot their dog. So I don’t like it. Big deal. I don’t like Vietnamese food or my mother’s Lincoln either, but nobody blames me for that.
Then this week, one reporter that I read regularly justified my dislike of this movie in his weekly online chat. Finally! There is support to be found!! I can say that there is an esteemed critic who also dislikes the movie! A critic that shares my love of most things Joss Whedon and thinks that the phrase “jump the shark” is an overused cliche.
So here’s to you, Robert Bianco. If you’re ever looking for something to watch and all that’s on is It’s a Wonderful Life, let me know. We can watch episodes of Buffy or, in the spirit of the season, get out Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas and remember what the reason for the gift-giving season is about.