Where are this year?s Christmas movies?

If you’re looking for show times for a Christmas movie this season, you will need a time machine or a new address.

It may be just a strange coincidence, but movie theatres in Montreal this year are almost completely devoid of Christmas movies. By this time last year, moviegoers were lining up to see Jim Carrey in the animated and 3D version of A Christmas Carol. The Disney-backed film made over $30 million in its first weekend of release beginning Nov. 6. Note to Hollywood: Christmas is good for business.

The year before, Four Christmases, starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, opened in November. Fred Claus and This Christmas came out in 2007, and 2006 boasted a very jolly lineup of films for moviegoers to choose from, including Deck the Halls, The Holiday, The Nativity Story, The Santa Clause 3 and Unaccompanied Minors.

OK, so most of these movies are awful, cringe-worthy and definitely not worth the $12-or-so price of admission, but their mid- to end of November releases signaled the official start of the holiday season.

This year, only two Christmas movies are being released in theatres, and the likelihood that they reach your local cineplex is low. The first, Nutcracker in 3D, has been playing at the AMC Forum theatre in Montreal since its Nov. 24 release. It has also been panned by critics and is currently sitting at 4 per cent on Rottentomatoes.com’s Tomato Meter, with just one positive review. Critics have mainly criticized this remake of the classic story for being too dark, calling it “wretched,” “misguided” and “a nightmare.”

The second film, the R-rated Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, is an anti-Christmas film if ever there was one. On Christmas Eve, a team of archaeologists dig up the real Santa Claus and children in the Finnish town begin to disappear. A father and son capture Santa and try to sell him back to the company that dug him up, but Santa’s elves are trying to free their leader.

While it does sound like it could raise eyebrows and deliver laughs, Rare Exports does not have a release date for the city, according to CinemaMontreal.com.

Theatres across Montreal have caught on to this year’s grinchy trend and a few are showing the great Frank Capra’s 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. (Seriously, if you don’t get misty-eyed when George reads Clarence’s note that says “No man is a failure who has friends,” you must be a robot.)

It’s too bad, because the only way children growing up today can experience Christmas and the holidays in the same great way kids from the “90s did is by – gasp! – taking a trip to the video store. Regardless of the holiday you observe, it’s undeniable that that decade’s The Santa Clause, The Miracle on 34th Street and the (first two) Home Alone films are perennial holiday classics that warm your soul and the cockles of your heart and stand the test of time.

This year, forget the cineplex and catch up on Christmas movie classics. Most have already been re-released on Blu-Ray or DVD, so you are probably getting your hands on a much crisper and much more visually beautiful version of the films. And with re-releases White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and the animated version of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, substance is never forfeited for style.


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