JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: “It’s not the giving, or the getting, it’s the loving”

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Growing up as a child, there was one Christmas tradition I looked forward to and enjoyed the most. It wasn’t the presents – I’ve actually never been all that keen on opening presents – and whilst I do love a Christmas dinner, it wasn’t the food. What I’ve always enjoyed the most is the back-to-back viewing of these two highly entertaining, heartfelt Christmas short films. For me, these little films ARE Christmas.

The first part of this double bill is always Ziggy’s Gift. If you haven’t heard of this little fella before, I don’t blame you. He’s quite an obscure character who originated in newspaper comic strips in the 1960s, before finding relative success as an Emmy award-winning television short in 1982, with this delightful Christmas special.

Ziggy is a loveable mute, who, with the help of his canine companion, looks to spread the love at Christmas by volunteering as a street Santa for charity. Unbeknownst to Ziggy, he’s getting embroiled in a tangle of dishonest Saint Nicks who have been swindling the public and stealing the money for themselves. Along his journey, Ziggy adopts a stray cat, offers a homeless man the clothes off his back, and frees a tribe of doomed turkeys. The most beautiful thing about this character and his Christmas tale however, is his sheer lack of prejudice, his relentless goodwill and selflessness. All he wants to do is make people happy. The message at the heart of this film is clear: the greatest gift you can give at Christmas is love and kindness.

Now, I like to follow up this with Garfield’s Christmas Special. Whilst Ziggy gets me in the mood with his weirdly whimsical ways, Garfield’s role in this double bill is to provide a more classical approach, something more grounded and relatable, whilst remaining fun and festive. As we all know, Garfield isn’t the most enthusiastic of felines, but the melting of his heart on this particular Christmas gathering is truly touching, and I won’t lie, is a guaranteed tear-jerker for me every year. Now you may be thinking “hang on, Garfield makes you cry?” but believe me, there’s one particular scene in this film which makes it humanly impossible to resist welling up.

When Jon drags Garfield to his family home on the farm one Christmas, with the loveably excitable Otie in tow, Garfield wishes for nothing more than to be back in bed rather than being subjected to what he sees as a boring and cringe-worthy family tradition. But he soon forms a strong bond with Jon’s eccentric grandmother and realises there’s more to Christmas than giving and receiving presents – it’s the people behind the presents that really matter.

What you get with this Garfield special is your standard festive family formula – putting up the tree, sitting down for dinner, being too excited and waking up early on the big day, exchanging gifts and being merry. It’s this familiarity and predictability which makes the deeper, emotional kick even more poignant. There’s no denying it makes me sad every time, but it’s a wonderfully warm, happy sad. I’m sure we all have family members who aren’t around anymore, and Christmas is a time when we are likely to feel their absence even more. But the takeaway message from this fat ginger cat is unmistakably clear – make the most of the people you love, celebrate with them, make memories with them, treasure the happy times.

Christmas is fast becoming a time of materialism and consumer craziness, but these little short films take it back to basics and remind us of what is truly important. Indeed, Garfield said it best when he said: “It’s not the giving, or the getting, it’s the loving”.

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JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

Directed by: Michael Lembeck
Starring: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Liliana Mumy, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson with Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret

Written by Chris Gelderd

This 2006 American festive film is directed by Michael Lembeck and is the third and final instalment in the ‘Santa Clause’ trilogy. It stars Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Liliana Mumy, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson with Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret.

With Carol Claus (Mitchell) expecting her first child, Santa Claus/Scott Calvin (Allen) decides to unite the families at the North Pole to help boost her spirit as their secrets prevent contact with many in the outside world. Ex-wife Laura (Crewson), her husband Neil (Reinhold) and daughter Lucy (Mumy) visit with Carol’s parents Bud (Arkin) and Sylvia (Margret), but under the illusion that they are really in Canada, and Scott is a toy manufacturer.

Meanwhile, envious by Santa’s popularity, Legendary Figure Jack Frost (Short) pretends to help Santa prepare for Christmas, but really starts creating chaos by sabotaging many of the workshops and machines, sending the families into meltdown with the stress Santa must deal with.

Frost manipulates Santa into the “Escape Clause”, a series of actions that alters time to undo his career as Santa and effectively leaves the position open, which Frost intends to steal and change Christmas forever. Only with Lucy’s help can Scott unite his family and re-take his place as Santa before it is too late, and Christmas is lost forever…

The gags and general content from the original film back in 1994 have drastically changed over 12 years, and the final chapter shows the signs. With the shortest running time, this has a very thin plot and tired looking performances that don’t really have the passion the original did.

Its breath of ‘cold’ air comes from Martin Short as Jack Frost, one of the newcomers to the films cast, alongside the amusing and cantankerous Alan Arkin, to inject some fun into things. With an over-the-top but suitably creepy turn as our villain, he gurns and grins and sneaks his way along as only Martin Short can; camp and amusing for all the wrong reasons, but hard not to love.

Tim Allen is clearly devoid of new material and does a basic job, with little heart and passion, as a manic, bumbling and often inept Santa Claus; his turn as Scott Calvin is always better as he gets the chance to do a little more than run around looking stressed. But by now there is little real heart and meaning in the film and just focusing on slapstick gags and very thin sentiment.

The effects are a little cleaner and the set design is always improving film after film with the North Pole now a town rather than just a small underground workshop, and it’s cute and cuddly and Christmassy, but everything else is just a little lazy with no real meat to get stuck into.

It just about avoids being as childish as the second, but still comes over as tired and a little lost for ideas, and it certainly wraps up the story of Scott Calvin effectively with a sugar-coated finale that is eye-rolling naff, but still sums up what Christmas is all about when all is said and done.

Kurt Russell Is Santa Claus In The First Teaser Trailer For Netflix’s ‘The Christmas Chronicles’

“The Christmas Chronicles, a holiday adventure from producer Chris Columbus (“Home Alone”, “Harry Potter”) and director Clay Kaytis (“The Angry Birds Movie”), tells the story of sister and brother, Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis), whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about. After staking out Santa’s arrival, they sneak into his sleigh, cause it to crash and nearly derail Christmas. As their wild night unfolds, Kate and Teddy work together with Santa – as you’ve never seen him before – and his loyal Elves to save Christmas before it’s too late.”

Directed by: Clay Kaytis

Cast: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis

Release Date: November 22nd, 2018 (Netflix)