Saturday, January 1, 2011

SANTA'S SLAY (2005) - a comedy horror minus the comedy and the horror is a movie about nothing, or so Zen master Costanza says

Here's the halfway decent opening scene that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. Take special notice of the shame on James Caan's face. That's what you get for doing favors for people.

I don’t normally put much stock in a movie’s title. Usually, it’s some generic horseshit that some marketing douche with a ponytail comes up with between lattes and bouts of bitter insecurity. However, I have before me a movie that is supposed to be funny, and we got a verbal pun right there in the title. Unfortunately, we’re reading it, not hearing it, so the pun slams into the ground like a fish committing suicide by jumping off a skyscraper (although a fish would probably not have survived the climb to the top floor, but bear with me and my metaphoric fancy). You could maybe get a chuckle out of a play on the words “sleigh” and “slay” when properly worked into a conversation about a creepy looking Santa Claus. I think Groucho Marx might have been able to pull it off. Unfortunately, whoever the fuck directed this piece of shit ain’t no Groucho Marx. Hell, he ain’t even Zeppo Marx.

Of course, the filmed is littered with puns throughout (the evil Santa says “ho ho ho” went he walks into a strip club, for example), all written by someone who, based on the title alone, can’t even make the distinction between a verbal pun and a written one, let alone come up with something that’s actually fucking funny. The other predominant running “joke” is the fact that Santa is played by wrestler Goldberg, obviously a Jewish fellow. However, he also happens to be the least Jewish Jew that ever walked the land, desert or otherwise. Only people familiar with his work in spandex would make the connection and put two and two together, but by the time the dots are connected, the fleeting opportunity for humor would've probably already passed. For others, this conceptual pun, not even completing the transition from mind to paper, will fly over their heads. The Goldberg Santa could’ve been played with some Jewish humor, but as just another tough guy (albeit convincingly so), any supposed attempt at a hebe subversion of Catholic iconography (via the Coca-Cola company) simply doesn’t read on the screen. This, my friends, is no way to start a comedy.

So, basically, what we have here is another direct-to-video horror comedy script that seems theoretically humorous to the drunk frat boys who happen to be sitting around writing it, thinking that if their drunken idiot friends thinks this shit is funny, the world at large MUST be exposed to it. Curiously, this script got a fairly sizable budget, but still no theatrical release, alas. Digging deeper, I noticed that the director is only previously known for being Brett Ratner’s assistant, and that Brett helped to produce the movie. I’m sure it’s all a coincidence, that the movie was greenlit entirely based on merit, not because the director “knew a guy”. After all, this is America, where you can rise from nothing to the top of the mountain based solely on merit and hard work, and not because you’re just some drunk frat boy who can coast through life because your dad owns a car dealership.

The movie consists of two cross cutting “stories”. Grandpa (Robert Culp, of all people) stands around and gives exposition to his grandson about how Santa and Satan are one in the same (another pun, albeit in anagram form…he he). The other consists of Santa running around killing people in supposedly hilarious ways. He seems to be murdering random people for fun, but the film presents them as slightly flawed individuals who deserve to die, like strippers and thieves and jerks and the like. I guess we’re supposed to cheer their comeuppance, for they fall short of the Catholic Caucasian ideal of humanity. However, these slightly flawed individuals are no match in the asshole department for a dude running around killing people, Santa suit or otherwise. Curiously, he stabs a honest, hard working Jewish deli owner with a Menorah, and some gentile pork officers laugh about the innocent victim, cracking wise that things aren’t kosher and what have you. I guess being a hebe is a crime punishable by death, but the authorities lack the proper clearances to do anything about it. So, they are chuffed to bits when a vigilante Santa takes the law into his own hands and starts impaling innocent Jews with whatever is at hand, whether a Menorah, or a star of David, or maybe a velvet portrait of Jerry Seinfeld. As long as it gets the job done.

Then again, the writer/director appears to be Jewish himself. Maybe this whole scene is supposed to be satire of a sort, but who can really tell. You know, if you’re fucking up puns left and right, please, god, stay out of the satire business. It is said that even good satire will open up on Friday and close on Saturday, and that leaves a bunch of shitty jokes about nothing clogging up the rest of the week. So, in summary, I’ll just quote James Earl Jones from the film Soul Man. Playing a uptight law professor, he asks for a precedent, and C. Thomas Howell (in an afro wig and shoe polish) retorts “the precedent sir is…Ronald Reagan”. Jones sternly warns him: “if you insist on interrupting my class with jokes, please see to it that they are funny”. That about sums it up I think. Then again, I would think C. Thomas is already interrupting the class on a perpetual basis by his hilarious appearance, sporting an afro and looking like he just crawled out of the La Brea tar pits. How can I be expected to learn when my sides are hurting? Perhaps the ultimate lesson of comedy is best expressed in such a form, a mysterious koan of sorts, as it defies any conventional western analysis. Dear Grasshopper...if you laugh, it is funny, and it is funny because you laughed. Now all I need is a comedy mantra. Are round eyes even allowed to have comedy mantras? You know what…the hell with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment