EW reviews three holiday DVDs
Sick of watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the 437th time? Then you’re as cold and heartless as old man Potter himself! Still, if you’re looking for a break from Bedford Falls this holiday season, you can stuff your stocking with several new Christmas titles on DVD. In a hurry? Start with the 69-minute 1938 version of A Christmas Carol, part of the new Classic Holiday Collection. This rushed entry plays like a CliffsNotes version of the Dickens chestnut, offering a not-so-subtle transformation of Scrooge from jerky to jolly. Joining it is the pleasant-enough screwball comedy Christmas in Connecticut (in which Barbara Stanwyck pretends to be married to one man, yet falls in love with another — crazy!), as well as the Spencer Tracy-Mickey Rooney heart-warmer Boys Town, which smoothly (if sappily) tells the real-life tale of a kindhearted priest intent on rehabilitating wayward youths, yet as far as I can see has about as much to do with Christmas as Dude, Where’s My Car?
For a more absurd take on the holidays, there’s Christmas With SCTV, which contains two holiday-themed episodes from the Canadian comedy troupe, including a hilarious office Christmas party. John Candy, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, and Joe Flaherty play an assortment of oddball characters such as cheeseball comedian Bobby Bittman and a pre-SNL Ed Grimley, and equally entertaining is a featurette on the purposefully incompetent Juul Haalmeyer Dancers. ”No dancer was ever hurt,” explains Haalmeyer, the show’s actual clothing designer who was tapped to lend both his name and his talents to the group of background butt-wigglers. ”Because of the simplicity of the routines, there was no way to get hurt.” Except maybe from falling down laughing.
But by the power of Grayskull, I have never witnessed a holiday offering as surreal as He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special. He-Man, the 1980s cartoon character who liked to hold his sword in the air while talking to himself, here discovers Christmas with sister She-Ra when two Earth children land on Eternia and proceed to blab on about presents and Santa and stuff. Next thing you know, the evil Skeletor has captured the twerps, and — after being barraged with requests to be ”nice” — provides them with parkas so they don’t freeze to death and allows a dog to lick his face repeatedly (awww, the big softy). But we haven’t even gotten to the surreal part yet: the bonus features, including one titled ”The Holidays and Morals of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” in which we learn that He-Man was not allowed to chop, gut, or behead with his sword. ”He-Man’s Montage of Morals” also teaches us that ”there aren’t any magic drugs.” Maybe not, but this is a certified trip. Classic Collection: B- SCTV: B+ He-Man: C+