When filmmaker Nora Ephron brings together an all-star cast led by Steve Martin, you expect something terrific. Mixed Nuts was Ephron’s follow-up to her smash success Sleepless in Seattle, and when it was released by TriStar Pictures on December 21, 1994, she was greeted with some of the most visceral reviews of her career, and experienced a spectacular failure that would briefly scare her career.
An adaptation of the successful (but obscure to American audiences) 1982 French farce Le Pere Noel Est Une Ordure (loosely translated: Santa Claus is a Bastard), Mixed Nuts retained very little of what made the French farce so dark and uncompromising. At the same time, Ephron tailored the film to something more along her style and managed to give the characters of the piece some hope and love through a cynical story. Right here, it’s easy to see why the film failed at the box office: The film wanted to be hopeful and dark at the same time, and a comedy can’t quite succeed when they’re trying to counter-balance that. It is a weird holiday film made for those who are looking for something a little different than films like A Christmas Story or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
‘Tis the season for cinephiles to be watching their holiday favorites. TV stations are airing the usual array of heartwarming holiday classics around the clock. Most of you will be watching the traditional Christmas fare. Whether it’s the touching morality fables like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ or the nostalgic Rankin/Bass animations, everyone has their can’t miss holiday movie. Here in the ‘Depths of Obscurity’, I like to buck the traditional fare, dig deep into the well of long-forgotten films, and maybe start some new Christmas traditions.
In this very special holiday edition of Depths of Obscurity, I’m going to do things a little bit differently. Normally I pick one specific filter, then watch and rank every film on that list. This time around I found that method too limiting and instead opted to go with five films that span the gamut of obscurity, from overlooked classics from the 40’s to low grade B slasher flicks from the 2000’s. Each film is from a different decade, and has a distinctly different genre. My one rule was that they had to be a holiday film and be virtually invisible on Flickchart, which I defined as having a ranking of 10,000 or lower.
Twas the fight before Christmas, and here at Flickchart,
Two titans were ready to give it a start.
Capra in one corner; Clark in another,
About to decide who is the Bad Mother.
Reel Rumbles so festive, and ready to bring,
Two holiday classics into the ring.
I, Aric Mitchell, am your humble guide
Reffing this contest to finally decide
Which, this Christmas, is the best flick of all:
It’s a Wonderful Life vs. A Christmas Story?
On with the brawl!