Every #1 seed on today’s side has stuck around. Will that continue?
(1) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas from Meet Me in St. Louis vs. (6) When Love is Gone from A Muppet Christmas Carol
This one has won both matches by over 90%! That is insane. There is a sense of nostalgia in this song that resonates with everyone, no matter the age.
A drastically underrated song from a pretty well-loved movie, “When Love is Gone” is a heartbreaking song that might just be the highlight of A Muppet Christmas Carol.
It's the second day of Round 3 of #BestChristmasSong! Round 3: Movies Division. Which song is better? Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Meet Me in St. Louis) vs. When Love is Gone (Muppet Christmas Carol)
(1) Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town by Bruce Springsteenvs. (3) Frosty the Snowman by The Ronettes
This one is apparently pretty divisive, as it makes many lists of worst songs, and I’ve heard many people tell me they hate it. That hasn’t stopped it from moving on to the third round and getting regular airplay every year.
Betting out the Eagles surprised me, but this is a really great cover. Will it win the whole Covers division?
Round 3: Covers Division. Which song is better? Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Bruce Springsteen) vs. Frosty the Snowman (The Ronettes) #BestChristmasSong
We’re down to just 16 songs. Which will win their divisions?
(1) You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas vs. (2) A Holly Jolly Christmas from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Just stop covering this one, any pop artist. The lyrics are great, but it’s the bass of Thurl Ravenscroft that makes this song work.
“Mr. Grinch” won the first round easily, with 83% of the vote. Now
Hey, it’s another song where the mistletoe is “hung where you can see.” Why would you hang it anywhere else? If you did… why would you be singing about it? “Ho ho the mistletoe, stored in the attic/I don’t even know it’s there, but I’m singing this lyric.”
We're entering the 3rd Round of #BestChristmasSong! TV Specials Division: Which song is better? You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch (The Grinch) vs. A Holly Jolly Christmas (Rudolph)
(3) Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow by Vaughn Monroe vs. (4) Winter Wonderland by Richard Himber and Joey Nash
It’s the battle of the ambiguously-Christmas songs. Neither mentions Christmas or anything related to the holiday, but they’ve both become standards. Both also have more famous covers, but these are the originals. Which snowy favorite will it be?
Round 3: Standards division. Which song is better? Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow (Vaughn Monroe) vs. Winter Wonderland (Richard Himber) #BestChristmasSong
(2) Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl vs. (3) Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love
Various polls have called this the greatest Christmas song of all time, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it sure stays with you. It’s sad, heartbreaking and angry, while still totally feeling like a Christmas song.
I don’t know the first match was a tie. Darlene Love’s song is the best track off an amazing album. Most Christmas songs (even the good ones) get tired around December 15th or so, but this one stays great no matter the day.
Round 2: Radio Favorites division. Which song is better? Fairytale of New York (The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl) vs. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Darlene Love) #BestChristmasSong
Three songs from Christmas Carol adaptations moved on. They’ve got some good songs.
(1) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas from Meet Me in St. Louis vs. (4) Oh What a Merry Christmas Day from Mickey’s Christmas Carol
The biggest winner in Round 1 (by a score of 96-4), this classic from Meet Me in St. Louis has a pretty good chance to move into the third round.
Outside of the cartoon, it’s not necessarily all that great, but it really is a nice, atmospheric start to Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
It's Day 3 of Round 2 of #BestChristmasSong as we re-enter the Movies division. Which song is better? Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Meet Me in St. Louis) vs. Oh What a Merry Christmas Day (Mickey's Christmas Carol)
(2) Thank You Very Much from Scrooge vs. (6) When Love is Gone from A Muppet Christmas Carol
Not only this is the most hilarious, upbeat song about death this side of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” it also features the brilliant lyric “But since I left my cannon at home.” I hate when that happens. This is a fantastic song, yet it’s featured in one of the worst Christmas Carols.
This is one of the toughest matches yet, because both songs are truly great. I cannot grasp why this song was cut from A Muppet Christmas Carol.
Round 2: Movies division. Which song is better? Thank You Very Much (Scrooge) vs. When Love is Gone (A Muppet Christmas Carol) #BestChristmasSong
With today’s judges Kirk Cameron and Great Grandma from Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa. There was an oddly specific request in Mr. Mayor’s will that his tombstone remain on the stage forever, so apparently it’s not moving.
Brought to you by independent Christian studio Veritas, this is the kind of film everyone expected Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas to be. It fully believes that there is a war on Christmas, and we all must fight it or all of our freedoms will quickly fade away. It plays this idea painfully straight without the slightest touch of irony, hoping to rile its audience up to form an angry mob to “save” Christmas. It’s the only film I’ve ever seen that can truly qualify as Xmasploitation.
We start with something every Christmas movie needs—a quote from Reagan.
Not that one sadly. So after alienating half of its audience from the get-go, we cut to a motorcycle commercial.
Wait, this is actually our movie? I mean, look at the scenery, listen to the music and deep-voiced narrator. It’s shoving faux-masculinity in your face.
This is our hero mouthpiece Bob Revere (Marshall Teague) a Vietnam veteran. He says that he doesn’t remember anyone ever telling him that freedoms had to be fought for, even though Reagan just told him that in the opening quote.
We see Bob’s son Tim or Ted or Bill (It’s Tom) go off to war (presumably Iraq), and seeing as how the son isn’t the main character of the film, we know he’s going to die. He does, shocker. We then cut to 14 years later, meaning if the Iraq War started in 2003, this movie is taking place in…
That’s right, this 2012 film takes place during the Christmas season of 2017. So what’s on TV in Last Ounce of Courage‘s 2017?
Congratulations movie, you managed to create an even worse 2017 than the one we’re living in. Bill O’Reilly here is up in arms about the War on Christmas, which is totally real.
Putting this aside a second, what was the point of starting the movie 14 years earlier? It’s an extended prologue, but we get nothing meaningful from it. There’s a dad and a mom and their son and his wife and young child. The son goes to war and dies. The dad is sad. The mom is sad. The wife is sad. The wife and son move away and come back 14 years later. I just saved you the first ten minutes of this movie. If they wanted to show bits of the past in flashback, they could just do that… I mean, they do that anyway. You’re showing a flashback to something we’ve already seen!
In 2017, Bob Revere is the mayor of Mount Columbus, Illinois… and also the pharmacist for some reason. When the world’s least threatening biker gang comes in, he stitches up a gunshot wound, because pharmacist=surgeon. Does this guy know Principal Pankley? What is it with mayors in Christmas specials overstepping their boundaries? Also, the bikers claim the injured one accidentally shot himself! I don’t think this movie made by conservative Republicans was going for a pro-gun control message, but hey, we’ve got one and I’m calling that a win.
Bob’s daughter-in-law Kari and grandson Chris (short for Christian) move back in for… plot reasons I guess. Yes, his name is Christian Revere, and while that’s ham-fisted and stupid, that’s not even in my top 10 issues with this film, so let’s move on. Chris takes his Bible to school, but gets called to the principal’s office and is threatened with suspension.
Wait, hold on. Is this the same principal from The Legend of Frosty the Snowman? Forget for a second that was a cartoon and this one live-action.
Is this just the go-to Principal look in Christmas cinema? Instant-Principal: just add glasses, receding hairline and bulbous nose. In a totally unrelated picture, here’s the President in Dr. Strangelove.
Anyway, even though this principal threatens to punish Chris, he later reveals that there’s nothing he can really do, as there’s no law saying The Bible is banned from schools, as long as it’s not taught by a teacher. So what was the point of all this? If a school was actually threatening people for doing nothing illegal, they would get in serious trouble.
As if that wasn’t enough, the school is also producing a winter play, because doing one with Christian themes would offend people. They’re producing the principal-penned A Winter Space Odyssey, which is essentially the Nativity re-written with aliens instead of shepherds and a pot of gold instead of the Messiah. Huh? So instead of just doing a different Christmas play, you’re doing an “original” one that steals the biblical one. Isn’t that just calling more attention to it? Also, why is it A Winter Space Odyssey? The Nativity didn’t most likely happen in winter. If you take away Christmas from it, the winter season is entirely disconnected. Second, isn’t The Odyssey about a journey home? I mean, it’s kind of come to mean a journey in general, but 2001: A Space Odyssey has that title because Dave returns home at the end, right? Or at least because humanity has discovered its roots and its metaphorical home?
Anyway, the play is directed by the most cliched, flamboyant high-strung theatre director parody you’ve ever seen.
Alright, if this was a comedy, I’d get it. However, not only is this (trying to be) a drama where everyone else plays their part relatively straight, this is a conservative Christian movie that is clearly portraying this effeminate character super-negatively. It’s not just out-of-place—it’s plain distasteful. He mouths along the lines of the play, even though he didn’t write it, and if he knew anything about theatre, he would realize it was crap.
The Revere family puts a plan in place to bring Christmas back, and they often imply that they’re fighting the same fight that Tom did in Iraq. Bob, in all his rebelliousness, begins to (shocker) put up Christmas decorations in the town square. What a brave and courageous act, just as brave as those who give their lives for their country, if not braver. As he sets up decorations, “Winter Wonderland” plays on the soundtrack. Was the film’s editor sabotaging the film? How do we score a guy who wants to put Christ back in Christmas decorating? With a secular song that doesn’t even mention Christmas!
Meanwhile, Chris and his school friends, including his kind-of-girlfriend Maddy (Jenny Boyd) are going to sabotage the play by stopping it mid-show and telling the Nativity Story instead. They spend way too much time plotting this, because the movie needs to throw in as many subplots as possible into this lack of story.
Oh, and Chris’ mother (Nikki Novak) is falling for a local cop and friend of her late husband. It’s pointless, but it makes the thing 90 minutes long, and it features the most tolerable acting in the movie.
The news can’t stop talking about the mayor decorating the city, because this alternate 2017 is weird. Do the newscasters have nothing else to talk about? How many reporters need to interview him? No one cares.
Bob is opposed by ACLU lawyer Warren “The Hammer” Hammerschmidt (Fred Williamson), who can’t decide if he’s a parody of Johnnie Cochran or Danny Glover.
He’s smarmy and falsely confident and chews on a cigar in every scene. So if you’re expecting subtlety from a movie like this… yeah none of you were. I know. Anyway, Hammer Glovran threatens to withhold funding for a veteran’s center Bob wants if he keeps decorating for Christmas. The scene in which Bob learns about this has “Jingle Bells” playing in the background, another secular song that does not once mention Christmas! That’s it, I’m convinced someone was trolling this movie. I know, “Jingle Bells” is just playing on the radio, and Bob does later complain that the radio doesn’t play real Christmas music anymore, but he does this while “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is playing. That song mentions Christmas multiple times, including the ingredients of Christmas dinner. He never once complains that “Jingle Bells,” a song originally written for Thanksgiving, is playing, though. Even worse, this makes his “comic relief” friend (he’s never funny) break into a freestyle rap of “We Three Kings.” Bob gives him a look that I’m pretty sure is the last face you see before you die.
What’s weird is Marshall Teague isn’t giving a bad performance per se, because it’s exactly what the writers want. It’s just that he’s acting like a villain, because the writing makes the character come off that way. Heck, I wish he was playing a villain, because that face is terrifying. Ultimately, this is a scene that goes nowhere except to have Bob rant about the lack of real Christmas music on the radio.
At a town meeting with literally the worst extras in film history…
Bob and “The Hammer” go at it. Is this the climax of the film, you ask? No, of course not, we’re only at the 56 minute mark. Bob goes as far as to call Hammerschmidt’s actions “politically motivated” without the slightest hint of self-awareness. He also tells Hammerschmidt that the ACLU supports un-American causes, to which Hammerschmidt replies “Sir, we are non-partisan.” Here’s where it is blatantly obvious who is writing this movie. If this film was written by someone at least trying to create a layered antagonist, the line would be “Sir, we protect the rights of all Americans. We are anything but Anti-American.” However, in Last Ounce of Courage, even the film’s cigar-chomping villain suggests that one of the two parties is “Anti-American.” Subtle.
When Bob begins one of his self-aggrandizing speeches, he says that limiting how he celebrates Christmas is like changing the name of Columbus Day to Great Explorers Day. You literally could have picked any other innocent holiday, but instead, you picked the one holiday whose name people are actually trying to change!
Ready for another subplot? You’re not? Well here we go anyway. It turns out Bob made a mistake when he was serving in Vietnam, and he might not be a hero after all. He stepped on a trip wire, and while he was knocked out from a concussion, one of his men died. However, he later says that “my guys who died that night were the heroes,” meaning Bob doesn’t know how to count.
Does this subplot go anywhere? Of course not. I mean, his public image gets rattled a little bit, but that would have happened with or without this subplot.
A newscast (entirely devoid of any graphics) reports that Mayor Bob has been fired for separation of church and state, because even though everyone at the meeting seemed to be in agreement with him, “The Hammer” did something or other evil to make him get fired. Does this news station have nothing else to report on? It’s not like every small town has its own individual news station! There are other cities with other stories you could be covering. When Chris gets interviewed on the news about his grandfather, he begins his remarks to the newscaster with “Listen lady.” Your hero, everyone! He also says “If Bob says it’s a good thing, then it must be.” Yes, in case you didn’t pick up on it before, this movie is now telling you outright that it has Bob-centered morality. If Bob likes it, it’s good. If Bob doesn’t like it, it’s bad.
Now the ex-mayor, Bob illegally hoists a cross in front of the Christian Mission (apparently that got taken down too) with the help of Christian.
Once again, this feels like the climax of the movie, but we’re only 70 minutes in. Instead of sensibly telling the idiots to get down from the roof, Maddy asks if someone can go help them. The biker who shot himself earlier goes up and helps them lift the cross as everyone looks on and cheers… except of course the police, because trespassing on private property and all. Before Bob is arrested, he is of course allowed to make a William Wallace-style speech. Look, I have watched a lot of movies, many of them truly awful. This is, without a doubt, the worst speech I have ever heard in a movie. I need to share it in full.
As you probably have heard, I am no longer the mayor of this town, so tonight I stand here a freedom fighter. This country was founded by freedom fighters, men and women who loved their country and their Creator. 400 years ago, our forefathers left the religious oppression of another land to build this one, and the first thing they did, the first thing they did, was to put a cross on the shores of the Atlantic. But it was more than a cross, it was a symbol that in this land, a citizen has the freedom to worship as he or she desires, or the freedom not to worship at all.
My fight isn’t about colored lights or a tree on the city square. My fight is about freedom and taking back what has been stolen from us. We are losing freedoms, one by one, that our forefathers, our brothers in arms, and my son died for. It is time we stood up for what they died for, for what we believe in. Our rights are being destroyed, perhaps forever, but don’t you see we’re letting it happen. We’re asleep. We sleep, and they come in like a thief in the night, and they take what’s left. Wake up! We can’t sleep anymore. Wake up and look around you! Look what’s coming over the horizon. We can’t let the enemy take one more inch, not one more inch. We can’t be silent anymore. The silence has to stop, and it has to stop today.
Young men and women are dying in foreign lands to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy every single day. Can you hear them? Just listen—it’s their voices from the grave. They’re wondering if they died in vain. Do we dare diminish their sacrifice by our silence? Well if your answer is no, then you think about this. When history is written, will history say that you stood by and you did nothing? Or will history say that you fought, that you fought like those brave souls, you fought to preserve the memory of the young men and women that have given everything for this country and for you? We fight for freedom. We fight for freedom. We fight for freedom.
The movie so far has been pretty clear in equating fighting the war on Christmas with fighting in an actual, non-made up war. However, this speech outright states that this is the case. It’s sickening and repulsive. A film that constantly acts like it’s respecting the military is outright insulting it by comparing life-threatening missions to fighting a phony cultural war.
Bob says that this country was founded by people who loved their country. Huh? If they loved their country, then why did they leave it? You tell us in the next sentence that they did! I don’t think the pilgrims were big fans of Merry Olde England, or they would have, you know, STAYED THERE. However, since we have to equate love of God to love of country, he just throws this in anywhere, regardless of the fact that it makes no sense.
Then there’s the parts about freedom. They are so generic, so white bread and dry, that they could be a part of any cliched movie speech. He could be talking to anyone about anything, as long as freedom is involved somehow. It just goes on and on, and the cops just let him finish anyway, because I guess they’re captivated by his skills as an orator. He also says that the enemy comes and takes freedom like “a thief in the night,” which is odd because The Bible uses the same analogy to describe Jesus’ return.
So that speech went 30 minutes and now the movie’s over right? Nope, we’ve still got a play to perform. This thing has more false endings than a Meat Loaf song, and it’s only a little less self-important. Bob gets taken to prison, and one of the Allman Brothers lets him listen to the play on the radio.
Later it’s of course revealed that the play never went out on the radio and this guy was never there. So God has come back to earth and this is what he cares about most? Right.
Chris and his friends interrupt the play as planned and tell the Nativity Story, even though judging by the audience’s reaction, they’ve all heard it a million times. They all seem to want to get back to a religious Christmas, so why is telling the Nativity groundbreaking? Chris pauses the Nativity play he’s putting on (apparently he’s bored of that one already too) to show a Christmas video his dad recorded for him while fighting overseas.
It seems pretty harmless and innocent… until the dad gets killed onscreen. Has Chris watched this video before? It’s suggested that he has, but his mom is in the audience, and she has not. The last time I saw this many Christians in a theatre applauding a man’s death in the Middle East was when I saw ThePassion of the Christ.
Chris brings an American flag to center stage as the Nativity play continues, because this movie has proved there is no separation of church and state… even though the founding fathers fought for it, but whatever. Bob doesn’t believe in it, so it doesn’t exist.
Bob is let go from prison for… reasons, and his family is reunited. A newscaster, who’s revealed to be Bob’s estranged older daughter, walks out of the news studio on Christmas Eve and spends Christmas with her family instead.
So she’s estranged but she lives in the same area? That makes sense. They also never say why she’s estranged, because this movie with 217 subplots didn’t have time to deal with a semi-important one. The credits also replay scenes from the movie, just in case the message hasn’t been hammered hard enough yet.
Now let’s get back to the anger this movie intends to bring out in its viewer. There are endless bad Christmas films, but so many of them at least attempt to spread Christmas love and cheer. Heck, even that disaster Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas was an attempt by Kirk to bring all things Christmas under one mantle, because he loves the holiday so much. It was cheesy, terrible and offensive, but I don’t think it was intentionally hateful. It did encourage people to enjoy Christmas. It attempted to make people happy around Christmas who weren’t before. Last Ounce of Courage attempts to make you angry because your freedoms are being taken away. Some of my favorite films of all time leave me feeling angry at the end, but a CHRISTMAS FILM? Seriously? You want me to be angry because of Christmas? Oh trust me, I’m angry, but not for any of the reasons this film wants.
The worst thing about this movie is that people like this really exist. Take it from someone who was raised around them—there are Christians who genuinely believe there is a War on Christmas and that some atheistic conspiracy exists to wipe away their beliefs. It’s sad. There are real issues in the real world. This movie exists in their fantasy land, and it panders to them shamelessly. It’s not even a movie. It’s a sermon being preached to the choir. Heck, even that expression is too kind. It’s propaganda being shouted at people who already believe it. It is the lowest form of film making.
Alright, let’s try to lighten it up and see what our judges say. Kirk?
This is not how you save Christmas. There was not one scene of two people in a car arguing about Christmas. They didn’t even eat Christmas dinner. I’ll give it 1 1/2 Empty Mugs of Hot Chocolate out of 5.
Ou a chewa a hooby blooby each a chowky Christmas!
Is that all we’re going to get from you?
huh huh ha ha haw
So your rating is “Christmas” then? Thanks. Well that’s all I have to say about this movie where the mayor of a small town…
MAYORS DON’T DO THAT!
MAYORS DON’T DO THAT!
The mayor in this film breaks the National Mayors’ Ethical Code. I had to speak up.
I thought you were dead.
No, I was just sick of watching lousy Christmas specials, so I faked my own death. When I heard about this one though, I had to say something. No mayor would ever waste so much time on something so pointless. He should be giving money to orphans or randomly assigning jobs to new people who come to town.
So do you have a rating for Last Ounce of Courage?
I give it two bags of money…
Out of 38,000.
So is this worse than The Legend of Frosty the Snowman from last week? I know with all my anger this week it would seem like a no-brainer, but I really truly hate both of them. Both have clearly never read their source material (Frosty the Snowman and The Bible and or Constitution, respectively), but it’s Last Ounce of Courage that just edges it out. At least Frosty wasn’t just an hour long rant about there not being enough snowmen in the world.
Next week, I’ll be reviewing this year’s version of A Christmas Carol, which will hopefully be good for some cheap laughs. It does have Nicolas Cage as the voice of Marley.