Poster Impressions: Holiday Movies

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the movies and TV specials. It seems like there are countless out there, with more always on the way. Everyone has their list of mandatory holiday viewings they need to make their way through each year. That’s why holiday movies are the perfect topic for this installment of Poster Impressions.

Jingle All the Way (1996)

The first thing the eye catches on this poster is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s silly facial expression with his eyes bulging out of his skull. Not only is it awkward and hilarious, but it makes one think about how extremely often he makes that goofy face throughout the movie. 

What’s also a little weird about this poster is that Schwarzenegger and Sinbad are looking in different directions despite supposedly reaching for the same thing. It’s just plain confusing. 

The Turboman action figure being just out of reach is absolutely perfect as it’s what Schwarzenegger’s character spends the film searching for. It’s literally just out of his reach the whole time. 

The other Christmas shoppers being blurred out adds to the chaotic feel of holiday shopping the filmmakers are going for. Much of the film is commentary on how crazy people get around the holiday season, especially with how much importance they put on possessions rather than being kind, and that’s captured really well here. It feels chaotic, dizzying, and stressful, which is exactly the point. 

The tagline “Two dads, one toy, no prisoners.” Makes a lot of sense if you’ve already seen the movie, or at least know enough of what it’s about. However, if you’re someone who’s seeing this poster before knowing anything about the movie, you might be totally confused, or even disturbed by it.

A Christmas Story (1983)

This is a pretty basic movie poster, but it says enough. Here’s the protagonist, and here are some memorable events from his Christmas story. That’s what the movie is, and that’s exactly what the poster tells us. Unfortunately, though, it shows us the leg lamp, the bunny pajamas, Flick’s tongue stuck on the pole; most of the best moments from the film. If this is a movie you’ve grown up with or that you enjoy, this poster can sell you on the fond memories you have of it. If you have never seen it, then these are all just spoilers. That being said, it is a nice touch that those moments are depicted on Christmas ornaments. It makes it all feel more festive. 

Even though this is the image or poster most people associate with A Christmas Story, there was another poster used to market it when it was originally released, and it was a bit more bonkers. Here it is below:

First, Santa Claus is coming down the chimney on this one. There’s no actual Santa in this movie other than just a mall Santa, and he never slides down a chimney. Second, Ralphie’s iconic bunny pajamas are white here instead of pink. The other really odd feature here are the uncomfortable splits the parents are doing. Those just look painful. 

All that being said, it does showcase some of the craziness, like the leg lamp or psycho dogs eating the turkey, without showing too much. Plus, the tagline saying “A Tribute to the Original, Traditional, One-Hundred-Percent, Red-Blooded, Two-Fisted, All-American Christmas…” may be a bit long, but it tells us the kind of story we are in for. This poster may be a little stranger than the more well-known one, but it tells us everything we need to know without outright spoiling scenes in the movie. 

Eight Crazy Nights (2002)

What’s happening on this poster is exactly as the title Eight Crazy Nights suggests. A trailer, seemingly piloted by a mad man, soaring into the sky, dragging along some poor elderly folks and a helpless reindeer for the ride. That certainly looks crazy to me. This makes the film look like a fun, wacky, animated thrill ride. 

The Christmas tree, lights, and ornaments make this feel more like a Christmas movie, but as the title and menorah suggest, this is actually a Hanukkah movie. That’s definitely needed, as there aren’t exactly a whole lot of those. The menorah being a smaller detail compared to the Christmas decorations is likely commentary about how one holiday often outshines the other during this time of year. It could also be a way to pull in audiences who would be more interested in a Christmas movie than a Hanukkah one. 

“The ultimate battle between naughty and nice” is an interesting tagline, as it fits the main character of Davey, and his inner conflict throughout the story, really well. He has a big heart, but because of his hurtful past, presents himself as a crude person. It’s also another nod toward this being a holiday movie. What’s odd about it, though, is that being naughty or nice is typically associated with Christmas, not Hanukkah.

“Featuring an All New Installment of ‘The Chanukah Song’” is written on the bottom. This would likely excite anyone familiar with Adam Sandler’s hilarious holiday tune. It further shows the viewer what kind of comedy they’ll be in for when they see this movie. 

Whoever decided to have the credit text toward the bottom be written in gray on the white background didn’t quite think it through. It’s virtually unreadable. If you can’t tell, yes, there is text between the title and the release date. It’s almost like not crediting these individuals at all. 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

The immediate detail that jumps out from this poster is Jim Carrey as the Grinch himself, as it should. The poster is here to say “a live action version of Dr. Suess’s Christmas classic is on the way,” and it does just that. Also, thankfully, it looks great. Creating the Grinch in live action without making him look too ugly or terrifying must have been a difficult feat, but they pulled it off. He looks green, fuzzy, and mean. 

The iconic mountain that he lives on is also clear on the poster, and looks just as great. It has a fun design, yet it still feels threatening as it looms over Whoville. It’s twisted and creepy, which is the perfect home for the Grinch to reside in.

Below that, though, is the main issue with the poster: Whoville. In the movie, Whoville is colorful, full of life, and has strange and cartoony architecture. Here, it’s just a small town surrounded by cold darkness. Where the movie is fun and vibrant, the poster is rather gloomy. The tone just doesn’t quite match. It would be understandable if  someone was repelled from seeing it if they saw this cold, dark poster when they wanted a colorful holiday film. 

The Santa Clause (1994)

This has to be one of the strangest Christmas movie posters ever. Obviously, it’s meant to be Tim Allen transforming into Santa Claus, but he’s stuck in the awkward middle stage of it. His body is unsettling to look at. His chest and upward appear to be just Tim Allen’s chest. The tummy and everything below that, though, looks like a weird hybrid of CGI and a fat suit. Also, his face looks like Arnold’s from the Jingle All the Way poster. The “surprised” expression looks rather cartoony. 

It’s doubtful that many people have asked or wondered what Santa wears under his beloved Santa suit, but here we are. It’s literally the only thing on the poster for everyone to look at. Him being in a Santa suit, or half a Santa suit and half regular clothes, would have given the same effect. Speaking of it being the only thing on the poster, isn’t that odd? There’s no sleigh, no other characters reacting to him becoming Santa, and no reindeer. It’s somewhat lackluster for a Disney family adventure. 

“Scott Calvin must become Santa. No ifs or ands… Just one big butt” somewhat fits the film, as it showcases that the movie will offer goofy humor. However, there’s not tons of “butt” or “fart” jokes or other toilet humor in the film. It’s definitely present, but it’s not the main source of the humor. It’s somewhat misleading with the type of humor that will be seen in the movie. 

It’s actually really helpful that the “E” at the end of the title is a different font and color than the rest of it, because a lot of people, myself included when I was younger, started misspelling “Santa Claus” because of this movie. It’s a solid pun, though, and it does bring attention to the different spelling. It makes one wonder why it’s spelled like that, and what sort of clause would lead to someone becoming Santa. 

Is that text around the border of the poster supposed to be readable? Because it’s not. It’s way too small to make any of it out. Yes, it’s likely meant to be the card he finds in the previous Santa’s coat that he reads to become the new Santa, but he IS able to actually read it in the film. 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

This image is purely iconic. It’s seen every year on people’s lawns as a Christmas decoration. It’s also just as hilarious as the movie itself. However, it’s also somewhat misleading. While yes, it’s mostly to advertise the comedy style to expect during the film, it shows us something that never happens in the movie. Clark Griswold never dresses as Santa with a bag of toys on the rooftop, and he’s never electrocuted. It’s certainly funny to see this level of slapstick on a movie poster, and it’s festive that he’s forming a Christmas star, but it does cause the audience to expect something to happen that never does. 

The film is also live action, not animated like the poster might suggest. It’s understandable why a movie poster back then may be hand-drawn, but it can also cause one to assume that National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is an animated film if they were unfamiliar with the previous Vacation movies.

“Yule Crack Up!” Is a fantastic tagline for the movie. It’s short and to the point, it’s a hilarious pun, it fits the Christmas theme, and it tells the audience the movie is a comedy. It accomplishes a lot in just three words.

Some elements of this poster may be slightly misleading, but overall, it’s almost perfect. It’s funny, advertises the movie well without giving too much away, and it’s so recognizable that someone can know what this poster is for without even seeing the text. 

There are so many holiday movies out there that it will likely be the topic of Poster Impressions again at some point in the future. Sound off in the comments with some of your favorite holiday movie posters! 

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