LAMBracket: Best Christmas Movie – Play-Off #8

by Jay Cluitt · December 8, 2018 · Featured, LAMBracket, LAMBracket Christmas, Periodic Features · No Comments

From December 1st until Christmas Eve, here on the LAMB, we’ll be determining what is the BEST Christmas movie of all time. We’ve asked you all which films are the main contenders, and twenty-four of you replied with your choices, which will bauble battle it out for seasonal supremacy. It’s a head-to-head, single elimination tournament, so whichever film wins today moves onto the next round. However, here is not the only place to vote. No, head to FacebookTwitter and Instagram to see the same poll there, and it’ll be the total of all four results that determines the winner.

Today’s tinsel tussle is the last of the pre-bracket play-offs, fittingly from the “Other” category of movies that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. Today’s choice is The Preacher’s Wife vs Lapland Odyssey:

The Preacher’s Wife vs Lapland Odyssey

The Preacher’s Wife, championed by LeAnne Lindsay from Tinsel & Tine

I’m the type to cringe when I hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving, and even then, I’m really not in the mood until that final, crazy Christmas frenzy starting somewhere around December 15th. However, I make one exception to this ban on early Carols, and that is, still to this day, I’m happy to listen to Whitney Houston’s The Preacher’s Wife: Original Soundtrack Album – all year round. It debuted with the movie in 1996 and remains the best-selling gospel album of all time. The soundtrack also remained at number one for a record twenty-six weeks on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums Chart. I always pictured myself singing “Who Would Imagine a King” to my son or daughter as their favorite bedtime lullaby; the rousing “Step by Step” written by one of my other all-time favorite artists, Annie Lennox, is still one I listen to in my workout music rotation; “Joy” (with the Georgia Mass Choir) written by Kirk Franklin, well the title says it all! I could go on about the album, but this isn’t the only reason why this is my favorite Christmas movie. Directed by Penny Marshall, this uplifting holiday offering is one of the first movies with a black cast I can honestly say stole my heart. The other two are Whitney Houston movies as well, The Bodyguard (1992) and Waiting to Exhale (1995), before these flicks, there were plenty of socially relevant, inspiring, important, some terribly amateurish, and some great comedies with Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy; but in my opinion, it wasn’t until Houston’s short-lived movie career that I could actually relate to a film with a predominately black cast, because it was as delightfully sappy and romantic as many of the old movies I grew up watching, like the film it’s based upon, Cary Grant’s The Bishop’s Wife.

In a nutshell, Rev. Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance) is the pastor of a small, struggling Baptist church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of New York City. His wife Julia (Whitney Houston) is devoted to her husband, the church and their young son, Jeremiah, but she’s not feeling very appreciated in her marriage as Rev Biggs has so much more to contend with than romancing his wife. In pops Dudley (Denzel Washington); he’s not on the scene as an answered prayer by Julia, rather he’s an angel sent to take some of the burden off of Rev Biggs, although, his methods include befriending Jeremiah and some close to inappropriate attention paid to the good preacher’s wife. The always no-nonsense Jennifer Lewis plays Julia’s suspicious mother; there’s a cute little B romantic storyline between the reverend’s secretary (Loretta Devine) and a corpulent parishioner; the late great Gregory Hines plays the villain of the movie, a greedy real estate developer trying to woo Rev. Biggs away from his small parish to run his big soulless church, and Lionel Richie makes his acting debut as a night club owner who knew Julia before she became a preacher’s wife. All in all, every scene and frame is warm, funny and musically the embodiment of holiday cheer.

Lapland Odyssey, championed by David Brook from Blueprint: Review

The chances of me winning this bracket are slim because Lapland Odyssey is not very well known and isn’t actually available to buy or stream in the UK. It is on DVD and Amazon Prime in the US though and in its native Finland it was a big success, spawning 2 sequels. Despite its obscurity in the English-speaking world, I think it’s worthy of this list though as it’s a hugely enjoyable alternative to the usual predictable, schmaltzy festive drivel. If you want a quirky adult comedy with a Finnish twist during the Christmas holidays, this should be your first stop (although I wouldn’t argue with anyone going for Rare Exports either – those Finns certainly know how to make a good Christmas movie!).

It has a wonderfully simple setup. Layabout Janne refuses to grow up or make any effort to achieve anything. His girlfriend Inari has had enough and the final straw comes when she gives Janne some money to buy a new digibox and he fails at even that. She gives him an ultimatum on Christmas Eve – come home with a digibox before dawn on Christmas morning or she’s leaving him. This seemingly simple task sets in motion an epic journey of ridiculous shenanigans as Janne and his two friends trek across Lapland to somehow get hold of a new digibox on Christmas Eve night.

It’s not your typical Yuletide story then, but it’s got touching moments among the wry Finnish humour and hilariously escalating trouble the boys get themselves into along their journey. If you can find a way of tracking Lapland Odyssey down I urge you to do so. You won’t regret it and I’d hope it would inspire you to vote for it as the best Christmas movie of all time!

Which is the better Christmas movie?

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