There are a string of shows about the things ‘that made us', largely on Netflix. They include The Toys That Made Us and The Movies That Made Us. So, given the time of year, The Holiday Movies That Made Us seemed like it would be good fun. And it really could have been if the powers that be hadn't stopped at just two flicks.
Seriously, of all the Christmas movies made over the last few decades, Netflix picked just two to document – Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I'll admit that the backstories are very interesting and having watched the show, it's a miracle either of them actually got made.
Elf is the beloved 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell as a human adult who believes he is an elf. He leaves the North Pole and heads to New York in search of his biological father and encounters all sorts of adventures along the way. It's a great film, hilarious and heartwarming in equal measure but getting it made was anything but easy.
The writer, David Berenbaum, had never written a movie before. He met with producer Jon Berg, who had never produced a movie and they went to an executive producer who had never worked on a big movie before. So instantly you had three people with little or no experience, embarking on a journey to make a Christmas movie. Through a heady mix of half knowing various people, they managed to bag Jon Favreau to direct. But this was 2003 and Favreau had directed one movie up to that point.
But between them, they managed to overcome a significant number of issues, and eventually the Elf movie that we know and love made its way to the big screen. On a budget of $33 million, Elf grossed over $222 million worldwide making it an epic commercial hit.
The same can't be said for The Nightmare Before Christmas, the second movie to go under the spotlight in The Holiday Movies That Made Us. The brainchild of Tim Burton, he actually had almost no creative input into the movie. And despite being made over 25 years ago, some of the production crew are still a little peeved.
Issues with the script, creative restrictions, timelines, budget, and overall control of the movie still linger. The legacy of the film may live on but so does the frustration from the creators. It's interesting if only from the point of view of really highlighting how hard it was to make the movie and how controlling yet unhelpful Tim Burton was.
The Holiday Movies that Made Us may be short and sweet but it is at least interesting. The only thing that absolutely bugged the life out of me was the constant peppering from the narrator of the show. Those interviewed had their sentences cut and chopped every which way possible creating this frantic pace that was entirely unnecessary. In fact, it kind of ruined two very good stories. Great concept but awful editing.