BENDER DOES CHRISTMAS

Have Yourself a Merry Bender Christmas

 by

Brandy Anderson

Most people primary know him as criminal John Bender from The Breakfast Club, but Judd Nelson has worn many hats. A quick look at imbd will show you that Nelson has never stopped working. In fact, Judd Nelson has a brand new holiday film that just debuted on Lifetime. In celebration, I thought this would be a good time to look at the surprising number of Christmas movies that Nelson has starred in. Whether playing a mobster “Wise Guy (Man)”, a cynical cop, a repressed but loving father, or the Big S Guy himself, Nelson has made more Christmas films than most of his contemporaries. I’m not ashamed to say that I heartily enjoy each and every one of these films.

First up:

SANTA, JR. (2002)

Santa Jr

Okay, I won’t lie: this movie is crazy sappy and beyond heavy on the cheese in sections. However, Judd Nelson is extremely attractive throughout the film. Er, I mean, Nelson’s performance is very fine. Lauren Holly is always likable in every movie she does and this is no exception. The queerest thing about this movie is the casting choice of Santa’s son. Nick Stabile plays Santa Jr (he goes by “Chris”) and he’s clearly in his 20s yet the dialogue insinuates that the character is supposed to be a teenager, which creates an odd dissonance in a few places. George Wallace plays the partner to Nelson’s cop and the two actors play off each other nicely. Holly and Nelson sparkle as romantic leads which is what makes this a great “must see” Christmas movie. Think of it as one of those really bad fun movies that you just love anyway.

THREE WISE GUYS (2005)

Three Wise Guys

This is a strange Christmas movie that you know will be odd just from the cast list alone. It stars Tom Arnold and Katy Sagal, primarily, with Judd Nelson, Nicholas Turturro, and Eddie McClintock playing the mob men with hearts of gold who learn the true spirit of Christmas; it’s corny, but fun. Nelson plays one of the three “wise guys” and Arnold is his typically obnoxious-but-somehow-still-kinda-funny self. Sagal is enchanting as always. Nelson steals every scene. This is certainly worth watching if you’re a fan of the cast members, particularly if you have a soft spot for offbeat Christmas movies.

CANCEL CHRISTMAS (2010)

Bender As Santa = Weird

John Bender is Santa Claus; enough said. Okay, I lied, I have one more thought to add here: I wonder if Mister Vernon got coal in his stocking.

KRISTEN’S CHRISTMAS PAST (2013)

Hot Father Judd

Okay, let me first say that I love this movie. It’s so great to have a new Christmas movie to add to my list of favourites. Not only is there a stellar cast here (Nelson, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Shiri Appleby), but the writing is also snappy and funny. Okay, so I’ll tell any Judd Nelson fans right from the start that his screen time is limited. However, his performance is solid and understated as he plays the perfect subservient husband. It’s also great fun and a blast from the past to see A.J. Langer (from the wonderfully angsty My So-Called Life) light up the screen again. Aside from a fun secondary cast, this movie is really a vehicle for Elizabeth Mitchell and Shiri Appleby. I’ve been a long time fan of Mitchell since I first saw her as the initially frigid principle in the Tim Allen Santa Clause movies and my admiration of her only grew when she appeared as Juliet in LOST. Mitchell is mesmerizing in this role as a stern and often cold but always loving mother. I was completely uninitiated with Shiri Appleby before this movie. She is thoroughly charming, hilarious, and just all round lovely as the title character who haplessly stumbles her way through her past. Kristen’s Christmas Past is one of those holiday movies that I know I’ll re-watch every year and I would even if Nelson wasn’t in it, and that’s saying something.

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