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  • Gerard Murray

Best of the Worst: the definitive ranking of Edmonton's home-grown Christmas movies

By Gerard Murray

The Christmas Blessing (2005)

Back in October of this year, Edmonton’s downtown and legislative grounds were transformed into post-apocalyptic Boston for HBO’s highly-anticipated drama series The Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name from developer Naughty Dog. While a few other television and movie productions have called Edmonton home, this was the biggest to pass through in some time, with each episode having a reported budget in the multi-million dollar range.

But speaking on those productions of days gone by, the last few decades have seen Alberta’s capital city become a hub of holiday fare more than any other genre. You would hope that it produced at least some quality, but you would be disappointed in the results.

To reiterate: none of these entries offer much cinematic value. Nevertheless, I decided to watch as many as I could while ranking them in a highly non-scientific manner.

1. Christmas in Wonderland

In one of the final on-screen performances from the late Patrick Swayze, he is the father of a family who is - and I offer no exaggeration - really bummed out to be spending Christmas in Edmonton. Not some fictionalized small town or something like that - but Edmonton proper (for what it's worth, they very clearly show them driving from their house into Edmonton via Baseline Road, so I totally understand the sad vibes that Sherwood Park would have given them). Thanks for hurting my feelings, Patrick. Tim Curry and Carmen Electra also appear in this golly-gee-wacky-hijinks movie which primarily takes place in a West Edmonton Mall whose exterior has been completely transformed by cartoonish CGI. I guess they didn't find the pyramid of the Scotiabank Theatre to be cool enough.

Notable locations: Baseline Road, West Edmonton Mall

Where to watch: No longer available at time of writing

2. Santa’s Slay

Santa’s Slay stars a professional wrestler, Bill Goldberg, and asks the timeless holiday question we’ve all ruminated: what if Santa was actually the spawn of Satan and wanted to murder everybody instead of giving them presents, and only did the latter because he lost in an extremely unfair game of curling? This one gets points for doing what The Christmas Blessing couldn’t, and that is to be self-aware enough to not just be bad, but to be so bad on purpose that you can find enjoyment in all of its corny Christmas-themed one-liners along the way. Also, Grandpa literally gets run over by a reindeer.

Notable locations: Edmonton suburbs, Wetaskiwin

Where to watch: Apple TV rental

3. The Christmas Blessing

Close your eyes and imagine the most melodramatic Hallmark movie you could possibly think of. Multiply it by 20 and you might get halfway to where A Christmas Blessing is. The other entries on this list are at least fun because they’re aware of what they are, but Blessing is earnest in its efforts, which might be the saddest part of all. Featuring Neil Patrick Harris on the cusp of breaking out as Barney Stinson and Rob Lowe (probably because he was in the first part of this trilogy and was blackmailed into following up that story). Supporting those two is the half-man himself from Two and a Half Men, Angus T. Jones. There is almost a charm to how poor this movie wa- hey is that Blake Shelton?

Notable locations: Whyte Ave, Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre

Where to watch: YouTube (thank you, random Russian uploader)

4. 12 Days of Christmas Eve

Through watching 12 Days, I can only settle for what is quite possibly the worst verdict I can dole out for a list like this: it was…boring. Not so bad it’s funny, or so bad it’s good. Just boring. Quite honestly I don’t know what else to say, because I wanted to come into this ready to rip any and all holiday cheer apart in these movies, but this one has broken me into mundane submission. I give it points for being the movie most obviously filmed in Edmonton without it being a plot point (unlike another entry on this list), with downtown and Whyte Ave getting a lot of good looks. Molly Shannon is in it too, I guess? You can watch this on Tubi TV, which feels appropriate.

Notable locations: Scotia Place, former Army and Navy

Where to watch: Tubi TV

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