What can be said of a Christmas season wherein Disney's holiday offering ends with its heroine resorting to senseless physical violence to make her point?
Remember the good old days when the plight of Bedford Falls favorite suicidal son or the bells of St. Mary's ringing for tubercular nun Ingrid Bergman passed for downbeat Yuletide cheer? Wait until you get a gander at the disease, violence, drug abuse, graphic nudity, and all-around profane and anti-social behavior that awaits in this year's multiplex stockings.
Using slavery and AIDS as foundation stones, studios have turned their brick-and-mortar screening venues into giant repositories of grief. This year there is something to bring everybody down.
It hit me when this holiday season's first bout with cinematic carcinoma appeared halfway through the alleged Christmas rom-"com," The Best Man Holiday. The lady seated in front of me began to weep uncontrollably, her shoulders convulsing so hard that from the back she appeared to be working a cocktail-shaker.
As a community service, The Big Screen is delighted to offer the following glossary of despair, an index of every illness, every heinous acts, every violent whip of the lash and snap of the tongue spelled out in advance for your viewing pleasure.
Beware! Some of the following categories may contain spoilers.
Cancer: The Best Man Holiday, August: Osage County
Schizophrenia: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Slavery: 12 Years a Slave
Childhood Mortality: The Broken Circle Breakdown
AIDS: The Dallas Buyers Club
Elder Abuse: Nebraska, August: Osage County, Last Vegas
Peter Pan Syndrome: Her
Incest: August: Osage County
Poisonous fog: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Suicide: August: Osage County
Some nudity and brief sexuality: 12 Years a Slave
Abnormal sexual indifference: Frozen
Drug and/or alcohol abuse: The Wolf of Wall Street, August: Osage County, The Best Man Holiday, Out of the Furnace, Bad Grandpa, The Dallas Buyer’s Club, American Hustle, Homefront, Oldboy
Juvenile Delinquency: Bad Grandpa
Consumption: Saving Mr. Banks
Dementia: Philomena, Nebraska, Last Vegas
Floating guys who look like old lesbians: All Is Lost
And in lieu of this year’s traditional Holocaust film for the holidays from The Weinstein Company, there’s 20th Century Fox’s The Book Thief
Graphic Nudity/Strong Sexual Content: Bad Grandpa, Her, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, Oldboy, All Is Lost
Violence/Cruelty/Brutality: The Wolf of Wall Street, Out of the Furnace, Homefront, Oldboy, Last Days on Mars
Strong Language: The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Bad Grandpa, Her, Out of the Furnace, Homefront, August: Osage County, Oldboy, Last Days on Mars