Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Well drat.

Today was supposed to be the fourth and final theatrical viewing for this year’s Flavors but fate and my own stupidity conspired against me. Last week I bought a ticket for Paranormal Craptivity five days in advance, I guess fearing the 5:35 showing would sell out. In a haze of utter exhaustion, I went to the wrong damn theater in the wrong damn borough. I had to buy another ticket, wasting the one I already spent $17.50 on. I called the first theater the next day and asked if I could see a showing of Silent Hill: Revelation the following Friday instead. To my amazement, they said sure. I just had to show the manager my unused ticket and they’d let me in. Awesome, right?

No big titty nurse monsters for me. 😦

Only problem was, that meant I didn’t have to order a ticket in advance like I normally would. Apparently no one else bought one either because they canceled the showing, which I didn’t even know could happen. I would have gone to the 7:30 show but sharing a theater with packs of chatty hyenas and their Nintendo-playing six-year-olds makes me want to burn things. Had I just bought that ticket, not only would it have kept the early showing on the schedule, I might have been the only person in the theater, which is my greatest fantasy next to being athletic and good at math.

I had a whole movie theater-themed spiel ready to go, too. Stuff like, “Isn’t it kooky that a bad movie is a bomb, yet a great movie is a blockbuster, which is just a name for a type of really big bomb?” Clever! And that would lead into, “And what is the deal with trailers? Why do we call them trailers when they come before the movie?” Truly, the scalding fury of my wit cannot be contained.

I was actually looking forward to Silent Hill: Revelation. I saw the first one, which was both unawesome and unpopular at the box office. So the release of a direct sequel after six years of no one giving a fuck about the first one is intriguing. I even read the synopses for ALL TEN video game installments to prepare. Waste of fucking effort. Instead, we’re off to Finland.

Welcome to…Quiet Mountain.

The story: Greetings from picturesque Korvatunturi, a mountain on the border of Russia and Finland  purported to be the home of the one and only Santa Claus. Who does this purporting? No idea, but it’s a thing. Wikipedia said so. In Rare Exports we’re told it’s not just the fictional headquarters of Saint Nick’s toy distro operation, it’s actually a massive burial mound. According to legend, hundreds, even thousands of years ago, a murderous Santa was imprisoned in the ice and buried beneath mountain of rubble. Now some rich asshole wants to dig him up, despite knowing that landing on the real Kris Kringle’s list results in a fate far worse than a lump of coal. A local boy discovers the plan and comes to believe he and his neighbors have only a few shopping days left before the monstrous beast comes to annihilate their collective milk and cookies.

But I’m Jewish!

Biggest letdown: Now that I spent all that time talking about my sad moviegoing follies, I don’t have anywhere to put the stuff I was planning to use for this movie. I was gonna talk about how putting Ikea furniture together makes me feel like a master craftsman. So what if I accidentally sheared off six of those little wooden nubs and replaced them with a gallon of Elmer’s glue? An Allen wrench and a set of comic book style instructions put me on par with the Pennsylvania Dutch. FETCH ME MINE LATHE, LEIBCHEN. The downside to Ikea is your disassembled furniture comes in three densely packed flatboxes, each weighing half a metric ton. No officer, there’s nothing wrong with the suspension. I’m hauling BJURSTAS. And everything you buy at Ikea remains nice for exactly two weeks before all the screws come loose and the whole thing skews to one side like a laminate parallelogram.

This might have been a really funny lead-in to Rare Exports, except for the small detail that Ikea is from Sweden and Rare Exports is from Finland. Whatever. They share a border and they’re both part of Scandinavia. Check out this map. Isn’t Scandinavia shaped like a deformed penis? Every individual country within Scandinavia resembles a penis as well, making Scandinavia kind of a giant penile Voltron. “And I’ll form…the head.”

“Hey, Sweden!” “Mac! They’re Norwegian.” Actually, they’re Finnish, but this scene still reminds me of my favorite movie.

There were no major letdowns in this movie, except to a small extent the ending, which is consciously kept somewhat on the unsatisfying side. And maybe the stakes are too low in the run-up to the finale given everything that went before. Suffice to say the small mountain community should be rallying together pretty quickly given what goes down, yet we only ever see four guys doing anything significant. But that’s a minor quibble, unlike my beef with SKYDD, Ikea’s useless cutting board oil. For a country shaped like a massive dong, Sweden’s wood treatments are shamefully lacking in penetration.

Should we call the rest of the town? I mean, it is kind of late.

Why you should watch: This move is a blast and it’s gorgeous to look at. Plus it’s only 82 minutes long so it’s perfect for short attention spans and tired dads. The entire prologue is in English – the dig site owner isn’t local – which is a delightful way to organically engage xenophobic western audiences before giving it to them long and hard with the subtitles for the rest of the movie. The single father and his son are wonderful, appearing both funny and sad at the same time. I usually can’t stand child actors (except for the Goonies and Kirsten Dunst in Interview with a Vampire) but I adored the nerdy kid in Rare Exports. Whether he’s running through the snow in his undies or having dinner in makeshift anti-Santa armor, he’s pretty much always wearing something completely ridiculous. Yet he’s never self-conscious. He’s shielded by the special brand of unabashed independence that’s instantly familiar to anyone who has ever been a lonely kid with a big imagination. And I love that he narrates a lot of what he’s thinking to his toy dog, Vuppe, who he drags around on a leash. Vuppe = cutest imaginary puppy name ever.


Perhaps my favorite part though is the ingenious way they put the various pieces of the Santa mythos to work. Reindeer, elves, chimneys, toy building…it’s all there in some capacity. It’s a delight and a surprise every time something sweet and innocent turns out to be a mechanism for mayhem.

I’m makin’ a list, motherfuckers.

Memorable Moment: Toward the beginning the dad digs a pit filled with spikes to catch some wolves that have been attacking the local deer population. Something that is most definitely not a wolf impales itself in the trap. After some flawless misdirection, we finally get a really nasty chill as he and his buddies learn the truth about who – or what – they have in that cage.

Choice quote: “Looks like we’ve been naughty.”

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3 Responses to “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)”

  1. […] Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale – Why didn’t I put the Finnish title in parentheses like I do with the rest of the foreign movies? Because I HATE FINLAND. Penis penis penis. […]

  2. […] Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale […]

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