By Admin | December 20, 2004

This of course is the time of year for heartfelt and treacle-infused holiday productions that make you and your loved ones cherish the times spent together and reinvigorate the spirit within each of us throughout the following year. “A Family Xmas” on the other hand is a 180 degree departure from those shovelfuls of syrupy sentiment.

Warren Eig wrote and directed this short that takes a new look at the Christmas tradition. For starters, the titular family employs the more “organized” definition of the term. We start out with an attractive woman sleeping soundly in an ornate bed when she is awaked by such a clatter downstairs. She nudges her husband to go down and investigate, and the sheets peel back to reveal her betrothed is a gruff and ursine fellow who is more than pleased to take care of matters.

This is because he is mob boss Johnny Guccianno, who enters his living room and spots a man garbed in red and white; he finds the man poking around the decorations and the corpulent visitor soon finds he has a 9mm leveled at his forehead. Before exacting justice Johnny ties him down with garland and asks who this man is. He calmly explains that he is in fact Kris Kringle. Threats and pleas go back and forth until Johnny comes to realize that the portly gent he is interrogating is in fact The Man of Sleigh.

This does little to alleviate the situation as Johnny explains he hates Christmas, due to his childhood of sub-par gifts, and Santa discovers that he is in no better position than before. Suffice it to say that things get darker before they get better.

While the story of a mobster meeting Santa may be slight it is also tempting and there is plenty working in favor of director Eig. Guccianno is played ideally by longtime character actor Robert Costanzo, (if you don’t know the name you surely know the face) and he deadpans his way through this holiday farce perfectly. Santa is given weight by another acting vet, John Capodice, who also narrates.

Depending on your opinion of the usual yuletide merriment on television and theater screens this time of year this short will either be a welcome diversion or a jarring deviation. Whichever way you classify yourself you should still enjoy the mirth involved. Just a word of warning: keep the young, true-believers away.

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