Think Outside Christmas – A Festive Advert Special

Ho, ho, fucking-ho. It’s Christmas time, isn’t it? You can tell because every other advert on television is trying to make us cry in an attempt to convince us to buy things.

It was back in 2007 that John Lewis launched their first ‘Christmas advert’. Fast-forward to 2016 and high-end retailer after high-end retailer are falling over themselves to outdo each other in their rampant, saccharine consumerism.

Suitably filled with festive joy, let’s take a look at the ads that will be encouraging us to part with our money this year.

M&S – Christmas with Love, from Mrs Claus

You can’t rely on a woman to do much right, but you can rely on her to buy shoes. This isn’t just any brand of feminism, this is M&S feminism.

It’s fair to say that the internet has lost its shit over the latest M&S Christmas advert, with many observers claiming that the retailer has comfortably beaten John Lewis’ effort this year (we’ll come to that shortly).

The ad follows the exploits of Mrs Claus who, immediately after wishing her husband well on his trip around the world delivering presents, embarks on her own journey – answering the call of a young boy who wants to make amends for ruining his sister’s trainers.

She’s stylish, attractive and sophisticated, and one can only imagine this is what passes for empowerment at M&S Towers.

In fairness, she does do a great job, as the young girl seems to be very happy with her shoes, but then it sort of pales into comparison against providing the entire world with gifts – but then I suppose she can’t be expected to achieve as much as her husband, can she.

John Lewis – Buster the Boxer

It might have been John Lewis that pioneered the concept of epic festive tales supplemented by slowed down pop covers, but the department store have gone with a bit of a different tack for 2016.

It’s fair to say this year has sucked pretty hard, so it’s nice to see that John Lewis has decided to try and elicit an emotion other than cloying sadness with their latest Christmas advert.

Buster the Boxer is a tried-and-tested combination of cute animals and humour, but it works, and actually feels Christmassy, compared with previous efforts that have arguably been a bit cynical.

It’s a shame, therefore, that so many people are disappointed with it. Having said that, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised? After all, Brexit and Trump were very much self-inflicted disasters. Perhaps Western society isn’t largely made up of frothing-at-the-mouth, hate-filled racists, but frothing-at-the-mouth, self-hating masochists.

We’ll only have ourselves to blame if next year’s John Lewis advert features a young boy left orphaned when his entire family is wiped out in a Christmas tree fire, right after his precocious, talking teddy bear is diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Waitrose – Home for Christmas

The secret to an affective Christmas ad, at least from where we’re standing, seems to be the combination of some sort of journey (whether it’s literal or emotional), a melancholic soundtrack and, more often than not, CGI animals.

Waitrose’s festive offering certainly utilises all three of those ingredients – a courageous robin travelling across land and sea, encouraged on his way by rousing orchestral music. How very pleasant.

So why does the whole thing fall a bit flat?

The problem is a lack of context. Is the little girl able to discern individual robins by sight and knows her old friend hasn’t been back all winter? Do the little birds know each other and are engaging in a Christmas reunion? Maybe he just really likes mince pies.

It’s also neither sad or funny, and while there is certainly an element of jeopardy, the robin really has no one to blame but himself if he gets eaten, drowned or stepped on all in the name of pastry. I know it’s from Waitrose, but for fuck’s sake. The pretentious arse.

Sainsbury’s – The Greatest Gift

Sainsbury’s found themselves in a spot of trouble two years ago when they cashed in on the horror of war to sell products. Since then they’ve gone no where near the John Lewis-style of Christmas advert, and have followed up last year’s ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ with ‘The Greatest Gift’, which follows the stop-motion exploits of Dave as he… I dunno, tries to get home for Christmas or something. To be honest it got boring half way through. It’s three and half minutes long for God’s sake, and after mainlining festive cheer into my eyeballs all day I got distracted.

The message is kind of nice I guess, but then that’s spoiled by James Corden’s awful voice permeating the whole thing.

There’s plenty more where all of that came from – even budget supermarket Lidl is getting in on the act this year – but if we have to sit through any more vacuous, gooey sentiment we might shut down Think Outside the Box for good and spend all Christmas throwing puppy parties for dying children. And we can’t have that.

Think Outside the News: Back to the Future Part II to be reclassified from satire to political biopic

Biff Tannen as Trump

Popular sci-fi sequel Back to the Future Part II — in which a wild-haired megalomaniac seizes power and transforms America into a lawless dystopia — is to be reconsidered by film critics as a historical biopic.

The plot follows Marty McFly and Doc Brown as they attempt to thwart the wealthy and corrupt womaniser Biff Tannen, who was acquired his undeserved wealth by stealing the DeLorean. Biff proceeds to use his money exclusively for quenching his own thirst for despotic power and hot pieces of ass.

For a long time thought to be a lighthearted and satirical family film, the second instalment of the BTTF trilogy will instead be placed alongside Schindler’s List, Hotel Rwanda and The Killing Fields as a dark and disturbing depiction of real life events.

Biff portrait

“I used to love watching Back to the Future Part II as the fantastical piece of escapism I thought it was but, now it turns out to have been true all along, I feel like I need to go back and consider it with the seriousness it deserves,” said Rebecca Dudley, a human woman from Northampton.

The movie’s director Robert Zemeckis said: “I was surprised when we were overlooked for the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar in 1990 — they usually lap this biography stuff up.

“I mean for God’s sake, that was the year Dead Poet’s Society got nominated, and that was bloody awful.’

Historians are now planning to scour the history books to double-check whether or not William Wallace was actually an anti-semitic Australian, and that the entire Jurassic era wasn’t actually just a theme park.

Trailer Trash – Office Christmas Party, Rogue One, Passengers & Assassin’s Creed

As we emerge from our 18 month slumber, crawling out from the warm and safe womb of inactivity and straining our eyes against the bright and cold of 2016, it’s safe to say that we wish we hadn’t.

Waking nightmares and the almost systematic genocide of our nation’s most loved TV and film personalities aside (thanks, cancer), it’s nice to see that the relentless conveyor belt of sex, violence, hyperviolence, high concepts, jump scares, belly laughs and tears continues unabated.

Ahh, oh how we’ve missed you. Here’s some stuff that’s happening over an indeterminate period of time.

Office Christmas Party

UK Release – 7th December 2016

If we ever have The Hangover franchise to thank for anything, it’ll be the oh-so-longed for backlash against the deluge of midlife crisis porn those films coughed up like a vodka, blood and shame-soaked hairball.

In the meantime we’ve got Office Christmas Party, starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and a whole host of other actors who are of course in this film.

It’s written by Jon Lucas – the creator of the aforementioned trilogy. We can only assume that his life is so suffocatingly repressed that he needs to live vicariously through these obnoxious, self-indulgent bro-fests, grinning like a frat boy while his cast drink and grope away decades of gender politics like they’re in a Donald Trump wet dream.

So, yeah. Merry Christmas.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

UK Release – 14th December 2016

If you’re one of the five people to have read Think Outside the Box regularly in the past you may well have noticed that we struggle to be sincere about anything, instead favouring sardonic disdain and swearing. Mainly because it’s both big and clever.

However, we’re simply unable to muster anything other than wide-eyed, childlike wonder at the Rogue One trailer.

Though narratively similar to A New Hope, The Force Awakens was a huge departure tonally, especially when compared with the Rancor-sized catastrophe that was the prequels. Significantly darker and boasting an approach to special effects that demonstrated just how much the franchise had grown up since the CGI-heavy second trilogy, J.J. Abrams’ contribution to the saga seemed to acknowledge the advanced years of the original Star Wars fanbase.

Judging by the trailer, Rogue One is following suit, combining that more mature tone with all the joy of the originals. Go on, try to deny that you’re anything other than feverishly excited about this.

Passengers

UK Release – 21st December 2016

Passengers follows on exactly one week from Rogue One in what will probably prove to be either Box Office suicide or a smart move, capitalising on the world’s sci-fi hype.

It’s got a lot going for it in its attempts to be the latter though: the always fantastic Jennifer Lawrence; the hugely likeable Chris Pratt (who was so great in Guardians of the Galaxy); and Michael Sheen, who’s never in anything rubbish (almost).

It’s riffing on that lost in space theme that has been done so many times before, but with that cast, as well as the director of The Imitation Game at the helm, this could very well be excellent.

Assassin’s Creed

UK Release – 1st January 2017

You know that feeling of frustration – nay, betrayal – when a film has flat out failed to meet the expectations built up by its trailer? Don’t you just hate that?

Us too.

It’s refreshing therefore that the makers of Assassin’s Creed have decided to forego that facade, instead making it clear from the off just how fucking terrible this film is.

Based on the popular video game franchise of the same name, Assassin’s Creed’s plot is ridiculous, albeit in keeping with the original mechanics of the game’s narrative. It’s one saving grace could be an unfathomably excellent cast, considering it looks for all the world like it is going to be filed away alongside Super Mario Bros., Max Payne and Mortal Kombat as a dreadful video game movie adaption.

A line-up of Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling would often be cause for optimism, and yet… well, just watch that trailer and try to feel optimistic.