No, not the semi-reviled explorer! The semi-reviled writer and director! You’ve got a day off, there’s no family celebration, and there’s nothing whatsoever to do…so you might as well spend Columbus Day with Chris Columbus, as he’s got something for everyone. Well, his movies. We understand he’s got plans that day.
If You’ve Got Kids
If, like many Americans, you’re stuck with a screaming child for Columbus Day, you’ll probably be spending your day with Chris Columbus anyway, because he’s put out a lot of kid’s movies. Why not rent and pop in the hugest success everybody’s forgotten, and celebrate the American tradition of Christmas Creep, Home Alone, which is still, surprisingly, kind of funny. We guess lighting Joe Pesci on fire never stops being funny. Or how about its justly forgotten sequel Home Alone 2?
Failing that, there’s Robin and the Mildly Upset Inch Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire. Or, if your kids are into literary adaptations, Chris Columbus directed the first two Harry Potter movies. You know, the ones that are really creepy to watch now that Daniel Radcliffe has done Equus. Or if they’re slightly older, and more into knockoffs of Harry than the genuine article, there’s Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, which is actually an award-winning film, for having the most unnecessarily long title since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Which we’re going to use as an incredibly clumsy segue to…
If You Like Spielberg
Despite all the mockery we’ve heaped on him (and are going to continue to heap on him), Columbus has been involved in his fair share of good movies. For example, he worked with Spielberg for a while back in the ’80s, and wrote the script for two Spielberg produced ’80s classics: Gremlins and The Goonies. He also wrote Young Sherlock Holmes, which is like the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes, except not as good. Yep, the same guy who made two painful Robin Williams movies also created Gizmo and snuck in the single greatest John Thomas joke of the ’80s. And there are five of you, just now, who are finally getting what we’re referring to, for the rest, we’ll just set your childhoods on fire by saying it’s kind of sad all those kids were looking to find some One-Eyed Willy. And if you just want something a bit Spielbergian, try Adventures in Babysitting, which features Elizabeth Shue and Vincent D’Onofrio in the most ridiculous wig of his career.
If You Like Weepy Movies
If you’re like me, you had to listen to Rent for four very long, very painful years, because you foolishly opted for the theater degree and girls in their teens and twenties into theater (which make up 90% of theater departments) don’t want to listen to anything else. So you’ll excuse this adventure into the first person and also my refusal to say much more about Rent than Chris Columbus directed the film version, it exists, and it’s weepy because everybody dies of AIDS.
But if you want a good cry on Columbus Day that isn’t from alcoholism or loneliness, you’ve got multiple options in the Chris Columbus ouvre. There’s Stepmom, a movie about divorce and remarriage that manages to make it look like difficult questions of family and respect can be solved with your first wife dying of cancer and Julia Roberts smiling a lot. Then there’s the hilariously mismarketed Bicentennial Man, which tried to make a movie about a man, well, a humanoid struggling for civil rights and eventually getting enough parts replaced to technically become human and die a wacky comedy. And it still wasn’t as much of a disgrace to Isaac Asimov as I, Robot…which, trust us, isn’t saying much.
Of if you want something that’s mildly funny as well as shamelessly emotionally manipulative, try Nine Months, which features the horrifying image of Hugh Grant knocking up Julianne Moore, and came out right around the time he got busted with a prostitute.
If You Like Pain
As much as we’ve teased the man named after the man whom everybody except annoying pedantic people thinks discovered America, his work is mostly good, if a little Hollywoody. But, if you have the day off, and are really mired in self-loathing, and really want to start torturing yourself with the holidays and bad cinema, well, Chris Columbus wrote just the movie for you: Christmas with the Kranks. We think this is one of the few movies tthat actually qualifies as a weapon under the Geneva Convention. Incredibly, this turkey was adapted from a John Grisham novel. Yeah, the legal thrillers guy who was so big in the ’80s.
Although if this actually appeals to you, maybe you should celebrate Columbus Day by tracking down a good therapist. We’re just sayin’.