As virtually the whole Nutcracker ballet is taken up by the female protagonist either dancing or watching fairies and toys dance, a story must be concocted to fill out the film’s running time. This is less of a problem than you’d think, since the early scenes are more prolix than anything since Victorian translator William Archer slumbered over his last Ibsen play. This Nutcracker is really a cursed boy prince who calls himself NC, and he and Mary (Elle Fanning, who is lucky she’s so good in Sofia Coppola’s upcoming Somewhere) must take on the Rat King (John Turturro) to save the world. Turturro manages to be rather elegant, but someone had the stunningly bad idea of making him a black-clad Fascist leader and his mouse soldiers storm troopers. Is this movie a tax shelter? Is there some The Producers–like scheme to open and close in a week and make off with the unused three quarters of the budget?
Amid the laborious CGI chases in muzzy 3-D, I glanced at my 8-year-old daughter, who put her hand on my arm and said, “It’s okay, Daddy. I’m not mad at you for taking me to this.” That’s what I call a Christmas miracle.