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Showing posts from December 15, 2013

Power Rangers Super Samurai: Stuck on Christmas (2012)

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There are other Power Rangers Christmas episodes, but this is the one that Erin found on Netflix. It’s a humdinger.

I knew something was drastically wrong after the Rangers defeated a monster in the first 5 minutes of the episode. Then their giant robot loses power and it becomes an excuse for a really crummy clip show.

You can have no idea how terrible this was. The acting was beyond ridiculous. The ‘comic relief’ was horrible, and the action/drama was hilarious. There is tons of terrible, extraneous Christmas-pun flavored banter. Only it’s not banter when you’re just yelling ‘quips’ (using that term extremely loosely) at a red-and-green monster. Yes, the monster is red-and-green, and has what looks like a giant ear around one shoulder and a mouth on the other. I laughed a lot and very loudly while watching this episode, but it was not at anything that the creators intended to be funny.

The kids say over and over how sad they are to be trapped in their giant robot on Christmas Eve. T…

Dollar Store Nativity Scene

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a crappy statuette of the Nativity purchased at a dollar store?


The Thin Man (1934)

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As a fan of Dashiell Hammett I was excited to see The Thin Man on a list of movies set at Christmas. It’s always been one of those eventually-I’ll-get-to-it kind of movies. The movie is lighter in tone than the book, which in turn is already one of Hammett's lighter works. So this is less noir than it is comedy-mystery.

The Thin Man focuses on Nick and Nora Charles. He’s a former detective, she’s an heiress, they’re in New York for the holidays to look up old friends and throw lavish parties. One of Nick’s former clients goes missing, then the bodies start piling up, and before you know it everyone from the daughter to the cops are asking for his help looking into the case. Nora thinks it’s terribly exciting, and happily says so.

To put it shortly: I loved this.

I loved the banter between the main characters. I loved the dialogue, the lighting, the film's style and the setting. I loved the holiday party with gangsters rubbing elbows with cops and reporters and everyone getting…

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

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Unlike the first two installments of The Santa Clause, part three is consistent. I'm referring, of course, to the fact the others each had a solid 15 minutes that weren't entirely horrible. You may be tempted to dismiss this as a flaw, but I encourage you to look at it as a boon. At no point does this movie give you hope and wrench it away.

Besides sucking consistently, I'll say one other positive thing about The Santa Clause 3: it doesn't abandon the character of Mrs. Clause from part 2. She's still here and she's still a major part of the plot. It's a common trope to introduce a love interest then relegate her to a cameo in the next installment, so... kudos to the no-talent hacks who made this for not falling victim to that particular awful cliche.

I'm pretty sure they checked off all the others.
The movie takes place as Christmas approaches. Mrs. Clause is about to have a baby, and she's missing human companionship. Tim Allen flies her parents t…

Grimm: Twelve Days of Krampus (2013)

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We had never seen an episode of Grimm before this. From this viewing, it’s… okay.

I mean, it’s a quirky procedural, spin the dial and land on a quirky procedural these days. A show like this depends on viewers getting invested in its particular set of actors/characters and its particular gimmick. Without that investment, it’s just a mediocre mash up of tropes from X-Files and Buffy about a guy pretending to be a cop in between monster hunting.

The monster of this week is Krampus, which we were excited to see. While the visual design is very nice, the plot is sort of blah.

The episode opens with a couple of punk kids stealing presents, then Krampus sneaks up on them under a bridge. He snags one, but the other is just injured and hides in a car. Cut to the next morning, when the cops are investigating a dead kid. Only the kid isn’t dead. He’s really, obviously, not dead. This is the point where we started to really doubt the professionalism of the emergency responders on this show.

Ma…

Love Actually (2003)

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Love Actually is to romantic comedies what absinthe is to spirits. It represents the essence of a genre distilled to a point where it no longer tastes likes a romantic comedy, but even in small doses will still mess with your head.

For better and for worse, Love Actually does not come packaged in small doses.

This clocks in at around two hours and fifteen minutes. While I did enjoy the movie on this viewing, I would have thanked its editor for amputating forty-five minutes of that.

I say "this viewing," because this is the second time I saw the film. I didn't care for it much after the first, though I slid it into that rare category of movies I didn't like but thought were quite good. I was actually someone distressed to find myself enjoying it this time, as I like having a handful of movies fitting that description I can whip out in conversation.

Love Actually is about love. The theme is "love." The plot is "love." The characters are all in love…

Craft: Angel Re-Paint: Horrors

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Let me preface this one by saying that I'm not sure the final product is more horrifying than the original figurines.  Here's what I bought:

Scary, right? I added some sculpture with Crayola Model Magic. This was a bit of an experiment, but it worked okay. I had to use super glue to reattach the dried pieces to the little ceramic figures, though.
After some layers of paint and gloss, here's the final results:



Aww, now they're cute little tentacled monstrosities from beyond space!  Much improved, I think.

Babes in Toyland (1986)

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Hey, did you guys know there's a tipline on the right of the page you can use to email us suggestions of things we should watch? Yeah, we didn't, either. Well, one of our readers found it and convinced us to try something she loved when she was young. Thanks for the suggestion, Loquin. And, uh... sorry in advance for the damage to your childhood memories.

This is the 1986, made-for-TV re-imagining of Babes in Toyland, starring Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves, and Pat Morita. It is bad. Astonishingly bad, in fact. But, between the iconic statuses its leads would go on to achieve and the utter lack of talent behind the camera, it's kind of hilarious.

The producers must not have believed in the source material, which has been heavily modified. To their credit, the premise of Babes in Toyland is utter crap. However, the logical reaction would be not to adapt it, rather than trying to shoehorn in the frame story from The Wizard of Oz.

Drew Barrymore, 11 in 1986, is essentially pl…

A Krampus Christmas (2013)

This one's short - very short. And that's a shame, because I could really watch hours of this. It features very fantastic character design, beautiful stop-motion animation, and an awesome spin on Krampus. The short is between 50 seconds and five minutes long, depending on how many times you re-watch it. Enjoy!


"A Krampus Christmas" eCard from Screen Novelties on Vimeo.

Christmas Comes to PacLand (1982)

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Back in 1982, there was an animated series based on Pac-Man. You might think there's not enough material to justify an entire series, but I can assure you that's a faulty opinion: there wasn't even enough to fill a single episode.

The episode begins with Pac-Man and family going out for a sleigh ride. It's Christmas Eve, but they have no idea since no one in PacLand has heard of the holiday. They run into some ghost monsters, which they drive back with snowballs before eating power-pellets and "chomping" them.

I should add that "chomping" is a very popular activity in PacLand. The ghost monsters (I'm not sure why they're "ghost monsters" instead of "ghosts," but the show seems adamant) are obsessed with "chomping" Pac-Man. More on this later.

Between getting chomped and putting on new ghost outfits, the floating ghost-eyes run into Santa Claus and inadvertently spook his reindeer and cause him to crash. By far …

Chantilly Lane Duets Musical Cats

I just posted a review of a Christmas novelty toy we found on clearance in a gift shop. Check it out now and enjoy repeats in your worst nightmares:

Photos: Candy Cane Lane

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In my search for more holiday cheer, I heard that there is a street in Ravenna (a neighborhood here in Seattle) which goes all out for Christmas.


Looks promising.
Now, the big thing you have to know about this is how busy it was. It's a small, residential street, and you can either drive through or park nearby and walk. It was around 9 p.m. on a Saturday when we stopped by, and the line of cars to get there was blocks and blocks long.
We parked and walked.

Almost all the houses had pretty cute decorations. Giant candy canes and the word "peace" in many languages were prominently featured.



The most impressive bit was the centerpiece, a 'carousel' around a hedge:

In motion:


The houses were very cute, although I'm not really sure why anyone would wait in that line of cars to drive through.


When we left after about 15 minutes, we saw that the line had died down a little. However, some of the cars that we had been behind in line before we turned down a side stree…

Snow 2: Brain Freeze (2008)

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If you were reading the blog last year, it's conceivable you may remember my review of the ABC Family made-for-TV movie, Snow. But seeing as Lindsay and I barely remember it, it's not too likely.
So, let's start this out with a quick recap: Snow is a movie about Nick Snowden, the new Santa Claus. He's trying to find a lost reindeer, and on the way he meets the girl of his dreams, Sandy. They rescue the reindeer from Sandy's ex-boyfriend and get married. Also, the first movie was essentially a worthless pile of crap.
I want you to pay special attention to the "pile of crap" part. That's going to come up again.
Snow 2: Brain Freeze takes place the next year. Snowden and Sandy are having difficulties, mainly due to him being a jackass. He teleports to the city to get some time away, hits his head, and promptly gets amnesia. One commercial break later, and he's in the hospital with a convenient news crew there to broadcast his condition over the air.

The Fairly OddParents: Christmas Everyday! (2001)

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This is the first and only episode of The Fairly OddParents I've seen. The premise of the series is that the main character has a pair of fairy god-parents who grant his wishes, leading to mayhem. I have a hard time imagining how the producers have been able to wring nine seasons out of this premise, but I have to admit I found this special inventive and fun.

The episode starts right before Christmas, Timmy's favorite day of the year. There's some generic toon chaos involving his babysitter (apparently, she was the regular villain at this point, so they shoehorned her into the episode), followed by Christmas itself. At the end of the day, Timmy makes the classic wish: for every day to be Christmas.

The next few minutes are pretty predictable: the quality of each successive Christmas diminishes, and the world grows more and more irritated at the now seemingly eternal holiday. It takes Timmy a while to catch on, and by that time things are really bad. The military's out…

Simon's Cat Shorts!

Hey, look, two new holiday shorts from Simon's Cat!

WHOO!





Holiday Goldfish Crackers

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I love Goldfish crackers. I think the classic cheddar fishes are a practically perfect food.
Of course, there are special holiday Goldfish varieties; we'll look at the four I was able to find today.
Let's start simple:
Standard Cheddar, but holiday shapes. 
Here's the back of the bag, with a game to play with Finn (the cheddar goldfish) and Gilbert (the pretzel). 

Gilbert didn't have his own holiday product, so he's playing second fiddle here.
Here are the crackers. Not that exciting, really.

They taste basically like normal Goldfish, if a little less fluffy because of the flattened special shapes.
Next up:

Holiday Graham Goldfish, in exciting Holiday Vanilla Cupcake and Hot Cocoa.

The back of both bags is the same. You might not be able to tell, but that's a lady graham goldfish named Coral that looks almost the same as the pretzel, but is not the pretzel acting as Finn's lackey on these.
Once again, you can play a fun game with the goldfish. Here, they n…

Santa with Muscles (1996)

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Life is sometimes unfair. So it serves to reason that Christmas is sometimes unfair. If this were not so, if we truly lived in the best of all possible Christmases as Leibniz thought, then Jingle all the Way would have no defenders, and Santa with Muscles wouldn't be entirely unknown.

While it probably doesn't need to be said, I will state it now for the record: Santa with Muscles is not a good movie. It is - objectively - pretty bad, a vehicle for Hulk Hogan produced years after the wrestler's fame had waned. When it opened, it made $120k in its opening weekend and closed after two weeks. However, unlike 99% of zany holiday comedies, it is absolutely watchable. There are even moments when the filmmakers attempted to be funny that resulted in funny scenes. If you don't watch many movies in this genre, you'll be forgiven for not realizing how rare this is.

The movie opens with a girl writing a letter to Santa. The girl's town is being terrorized by some sort of…

How I Met Your Mother Christmas Episodes (Part Two)

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Read Part One

Symphony of Illumination (2011)
Theres a nice punchline on the cold opening on this one and some pretty okay jokes about Christmas music. Unfortunately, the episode drags badly in the middle and the B plot is awful. Many of the characters drifted into over-caricaturization here, it was jarring and boring. The end of Robin’s plot has a really nice dark tone though.


The Over-Correction (2012)
There are three, count them three, episodes set at Christmas that ran back-to-back-to-back in 2012. Unfortunately, our early thought on this episode was: ‘Hey, we found where the show jumped the shark,’ There’s a lot of bad randomness in the early parts of this episode. (WHY IS COBIE SMULDERS CRAZY NOW? Also, the lack of coherency in the emotional arcs isn’t just me with no context: AVClub gave this one a C+.) Finally the plot of the episode comes together and it builds for a while into some honest laughs. Christmas ornaments featured heavily in the best running gag of the episode.

By t…

How I Met Your Mother Christmas Episodes (Part One)

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How I Met Your Mother is one of those shows that I’ve seen a few minutes of here and there, and I know it’s decent, and I know people who really enjoy it. It seems like exactly the kind of show that I would watch if it were on, but I wouldn’t seek it out.

You know the show I mean, you turn on the TV and flip around, and say “Hey, it’s How I Met Your Mother/The Simpsons/Seinfeld/Scrubs/Good Eats/NewsRadio That’s usually okay, let’s watch the rest of that.” The problem with that is I never turn on ‘actual’ TV these days unless I know exactly what show I’m tuning in for, so shows that I would watch haphazardly like that aren’t shows I end up seeing at all.

I really enjoyed the chance to get a sampling from across the seasons by watching just the Christmas episodes. Sure, I’m missing some running gags, but I’m also getting a crash course in how the show changed over time.


How I Met Your Mother: How Lily Stole Christmas (2006)
This is almost really great. The big (BIG) problem for me is th…

Christmas Notes 2013: Another Year, Another Pile of CDs

Once you've heard every Christmas song ever recorded, you've heard them all. I'm not sure whether I'm quite there yet, but I'm a hell of a lot closer than most people would ever want to be.
Since last year, I've assembled quite a few additional holiday CDs from the clearance racks of used book stores, yard sales, and occasionally from Amazon. Now that everything's been ripped, I'm ready to start the annual tradition of listening to the new and reporting what how it's different from what I already had.
Spoiler alert - with very few exceptions, it isn't.
So, without further ado, here's the "new" music:


We Wish You A Metal XMas and a Headbanging New Year (Various)
This is exactly what it sounds like - metal versions of Christmas songs. It's a compilation which includes Alice Cooper, along with a bunch of musicians I've never heard of because I don't own a lot of metal.
My one complaint is that some of the songs aren't…