Posts

Showing posts with the label Movie

Podcast Mini Episode - The Grinch Movie Review

Mainlining Christmas tries to decide whether there's any merit to the new Grinch movie.

References:How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) Transcript: Lindsay: Welcome to another movie review on the Mainlining Christmas Podcast. As always, I’m Lindsay…

Erin: And I’m Erin. Today, we’ll be talking about The Grinch, the new animated remake of a 52-year-old adaptation of a 61-year-old classic children’s book by Dr. Seuss.

Lindsay: Not to be confused with the theatrically released live-action Jim Carrey vehicle from 2000.

Erin: Oh, I disagree. This is destined to be confused with the 2000 movie for decades to come.

Lindsay: You’re probably right, and that’s a shame. Because this one is better. It’s a lot better in fact.

Erin: No argument there. I’m not sure I’d call the new movie “good,” but it’s about as good as a feature-length production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas actually can be.

Lindsay: There are definitely things to like about this. The…

Podcast Mini Episode - The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Movie Review

Mainlining Christmas reviews the surreal new film, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

References/Background: Nutcracker Fantasy (Now Available on DVD) The Nutcracker and the Mouse King
Transcript:
Erin: Welcome to the first ever mini-episode of the Mainlining Christmas Podcast. We just got back from watching The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, the new holiday-themed fantasy film from Disney.

Lindsay: For those of you who missed the advertisements, this is the live action sequel to the animated Disney Nutcracker movie from the 60’s that doesn’t… actually… exist.

Erin: It’s weird because it’s structured as a sequel in the exact same way Tim Burton’s live-action Alice in Wonderland was.

Lindsay: Like, the EXACT same way.

Erin: But Disney never actually adapted the original, unless you count those segments in Fantasia.

Lindsay: The makers of Four Realms certainly seemed to. There’s an extended homage to Disney’s Fantasia in the middle of the movie and a callback during the end credits.

Er…

Silent Night (2012)

Image
Silent Night is a quasi-remake of the 1984 cult classic, Silent Night, Deadly Night, which - I'll be the first to admit - I really need to see. Not that I really want to see it, mind you, but it's probably one of the more significant holiday films I've yet to get around to.

At any rate, let's talk about the 2012 version, which - judging by the plot synopsis I just skimmed for the 84 - is probably is more of an homage than a remake. The only scene that reads the same is one where the killer impales a woman on deer antlers.

To be fair, that accounts for a good 20% of the plot.

Or, to put it another way, this movie is light on substance. The premise is pretty much summed up in the movie poster: killer Santa. The one innovation present is setting the killing spree during a "Santa parade", making it virtually impossible for the police to identify a suspect. That should have been an interesting twist to a cliched formula, but they didn't really use it to its p…

The Spirit of Christmas (2015)

Image
Surprisingly good for a TV movie that first aired on Lifetime, this ghost story/romance still had a few missteps.

First, we follow a man through the show. He sees a house in the distance; a woman comes out. A man comes out and appears to embrace her. And then THWACK. He's dead.

And then an opening sequence! I'm ashamed to admit that after so many movies featuring B-roll of New York City in snow, I failed to notice that this sequence is actually supposed to be Boston. We just thought it was surprisingly snowy.

Like many terrible rom-coms, this movie introduces its female lead by establishing that she "doesn't know how to love" and "works too much." Like few of them, this sequence is actually delightful. Kate is much better off without her wanna-be psychoanalyst boyfriend and seems to get real satisfaction from her job.

Said job, for a law firm, is sending her out of town to visit a historic inn. The woman who owned it has passed away with no heirs, and …

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure (2003)

Image
Calling this made-for-TV movie "bad" doesn't really address the magnitude of just how awful it actually is. To even begin to do so, I'll try something a bit counter-intuitive: I'm going to compliment the filmmakers. Perhaps "compliment" is too strong a word - I'm going to acknowledge a possible explanation for the movie that's ultimately generous.

Having just watched through Vacation 2, I am honestly unable to dismiss the following possibility: the movie was intentionally made as bad as possible either as an attempt to mock the audience, screw over the studio, or both.
This is, of course, not the only possibility. Indeed, Occam's Razor would slice through this theory and leave us with a simpler one: that the filmmakers responsible for this mess are so bad at their jobs, they were unable to produce anything better. Those of you who haven't seen this movie are doubtlessly drawn to that explanation. But you don't yet understand just ho…

Collateral Beauty (2016)

Image
Collateral Beauty wasn't really marketed as a Christmas movie, but then its marketing was baffling in several respects. For one, the whole "he's interacting with Love, Time, and Death" thing permeating the advertising was quickly undercut by the fact that, in the movie, these three are actually actors hired by the lead's coworkers to portray Love, Time, and Death.

I mean, sure, the ending reveals they were actually Love, Time, and Death masquerading as actors masquerading as Love, Time, and Death (and it's pretty obvious all along), but it still makes for an even more bizarre experience than it would otherwise.

Let's back up.

Will Smith plays "Howard," the CEO of a successful NY advertising agency. A few years before the movie, he loses his daughter to cancer and falls apart emotionally. His friends are executives at the agency, and they're trying to keep it from going under. In order to do that, they need to prove Howard's emotionally …

Saving Santa (2013)

Image
Saving Santa is a 2013 direct-to-DVD computer animated movie that's something of a paradox. I suppose that's appropriate, since the movie is about "a time-traveling elf," but that's not the kind of paradox I'm referring to - I'm talking about the writing, which is at once utter crap and impressively nuanced.

More on that in a moment. First, the plot.
Bernard D. Elf, astonishingly only the second-worst-named character in this movie, wakes up late for an appointment showing off his new invention to the North Pole's tech company. He races across town and gets them to watch, but in the process momentarily blacks out the elf city's power.
The time the grid's down is just enough for Neville Baddington (and that'd be #1) and his evil package delivery company to determine the cloaked location of Santa's operation. Unaware they're on their way, Bernard heads to his day job, shoveling reindeer dung out of Santa's stables.
No, really.
Wh…

A Christmas Prince (2017)

Image
A Christmas Prince is Netflix's new tween-friendly movie that proves the internet giant is capable of competing in the crappy made-for-TV realm typically dominated by Hallmark. Personally, I kept hoping a few characters from A Princess for Christmas would show up in cameos, but no dice. Maybe they can make a sequel where their nations go to war or something - I hear shared cinematic universes are all the rage these days.

You should be able to figure out at least sixty percent of the movie from the title, but I'll throw you a bone. The movie opens to a montage of New York just before Christmas. I often find myself wondering if there are film companies that send people out every time it's snowing in Manhattan in December and start filming for the sole purpose of selling that footage to productions looking for generic shots of flakes falling in Rockefeller Plaza. There must be, right?

Amber, the movie's protagonist, dreams of one day making it big, but for the time being…

Bad Santa 2 (2016)

Image
If either Bad Santa or its sequel were 1% lower on Rotten Tomatoes, their sum total would be exactly 100%. It's a shame this isn't the case, as there'd be a certain poetry to having this occupy the space its predecessor does not; a symbolic representation of how it is the empty husk of what it tries to copy.

Ultimately, the one positive thing I can say about this pointless exercise is that it serves to emphasize how surprising it remains that the original was any different.

The plot of Bad Santa 2 follows a fairly routine heist formula. The same could almost be said about part one, except there the heist mainly served as a backdrop for a story of a nearly irredeemable man discovering the importance of a found family. Here, the focus is inverted - there's some lip service paid to the same theme, but the movie's attention is planted firmly on the crime. When the movie does drift off-topic, it's to exploit moments of depravity and gross-out jokes in an attempt to…

Tree Man (2016)

Image
Tree Man is a documentary about one of the merchants who travel into New York City every year to run a Christmas tree stand. The movie is difficult to review because it's more an exploration of character and place than a story. It would work well as a companion piece to I am Santa Claus or Becoming Santa - this aims to do for tree salesmen what that did for Santas.

To its credit, it mostly succeeds. The central character, Francois, is intriguing, as is the expanded cast of seasonal help and rival sellers. There's a seemingly endless line of loyal customers ready to tell the camera why they keep returning to buy from Francois - he's energetic, enthusiastic, and friendly in public. In private, the movie gives a glimpse of the toll this lifestyle's taking. He's been at this for years, which means he's missed those holidays with his family.

A large portion of the movie focuses on New York itself, and it does a better job than most films in capturing some of the co…

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Image
Three Days of the Condor is one of those movies most of us have heard of but never seen, despite movie critics and historians swearing it's extremely important. The premise of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was largely drawn from this: it's a tense espionage tale about a CIA agent trying to stay alive when he uncovers a conspiracy within the Agency itself.

Robert Redford plays the lead, Joseph Turner, who's responsible for reading and analyzing books. He's smart, but no spy or assassin. Max von Sydow, on the other hand, is a cold-blooded killer working for parties unknown. While Turner's out picking up lunch, Sydow shows up with a group of mercenaries and kills off the rest of the branch. Turner returns to find he's the only survivor. He pulls a handgun out of the receptionist's desk and runs.

He calls into the head office, but the agent sent to bring him in tries to kill him. Turner then abducts a woman off the street at gunpoint, ties her up, and fo…

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Image
I've been meaning to get around to this for a few years now. All I really knew about it was that it was set around the holidays, and it's something of a cult classic. In hindsight, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Where to begin? This was written and directed by the Coen Brothers, along with a little help from Sam Raimi. It's sort of a love letter to classic Hollywood love stories - I'm pretty sure I caught echoes of Christmas in July, Meet John Doe, and The Apartment - delivered with a twisted sense of humor.

The movie doesn't hold back on style - from the beginning, this is unapologetically grandiose and stylized. Everything from the music to the acting to the set design sets out to create a world that's a living, breathing caricature of its source material.

For those of you who don't know me, all that means I absolutely loved this bizarre, quirky movie.

I'm not going to delve into quite as much detail around the plot this time, both because it…

Almost Christmas (2016)

Image
As far as sub-genres go, "dysfunctional family at Christmas" may have one of the lowest hit rates out there. Most of the ones that work do so by incorporating alternative genre elements to make the concept fresh: The Lion in Winter, Arthur Christmas, and Fred Claus all spring to mind. Those are technically great Christmas movies about a dysfunctional family over the holidays, but the dysfunctional family isn't the part of the synopsis most people would focus on.

Almost Christmas, on the other hand, embodies the more traditional trappings of the sub-genre through and through. If you were to sit down and make a list of tropes you'd expect to find, you'd wind up checking most of them off. There are the siblings who despise each other, the family member with a drug problem, food getting destroyed, a decoration mishap, a wedged in love story... you get the idea.

The substance of this movie certainly isn't original. However, there is one fairly original element: i…

Un conte de Noël (2008)

Image
Un conte de Noël, or "A Christmas Tale," is a French movie about a dysfunctional family reuniting for the holiday due to Junon, the matriarch, contracting leukemia, the disease that killed her firstborn son, Joseph. She's hoping to avoid this fate herself, but for that she needs a bone marrow donor. There are two candidates: her middle child, Henri, who's something of a drunken failure, and Paul, the mentally ill son of her oldest daughter, Elizabeth, who despises Henri.

What else can we throw into the mix? Well, her other surviving son's wife has been loved from afar by her husband's cousin, Henri's girlfriend seems to take great joy in watching him get beaten up, and there might be some sort of ghost wolf wandering around the house.
Of all the movie's unanswered questions, I regret not finding out more about the ghost wolf the most. Is it the spirit of Joseph? Or maybe it's the matriarch's mother's ghost. It's unclear.
Also unclear …

Why Him? (2016)

Image
Why Him? is a raunchy farcical version of a story the movie industry loves to tell over and over: father disapproves of daughter's boyfriend, shenanigans ensue. In this case, the father is played by Bryan Cranston, and he's the owner of a now-struggling printing business, while the boyfriend, played by James Franco, is an eccentric self-made app-store mogul.

The daughter (Zoey Deutch) gets her family to visit her and the boyfriend in California for Christmas, and awkwardness follows. Franco's character swears unstoppably and is emotionally needy, relentlessly sexual, and socially clueless. Once the father finds out that the boyfriend intends to propose and the daughter is contemplating dropping out of school to run a nonprofit the boyfriend will supposedly fund, he goes into a progressive freakout where his attempts to undermine and find evidence against the younger man provoke an all-out breakdown.

All this between jokes about complex high-tech toilets, too-realistic AI …

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return: The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (2017)

Image
If you haven't tried the new episodes of MST3K, available on Netflix, you should. They are a lot of fun, they keep what worked about the original formula while adding new twists, and you'll know what I'm talking about when I say that one of my life goals is now to have as much fun as Felicia Day is having every second she's on screen.

The cast features a who's who of the geek-culture parts of the internet, with Day and Patton Oswalt as the recurring villains and brief guest appearances including folks like Neil Patrick Harris, Mark Hamill, and Wil Wheaton. I've watched 12 episodes and I'm still amused by the inclusion of commercial bumpers as if the show were made to have commercial breaks.

These episodes have more ongoing plot in the scenes that break up the movies than I remember from the original show, but I probably never saw more than one episode in a row before. This episode in particular is building toward the season finale.

So make some popcorn and…

Alien: Covenant (2017)

Image
When this movie came out, I asked the first person I knew who watched it one question. I didn't care if it was good or bad, intelligent or idiotic, whether it tied to Prometheus or to the original movies... I just wanted to know if it was set at Christmas. The person I asked assured me it wasn't.

Turns out, he was wrong.

To be fair, you really needed to be paying attention to catch it. The first shot after the intro provides the movie's only date: December 5, 2104.


The ship is almost immediately damaged, requiring repairs before they can continue on their journey. Helpfully, the movie tells us it will take about 48 hours to make those repairs. That takes us to December 7. At this point, they decipher a message and change their destination to a planet "a few weeks" away.

Assuming "a few weeks" translates to fourteen days, they arrive at the film's alien-infested world on December 21. Where do I remember that date from?


Yup - it's the date the Pr…