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Showing posts with the label 00's

A Christmas Carol (2009) [Revisited]

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Strictly speaking, this probably doesn't need  to be revisited. Lindsay reviewed it back in 2011 , and while it's more a summary than what we do these days, it's more substantial than most of our reviews from the first couple years of the blog. Even so, I'm trying to rewatch every significant adaptation of A Christmas Carol, so I've got some thoughts. This is, of course, the CG motion capture version directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three spirits. The intention was to bring Charles Dickens's story and John Leech's illustrations to life through the use of modern visual effects. Motion capture offered a way to merge performance with animation to an extent that hadn't previously been possible. It was a lofty goal. I don't think it's controversial to say they failed miserably. There's something deeply wrong with the way the human characters (and most of the spectral ones) appear. They resemble grotesque wax f

The Note (2007)

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We came across this movie on a list purportedly ranking the best Hallmark Christmas movies. We'd actually just seen one from that list we liked, which is absurdly rare for this studio, so had high hopes for this one, which was ranked at #4. Maybe we'd been too hard on Hallmark this whole time. Perhaps we simply saw a handful of bad films and foolishly dismissed them prematurely, we thought. Then we watched The Note, and... nope. Never mind. Okay, let me walk that back a bit. First, I have actually seen good movies - plural - produced for Hallmark's various channels. I do suspect I've been too quick to group these together: good or bad, I'm discovering they occupy a wide variety of genres and styles. And I remain optimistic that I'm going to see more good - or even great - films with Hallmark's branding. But it's not this one. That's not to say The Note is awful. It's fine for what it is, but we're talking 2007 TV drama quality. Not even TV mo

Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale (2007)

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I jokingly apologized to Lindsay while starting this. After all, it's a direct-to-video Tom and Jerry movie from 2007 based on The Nutcracker clocking in at just under an hour: every one of those details is a red flag that this will be awful. Seriously, by all rights this should be borderline unwatchable. Really, no logical way this could in any way be redeemable. Right? RIGHT? Well, apparently my understanding of the metaphysical laws governing our reality is less foolproof than I imagined, because this thing was kind of great. More than that, it was great for what would have been the last reasons I'd have expected, if the possibility had even crossed my mind (which, again, it hadn't). The Tom and Jerry stuff is fine but ultimately unremarkable, save for the fact it's barely an afterthought. Sure, there are sequences of zany, cartoon violence, but it's a fairly small part of the film. The bulk of this, and the reason it's good is.... Actually, it's kind of

An American Carol (2008)

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This is one of those movies that's sort of on the boundary of what we'd consider discussing. It's not set at or about Christmas, but depending on your point of view it's either derivative of or based on arguably the most famous Christmas story set in December (we all know the manger thing happened in the fall, right?). On top of that, An American Carol has particular significance to another project I'm working on for later this year. For reasons not even I can explain, I seem to have decided 2022 would be the year I finally watched through the various adaptations of A Christmas Carol, or at least all the significant ones. And while this falls near the low end of the spectrum of both the significance and adaptation metrics, it was released theatrically, so I decided to give it a watch. Set in America in the "present" of 2008, the movie applies the "Christmas Carol" template to the 4th of July and the War on Terror in order to lampoon liberalism. I

Last Holiday (2006)

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This is one of those cases where a movie's backstory is nearly as complicated as its plot. I'll try to be as brief as possible, but no promises.  The original Last Holiday, a movie I've never seen but probably should, was a 1950 British film starring Alec Guinness as a salesman diagnosed (technically misdiagnosed) with a fatal illness. Believing himself to have only a short time to live, he goes on the titular "last holiday" to a fancy resort, where he befriends a number of wealthy individuals who assume he's higher class than he is. At the end, he learns the truth about his diagnosis... only to get in an accident and die (spoiler: The remake goes with a different ending). The original was not, as far as I can tell, set at Christmas. The term "holiday" strictly referred to a vacation. Jump ahead four decades to the 1990s, and there was a push to remake Last Holiday with John Candy. Apparently, it was relatively close to happening, but the star's

Friday After Next (2002)

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This is going to be one of those incredibly awkward situations where I'm looking at a Christmas installment in a series where I didn't see the earlier films. I'm not sure if it makes it more or less awkward that this one was reviewed far more harshly than the original (the middle installment wasn't received any better). So obviously take my opinion with a grain of salt. And that opinion seems to be in line with the consensus. Overall, this didn't work for me, and a lot of the jokes have aged badly. The series stars and was co-created by Ice Cube. Stylistically, it's reminiscent of Clerks, particularly for the first half. The story here is incredibly thin, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in a comedy, so long as the jokes pick up the slack. Again, they didn't work for me, though I'm not really the target audience and there's absolutely a possibility a lot of the humor went over my head. The movie opens with a thief dressed as Santa breaking int

Bam Margera Presents: Where the #$& is Santa (2008)

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By its nature, Mainlining Christmas often leaves us scrambling to cobble together some sort of context for media we're unfamiliar with. We regularly check out Christmas episodes of shows we've never seen or wander into genres we otherwise avoid. But this takes that to a whole new level. We put this on not knowing who Bam Margera is or what we were getting into. We're of course familiar with Jackass as a concept, but neither Lindsay or myself ever actually watched anything from that franchise before, nor did we realize it had spawned multiple spin-offs under different titles. I actually assumed I was putting on a conventional comedy. This was... I'm honestly still not sure what the hell this was. Like I said, I've never seen Jackass, but my impression is it's primarily defined by over-the-top, idiotic stunts intended to shock the audience. And, in a sense, that's what this was. Only... it wasn't? Imagine someone created a movie revolving around a series o

The Fairies: Christmas Wishes in Fairyland (aka Christmas Carols in Fairyland, 2009)

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Wow. It took us a surprisingly long time to confirm the information in that title. Another from our stash of random DVDs bought from clearance bins, this... film? Extended episode? DVD special? is part of an Australian children's franchise that apparently started with some direct-to-video specials, then got recast, rewritten, and prettied up (by WETA) to launch a full television series, a longer series of direct-to-DVD movies, a program for ballet schools, and probably some stuff I'm missing.  Both generations of this property did a Christmas movie, but this is the later one with more professional production values. The fact that we weren't sure about that until after some thorough research tells you something about what a low bar "more professional" is in this case.  I don't love to hate on low-budget kids' stuff, but this is very strange, and not really in a good way. The actors are giving it a lot of energy and drive, even though they all seem like peop

LazyTown: "LazyTown's Surprise Santa" (2005) and "The Holiday Spirit" (2013)

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These days, we watch almost everything on streaming services, but early in the life of this site, we frequently picked up holiday-themed DVDs from clearance bins. That's how we ended up with a few of the more unusual selections we're planning to cover this year.  Prior to watching these episodes, I was only vaguely aware of the existence of this show and I knew nothing about it. My first impression after a few minutes was confusion that it didn't seem to be dubbed. There's something hard to define about the writing, some mix of absurdism and quirky word rhythm, plus physical comedy that feels a little like commedia dell'arte pantomime, that immediately said to me "not made in the U.S." Sure enough, LazyTown is an Icelandic production. It was intended to combat childhood obesity, although very little in the two holiday episodes we watched is directly about that. There are three characters played by humans: Stephanie, a young chipper audience stand-in, Robbi

Just Friends (2005)

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Just Friends is one of several Christmas comedies from the first decade of the millennia that's been largely forgotten, and in this case, it's not hard to understand why. The premise is largely built around the concept of the "friend zone", a somewhat misogynistic idea popularized in the mid-'90s that - for reasons that continue to elude me - someone thought would make a good basis for a movie a decade later. The story centers on Chris, played by Ryan Reynolds, who grew up in New Jersey, where he was humiliated in high school due to being overweight. His best friend was Jamie, a girl he secretly pined over for years. I should note the movie opens with an extended sequence set during this time that involves Reynolds in a fat suit. We'll come back to this. Jump ahead to Christmas ten years later. Chris has lost weight, he has a high-paying job as a record producer in LA, and his love life is a series of dates with models. But of course, he still pines for Jamie,

Serendipity (2001)

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We struggled with whether it was worth reviewing this or not. It's one of those cases where a movie skirts the border of our already loose requirements for consideration in the pantheon of holiday films. I think it technically qualifies under our most subjective rule (i.e.: Christmas plays a pivotal role in a key scene), but just barely. Back when we reviewed Sleepless in Seattle , I assumed that would be about as fringe of a case as we'd put on the blog, but this is even more questionable. Ultimately, we're mainly letting it squeak through the cracks because regardless of whether I think it's a Christmas movie, the film's editors were pretty specific: this opens and closes with Christmas music. The premise centers on a pair of destined lovers played by John Cusack (Jonathan) and Kate Beckinsale (Sara) who share a meet-cute while shopping for a gift intended for their current romantic partners. They immediately hit it off and go on a sort of impromptu date. It's

The Family Man (2000)

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I have no recollection of this movie ever existing, and honestly that surprises me. It's not so much that this deserves to be remembered - aside from a few solid performances, a couple decent moments, and a score from Danny Elfman, it's got very little going for it - but it's kind of amazing a Christmas movie starring Nicholas Cage, Téa Leoni, and Don Cheadle could gross more that 100 million dollars then just get swallowed up and forgotten. It makes a little more sense when we enter the director into the equation: this was made by Brett Ratner, whose reputation as Hollywood's least interesting filmmaker has been overshadowed by numerous accusations of sexual assault and harassment. The Family Man is the story of Jack (Nicholas Cage), a successful businessman who broke up with Kate (Téa Leoni) years before in a formulaic prologue set in an airport. Jack thinks he's happy, and he seems to have everything. That's until Christmas Eve, when he witnesses Don Cheadle

Exit Speed (2008)

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Exit Speed is a low-budget action/suspense film from 2008. I can't find much information about how or why it was made, but I'm guessing it was never meant for more than a video and/or streaming release. It's also worth noting a bus features heavily on the movie's poster, leading me to wonder if the title's inclusion of the word "speed" might have been an Asylum-style knock-off. Granted, 14 years is a hell of a gap, but I honestly can't think of a better explanation for the title. The movie's premise centers around a group of people trying to travel through Texas by bus on Christmas Eve. Things go awry pretty much from the start, when they cross paths with... sigh... a nomadic bike gang. They get in an accident, resulting in the death of a biker, resulting in a brief chase, a crash, and a siege set in a junkyard. It's the junkyard siege that makes up the bulk of the movie. The protagonists are something of an odd assortment of character personal