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Showing posts with the label 00's

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

Snowglobe (2007)

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This one was quite a rollercoaster. It started off weak, then got progressively weirder through the second act. By the time it hit the climax, the movie had us fascinated with where it would go next. Then the whole thing was resolved through what might be the least satisfying use of deus ex machina I've seen in my entire life. So, "mixed" would probably be a generous summation for this bizarre fantasy rom-com. I'm going to jump right into the story because this thing is bonkers. The protagonist is "Angela," a single woman with a somewhat unhealthy affection for Christmas, which is... honestly kind of refreshing. The vast majority of these start with a gender-flipped Scrooge - going the opposite way is a nice change of pace. She lives in an apartment building owned by her parents, who also own and run the deli she works in. Her mother keeps trying to fix her up with men by moving them into apartments near hers. Angela is annoyed and frustrated with this behav

The Proposition (2005)

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Every now and then we come across a Christmas movie and find ourselves a little ashamed it took us this long to discover it. The longer the blog goes on, the less and less common this phenomenon becomes, but when it does occur, it's all the more embarrassing. This is absolutely one of those times. I assume I must have seen this on numerous lists of movies set at the holidays and most likely glanced at the title, dismissed it as yet another rom-com, and figured we'd get to it eventually. This is not a romantic comedy. It's a highly realistic, brutally violent western set in Australia. It's beautifully shot, darkly tragic, and thematically driven. In short, we're absolutely recommending this - it's by far the best Christmas western we've seen. Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. We're recommending this with a giant caveat: this isn't an adventure film or a campy comedy or anything you'd call "fun." It reflects the horror of the time,

Full-Court Miracle (2003)

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Full-Court Miracle is a 2003 Hanukkah movie produced for The Disney Channel loosely inspired by a true story of a man whose life sounds like it was a hell of a lot more interesting and inspiring than what I just watched. I'll get to the plot in a minute, but first I do want to call attention to one thing legitimately noteworthy about this movie. We've watched and reviewed a handful of movies that were ostensibly about Hanukkah before, but every one of them was really a movie about being Jewish at Christmas. There are some specials and episodes of TV shows that break that mold, but this is the first movie I remember seeing which was unambiguously about Hanukkah itself. I'm still waiting on a Hanukkah movie that's, you know, good , but I view this as a step in the right direction. The movie's main character is Alex Schlotsky, a student at a Jewish private high school. Alex is obsessed with basketball, despite the fact his team consistently loses. For reasons I won

The Hebrew Hammer (2003)

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When we talk about movies from the 1940s or 1960s, we often fall back on the adage "it was of its time" as sort of an explanation for problematic content or offensive cultural norms that have since evolved. Today, I want to look at a comedy from 2003 that I believe was "of its time." Comedy at the turn of the millennium was largely dominated by two titans. On television, South Park had achieved almost unimaginable success by combining crass humor with rough animation. Meanwhile, Austin Powers continued to cast a long shadow across film. If someone in 2003 were to attempt to replicate surface-level properties of those two franchises without actually understanding what made either work, you'd expect the result to be something very similar to The Hebrew Hammer, an independent production that wound up getting a heavily edited release on cable television. The movie's title character is more or less an attempt to answer the question, "What if Shaft we

Toy/Book Review: The Elf on the Shelf (2005)

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To be clear, I honestly thought I was done writing about Christmas-themed toys. I've reviewed quite a few over the years, but something about the experience wasn't as fulfilling as it once was. It's hard to put my finger on the precise issue-- Oh, wait. Now I remember: no one cared about any of those posts. At any rate, I've looked at a variety of holiday action figures , dolls , building sets , playsets , a Batmobile , and... whatever the hell this was ... but there was one thing that always eluded me. And that, of course, was The Elf on the Shelf. Obviously, "elude" is a strong choice of words. I've seen countless of these for sale over the years but it's rare to see them marked down significantly. There were times early in the blog's existence I considered paying the full $30 for a chance to mock these little demons publicly. But before I got around to that, I started seeing them parodied and viciously criticized, and... I don't