Posts

Showing posts with the label 90's

Look Who's Talking Now (1993)

Image
The late '80s/early '90s were an odd time for comedy. The classics of the previous era had landed on VHS and television, where they were embraced by kids. It didn't really matter most of those classics weren't intended for young audiences - we found them all the same. And it created a bizarre landscape where the concept of what was and wasn't appropriate for "all ages" was skewed. On some level, as long as kids laughed and didn't get the joke, (almost) no one considered it an issue. That's how you get a franchise like the Look Who's Talking trilogy, which is best described as a kid-centered live-action cartoon intercut with microscopic footage of semen and jokes about marital infidelity. The series is a raunchy sex comedy aimed at six-year-olds.  They were almost certainly trying for a family comedy with something for everyone, but the mix of styles and tones is completely off the mark. This isn't a case where innuendo is used to deliver an

Strange Days (1995)

Image
Before I even get into the spoiler warning, I want to open this with a content warning. The movie I'll be talking about includes a sexual assault, and while I won't go into much depth in the review, I found it disturbing even relative to other films that touch on that subject matter. [Editor's note: I found this scene incredibly upsetting to watch. I was glad I sought out spoilers ahead of time so I knew what I was in for - Lindsay] If that's not something you're willing to sit through, you'll want to steer clear of this one... ...And I needed to open with that, because this is one of those movies where plot spoilers could impact your experience quite a bit. And also, yes, this is a pretty great sci-fi noir flick directed by Kathryn Bigelow, so it's probably worth your attention, assuming the last paragraph isn't a deal-breaker. The film definitely has some issues aside from that, so it's not like this is required viewing or anything, but it's g

Metropolitan (1990)

Image
I'd never watched (or as far as I can recall even heard of) this movie prior to seeing someone on Twitter assert it was a Christmas movie, a claim I initially doubted skimming the synopsis. I became more optimistic watching the trailer, as holiday decorations can be seen in every other shot, give or take. So I decided to give this a chance. First, I can confirm this is absolutely a Christmas movie, at least according to the definitions and litmus tests employed at this site. Granted, all such definitions are inherently subjective, but I think it's worth pointing out that our subjective definition is objectively superior to any other found on the internet. If you disagree, I don't know what to tell you: that's just science. More importantly, this movie is goddamn hilarious, or at least that was my take. Lindsay found moments funny but overall was kind of bored. I suspect that's a common reaction to this film - the humor is an unusual combination of over-the-top and d

Toys (1992)

Image
I'll be the first to admit our rubric for categorizing movies as "Christmas films" gets more than a little convoluted, particularly when considering movies that only contain a few scenes set around the holidays. As a rule of thumb, this isn't enough to warrant yuletide classification. Most movies like this primarily use the season to mark the passage of time (think the Harry Potter films, American Psycho, Little Women...), which I don't consider sufficient for discussion here. I dismissed Toys years ago for that reason - the movie starts and ends at Christmas, with the rest of the film set in the intervening year. I remembered that much from seeing it a handful of times decades ago (including in the theater, in case anyone thought I was younger than I am). I hadn't really bothered to think much further on the subject or considered there might be more to framing the film with the holidays than telling you a year passes and justifying a December release. Well...

How the Toys Saved Christmas (1996)

Image
I have to start this review by explaining a big, giant, caveat. I was unable to obtain a version of this holiday special in the original Italian (or even verify that a subtitled version exists). In Italian, this special is called La freccia azzurra (The blue arrow) and the story is apparently somewhat different. Hopefully, it's better in Italian. I knew that we would be watching a kludgy anglicization, but I held out some hope. I sought out this special because I knew it featured Befana, who is a character we'd love to see more of. Befana is a witch who brings gifts to Italian children on Epiphany (Jan 6). In the English version, this character is nonsensically renamed "Granny Rose" and is demoted to being one of Santa's helpers. At least she's still a witch. The following description is based on the English version. For some reason, Granny Rose has a shop where children can come to drop off their wish lists. One boy (Christopher, your requisite virtuo

In the Bleak Midwinter (US Title: A Midwinter’s Tale) (1995)

Image
There are many Christmas movies about families, and many about found families. This delightful black-and-white dramedy from Kenneth Branagh shows that the bonds between the members of a theater company are every bit as dysfunctional and poignant as any other family, if a bit more dramatic. This is a movie that rewards close attention. It’s absolutely hilarious, but many of the jokes, and nearly all of the character beats, are played so straight and subtle that you’ll miss important details if you’re trusting the movie to telegraph when something is funny. It also rewards some familiarity with theater people and their habits, although I think it would be enjoyable even without that context. It has a lot in common with the 2003 Canadian television show Slings and Arrows - I suspect this film was an inspiration for that series. The movie follows Joe, an unemployed actor nearing the end of his rope. He talks his agent into helping him bankroll a passion project: an experimental Chr

A Holiday to Remember (1995)

Image
I'm not trying to be clever when I call "A Holiday to Remember" forgettable: it's honestly just the first adjective that pops into my mind. It's been less than twelve hours since I subjected myself to this made-for-TV movie, and I'm already having a hard time recalling details. A Holiday to Remember belongs to a sub-genre best called the Christmas melodram-rom-com. It sounds specific, but - trust me - there are millions of these things. It tries to appeal to everyone by encapsulating all genres simultaneously, but forgets to do any of them even halfway well. If there's a reason this was made, it was likely to serve as a vehicle for country music star Randy Travis. This isn't quite his first acting credit, but it shows up early in his filmography. He plays Clay, one of the two romantic leads, though the narrative follows Carolyn, who's played by someone you've never heard of (Connie Sellecca is actually pretty good, at least compared to th

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Image
Just want to nip this one in the bud, in case anyone skimmed the title of the post - this is the 1994 remake, not the 1947 classic. I reviewed the classic (albeit briefly) back in the first year of the blog . That said, you can't examine this remake without considering the original, so I rewatched the '47 film before putting this on. And... wow, there's a noticeable difference. It's like comparing apples to oranges after one of those two pieces of fruit passed through the digestive track of a reindeer. Let me slow down. I'm being unfair to the '94 movie, which actually does have several merits. The two key cast members, Kris and Susan, are well cast in Richard Attenborough and Mara Wilson. Both did good work in their roles and manage to salvage the experience of watching this... ...Assuming you've never seen the original film. Because if you've seen the original, it's physically painful to sit through this thing. It's not so much a questi

Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire (1999)

Image
Hooves of Fire is a BBC claymation special about the son of Rudolph joining Santa's team. Rudolph's name is never explicitly spoken due to copyright issues, but there's no ambiguity about Robbie's heritage. The same can be said about Aardman animation - their name isn't on this, but their style permeates the special. Also, this was directed by Richard Starzak, who'd later go on to create Shaun the Sheep. Overall, I enjoyed this, thanks to some clever jokes and fun designs. That said, the concept was a bit one-note, there were some unfortunate character directions, and the tone needed work. In short, it was good but not amazing. The special starts with Robbie arriving at the lodge where Santa's reindeer live and train. Instead of glowing, Robbie's nose functions as a sort of navigator. Also, he later learns to bounce off it, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The nose is basically all Robbie has going for him - he's lazy, out of shape, and

Blossom: It's a Marginal Life (1991)

Image
Blossom is one of those shows I remember watching, but I don't actually remember specifics about. It was about a girl, who wore big hats, and her friend? Watching this episode only convinced me that I'm probably better off forgetting it. It's an incredibly generic-feeling sitcom, featuring the broadest acting imaginable. You're on film, you don't need to play to the cheap seats. The titular character lives with her father and two brothers, all of whom spend this episode bumbling around to an impressive degree. There's an early subplot about Blossom being a terrible student driver. Her grandfather takes her driving, only for them to just barely luck out of a ticket for driving 7 miles per hour on a main road. The punchline is that her grandfather is a terrible driver too (no one knows how he got to their house, he doesn't seem to live there) and they're all in danger/recklessly endangering others. Laugh track, fade to commercial. The more holiday-

Family Matters Christmas Episodes (1990 - 1997)

Image
I remember this show, of course. I think everyone who grew up in the nineties at least remembers Family Matters. What I hadn't remembered was that Family Matters is actually part of the Mypiot Cinematic Universe, which is to say it's a spin-off of Perfect Strangers. Harriet Winslow was a series regular on Perfect Strangers before getting her own show, along with her husband, Carl, who'd appeared in a handful of episodes. And speaking of Carl... he's played by eternal police officer actor, Reginald VelJohnson, who played a similar character in the perennial holiday favorite, Die Hard (assuming they're not, in fact, the same man ). But any discussion about Family Matters is ultimately going to fixate on the series most famous character, Steve Urkel. Arguably television's most famous nerd, Urkel represents the personification of the stereotypical nerdy character years before Big Bang Theory would whitewash the concept and build an entire sitcom out of the

Full House: Arrest Ye Merry Gentlemen (1994)

Image
Can you sense it? Sitting there, reading this on your computer screen or your smartphone, can you sense the relief embedded in every word I type? There's no great mystery - it's simply the sense of freedom that comes with the realization that, in all probability, I will never again find myself watching another episode of Full House in my entire life. Of course, I've said that before. About once a week, since the early 90s, the thought has echoed through my head. Sometimes I've feared otherwise. Woken up in the dead of night in a cold sweat with the thought of an episode hanging over me. Then, after decades, I felt the weight of existential dread as I realized I'd have to watch and write up the Christmas episodes. But with those out of the way, it should be smooth sailing here on out. Sorry - I'm getting off track. Arrest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a holiday episode from the series's eighth and final season. And, despite the rather ominous introduction w

Full House: A Very Tanner Christmas (1992)

Image
You know what I want? More than anything? I want a cut of this episode where every time they cue up the laugh track, we instead hear sounds of people weeping. Sobbing. Pleading for mercy. Because I honestly think that would be far more synchronous. It's what we, as the audience, are feeling after all. This episode was set in season six of the show, and I found it far more trying than the one we watched from season 2 (which was already pretty awful). The central plot seems to revolve around DJ and her high school boyfriend, Steve, who's just been accepted into a crappy college in Florida. That's all the way across the country, which leaves DJ shaken. He's excited, since it means he actually got into a school, but she's convinced it means he's not serious about their relationship. This escalates when he gives her a sweatshirt bearing the school's name for Christmas. Meanwhile, she spent a fortune on a leather coat he wanted. They have a fight, he accus

Cheers: A House Is Not a Home (1987), Christmas Cheers (1988), and Love Me, Love My Car (1992)

Image
These aren't the first episodes of Cheers we've looked here - five years ago, I reviewed the season one episode, The Spy Who Came in for a Cold One , which hadn't aged well. It took us a while, but we finally got around to what I believe are the series' other Christmas installments, all of which held up better in our opinion. A House Is Not a Home (1987) Although this episode was set in the summer, it features a Christmas celebration, so check off another example of Christmas in July (well, technically May, but I'm still counting it as a use of the trope). This was actually a fairly significant episode, plotwise, coming right before the season finale culminating in Diane's departure. In this one, she buys a house without asking Sam, then spends the first act convincing him it was a good idea. Just when he's finally on board, they meet the previous owners, an elderly couple who spent their whole lives there. Diane is devastated by the thought they

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