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Showing posts with the label Comedy

Scrooged (1988) [Revisited]

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I wasn't going to do  this again . Depending on your point of view, it's not at all clear this should count as an adaptation of A Christmas Carol at all. Really, it's more a parody or derived work. If we're counting this, should we also be counting The Grinch, It's a Wonderful Life, or Cash on Demand? But this kept appearing on online lists of Christmas Carol adaptations, and I eventually decided if I wanted to seriously look at how these have evolved over time, I really needed to consider this one as well. To recap, I briefly reviewed Scrooged as a Christmas movie more than a decade ago, with the main takeaway being I thought the movie was fine but not particularly memorable. Rewatching it in 2022, I have quite a few more thoughts on a number of different subjects. Some of this is going to be very positive, some negative, and still more that's just... weird. Let's start with the weird, actually. Scrooged begins with a number of promotions for holiday specia

Entertaining Christmas (2018)

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Among our various yuletide pursuits this year, we're trying to catch up on a number of Hallmark movies. Basically, we realized we'd more or less neglected the company for the better part of a decade due to, well, having better things to do with our lives, and - because there's obviously something wrong with us - we decided we should watch a handful of these in an attempt to recalibrate. So far, it's not going particularly well. That's not to say these movies are especially bad; the ones we've seen so far are a modest step up from those we saw back when we started this blog. It's just that I don't feel as though I'm learning much from the experience. I'd hoped to get a sense of the company's output by watching four or five movies, and it's starting to feel like I'd have to sit through forty or fifty before actually understanding what the hell these are evolving into. To be clear, we don't have that kind of time this year. Or at lea

And So They Were Married (1936)

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Is there a romantic comedy history expert out there who can help me with context here? And So They Were Married is an early example (or perhaps the originator) of the "kids manipulating parents" sub-genre that would eventually turn into things like The Parent Trap and its ilk. I'd be curious to know whether it actually is the first, or if it was following on the heels of similar productions. Mainly, I'm curious because... well... This movie rules. I'll get to a few of the usual "well, that aged poorly" caveats in a moment, but strictly as a comedy, this is easily the funniest movie of the '30s we've done to date and possibly one of the funniest Christmas movies of all time. The jokes hold up more than eighty years later, which is incredible in and of itself. I should note I'm bucketing this as a "romantic comedy" with trepidation. It's really more of an over-the-top farce about kids acting recklessly with the adults' relatio

An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol (1974)

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This is a bit unusual for us, in that the media in question is a record, rather than a special. There are, of course, countless audio recordings of A Christmas Carol - as a rule of thumb, we don't bother tracking those down, as they're rarely well-known or influential enough to justify a review. This one is a little more interesting. Despite its unassuming title, this adaptation, courtesy of Disney Records, was the source material later adapted into the 1983 animated film, Mickey's Christmas Carol , which in turn led to the creation of DuckTales. Like the movie, the album features Disney characters playing the cast of Dickens's story. The lead role, of course, is Scrooge, featuring Alan Young as Scrooge for the first time. Young co-wrote the album and would of course reprise that role in the '83 film, as well as Scrooge McDuck on DuckTales (the McDuck surname gets a brief callout on the album when Ebenezer Scrooge lists a couple debtors). Quite a bit of the story an

Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) [Revisited]

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Yes, we discussed this back in 2010, but at the time we weren't really even doing reviews, let alone any kind of serious reflection or analysis. I'm working my way through the canon of Christmas Carol adaptations, and I felt I needed to give this a re-watch, anyway, so let's take another look at Mickey's Christmas Carol , the version I once considered the best adaptation out there. A little background. This is directed by Burny Mattinson, who'd go on to make The Great Mouse Detective. Those are his only directing credits, but he's worked on numerous other Disney projects dating back to 1953. And, incredibly, he's still with the company - he worked on Ralph Breaks the Internet. Guess he likes it there. It's based on a 1974 album,  An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol , featuring much of the same dialogue (though with a few substantial changes). Mickey's Christmas Carol was released theatrically with reissued Disney films (The Jungle Book in E

A Christmas Story (1972)

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Not to be confused with the overrated 1983 movie of the same name , this 30-minute Hanna-Barbera special from 1972 tells the story of a dog and mouse attempting to deliver a boy's letter to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Like most Hanna-Barbera specials from this era, this has been mostly forgotten, which feels right to me. That's not to say it's particularly bad; it's just not particularly anything . It's relatively early, as far as Christmas specials go, so I assume it was a welcome deviation from the ones already in rotation. But fifty years later, it's not quite old enough to be "one of the first," so it's hard to overlook its shortcomings and aspects that aged poorly. The one aspect I did find interesting was the voice cast. This features two voice actors from Disney's Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Paul Winchell and Hal Smith), and the father's voice is instantly recognizable as Dr. Benton Quest (Don Messick). The whole cast is co

The Stingiest Man in Town (1978) [Revisited]

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We watched and reviewed this eleven years ago , but I'm revisiting it as part of my ongoing attempt to watch as many versions of A Christmas Carol as humanly possible. It'd be worth reevaluating this, anyway, since the context surrounding it has changed dramatically. This is a remake of a 1956 version starring Basil Rathbone broadcast live that was believed lost for decades before showing up in 2011. Technically, it was available when we ran our original review, but it wouldn't have been easy to find, nor were we anywhere near as thorough back then. Obviously things have changed. I actually just finished watching the 1956 version a few days before putting this on (in case it wasn't clear, these reviews aren't entirely being posted in the order I watched them in). Let's dig into how this special relates to its predecessor, adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and Christmas specials in general. First, I want to acknowledge Lindsay and I have very different background

Look Who's Talking Now (1993)

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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

Casper's First Christmas (1979)

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Casper is the title character, but this half-hour special features Yogi, Boo Boo, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie, and Doggie Daddy, in addition to Hairy Scary. For those of you lucky enough to not know what any of that means, Hairy is a ghost who's friends with Casper (sort of), and the others are anthropomorphic Hanna-Barbera characters. The special opens with Casper and Hairy's house scheduled for demolition. It's Christmas Eve, so Casper wants to decorate. Hairy, not sharing his friend's interest in the holidays, wants to go looking for a new house to haunt. Casper isn't sure whether Santa Claus will come to a house as worn down as theirs, but he writes a letter and leaves it in a stocking, just in case. As this is going on, the Hanna-Barbera gang are lost on the way to a lodge where they're planning to spend the holidays. If you want to impose continuity on this mess, you could interpret that as the Jellystone Lodge from the

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

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As a fan of the Guardians movies and (as you may have noticed) of Christmas media, I've been waiting for this. And, at risk of spoiling the end of the review, I was not disappointed. There are a few details I have issues with, but on the whole, I absolutely love this thing. The special opens with an animated bit establishing that Peter Quill's childhood Christmases with the Ravagers were traumatic (or at least that's Kraglin's impression). Mantis, who we learn is secretly Peter's half-sister, wants to give him a proper Christmas, so she and Drax head to Earth to get him the perfect present: legendary Earth hero, Kevin Bacon. They arrive in Hollywood and, after some of the standard shenanigans you'd expect, the two Guardians are given a map to the stars, which they use to track down Bacon. They break into his house, chase him down the street, fight off police, then Mantis uses her powers to manipulate Bacon's mood so he's eager to follow them anywhere. Th

Scrooge (1970)

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We did a few adaptations of A Christmas Carol back when we started this blog, but we lost interest pretty fast. It wasn't so much that we were bored watching them (if that were enough, there's a host of genres we'd have dropped a decade ago), it's that we felt like we'd said everything we could possibly say on the subject. To put it another way, I figured if I'd seen one of these, I'd pretty much seen them all. I now realize I was wrong. Hilariously wrong. In more ways than I can count. Granted, if I'd tried watching through one after another back then, I'd have basically been wasting my time. The variations wouldn't have interested me back then, and I was too new to all this to perceive how different versions reflect their times or what they meant to holiday media in general. Even so, I should have watched this one ages ago. I have no excuse save ignorance for waiting this long. It's not so much that this is good or bad; it's that it'

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

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962) [Revisited]

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I'm not certain I need to revisit this at all. Rereading my review from 2014 , I find my opinions haven't shifted much on rewatch. That said, having seen numerous other versions over the past few months has altered my perspective a bit. And, while I'm still not the world's biggest fan of this, its place in the history of Christmas specials kind of demands it be included in this year's project of watching every significant adaptation. I'll start with something positive I only glossed over in my initial review: Jim Backus, the actor who voices Magoo/Scrooge, delivers a phenomenal vocal performance here. He manages to simultaneously stay in character as Mr. Magoo while that character plays Scrooge, and through it all his performance is faithful to Dickens' work. I harped a great deal in 2014 on the downsides of doing this within a frame story of a Broadway production (and I'm going to again in a moment), but Backus deserves credit for pulling it off without

Northpole (2014)

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As far as I can tell, Northpole was an attempt by Hallmark to create a family-friendly holiday franchise in the vein of Disney. The fact you've almost certainly never heard of it offers a pretty good summary for how that went. They actually did make a sequel the following year: maybe we'll get to that one of these days. This actually isn't our first experience with the brand. To accompany the movie, Hallmark made a number of tie-in products, most   of   which   we bought and reviewed  (I'll talk about some of those later). This is part of the reason I think Hallmark was trying to turn this into something big: they clearly invested in this idea. Let's talk about what that idea actually was. In the context of the movie, Northpole is a magical city where Santa and his elves live. It's powered by magic snow, which falls from the northern lights, which in turn are powered by happiness. Or something. Look, the idea is that Northpole creates toys so kids will be happ