Showing posts with the label Crime Against Humanity

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas (2014)

I've wanted to see this since its release, but that compulsion kept being thwarted by an even stronger compulsion to not give any money directly to the people who made it. There didn't seem to be any easy way to watch this - Netflix didn't even carry the DVD last I checked - so I mostly gave up.

However, Saving Christmas has now appeared on multiple streaming platforms, so I was finally able to watch it. As a public service to readers of this site, I will not be specifying which streaming services, in the hopes none of you have to endure what I just went through.

I went in expecting this to be a very bad movie, but I have to say I was mistaken. Despite everything you may have heard, Saving Christmas is not really a movie. It's closer to a documentary, but I don't think it really meets the criteria for that, either. Really, it's a piece of propaganda.

At any rate, the "movie" opens with Kirk Cameron sitting on what appears to be the set of an old-fash…

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

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…

Music Review: Care Bears Christmas Eve (CD 2006)

I knew this was going to be bad from the first track, but I didn't realize how bad. The music is generic overproduced "kid-friendly" stuff. It reminded me of the old commercials for Kidz Bop.

(Side note: I can't find the CD case right now, but all the cover art I see online says "instrumental" on it. It isn't instrumental music.)

There seem to be at least three singers: a male generic pop voice, a female generic pop voice, and a female voice doing a somewhat androgynous/generic "kids show" sound. The music production is terrible: the balance is off, the vocals sound overly digitally tweaked, yet still have prominent hissing "s" sounds.

The album includes a few generic versions of traditional carols. These are mostly notable because one is set so low in the male singer's range that his voice disappears under the artificial, 80s-keyboard-demo-grade percussion. It's also strange that all three are explicitly religious choices: …

Bad Santa 2 (2016)

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…

Fuller House: Nutcrackers (2016)

It took eight years for civilization to kill off the original Full House, but some monsters just won't stay dead. In a twisted perversion of nostalgia, the concept and characters were resurrected, along with the stale jokes. If you're looking to place blame (and you really should be), Netflix is responsible for this abomination.

The series seems to center around DJ Tanner, her sister Stephanie, and their friend, Kimmy, from the original show. Joining them are a pack of kids, love interests, and pet animals you won't care about. Supposedly, the three leads from the original (Joey, Jesse, and Danny) show up from time to time, but all were mercifully missing from the holiday installment.

By my count, there were three main stories going on. First, DJ's middle child finds love on a play date with the daughter of one of DJ's ex-boyfriends from when she was young. The kids are around six or seven - I think this was supposed to be cute, judging by the canned cooing sounds…

Saved by the Bell, the New Class: Christmas in July (1994)

I’d like to say that we saved the worst for near the end on purpose, but it was just challenging to get a hold of this episode. It turns out that these DVDs are out of print for a reason.

Here’s what I know about Saved by the Bell: There was a character named Screech, and it must have come on after something I watched regularly, because the theme song is familiar.

Here’s what I know about Saved by the Bell: The New Class: When I was looking for Christmas in July television episodes, I found out that there was a spin-off of Saved by the Bell.

So, with that lack of knowledge in place, let’s begin.

This is a heavily Christmasy episode, which we appreciate, and it packs an impressive amount of plot into 22 minutes. It does this by making every line, beat, and sound effect exquisitely painful to experience, thus extending the subjective time spent watching.

I can’t say this enough: do not under any circumstances watch this show. Making it was a waste of electricity, props, and craft servi…

Your Family or Mine: Christmas in July (2015)

This is the kind of show that reminds me why I have never wanted cable. We watch a lot of repellent things in the name of Christmas, but this was a special level of awful.

It’s a sitcom, distinguishable from other sitcoms only by its exceptionable levels of imbecility.

Kate and Oliver are married. Apparently the ‘humor’ of this show comes from them dealing in succession with one or the other of their families. Like every other ‘family’ sitcom.

This episode follows them and their extras, I mean daughters, on a visit to Oliver’s parents. Oliver’s mom insists on getting the family together in the summer to take the annual Christmas card photo, because “people are fat in the winter.” There’s some clever comedy coming here, folks.

In the beginning of the episode (before I stopped thinking to prevent my neurons from shutting down in pain) I was confused. Is Kate not the mother of those two (seven-year-old-ish) girls? If she is, why does she seem flummoxed and confused by things that Oliv…

Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Christmas Special (2013)

I'm still a little unclear what we just sat through. I understood the basics, of course. It was an episode of a reality show about a wealthy family who somehow managed to catapult themselves into cultural relevancy without offering anything of real value - no art, no philanthropy, nothing but a series detailing their attempts to stay in the public eye. But I don't understand why it was put on television, or why anyone turned it on.

Was it some kind of a freak show? The editing seemed to portray the Kardashians that way, though it's difficult to make that assessment after just one episode (and I have no intention of ever sitting through another). It was an hour and five minutes, and that's without commercials - God, how I longed for the sweet respite of a merciful commercial break. Every time the streaming paused to buffer was a gift. A GIFT.

Are they really as vapid as they seemed, or were they simply acting like dimwitted socialites for the camera? I have no idea. It…

Bratz Babyz Save Christmas (2008)

It was awful.

I mean, we expected awful. It's called "Bratz Babyz Save Christmas," and it's a sequel to a direct-to-video movie based on a toy line spun off of another toy line that was essentially a knock-off of Barbie: this was never going to be brilliant film making. But we weren't ready. I'm not sure anyone could have been ready. I'm going to do my best to prepare you, in case you're foolish enough to try and watch this yourself, but the task of trying to depict in words the experience we just endured is a daunting one. This thing, on all levels, in all ways... it was awful.

Based on the four minutes I was willing to invest researching this, it seems to be the third movie in the CG Bratz Babyz direct-to-the-dumpster-behind-Best-Buy-because-no-one-was-actually-stupid-enough-to-buy-the-video series. Did I mention it was awful?

It was. Let's start with the animation. You know how crappy attempts to create CG humans result in a doll-like quality …

101 Dalmatians (Animated - 1961; Live Action - 1996)

When you think of classic Christmas movies, Disney's animated 101 Dalmatians doesn't jump to mind, which is actually a little odd. Setting aside the first couple of scenes, the entire movie takes place immediately before Christmas, the majority of the film is about the titular dogs wading through a blizzard, and the finale occurs on Christmas day. Oh, and it's about getting a family back together.

It is, in fact, a Christmas movie through and through.
It just doesn't act or feel like one. Most of that discrepancy can be tied to fact the movie isn't interested in Christmas. Until that last sequence, the holiday is only name-checked once, and then in an ambiguous manner. Likewise, we don't see any decorations during the dogs' quest.
The 1996 live-action remake is a little more complicated. It's difficult to say for certain, but the timing of the movie seems to be slightly offset. The scene before the dogs are kidnapped has "The Christmas Song" …

Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (2002)

I'd like to begin with a thought experiment for those of you who haven't seen Home Alone 4. I'm assuming that includes you, since - as far as I can tell - no one alive has actually seen this movie and only a handful have even heard of it.

So then, imagine that, after the disappointing third installment (which, to be fair, isn't really much worse than the first two), the Home Alone franchise didn't disappear entirely. Imagine instead that the IP transitioned to a made-for-TV movie aired on ABC. Now imagine that the character of Kevin McCallister, the protagonist from the original two, returned, albeit recast, along with every other character. Now ask yourself, how bad would you expect this to be? How abysmally awful, how utterly vapid, how monumentally stupid do you think a movie like that would be?

What you're picturing right now is what we'll call, "The Expectation." Before we go on, you'll have to lower that expectation.

Before we get to th…

The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966)

Wow. We were warned about this one, but it still managed to reach pretty significant levels of awfulness. But the awfulness pales in comparison to how mind-numbingly boring this is.

Here’s the plot: a cranky Snidely Whiplash type named Prune has bought up all the land at the North Pole, and now he’s charging Santa rent. If the jolly old elf can’t come up with the funds by Christmas Eve, he’s going to repossess the land and all the toys. For help, Santa goes to a lawyer who apparently wrote him a thank you note as a kid. Ooookay.

Early on they establish that Prune hates Santa because he hates children, especially happy children. He sings about this. Throughout actors repeat the name Prune ad nauseum as if saying the word, by itself, is a hilarious joke. The lawyer gets Santa a job as the first department store Santa. (Insert facepalm here.) Santa is afraid of meeting children while they’re awake, but gets over it. After singing about it. Prune cheats them out of their pay, and it look…

Erin's Take: My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie (2007)

I think Lindsay's reviewing this as well, since we had very different impressions of this made-for-DVD movie. She enjoyed it, while I consider its existence an affront to all that's good in the Universe.

Here's the thing: I'm a pretty big fan of the Bear with Very Little Brain, and I've got some rather strong feelings regarding how Pooh and his friends should be adapted. The makers of this thing apparently feel differently. For example, I believe that Pooh and Tigger should NOT be part of a team that's sort of a combination of Mystery Inc. and a bunch of superheroes, as that represents a profound and disturbing lack of understanding of the world of Winnie the Pooh.

Here are a few other points I differ with the makers of "My Friends Tigger & Pooh":

Modern clothes and technology should not exist in Pooh's world.And expedition to the North Pole should not end at the literal North Pole.The characters should not be famous.New characters should rare…

Book Review: The Christmas Sweater, by: Glenn Beck

I sat down with Glenn Beck's famous Christmas story expecting to hate it. I started with low expectations - possibly some of the lowest I've ever had for anything, ever. But then something unexpected happened: something that can only be called a Christmas miracle:

I hated it even more than I thought I would.
The story of "The Christmas Sweater" is loosely based on Beck's childhood. The introduction seems like it's intended to mislead you into thinking it's a true story, but it's almost immediately obvious that's not the case. To be fair, Beck includes a section at the end offering a quick overview of what's true (the name of his parents' bakery) and what's BS (pretty much everything else).
There's a lot to hate about this. The humorous bits aren't actually funny, the characters don't come close to feeling real, the last 99% of the story drags, and the writing's about as bland as fiction can get. But, more than anything…

Eight Crazy Nights (2002)

Eight Crazy Nights performs an important service by virtue of its 12% Freshness Rating, which establishes a much needed margin of error on the Tomatometer (turns out it's 12%). Upon finishing this movie, the very idea that someone out there could conceivably have liked it is sickening. This is, without a doubt, the worst Adam Sandler movie either of us have ever seen. Think about that for a minute.

The film is an utter mess. Worse still, it seems to think it's actually funny, charming, subversive, and touching, while offering absolutely nothing of value. The jokes, often punctuated by the narrator restating the obvious intent, come off as mean-spirited and pointless. The movie's premise is somewhat similar to Bad Santa's, but it misses its mark to a degree that's almost incredible to behold. Not only is it painfully clear that the producers have never made an animated film before, we found ourselves wondering if they'd ever actually seen one. The timing was so…

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

This is the second time I've seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the first being in the theater when it was originally released. That was quite a while ago, but the experience stuck with me: I remember thinking it was a poorly conceived, ill-advised attempt to adapt a near-perfect classic into a full-length movie which resulted in a mess that insulted Dr. Seuss, the viewing public, and common taste.

But it turns out my memory was faulty. When I actually sat down to rewatch this, I discovered it was far, far worse than I was remembering. Calling this a poorly conceived mess is a compliment. This isn't some innocent insult; it twisted Seuss's brilliant designs into grotesque horrors. It doesn't merely mangle his lines: it actually goes out of its way to mock them, without so much as a hint of humor or shame.

For those of you who have never had the opportunity to watch The Grinch or slowly have your hand run through a meat-grinder, allow me to to attempt to discuss a li…

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

A lot of people speak negatively about the spectacle of drying paint. I'm really not sure why that is. When I reflect on the gradual transition between its initial shimmering, almost glass-like surface to its final matte state - which is in itself brighter and more vibrant than it will ever appear again, before the dirt and grime settles, before years of greasy fingerprints and scuff marks - it hardly seems tedious at all: if anything, drying paint symbolizes the fleeting beauty of youth maturing into stability.

In fact, given the choice between the two, there is no question in my mind that I would far rather watch paint dry than see Ernest Saves Christmas again, and would - without hesitation - recommend the same to anyone else faced with a similar set of options.

The central problem with this movie is that, at its core, it is a pointless, boring sequence of events, a vapid and uninspired waste of time devoid of humor, meaning, or entertainment. I do want to stress that this is …

Glee: A Very Glee Christmas (2010)

I should start this by saying I have a thing about Glee.

I watched about two-thirds of the first season before deciding I was ultimately not enjoying it and quitting before it became a full fledged addiction.

This is the first episode I've seen since then.

As I watched, I could feel the ghostly hand of pointlessly melodramatic soap-opera-style continuity calling me back. I could feel the chance that I would get sucked back in.

Happily, I escaped, because this is a terrible episode. It continues to be basically the same plot: teen romance creates drama/evil gym teacher is wacky. Rinse, repeat.

Overall the series, and this episode in particular, suffers from the tension between drama and farce. The drama is boring, but when the drama laspes, there's nothing to ground the farce. And the farce isn't funny enough to stand on it's own.

The music was every bit as horribly over-produced as I remembered. I love musicals, but I really hate watching these characters "sing&q…

The Happy Elf (2005)

Okay, so apparently at some point Harry Connick Jr was delusional or high enough to think producing an animated special based loosely on a stupid song he wrote was a good idea.

And then somehow NO ONE involved thought: wait, this is a TERRIBLE idea!

Thus was born the steaming pile known as The Happy Elf. Ugh, even the name is boring.

The plot is idiotic, every single character is annoying. The only thing this has going for it is that it isn't very long.

Rob Paulsen plays the lead, and if anyone could have pulled it out of the dive and made the twitchy hyper obnoxiously Pollyanna elf charming, it probably would have been Rob Paulsen. But it was not to be. The dialogue is so terrible, and the performances are all painfully overwrought.

The animation... on a purely technical level, it might not be quite as bad as some of the CG we saw last year. It's bad, but the humans are maybe 5% less creepily mask-like. However, 99% of the designs and movements were poorly chosen, and the st…

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

Is this really as bad as you've heard?  Yeah.  It might be worse.

If you haven't had the pleasure, this is a variety show featuring a surprising number of cast members from the movie.  Most of the established characters get a scene or two, although Chewbacca has a larger role.  It's his family celebrating "Life Day," after all, and he's trying to get past an imperial blockade to get home in time.

Of course the real stars are Chewbacca's family, who are given extended scenes in which they go about their lives, talking and arguing without translation.  When they bother to call humans, we find out - again and again - that they're worried Chewie won't make it back.

Around this riveting frame story, we get a number of short "comedic" bits, as well as some "musical" numbers (yes, those quotation marks are called for).  A few of the musical acts aren't awful - Jefferson Starship's number is fine.  The there's the Diahann…