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Showing posts with the label Dramedy

A Christmas Story Christmas (2022)

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I'll start by saying upfront that anyone who loves the original is probably going to love this. It does an admirable job of recreating the look, sound, and feel of the 1983 film, which takes skill, time, and care. This is a movie created with love for fans. And I am most certainly not one of them. I have no nostalgic connection to the original, and I don't find the experience of sitting through it at all enjoyable. So it should come as no surprise that I didn't much like this one either. That's not the same as the movie being bad. In a real sense, this is a good movie. It set out to do something that couldn't have been easy, and it succeeded in its goal. Taking a step back, I respect what they achieved, even if I didn't enjoy it. At all. Seriously, I found this a chore to sit through, and - in case anyone needs to be reminded - I'm the guy enthusiastically watching dozens of adaptations of A Christmas Carol this year. Because not enough people are angry with

Christmas at the Golden Dragon (2022)

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Depending on how you're approaching it, Christmas at the Golden Dragon could alternatively be described as a departure for Hallmark Christmas movies or a fairly by-the-numbers installment. It is, ultimately, a paradox in that respect: it looks and feels like a generic TV movie, but differs from others I've seen both structurally and in several details. I should pause here to acknowledge I'm not exactly a connoisseur when it comes to these films. While I've seen a somewhat absurd number of theatrically released Christmas movies and more than my fair share of assorted television movies, I'm actually trying to catch up on Hallmark specifically. So take that last paragraph with a grain of salt. The main way this differs from the usual Hallmark fare is it lacks any kind of central lead or core story. Christmas at the Golden Dragon feels roughly modeled after ensemble films like Love Actually. If anything, this might push the concept a little further, in that Love Actuall

Angela's Christmas Wish [Angela's Christmas 2] (2020)

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A few years ago, we were surprised and delighted by Angela's Christmas , which was a joy in basically every way. I actually remember seeing that this sequel existed last year, but I was hesitant about it. No more source material plus a lot of good press for the first one could easily lead to something rushed and poorly written. And even in the best-case scenario, what could possibly live up to the first special?  Well, not this, but it's still very good. Funny, charming, adorable, uplifting, and really grounded in ways that animation often isn't. It's just not, you know, transformative children's media. If you liked the first one, I recommend you check this out. If you didn't see the first one, go watch that! Angela's Christmas Wish (also marketed as Angela's Chrismas 2) starts with an introduction that takes place before the events of the first movie, in which we see Angela's dad get on a boat for a job in Australia. (Reminder that this all takes pl

Días de Navidad [Three Days of Christmas] (2019)

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It's been a good time for foreign Christmas miniseries, thanks to streaming platforms being desperate for content. Continuing that trend is Días de Navidad, a three-episode Spanish show chronicling the lives of four sisters across different eras and - to a degree at least - genres. That last part is an aspect I'm probably going to fumble a bit, because I have a feeling there's an entire meta-narrative I'm missing concerning Spain's recent history and popular media. More on all that in a moment - first let's dig into that premise a bit. Actually, before we get to even that, let's start with a spoiler warning and a somewhat tentative recommendation. I liked this quite a bit, but I imagine the style and tone of this series will turn a lot of people off. This leans heavily on its drama and at times almost feels like a soap opera (albeit one with money to burn). To be honest, I'm not sure why this didn't bother me more - normally, I don't give drama t

ÜberWeihnachten [Over Christmas], Season 1 (2020)

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Over Christmas is a German dramedy miniseries streaming on Netflix. It's getting a little hard to tell, but I believe this was actually a Netflix production, rather than a series they picked up after the fact, though I suppose that's kind of academic, anyway. Supposedly, there's a second season in the works. The story centers around Bastian, a former resident of a small German town who moved to Berlin after high school to pursue a career as a musician. To put it mildly, things haven't been going well - he's still pining over a breakup the year before, he's working in a call center, and his auditions haven't been going well. But despite everything, he's excited to return home for Christmas. So you already know that's going to go poorly. Really poorly, in fact, beginning with the rather abrupt discovery the ex he's pining over shows up to spend Christmas as his brother's guest. Bastian then hooks up with one of his brother's exes, he and hi

De Familie Claus [The Claus Family] (2020)

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Just as a number of Hollywood productions with 2020 release dates got pushed to streaming, quite a few foreign films intended for theaters were picked up by streaming services hoping to expand their customer base internationally. A side effect of this is a number of movies that would otherwise never have seen US releases are readily available, offering a glimpse into how other countries view Christmas media. In this case, that apparently boils down to a fairly by-the-numbers knock-off of English language holiday fare. De Familie Claus (I'll call it "The Claus Family" going forward, since the title isn't getting mangled) is a live-action Dutch language kid's fantasy/dramedy from Belgium about a kid discovering he's the secret heir to the Santa dynasty. If that sounds like Arthur Christmas, you're both right and wrong: there's a hall of Santas set more or less directly lifted from that movie, but they've otherwise deviated from the formula, particula

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

Period of Adjustment (1962)

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The bare premise of this film - two couples in crisis nearly separate on Christmas Eve but finally reconcile - could be a Hallmark movie. In practice, it's something much more unusual and uneven.  The movie is based on a play by Tennesee Williams. A bit of research tells me that he wrote it as a "serious comedy," partially in response to criticism that his works were too dark. It's been a while since I've studied any of his plays, but the man isn't exactly known for happy endings, and it shows here. These are deeply unhappy people, each with their own neuroses, and it seems unlikely that these "happy-ending" reconciliations are for the long term.  The movie opens with a montage without dialogue showing the whirlwind romance of a nurse (Isabel) and one of the young veterans under her care (George). She realizes that she has made a terrible mistake when a hearse (a "great car" according to George) appears as their honeymoon vehicle, and thing

Last Christmas (2019)

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So, technically I should probably open this with a spoiler warning, because structurally this is one of *those* movies where the entire plot hinges on a single misdirect, but... here's the thing. If you've ever seen a movie before - quite literally any movie - you will see the twist coming. Not near the end: from the moment the "twist" character shows up. Hell, I mostly figured it out from the trailer. By the time the obligatory realization montage plays and the main character realizes the truth, I literally said to the screen, "You don't have to do this - everyone gets it." But here's a twist you might not have seen coming: I love this movie. I love it unironically. Also, I love it ironically. This might be the first movie reviewed on Mainlining Christmas to earn both a "highly recommended" and a "so bad it's good" label. It feels like someone made a computer program watch 10,000 hours of Christmas movies and spit out a scrip

White Reindeer (2013)

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White Reindeer is a Christmas dramedy written and directed by indie filmmaker Zach Clark and largely financed through Kickstarter. The only famous actor in this is Joe Swanberg, who directed  Happy Christmas , which was made with a similar focus on realism over conventional narrative. That said, White Reindeer occasionally drifts into the surreal - maybe even the supernatural, though that's ambiguous. As I often do with movies I like, I'm going to cut to the chase and let you know this is absolutely a movie I recommend. By design, it's a tad light on payoff, and it's certainly not a feel-good movie, but it's a fascinating, honest look at how alienating and difficult the Christmas season can be for anyone who isn't in a position to appreciate cheer and goodwill. A few caveats before anyone starts streaming, though: this movie should have a warning upfront for flashing lights, and I don't remember seeing one. I don't think I've ever seen the kind of fu

Remember the Night (1940)

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Remember the Night is the third film written by Preston Sturges we've looked at here and, in my humble opinion, the least interesting. It's widely considered a romantic comedy, but I'd argue it's closer to a romantic melodrama with bits of comedic relief. More on that later. The movie opens with Lee Leander (played by Barbara Stanwyck) getting arrested for stealing a bracelet right before Christmas. The prosecutor assigned to the case is John Sargent (Fred MacMurray, two decades before he'd appear in a supporting role in one of the best Christmas movies ever made). When Lee's defense attorney tries to claim she was hypnotized into stealing the bracelet, John uses it as an excuse to have the trial delayed until after Christmas, when the jury will be less reluctant to sentence a woman to prison. John realizes he just ensured Lee will spend the holidays in jail, since she can't pay for bail, so he arranges to have her released until her hearing. But then he d

Feast of the Seven Fishes (2018)

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Feast of the Seven Fishes is a low budget, '80s-period Christmas dramedy based on a graphic novel written thirteen years earlier by the movie's writer/director. The year of release seems to be up for debate - I'm going with 2018, based on when it appears to have first debuted in festivals, as opposed to its official release a year later. The movie seems to have been fairly well-received critically - it's at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, albeit with only 16 reviews. I'll put my cards on the table now and say this is going to be a dissenting opinion. I'm not sure if critics are seeing something I'm missing or simply grading on a curve, but Lindsay and I had a hard time sitting through this one. It was partially salvaged by some great character work around minor characters and what I assume is an accurate representation of an Italian-American tradition, but that wasn't enough to make up for the movie's shortcomings. Which brings us to the plot and premise. Wh

Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square (2020)

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The problem with movies like Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square is that, once you watch them, you invariably find yourself in the position of having to write a scathing review of something created by and starring Dolly Parton, who is a national treasure. When we started watching this, we did so hoping - praying, even - that it would be fantastic, and that we'd be able to sing its praises. And, for what it's worth, there are good aspects to this movie. Christine Baranski plays the lead role, and she's amazing. Hell, it might be worth watching this for her alone. In addition, there are some good musical numbers and even more good musical moments. They got a cast who could sing, and it paid off. And for all the issues I'll have with the writing in a moment - just wait for it - this was structured the way a musical should be structured. The songs (or at least the vast majority of them) serve a purpose in the narrative, either moving the story forward, exploring char