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Showing posts with the label Fantasy

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

A Christmas Carol (1984)

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The 1984 adaptation of A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott feels like it's trying to be difficult to categorize. Released theatrically in England and on TV in America, I'm not even sure whether to consider this a full movie or a made-for-TV production. It's also abnormally difficult to bucket the genre: this straddles the line between horror and drama to an unusual degree. Taken as a whole, this is one of the better modern adaptations I've seen. It covers the full scope of the story, the casting is good, and it's visually impressive. That said, I don't think it leaves as much of an impression as the best of the lot. Essentially, it's difficult to find anything significant to fault, but it's nowhere near my favorite of the bunch. Starting with the opening shot, the movie looks good. Rather than spending their budget on expensive sets, they simply filmed in a market town that hasn't significantly changed since the 1800s. Between that and some go

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

A Christmas Carol (1971)

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This 1971 British TV special was subsequently given a brief theatrical showing, making it eligible for the Academy Award for an Animated Short, which it rightly won. It's easy to see why - with all due respect to Mickey's Christmas Carol, I've got a new favorite animated adaptation. It's directed by Richard Williams, the genius who handled the animation side of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and spent decades working on The Thief and the Cobbler, a legendary animated production that was never properly finished. Ken Harris and Chuck Jones worked on this as well, in case being directed by one of the greatest animators in history wasn't enough. Stylistically, this is based on illustrations accompanying classic versions of Dickens's book. To put it another way, you will recognize these characters. In a similar vein, they got Alistair Sim to reprise his role as Scrooge from the 1951 production. This is, without a doubt, the most impressive half-hour version of A Christmas C

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

Christmas Mountain: The Story of a Cowboy Angel (1981)

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I'm not at all clear whether this Christmas western/fantasy from 1981 was made for TV or if it was released theatrically. I assumed the former while watching, as it looked formatted for that media, but I came across something implying this may have been due to higher-quality versions being lost (at least for a time). Regardless, this feels like a television movie from the '80s, though - for what it's worth - a relatively good one. Take that as a compliment or insult, depending on your impression of TV from the era. I should note the movie occasionally appears listed as just Christmas Mountain OR The Story of a Cowboy Angel, though both appear on the title screen. There also appears to be a little confusion over the date, with some sources listing 1980 and others 1981. The latter seems more reputable and matches the stamp on the streaming site carrying it, so that's what I'm going with.  The movie appears to have mainly been the creation of western star Mark Miller,