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Showing posts with the label Romance

Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery (2015)

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I picked this at random, not realizing a few things: first, it's based on a novel  Lindsay read and reviewed  a few years ago. Second, it's the second movie in a series surrounding the same characters. This is, essentially, the Christmas installment of both the book and movie series. Because I didn't see the first movie, I'm not familiar with the characters, so it's possible (however unlikely, in this case) I'm missing significant context to appreciate jokes, arcs, and the like. In theory, movies are supposed to be made so viewers can watch without first seeing earlier installments, though television shows aren't under that assumed constraint. I'm not entirely sold on that idea as it pertains to movies, and in this case, the situation feels even more muddled. I'm really not sure this can reasonably be called a movie: it feels far more like a long television episode in terms of structure, character, and production values. I should mention this is a Ha

Mr. Soft Touch (1949)

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This one's going to be weird because I'm still trying to figure out what kind of movie I just watched. Wikipedia describes it as a noir crime, IMDB has it tagged drama and romance (in addition to crime), and until the end, I was certain I was watching a comedy (still not entirely convinced I wasn't, despite... well... we'll get to that). I don't necessarily consider it a bad thing that this is difficult to identify, though I'm torn on whether it's a case of a complex premise or just a disjointed tone. Normally, this is where I'd go read some articles on the movie, but those don't seem to exist. So... I guess I'm just going to do my best here. First, a word of warning. This movie contains a couple details that haven't aged well. First, there's sort of a running plot thread about spousal abuse that at times feels like it's being played for laughs. To be fair, it takes a turn and gets serious later - the movie is making a pointed argumen

The Note (2007)

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We came across this movie on a list purportedly ranking the best Hallmark Christmas movies. We'd actually just seen one from that list we liked, which is absurdly rare for this studio, so had high hopes for this one, which was ranked at #4. Maybe we'd been too hard on Hallmark this whole time. Perhaps we simply saw a handful of bad films and foolishly dismissed them prematurely, we thought. Then we watched The Note, and... nope. Never mind. Okay, let me walk that back a bit. First, I have actually seen good movies - plural - produced for Hallmark's various channels. I do suspect I've been too quick to group these together: good or bad, I'm discovering they occupy a wide variety of genres and styles. And I remain optimistic that I'm going to see more good - or even great - films with Hallmark's branding. But it's not this one. That's not to say The Note is awful. It's fine for what it is, but we're talking 2007 TV drama quality. Not even TV mo

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

Christmas Camp (2018)

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It has been a few years since we've done more than a smattering of Hallmark Christmas movies, so this year we're taking a relatively random sample to see what's been going on in the most generically inoffensive place on earth.  This movie has a predictably bonkers premise, although the execution was surprisingly low-key. I can't decide whether or not that was better than the alternative.  The movie centers on Haley, your stereotypical workaholic go-getter. (In the opening scenes she literally tells her assistant that she's canceling a date because she wants to concentrate on work.) She works in branding/marketing, and she wants to land a new account with a big toy company - part of her plan to land a big promotion. Her boss, however, says that the toy company is all about holiday traditions and Haley doesn't understand those, so she sends Haley to "Christmas Camp."  Christmas Camp, it turns out, is a one-week special event run by an inn in Western Mass

Falling for Christmas (2022)

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Credit where it's due: Netflix has mastered the art of producing low-to-mid budget TV Christmas romcoms capable of garnering far more attention than they deserve. This time, they managed to lure Lindsay Lohan into taking the lead role, presumably by offering her an ungodly amount of cash. The investment seems to have paid off, at least from a marketing perspective. The movie apparently attracted a great deal of interest and - assuming Netflix's numbers mean anything - quite a few views. As for the movie itself... well... you probably have a fairly good idea what I'm going to say. As a rule, I don't like these things. Falling for Christmas, like so many pseudo-fairytale G-rated holiday romances before it, seems to flaunt the fact the script isn't trying. It adheres to its formula and fills in the blanks with some of the worst dialogue I've heard in... well... honestly, I watched a Hallmark Christmas movie two days earlier, so the worst dialogue I heard in about 4

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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I think I've watched this movie at least three times since the creation of this blog simply to reconsider whether or not it qualified as a Christmas movie (this is, of course, in addition to countless viewings growing up - this is one of my mother's favorite movies, so it was on a lot). Because this is more a New Year's movie than a Christmas one, it never quite passed our litmus test, which I always regretted, since this movie - in my humble opinion - absolutely rules. Well, now we consider New Year's an extension of Christmas (since, you know, it is), so the question's moot, and we can talk about one of the most iconic romantic comedies made in the last four decades. The story, of course, centers around Billy Crystal's Harry and Meg Ryan's Sally, both of whom are awkward and somewhat off-putting. They come across to the audience as eccentric and likeable for the duration of the film, but the movie succeeds in making you doubt you'd enjoy hanging out w

Just Friends (2005)

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Just Friends is one of several Christmas comedies from the first decade of the millennia that's been largely forgotten, and in this case, it's not hard to understand why. The premise is largely built around the concept of the "friend zone", a somewhat misogynistic idea popularized in the mid-'90s that - for reasons that continue to elude me - someone thought would make a good basis for a movie a decade later. The story centers on Chris, played by Ryan Reynolds, who grew up in New Jersey, where he was humiliated in high school due to being overweight. His best friend was Jamie, a girl he secretly pined over for years. I should note the movie opens with an extended sequence set during this time that involves Reynolds in a fat suit. We'll come back to this. Jump ahead to Christmas ten years later. Chris has lost weight, he has a high-paying job as a record producer in LA, and his love life is a series of dates with models. But of course, he still pines for Jamie,

Santa Girl (2019)

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A minute or two into Santa Girl, I remarked to Lindsay that I'd seen student films with better production values. Ten minutes later, we paused the movie to check whether it actually was a student film. The answer is somehow both no and yes. Santa Girl was produced through a partnership with Shenandoah University. I'm still a little unclear on the specifics, but Shenandoah boasts the majority of the cast and crew are students . It shows! I was honestly a little surprised to learn the movie wasn't written or directed by students, too. Let's talk plot. The story is centered on Cassie Claus, daughter of Santa, reimagined as a calculating, business-oriented yuletide CEO. Cassie is betrothed to the son of Jack Frost, because the house of Santa requires their patronage in order to... Wait. Is this going for a corporate thing or a medieval royalty vibe? Both! Probably should have picked one, because the mixture comes off as incoherent. Regardless, Cassie isn't happy about h

A Castle for Christmas (2021)

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So you're here. That probably means one of the following things is true: You're curious about this movie You've seen it and want someone to confirm or challenge your opinion of it You're one of the handful of friends who still read every article (Hi!) You enjoy our often-sardonic over-the-top reviews/takedowns of rom-coms If you're in the final category, I should warn you that, unlike Erin, I didn't...hate...this one. Now, that doesn't mean it wasn't bad. Because it was. It was badly written, bizarrely shot (although we postulated while watching that some of that may have been pandemic-related), and overall mediocre.  You already know if you're the kind of person who likes these movies. If painfully obvious tropes don't give you stress headaches, and you don't give a fig for linguistic or cultural accuracy as long as there are two reasonably charming characters and a happily ever after, then you've probably already seen it.  I, myself, a

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