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Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)

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Do you remember the scene in the first Home Alone movie where Kevin tied a bucket of paint to a rope and swung it at the robbers? Have you ever stopped to consider what the entire movie would have been like from the perspective of the paint inside the bucket? I mean, I assume it would have started absolutely still and sat that way for hours on end, before being slightly jostled. Then, a few hours later, it would have sloshed around, before splashing against the wall. Finally, it would have settled again.

Mostly, it would have just been still. It would probably have dried a little as the movie progressed. Not a lot and certainly not quickly, but an imperceptible quantity of paint would have dried up.

While that's not the plot of the fifth Home Alone movie, I think it offers a nice encapsulation of the experience of sitting through the film.

That's another way of saying this movie isn't as shockingly awful as its predecessors. And that this improvement is a very, very bad t…

Christmas on Mars (2008)

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This movie can best be described as a pretentious art film trying to masquerade as a cult hit. The vast majority is in black and white and attempts to duplicate science fiction films from the 50's and 60's. They actually did this pretty well, setting aside the copious cursing. Oh, and the marching band with vaginas for heads.

Sorry. Probably should have put a *spoiler* warning before that.

At any rate, most of the visuals were in line with old movies. Based on still images, you could even be convinced you were getting ready to watch something campy or at least interesting. Instead, imagine a dimly-lit empty corridor made to look like a 60's SF set. Now imagine someone walking down it slowly while looking downcast.

That's about two-thirds of the movie.

God! I'm sorry. Again, I forgot that *spoiler* warning.

There's very little narrative glue holding this together, and it's a bit of a stretch calling the malformed story line a plot at all. With that in mind,…

Book Review: The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries (Part Seven)

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This year, I am taking on The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, a 674 page tome containing 59 individual stories about the Christmas season. Conveniently, it’s broken up into blog-post sized sections. Here’s the seventh post, section nine.

A Puzzling Little Christmas

Sister Bessie, Cyril Hare - Not bad. Not awesome. Somewhat expected tragic twist.That’s the Ticket, Mary Higgins Clark - Ha. Not a bad little story, cute resolution.Death on the Air, Ngaio Marsh - Fine resolution, pace was a bit off.The Thirteenth Day of Christmas, Isaac Asimov - Super cute bit of fluff.The Christmas Kitten, Ed Gorman - A lot of buildup for not much substance.The Santa Claus Club, Julian Symons - *snurk* the butler did it, naturally.

These were a little bit of a let down after the last section, but most of these stories were still pretty decent. Similar to the “Surprising” section, all of these stories had at least a bit of a twist or a reveal near the end.

“Sister Bessie” follows a man who’s being blackmai…

Nerdtivity: I'd Ship It

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For the last week and a half leading up to Christmas, we're posting a "Nerdtivity" scene every night at midnight. Tonight's picture features spacecraft* from six different geeky properties - go ahead and look. Five are pretty obvious, but I'll be impressed if you can spot the sixth.

*Okay, so technically the Batwing isn't a spaceship. But it counts anyway, because Batman can breathe in space.

A Merry Friggin' Christmas (2014)

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A Merry Friggin' Christmas is a direct-to-video movie starring Robin Williams and Joel McHale. It's one of Williams's last films, which netted it some publicity prior to its release.

If you've seen the trailer, you're likely expecting a slapstick comedy in the vein of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. That's certainly what I was anticipating, and I hateNational Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. If you skim the one-sentence blurbs over on Rotten Tomatoes, you get the sense that's what the reviewers were expecting, too. Those reviews are almost uniformly negative - only 18% Fresh at the moment - and the primary issue seems to be that this movie just wasn't that funny.

In my opinion, this is another case of critics missing the point. This wasn't all that funny, because it wasn't slapstick: it was a Christmas dramedy. And I thought it was a pretty decent one.

The movie focuses on the relationship between its two leads. Williams and McHale p…

The Red Green Show Christmas Episodes (1998, 2000, 2002)

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I’ve been trying to think how to describe this show to someone who’s never seen it. I suppose it’s a sketch comedy, in that each episode consists of a series of short skits, each generally with a punch-line or six. But it’s closer to a hybrid with a sitcom than any other sketch comedy I know of. There are consistent characters, plots carry from one bit to the next, and there’s even sometimes a hint of pathos, or at least you can become sympathetic towards the characters.

The characters in question are the men of Possum Lodge, both the name for the building and the club. It’s also a show-within-a-show, in that the characters are mostly aware they are being filmed, for the “show” they produce locally, the segments (many repeated in each show) are named on screen, and they directly address the camera. The repetitive structure is also reminiscent of many children's shows. The repeated skits are things like a guess-the-word game, or ‘Handyman’s Corner’, wherein Red builds something lu…

The Snowman and the Snowdog (2012) [Nice List]

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Lindsay and I reached dramatically different conclusions on this; probably as extreme as anything we've ever seen for this blog. That said, we can't actually point to many details we're in complete disagreement on: we simply weighed the positive and negative aspects of the special differently.

Extremely differently.

This is a sequel to The Snowman, a British Christmas special that's been around for three decades. The original is hands-down the best animated holiday special that I've ever seen, and I've seen damn near all of them. If you haven't seen The Snowman, just... no. Stop reading this, track it down, and watch it. I don't care if it's late, if you're tired, if you came across this write-up in the middle of April, or any other excuses. It is required viewing.

It's also something that, by all rights, should never be touched again. Before we put this on, the very notion of a sequel didn't just feel unnecessary: it was blasphemous. An…