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REVIEW – Gremlins

December 25, 2016 1 comment
gremlinsDirected by: Joe Dante
Produced by: Michael Finnell
Written by: Chris Columbus
Edited by: Tina Hirsch
Cinematography by: John Hora
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Starring: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Francess Lee McCain, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, Judge Reinhold, Glynn Turman, Polly Holliday, Keye Luke, Frank Welker, Howie Mandel
Year: 1984

 

Don’t expose them to bright lights. Do not get them wet. And never, ever feed them after midnight. The three rules about owning a mogwai are pretty well-known, even to people like me, who went a couple decades of their lives before seeing either of the Gremlins films – one of the most often cited Christmas films for people who don’t want a traditional Christmas film – much like Die Hard or even last year’s Krampus, itself kind of an adult Gremlins. I wasn’t allowed to see this movie growing up – the combination of monsters, magic, and the fact that it was a horror film were pretty critical factors in that. And probably in a lot of other kids’ lives, too, since it was a major reason why the PG-13 rating was created. Alongside Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, due to their scarier and more violent content than the usual PG-rated film, Steven Spielberg collaborated with the MPAA and created a rating between PG and R due to the films he was producing. I only ever got around to seeing it as an adult – not, mind you, because my mom told me I couldn’t all my life (that had long since passed, even as a kid). I just never got around to it until then! Luckily, I think I’ve held on to my inner child… Read more…

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Dual Review: “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York”

December 18, 2012 7 comments
Home AloneHome Alone
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Produced by: John Hughes
Written by: John Hughes
Edited by: Raja Gosnell
Cinematography by: Julio Macat
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, John Candy, Roberts Blossom, Gerry Bamman
Year: 1990

 

Home Alone 2: Lost in New YorkHome Alone 2: Lost in New York
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Produced by: John Hughes
Written by: John Hughes
Edited by: Raja Gosnell
Cinematography by: Julio Macat
Music by: John Williams
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Tim Curry, Rob Schneider, Dana Ivey, Brenda Fricker, Catherine O’Hara, Eddie Bracken, John Heard, Gerry Bamman
Year: 1992

 

It had been a long time since I had seen any of the Home Alone films when I bought the Blu-Ray set of the first two films that went on sale earlier this month for the lovely price of about $12. Being in a spend-y mood, I bought it happily, having wanted but never owned the first two films since I was a little kid. (Oddly, I did own a VHS of the third film.) And, I gotta say, while I still mostly enjoyed the films, even at age 26, I didn’t find myself laughing at them nearly as much as I had as a little kid. It’s not that I’m above the whole slapstick thing — I just watched Ted for the first time tonight, and one of the funniest parts of that movie was the ridiculously violent beat down the teddy bear gives Mark Wahlberg — but I certainly felt a lot more cynical about it than I had expected.

Home Alone - Kevin McCallister

Perhaps it was the fact that I watched them back-to-back in one night. Perhaps it was because I watched them while cooking a turkey that inadvertently filled my apartment with large plumes of smoke (the turkey turned out fine, but I’m still unsure what caused all that). Or perhaps it’s because I realized that 2 is basically just a remake of 1 with extra ridiculous and a hefty dollop of moralizing. Maybe it was a combination of those factors.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York - Kevin McCallisterSo, rather than review these films separately, as I would with any other franchise, I decided to review them at the same time. Unlike with last year’s Grudge Match Review of adaptations of A Christmas Carol, however, this isn’t really a competition, but rather an efficient way of killing two birds with one stone. After all, take a look at those credits up there. The films are identical in cast and crew, with the second one doing the typical sequel thing by throwing in a few new faces for good measure, and, for the most part, they are the same in story structure, too. Read more…

Review: “Jingle All the Way”

December 12, 2012 6 comments
Jingle All the WayDirected by: Brian Levant
Produced by: Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Mark Radcliffe
Written by: Randy Kornfield, Chris Columbus (uncredited rewrite)
Editing by: Kent Beyda, Wilton Henderson, Adam Weiss
Cinematography by: Victor J. Kemper
Music by: David Newman
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Jake Lloyd, Robert Conrad, Jim Belushi
Year: 1996

 

A lot of Christmas movies attempt to sell us the idea that they know what the true meaning of Christmas is. Usually movies like these involve the main character committing some sort of minor, selfish sin that hurts a member (or members) of their family, especially the children, before going through some ordeal that causes them to realize, through some contrived epiphany, that all important (and incredibly generic) meaning behind the season: family. Cue the proverbial rush to make things right through some sort of breathless plea for forgiveness and confessions of mutual love before the warm embrace with their loved ones (spinning around is optional, but gazing upward in triumph is usually a must). It’s a familiar and easy formula, sometimes doctored up to make the story seem original, but usually there’s at least some sort of artificial sincerity at the film’s core that is just enough to make you feel warm inside, even if it’s just for a guilty moment. Read more…

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