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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…

Theatrical Review: “ParaNorman”

August 26, 2012 6 comments
Directed by: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Produced by: Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner
Written by: Chris Butler (screenplay), Arianne Sutner, Stephen Stone (story)
Cinematography by: Tristan Oliver
Music by: Jon Brion
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Jodelle Ferland, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Hannah Noyes, Ariel Winter
Year: 2012

 

There are several things that I admire about this movie that I’m just going to highlight from the outset:

  1. The animation is impressive. I have no idea how they pulled off the visually (not to mention emotionally) charged ending effects, but I would really like to see the featurette on the home release on that.
  2. Getting back to the emotion, there are moments in the film that feel stunningly authentic, and that ending really does pay off.
  3. The filmmakers largely stayed away from obvious pop culture horror references that would be so prevalent in so many big studio film efforts. There are some, one of which is revealed in the trailers (“You want to play hockey?”) and another that is a lot more subtle than this (Norman’s ringtone is from The Exorcist), but, for the most part, the film is a much calmer, more self-contained experience than it could have been.

I lead into this review with those points because I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy this film, because that wouldn’t necessarily be true. The fact of the matter, however, is that for all the things this film excels at, there are several things that hold it back for me from being the apparent critical darling that Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that ParaNorman is.

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