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REVIEW: The Santa Clause

December 4, 2015 2 comments
The Santa ClauseDirected by: John Pasquin
Produced by: Robert Newmyer, Brian Reilly, Jeffrey Silver
Written by: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Karey Kirkpatrick
Edited by: Larry Bock
Cinematography by: Walt Lloyd
Music by: Michael Convertino
Starring: Tim Allen, Eric Lloyd, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, Paige Tamada, Peter Boyle, Kenny Vadas, Chris Benson
Year: 1994

 

It occurred to me while watching The Santa Clause that the film, thematically, has a surprising amount in common with another holiday classic (albeit a film dealing with a far more tedious holiday than Christmas) that was released just the year prior: Groundhog Day. No, really, think about it. Both films center upon a self-centered jerk who alienates those he would otherwise get along with and even grow to love if only he would give into the spirit of the holiday. Both films also feature comedians who were incredibly popular at the time the movies were made. And both films feature some kind of inexplicable supernatural/magical device which is foisted upon them, to their comedic chagrin, throughout their daily lives until they get the lessons right and embrace it. Both films obviously differ quite a bit in terms of their respective target audiences (though there is a surprising amount of adult humor in Disney’s film that will supposedly go over the kids’ heads), but, as with most holiday films, both are also about the importance of not becoming jaded with life and use their holidays as metaphors. Read more…

REVIEW: Arthur Christmas

December 25, 2014 2 comments
Arthur ChristmasDirected by: Sarah Smith
Produced by: Steve Pegram
Written by: Peter Baynham, Sarah Smith
Story by: Sarah Smith (uncredited)
Edited by: John Carnochan, James Cooper
Animation studio: Aardman Animations
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Starring: James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Ashley Jensen, Imelda Staunton, Marc Wootton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Ramona Marquez, Michael Palin
Year: 2011

 

Every year, we hear that people are losing the true Christmas spirit, how everything’s become focused on material possessions rather than family togetherness. Horror stories from Black Friday sales frenzies flood the news, and having the most presents under the tree dominate our thoughts, so we’re told. But what if that attitude started spreading to one of the season’s most iconic figures, Santa Claus? That’s the basic start for the premise of Aardman’s contribution to the Christmas film pantheon, Arthur Christmas. Read more…

REVIEW: Bad Santa (Director’s Cut)

December 19, 2013 7 comments
Bad SantaDirected by: Terry Zwigoff
Produced by: John Cameron, Sarah Aubrey, Bob Weinstein; The Coen Brothers (executive producers)
Written by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Edited by: Robert Hoffman
Cinematography by: Jamie Anderson
Music by: David Kitay
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Bernie Mac, Brett Kelly, Lauren Tom, Cloris Leachman, John Ritter
Year: 2003

 

Perhaps the movie that was on my radar the longest, as far as holiday movies go, was Bad Santa, which was originally released all the way back when I was in high school, which also meant that I was absolutely unable to get a hold of a copy at the time, seeing as how I still lived at home, and I am not certain that the kind of comedy there within would have held up well should anyone even hear what was being uttered on screen, and it’s also not exactly the kind of film that, as I got older, would have been viewed in a family setting. It was in my queue for a while in all past Christmas Movie Months, never reaching me thanks to the stupid freaking “Long Wait” with Netflix and, may they rest in peace, Blockbuster. This year, however, I finally got my hands on a copy! Finally, I would gaze the apparent treasure that everyone else was raving about all that time ago (and even today)! I popped in the disc, and… there were two cuts: Bad(der) Santa, the unrated cut, and Bad Santa the director’s cut – but no theatrical cut. Read more…

REVIEW: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

December 4, 2013 4 comments
Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerDirected by: Larry Roemer
Produced by: Arthur Rankin, Jr. (producer), Jules Bass (co-producer)
Written by: Romeo Muller, Robert L. May
Animation supervised by: Tadahito Mochinaga
Music by: Johnny Marks
Starring: Burl Ives, Billie Mae Richards, Paul Soles, Larry D. Mann, Stan Francis, Paul Kligman, Janis Orenstein, Alfie Scopp, Carl Banas, Corinne Conley, Peg Dixon
Based on the story and song written by Robert L. May
Year: 1964

 

I’m going to allow for my first 2013 Christmas movie review to make me out to be a Scrooge.

A 1964 TV special done in the medium of stop motion capture, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has become one of the most beloved and influential examples of the medium – if someone doesn’t know what the term “stop motion” means, you could undoubtedly point to Rudolph or one of its other Rankin/Bass Christmastime siblings as an example that nearly everyone will then immediately understand. It’s arguable that even the likes of The Nightmare Before Christmas owes its aesthetic style to these holiday productions, albeit with the obligatory Tim Burton-esque macabre twist, not to mention the countless spoofs, knockoffs, and affectionate references that followed across TV and film. Beyond the aesthetics and styling, however, this short TV movie also stands as one of the longest running TV traditions, airing annually each Christmas season since it was first shown. Read more…

Christmas Movie Month 2012 Commences!

December 2, 2012 1 comment

The Nightmare Before Chriastmas - What's This

It’s that time of year again. 2012 has nearly gone, and yet it always seems like there’s even more to do this time of year than any other time of year, what with Thanksgiving leading into Christmas and then into the New Year. I spent last week with my family for Thanksgiving, as well as my mom’s birthday soon after, and so I didn’t really get around to getting my Miracle on 34th Street review out around the time that I intended, so I basically considered it an unofficial start to my second Christmas Movie Month. It’s mere coincidence that my mom wanted to go see Rise of the Guardians, which features Santa, but isn’t necessarily about Christmas, so that was kind of a happy accident. Now, however, I’m switching gears fully into Christmas mode, once again!

In case you missed any of my reviews from last year, here’s a quick rundown of films that I reviewed for Christmas 2011:

Elf
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The Polar Express
Meet Me in St. Louis
Die Hard
Scrooged
, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol in an ill advised Grudge Match Review that I came to despise doing – Part 1 & Part 2
Joyeux Noël

For this year, I plan to stay on task a bit more, and I’ve already got several reviews planned! Let’s also not forget that the aforementioned Miracle on 34th Street pulls double-duty as both a Thanksgiving and Christmas film! I also promised last year that I would review Eight Crazy Nights for those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, but the film disappeared around that time from Netflix, and I wasn’t about to use up a Blockbuster movie exchange. This year? … Maybe. But I’m not making any promises. That movie was pretty awful… Anyway, aside from maybe a few incidental theatrical reviews and one “special” review that I’m planning on writing at the end of this week (hint: it’s all about the supposed oncoming of the end of the world, and I’m not about to watch that movie or write that review without a few drinks to help me along), you can pretty much just expect Christmas movies until that day comes!

Until then, just in case I don’t get around to that awful Adam Sandler Hanukkah movie, please enjoy this classic Saturday Night Live animated music video instead, “Christmas for the Jews”:

Theatrical Review: “Rise of the Guardians”

November 30, 2012 12 comments
Rise of the GuardiansDirected by: Peter Ramsey
Produced by: Christina Steinberg, Nancy Bernstein; Guillermo del Toro, William Joyce, Michael Siegel (executive producers); Arin Finger (associate producer)
Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay); William Joyce (story)
Art Direction by: Alexandre Desplat
Editing by: Joyce Arrastia
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Starring: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law, Dakota Goyo
Based on the book series The Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce
Year: 2012

 

Imagine that all the childhood mythological figures were somehow real and were also way more awesome than how they are usually imagined. Imagine, for example, that they were way more like superheroes, and let’s say that, from time to time, they assembled together like some other recent big screen superhero team in order to defend childhood from evil fiends who would like nothing more than to ruin this blissful period of life. That’s essentially the awesome concept behind Rise of the Guardians, an DreamWorks Animation adaptation of the William Joyce books of a similar name. It’s a fairly awesome premise for an action-packed fantasy film, and, for a good while, Rise lives up to its promise, but not without making a few missteps along the way. Read more…

Special Review: “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) – A Gradual Epiphany

November 27, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: George Seaton
Produced by: William Perlberg
Written by: George Seaton (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Lloyd Ahem, Charles G. Clarke
Editing by: Robert L. Simpson
Music by: Cyril Mockridge
Starring: Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, Edmund Gwenn, Porter Hall, Gene Lockhart
Year: 1947

 

I have never believed in Santa Claus. My parents were pretty much of the same opinion regarding Santa as Maureen O’Hara’s character, Doris Walker, is in this film: Why lie? My younger sister, too, never believed, though it was more through my own efforts to “ruin” things for her as the older brother than any discouragement on my parents’ part. (I also ruined the Easter Bunny and Toothfairy for her, which makes her interest in the film Rise of the Guardians somewhat ironic, if not a result of some deep-seated resentment for having never believed in fairy tales — though I may be over-analyzing here.) So we basically grew up only understanding these figures as mythical characters, understanding that many other kids believed in these myths and that we shouldn’t ruin it for them, but never comprehending exactly how someone could. Read more…

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