Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve (2011)

Here's my advice, don't see it. I haven't seen it so I can't actually tell you if it's good or not but I think we can assume the latter. I'm not even going to link you to the IMDb page, I'll just give show you this picture of the ridiculous cast in an even worse movie than Valentine's Day (2010). Nope, no link for that one either.

Go out and have fun with your friends and party instead! If you're a little more into quiet time spend the night with a loved one, maybe watching a movie, just not this one.

If you do feel like watching a movie, one that comes to mind which is appropriately named however perhaps not appropriately suited is 2012.

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #1

We here we are at the finale. Some may think it's a cop-out to go with this movie as #1 but I am a true advocate for this being the best holiday film ever.

In real life there aren't always good times, it's not how reality is. This movie beautifully reflects that. Also, a lot of people don't give older films the respect they deserve and to a certain degree I'm still one of those people but I'm trying to fix that.

Once again I'll leave IMDb to provide a summary that is short and sweet, besides I'm sure you've all already seen it.

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

I could throw a bunch of names at you but it won't really mean anything. I would like to note that this is the origin of the characters of Ernie and Bert from Sesame Street, or at least I assume so. It's hard to think it would come from anywhere else.

This is my favourite holiday movie because it reminds us of the strength of the love of family and friends. Greed seems an overpowering theme in the world but love can prevail and I truly believe that. It's a cute story and shows us that life isn't always easy but we can make it through when we have those who support and love us. 

So I hope everyone has a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Movie Countdown: #1.5

I've had a pretty fun time writing this countdown. It's a good hobby to do something, pseudo-productive, but here we are at the end and there is only one question to ask. Which movie has made it to #1? 

Well I'm not going to tell you just yet.

Before I get to the main event I have to discuss something rather important. Some of my friends have been pestering me about one movie in particular that had not appeared on the list so far. I had fully expected to give it an honourable mention due to it being my favourite action movie of all-time. My friends kept insisting that it is a Christmas movie however I disagree. I agree that it is a great movie, where some themes may be applied for it to be considered saving Christmas and it is set around the holidays, however I do not consider it being in the same category as some other ones I have listed. We could argue endlessly but this is my list and there isn't a lot you can do about it. The movie I'm talking about is Die Hard (1988).

I don't contest that it's a great movie, that's a given, but despite popular belief just because a movie is set around the holidays doesn't necessarily make it a holiday movie. With that being said, every one of these movies on the list were released within a month or two of Christmas, except for Die Hard being released about as far away from Christmas as possible on July 15, 1988. It's not necessary for a holiday movie but it's a good indicator. There is a strong case for Die Hard and I probably would have put it at least #2 if it did qualify but that could be on a list of my favourite movies ever, but I'll get to that later. Nonetheless, I enjoy watching Die Hard at least once a year. Between studying and watching Christmas movies this year I did watch all four Die Hard movies and it definitely made my night. If there are some of you who haven't watched Die Hard, any of them, you simply have to, that's an order. For any people who think it's not their cup of tea, well suck it up and watch it. I had to sit through all of The Phantom of the Opera, so no complaining for you. I have no authority in real life and it's even harder in text, so just imagine me saying it in a stern looking face.

You'll just have to wait a little longer for #1 but I'm working on it.

Christmas Movie Countdown: #2

I was hoping to get this list done a little sooner but definitely going to make it before Christmas Day at least.

Now this might actually be a movie that people have not seen. It is a little bit more obscure since it wasn't a theatrical release for the Muppets. Although The Muppet Christmas Carol is a fantastic movie, this one holds a place a little closer to my heart. Not for any real particular reason, it just does. I maintain that this is the last great Muppet special or movie before the death of beloved creator Jim Henson in 1990.

So Christmas time has come and Fozzie's mother is at her country farmhouse getting ready to go on vacation to Malibu to soak up some sun. She has rented her house to Doc (Gerard Parkes) and his dog Sprocket (both from Fraggle Rock) who want to get away from it all and enjoy a nice quiet Christmas. All of a sudden they are surprised by Fozzie and he's brought the whole Muppet gang with him. Fozzie's mother, Doc, and Sprocket all have to compromise and accommodate the Muppets for the holidays. Miss Piggy, who did not come along with the rest of the gang due to some last minute shopping, runs into some trouble on her way to the farm as a blizzard hits. In the midst of the chaos, more friends arrive from the Sesame Street gang. Meanwhile, Kermit and Robin discover some unexpected guests below the farmhouse. Thankfully we see Piggy arrive safe and all enjoy a nice Muppet Family Christmas.

Although all Muppet movies are great this has to be my favourite. It has Muppets from a variety of different groups coming together for the holidays. The Muppets everyone knows and loves are joined by all your favourites from Sesame Street and all those from Fraggle Rock. I think it's probably the largest assembly of Muppets ever, although I'm just saying that and actually have no idea.

Once again, YouTube helps us out this holiday season and you can watch it all via the following links.

Have a great Christmas Eve and #1 is coming up soon!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #3

This could not have been a better mix of plot, direction, writing, music, acting and casting. A kid getting bugged by his parents is a common enough occurrence but being alone in the house while having to defend it from burglars just makes the story all the sweeter.

Home Alone was directed by Chris Columbus, who also directed the first two Harry Potter movies, amongst others, and written by the late John Hughes. I would have to say that John Hughes' writing has made a pretty significant impact on my life and I'm sure it has for you as well. The music was done by legendary composer John Williams. You all know his credentials but just so you know he's won 5 Oscars and along with composer Alfred Newman (uncle of Randy Newman of Toy Story fame) is tied for second in Oscar nominations with 45. The only person who has more nominations is Walt Disney himself.

IMDb gives a pretty nice summary so I won't mess with it:

An 8-year-old boy, who is accidentally left behind while his family flies to France for Christmas, has to defend his home against idiotic burglars. 

Macaulay Culkin was perfect for the role, probably being cast due to his involvement in Uncle Buck a Hughes film made a year earlier. For me, I think Culkin to be somewhat of an odd character these days but that's just because I can only see him as Kevin McCallister. Although, he has to have had something going for him since he dated Mila Kunis for 8 years. Casting Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as Harry and Marv made for an absolutely hysterical pairing of two dim-witted robbers. Also, we have the great Catherine O'Hara as Kate McCallister (probably the first time I saw her as an actress) and John Heard as Peter McCallister. Lastly we have Culkin's co-star in Uncle Buck, John Candy, in the small part of Gus Polinski. Candy was a lovable oaf and is another great comedian that died much too young.

This movie has it all. It has dramatic parts, plenty of comedy, it's family friendly (for the most part) and it never fails to make me laugh, cry, and be thankful for the love of family and friends, especially around the holidays. I'm sorry for those who feel that this should be number one but I have ever so slightly different tastes in favourites.

Christmas Movie Countdown: #4

This is one of the staples of the holiday season for my family and for good reason. I mean Tim Allen isn't the highest quality of actor but he doesn't need to be in a story as ludicrously magical as this one.

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen), is an executive for a toy company, he's a divorced father who gets to spend Christmas Eve with his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd). During the night he hears a "clatter" upon the roof, and goes outside to investigate, he startles a man on the roof who falls to his death. It turns out to have been Santa. After a wild journey to the North Pole, meeting with Bernard the Elf (David Krumholtz), Scott is told he has to take on the role of Santa Claus whether he likes to or not. Over the next year he starts to transform into the jolly old fellow we all know and love. His dramatic change in appearance is perceived to be a sign of mental instability and he has to fight with his ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her new husband Neil (Judge Reinhold), an ugly sweater wearing psychiatrist, for custody over Charlie. As Christmas nears, things start to come together and he makes everyone believe in him once again.

This is one of very few movies I actually like Tim Allen in. The others are Toy Story 1-3. Eric Lloyd hasn't been in anything important other than the other Santa Clause movies, which to be honest aren't very good. I love that Judge Reinhold is in this movie, he's just hilariously dorky and awkward in any role. If you want to see what he was like when he was younger check out Fast Times at Ridgemont High, you can also see a surfer/stoner Sean Penn as well. For those Numb3rs fans, this was when David Krumholtz was 16 so he was just getting his break in the business.

It's a fantastic light-hearted family movie that has it's serious moments to round out a great experience for everyone.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #5

Breaking into the Top 5, let's start off with an oldie that everyone has to have seen. 

Rudolph is born with an embarrassing glowing red nose. His father, Donner tries to cover up Rudolph's nose but soon others discover his secret. The other reindeer make fun of him and don't let him join in any reindeer games. Rudolph decides to run away, becoming a misfit, despite encouragement from a young doe named Clarice. He meets up with Hermey, an elf who has run away from the North Pole because he wants to be a dentist rather than make toys.

The two misfits find themselves up one companion when they meet crazed prospector Yukon Cornelius, searching for silver and gold. The three friends make their way to the Island of Misfit toys. Unfortunately they are not permitted to stay and Rudolph once again runs away in the night, fearing that his nose is a danger to his friends. He grows up to become a strong and handsome stag and has to save his parents and Clarice from the terrible Abominable Snow Monster of the North (aka Bumble) as well as saving Christmas from being cancelled.

Everything works out in the end obviously, I didn't really include any of the cliffhangers in the summary, I'll leave that for each person's rediscovery. I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

I'm not certain but this may have been the very first Christmas special/movie I ever watched. Rewatching it I notice that the animation is pretty poor but that just adds to the classic quality the 60s brought to Christmas TV specials. This special is narrated by Sam the Snowman, who is both voiced and styled to look like legendary folk singer Burl Ives.

I mentioned writer Romeo Muller in a couple of the earlier posts on the list but didn't really take too hard of a look at his writing credentials. One could probably argue he is the greatest writer for holiday specials ever. Just take a look at the link, he wrote more around the holidays than he did for any other time of the year combined.

Bottom line is that it's wonderful classic story that everyone knows with a few little twists and musical numbers thrown in. It's timeless for certain and I'll be watching it until I'm old and grey.

Christmas Movie Countdown: #6

Excerpt from IMDb:  

The Griswold family's plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Now this is Chevy Chase at his finest. Some of the less informed viewers might know him best from the NBC show Community, which is awesome but not quite as awesome as some of Chevy's earlier work.

Along to support Chevy in this hilarious Christmas classic are Randy Quaid as the idiot Cousin Eddie, Juliette Lewis as Audrey Griswold, Johnny Galecki (Leonard from The Big Bang Theory) as Russ Griswold, and Brian-Doyle Murray as Clark's boss. There are others but I don't feel like naming them.

There are timeless classics like Caddy Shack and Chase's amazing time on SNL but he is probably best known for his being Clark Griswold in the Vacation films, including the previous two installments Vacation (1983) and European Vacation (1985). There are a lot of reasons to love this movie, but I love it for one particular reason. To be more specific there is one scene that I absolutely love this movie for and it just reminds everyone about the times when they were pushed a little too far and just could not take it anymore.

This is a rather long version of the rant but it gives you some back story to it. Also, YouTube likes to mute a lot of videos that have copyright infringement so this is one of the few good ones that have sound.

Enjoy and make to sure spread the love and try to forget anything that might be angering you around the holidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #7

I love the Muppets, if you haven't seen the new Muppets movie you really need to go so it, like right now. 

This is by far my favourite film adaptation of A Christmas Carol. It keeps it's 19th century setting and actually follows the story rather closely, other than having various anthropomorphic singing puppets as main characters. Michael Caine provides a pretty decent portrayal of Scrooge but I find that some of the light-hearted parts around the end were a little forced, but I'm pretty lenient so I still enjoyed it. It's not his best work but that doesn't matter, he's having a good time with it. I mean how can you not when you're working with the Muppets. You have to love the Muppet musical numbers and it's nice seeing a comedic and musical spin on a rather dreary yet morally uplifting story. 


Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit
Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens
Rizzo the Rat as himself
Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit
Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim
Sam the Eagle as the Schoolmaster
Statler and Waldorf as Robert and Jacob Marley
and Fozzie Bear as Fozziwig (when the original character is named Fezziwig, Fozzie is really your only choice).

Here is my favourite musical number from the movie.

Although, "Marley & Marley" is a close second just because of Statler and Waldorf.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #8

I honestly doubt many of you have ever seen or even heard of this movie. I certainly didn't until about a few months ago. The thing with movies of this era was that the talent level was simply outstanding, not bashing every single actor or performer of today but film was a little different back then. 

Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) make their living singing and dancing together in the Manhattan club scene. Jim and Lila are planning to leave this life behind and go out to live in the country on a farm. Unfortunately for Jim, Lila and Ted have been making their own plans. Jim finds himself living alone on a farm in Connecticut, and life isn't so grand. After recovering from a slight breakdown Jim returns to visit Ted and presents him with an idea, the idea of converting his farm house into an inn. This inn would only be open during the holidays, which Jim thinks is a splendid idea whereas Ted and his agent Danny Reed (Walter Abel) don't seem to agree. Nevertheless Jim goes through with his plan and opens his inn hiring young Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), desperate to get into show business. His inn begins to get more attention than he ever wanted and trouble starts to turn things sour. 

You might think that that is too much information and I've given away the movie.'re partly right. Honestly, all of that summary is basically introducing all the characters and roles they play, but on to more important things.

Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire!? You know it. Fred can definitely sing but not nearly as well as Bing and honestly Bing can't really dance all that well compared to Fred. Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale provide great performances both singing and dancing as well as being great romances for both male leads.

Another great part in this movie is first time White Christmas is performed, written by the legend of American music Irving Berlin. White Christmas would go on to win that year's Oscar for Best Original Song.

The hotel chain Holiday Inn was named after this 1942 classic, just in case you were wondering.

Now I easily could have put another similar movie in this spot or even on this list, but for one I haven't actually seen it and two it seems to be basically the same movie just made 12 years later. I'm talking about White Christmas (1954) which also stars Bing Crosby and he performs at an inn around the holidays. There are plenty of differences between the two films but I think too many old movies might be a little too much for some.

But for those who are a little skeptical about watching this movie, here's a little clip to get you into the mood. Remember, it's not Christmas without a little Bing.

Only five days (more like 4) left til the big day!

Christmas Movie Countdown: #9

I really wanted to rank this movie higher but there are just so many great holiday movies out there.

This isn`t your traditional happy, upbeat, family love sort of Christmas movie but it's great nonetheless. When it`s written by Tim Burton you can bet that that classical formulation was thrown out the window pretty early on.

This fantastic stop-motion animated feature follows the King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington and his discovery of Christmas. Getting bored with the same old routine in Halloween Town, Jack wanders off and discovers a new world in Christmas Town but just can`t seem to understand the concept. Jack and the others in Halloween town decide the way to enjoy Christmas is to take over Christmas Town.

Chris Sarandon (aka Prince Humperdinck from The Princess Bride) voices Jack Skellington but Danny Elfman provides the singing voice for Jack. Danny Elfman also provided the music for the movie which isn't a big surprise given Elfman's fondness for working with Tim Burton. Sally, a rag doll and romantic interest for Jack, is voiced by Catherine O'Hara, a great Canadian actress you may recognize from such things as SCTV or Home Alone. There are other minor characters voiced by Paul Reubens (aka Peewee Herman) as well as Whose Line's own Greg Proops.

It's almost a little mix of Halloween and Christmas so you get a taste of both. Finally here's a movie that shows Christmas in a different light and it's nice once in a while to see a change. Honestly, I haven't actually seen the movie in years but I remember it fondly. It's not that I've avoided watching it, it just never really came up but now that time of year has come once again.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #10

So I've been slacking on these, partly due to studying, but mainly due to procrastination but I'm going to get these done before Christmas which is fast approaching. 

So here we are at the start of my Top 10. I hope you get as much joy from watching these as I do.

I love this timeless Dr. Seuss holiday classic (but not the Jim Carrey version which was sadly sub-par, despite being live-action which I always wanted to see). It's a great story that I'm sure everyone has been watching since they were kids. I know that one day, when I have kids of my own, they'll still be watching this.

Again too lazy to write much myself here's the abstract from IMDb:

Bitter and hateful, the Grinch is irritated at the thought of the nearby village having a happy time celebrating Christmas. So disguised as Santa Claus, with his dog made to look like a reindeer, he raids the village to steal all the Christmas things. The village is sure to have a sad Christmas this year.

The only notable names involved are Boris Karloff, who voiced the Grinch himself as well as provided the narration, and June Foray, voicing Mary Lou Who, has a long list of voice acting roles which I mentioned briefly in my post for #25 on the list.

You probably have seen Karloff's face before (at least with makeup on) though you may not realize it. Karloff is best known for playing Frankenstein's Monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).  

So now that exams and work are starting to wrap up, kick up your feet and watch an old classic. Besides you'll only need to take half an hour out of your day to do it. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #11

I used to watch a lot of Mr. Bean episodes on CBC when I was a kid and it was good back then and it's still hilarious now. I'm sure there was probably an earlier occurrence of someone getting a turkey stuck on their head on TV or in film but I haven't seen it. Friends did it later in the 90's and I think that episode panned out pretty well.

This was the first time I ever saw Rowan Atkinson as an actor and it was a while before I realized how great of an actor he really is.

Anyway, I don't want to spoil any of it for you if you haven't seen it but Mr. Bean is up to his ridiculous shenanigans once again and the turkey on the head scene is priceless, so just check it out. The episode features Irma Gobb (Matilda Ziegler), Mr. Bean's girlfriend. If you're against going to certain sites to stream, don't worry it's on YouTube. So go check it out. Actually I'll just find it for you, give me a sec....

And there you have it, the wonders of the internet. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #12

Despite being only 26 minutes long it actually made it to theaters. This Disney incarnation of the classic story includes many of your favourite characters from the Mickey Mouse universe. 

If you have seen it, you know what it's about and if you haven't well I'm sure you still know. There isn't anything fundamentally different in this version, other than all the anthropomorphic characters. 

The characters are as follows: (I could give you the names of the voice actors but what good would that do)

Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge (Seems like a good fit)
Goofy as Jacob Marley's ghost
Donald Duck as Scrooge's nephew, Fred
Daisy Duck as Isabelle

The Cratchit family is rounded out by Minnie as Mrs. Cratchit and a mix of whatever child mice there are in Mickey's family play Bob's daughters and Tiny Tim. There are plenty of other Disney characters that make cameos but I'm pretty sure they're non-speaking and are pretty much just in the background.

It was nominated for Best Animated Short at the 1984 Oscars but sadly lost to a movie that I've never heard of nor seen.

As I said before there isn't anything that stands out from the original story or other film adaptations but the fact that it's Mickey and friends playing the story out is just awesome.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #13

Actors that actually have talent and can sing and dance? That's right we're back in that Golden Age of cinema again. It was a great time where just being attractive didn't quite cut it in films and where today's "triple threat" was nearly a necessity for actors. 

This film, rather obviously set in St. Louis, occurs right before the arrival of the World's Fair in 1904. The film follows the Smith family, in particular the four daughters Esther (Judy Garland), Rose, Agnes, and the adorable Tootie (Margaret O'Brien). The story follows the family's trials and tribulations in relationships and in life. 

Starring Judy Garland, this musical is simply superb and beats out any "musical film" I've ever seen in our era of film, not that I've seen all that many. Funny enough Judy almost didn't want to do the movie because she though the spotlight would be stolen by one of her co-stars Margaret O'Brien, who was only 7 years old at the time of release. Fortunately, Judy did agree and she did a wonderful job; not only that but Margaret O'Brien actually won the 1945 Academy Award for Outstanding Child Actress.  

Meet Me in St. Louis was directed by Vincente Minnelli, who would later marry Garland and they would have a daughter together, Liza Minnelli.

This movie is a little more influential that I had originally thought before actually watching it. This film marks the first occurrence of The Trolley Song, the titular song Meet Me in St. Louis, and the holiday classic Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The Trolley song was nominated for Best Original Song but quite honestly it can't hold up against Judy's emotional rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas which gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.

Just the song itself could make even the Grinch love Christmas. There's a little bit at the end that is kind of a spoiler for the movie so just listen to the song then stop. I couldn't get the clip I wanted in here because Blogger seems to not like it for some reason. In any case, enjoy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #14

This a hilarious modernization of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, a couple more adaptations of his work will appear later on the list. This movie was made in the wake of the success of Ghostbusters (1984) starring Bill Murray to cash in around the holidays. I mean the tagline of the movie was, Bill Murray is back among the ghosts. Only this time, it's three against one. Which is referring to the ghosts that visit Ebenezer Scrooge in the original story.

Frank Cross (Murray) is a wealthy yet cruel and conceited, television executive. He has been a cold person his whole life and distances himself from his family and his one-true love Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). He is given the job to oversee the live broadcast of a production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately for him he begins to experience strange occurrences that draw eerie parallels to the story of the show. He is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future and they show him the error of his ways.

Bill Murray is the greatest, he hasn't done a lot lately but in the 80's and early 90's he was pure comic genius. Of course if you've seen Zombieland you know he's still got it. Bill is backed up by a pretty impressive group of actors and actresses in this film. There are plenty of cameos and great supporting parts played by Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, John Forsythe, David Johansen and John Glover amongst many others. Also, Bill's brothers Brian, John, and Joel all appear in this movie.

Here's a little teaser if you haven't seen it or just haven't seen it in a while.

It's a great comedic take on A Christmas Carol and Bill Murray certainly spices things up a bit. I love him and he always brings a smile to my face.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #15

I have my reasons for having this movie on this list and at this spot. First, it's not truly a Christmas movie but it's a theme throughout the film. I wouldn't put just any old movie on this list but it is near the top of my all-time favourites so I just had to. 

Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) and Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) meet in a New York City Bloomingdale's when they try to buy the same pair of black cashmere gloves. Through a little help from destiny they end up spending an amazing day together despite both being in relationships. When the night is over they once again leave it up to fate to bring them together again.

Personally I think there is a lot of chemistry between Kate and John, an almost Tom and Meg kind of thing going on. Kate's accent just makes you love her even more and John Cusack, well I mean what's a romantic comedy without John Cusack.

As always Jeremy Piven picks up the role as the sidekick, this time as Jonathan's best friend Dean (same thing happened in Grosse Pointe Blank). Sara's best girl friend is played by a relatively normal Molly Shannon. Jonathan's girlfriend is played by Bridget Moynahan who is rather whiny but I didn't even recognize her because I remember her as the tough as nails Rachel in Coyote Ugly. John Corbett of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, plays Sara's strange musician boyfriend Lars. Finally, my favourite character (other than Sara and Jonathan of course) is the Bloomingdale's salesman that helps out Jonathan on his quest to find Sara, played by the hilarious Eugene Levy.

It's a great movie for the holiday season, and even for everyday viewing. Watch it with your significant other or if you're single you can watch it with the guy/girl you like and it'll be some good times. I love it and I hope you do too.

Christmas Movie Countdown: #16

Love Actually (2003)

Yes, it's cheesy and tacky beyond belief but it was done quite well considering the star studded cast and how terribly that type of ensemble film can turn out. Yes I'm referring to both Valentine's Day (2010) and New Year's Eve (2011). The British just know how to do it better, plain and simple. It seems that there has to be an American version for just about everything good that is British, although some have turned out pretty well. The ones that come to mind are Whose Line is it Anyway? and The Office. I'm sure there are more but I don`t really care right now. Did anyone see the American remake of Death at a Funeral? It was terrible, the only thing that was different is that they're all black. It was only like 3 years removed from the original film which was far greater. I mean Peter Dinklage played the exact same role in both movies. Anyway, enough ranting about that, back to Christmas stuff.

Love Actually, reminds us about all the different kinds of love in the world. It doesn't have to be romantic love, it can be love of friends and family too. I would give you the whole list of who is in it, but I don't want to. I'll just say that they work together far better than their American counterparts that tried just a little too hard. I do have to say that my favourite character in the whole movie is Rufus, the jewelry store salesman, played by Rowan Atkinson. He's the one who sets things in motion, a guardian angel of sorts. I wish he was in more of the movie but he was only really involved in two storylines which was not nearly enough.

A great holiday film and a romantic comedy to boot. Rom-coms are my favourite movie genre especially over the holidays, unless the movie is Die Hard then I'm cool with that. Funny enough Alan Rickman is in both movies.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #18 & 17

A Christmas story is set in 1940's Indiana and all little Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wanted was Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. He sets out to find anyway to get his hands on one in spite of his parents keep telling him "You'll shoot your eye out". 

This movie is filled with hilarity and is a holiday classic for most. I can't really describe it in words that will do it justice so I suggest you go see it, at least once. The narrator Jean Shepherd was also an author and he actually co-scripted this film. Many of the events and anecdotes in the movie are based on his own semi-autobiographical stories.

I'm sure this movie could be a lot higher (or lower...I guess) on the list and I'm sure it is for many people but I needed to pair similar movies together to get this list moving a little quicker. This movie may not  appeal to everyone but I love watching it.

Everybody loves Charlie Brown! Simply said, it's all your favourite Peanuts characters celebrating Christmas. This TV special is about 25 minutes long and first aired on December 9th, 1965. I'm too lazy to write an actual plot summary so I'll just copy and paste this from IMDb..

Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas.

There easy as pie, of course now that I think about it I probably could have written one line like that, oh well. I doubt there is any point in sharing the voice actors with you because it won't mean anything. I don't really want to say much but I would like to show you a clip and I think you just might remember it.

This song always puts me in the holiday spirit and I always think of home. I hope it does the same for you.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #20 & 19

I actually didn't see this movie until recently, I'm not really sure why but that's just how it goes.

Buddy (Will Ferrell) was born human but was raised by elves. He grew up not really fitting in and one day when he was old enough he learned of his origins and ventured off to New York to seek out his biological father Walter Hobbs (James Caan). Along the way he falls in love with Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), a girl working as a department store elf. Then it's the usually holiday movie ending and Buddy has to do something to save Christmas.

Will Ferrell does what he does best, he acts immature and is gleefully wonderful doing so. It's weird to see James Caan in this sort of role when I'm used to watching him in more serious roles like Sonny in The Godfather. Mary Steenburgen does great in a supporting role as Walter's wife, Emily. Also, despite seeing the trailers and knowing exactly who to expect when I heard Peter Dinklage's voice I thought it sounded an awful lot like John Malkovich. I love Zooey Deschanel, I'm really a big fan, mainly because she always seems very real, honest and genuine, you know what I mean? That being said I'm glad she's not blonde anymore, that was a weird phase. Lastly, I would like to point out that there is a small uncredited cameo near the start by Peter Billingsley who is better known as Ralphie from A Christmas Story (1983), see if you can spot him when you watch it (you can check on IMDb but he's uncredited as 'Elf' which doesn't help)

Elf is a great family movie, it's nothing that stands out too much but I think the strong cast help to bring it to a nice wide range of audiences for the holiday season.

I was thinking about what to say about this movie but there really isn't a whole lot too say. 

One sentence can pretty much sum it up. One night, a boy who has his doubts about Christmas finds himself aboard a magical train to the North Pole.

I thought the film started a little slow but overall the plot was decent, predictable but I mean holiday movies should be predictable. The major draw was the computer graphics involved. They were indeed stellar and made it also a little creepy to see Tom Hanks morphed in so many different ways. Tom pulled a Mike Myers or Peter Sellers in this film and is billed as playing six different characters. Albeit easier when it's animated, I'm pretty sure this movie used motion trackers so he still had to actually do things.

This film was directed by Robert Zemeckis who both wrote and directed one of all-time favourite movie series' Back to the Future. Bob also directed A Christmas Carol (2009) starring Jim Carrey although I have not seen it nor do I intend to in the near future. I'll stick with the dozens of film adaptations already made based on Dickens' famous novella.

It's a movie that has stunning graphics and Tom definitely brings enough to the movie to keep everyone watching.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Movie Countdown: #22 & 21

I've been busy with end of term work and sleeping so it's taking me a while to get the ball rolling on these things again. Unfortunately, as the most wonderful time of year approaches I find myself in need to start doing these things in pairs. So without further ado here are #22 and #21 on the countdown.

Now by all means this isn't a holiday classic, and it did not do well at the box office nor was it well received by....well just about everyone, but it's one of my favourites of the holiday season.

This is the story of young Jake Wilkinson (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) trying to make his way home for Christmas after one of his schemes backfires and he ends up in the desert with no money and glued in a Santa suit. To top it all off, his girlfriend Allie (Jessica Biel) gets a ride home by Eddie (Adam LaVorgna), a guy trying to steal her from Jake. 

Meanwhile, his Jake's Dad (Gary Cole) is waiting for him and offers his son a Porsche if he can make it home in time.

We get a glimpse of Jessica Biel's future in the industry, good for looks but not the greatest actress. Don't get me wrong she's not awful *cough*Megan Fox*cough*, sorry just something in my throat. Oh I guess that doesn't work in text.....meh. She got this part mainly from her "acting" on 7th Heaven which she started in 1996.

This was pretty much the end of Jonathan Taylor Thomas' career though. Probably not due to this movie particularly, but he hasn't done too much that is noteworthy since about 1998, which was also when he left Home Improvement.

LaVorgna actually appeared on 7th Heaven with Biel, with whom he had a relationship for three years.

Now you have to love Gary Cole, he's been around the industry for years in a plethora of different genres but I always associate him with characters you just love to hate. In this case, he actually is a pretty loving father and a nice, normal character which is welcome in this crazy adventure Disney presents us with. If you don't know who Gary Cole is, just go watch Office Space.

Here's another little tidbit of knowledge, although the teens in this movie are supposed to be 18 none of the actors actually were, Thomas and LaVorgna were both 17 and Jessica Biel was just 16, and that's when the movie came out (Although I can't really see there being a lot of post-production time required for this one).

This movie probably could have been nominated for a lot of awards, particularly just about every single category. That being said I found it entertaining and heart-warming due to the excess of cheese and cliche throughout the entire movie. There are some holiday classics you like to avoid watching by yourself because you want to watch them with your loved ones, this is not one of those movies, but I love it.

Here is a good wholesome movie that has a great moral to it. A modern adaptation on both It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, it does a pretty decent job getting the point across and inspires the holiday spirit.

Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage), a wealthy New York investment broker, has no real regard for family. After a convenience store incident with a man named Cash (Don Cheadle), he wakes up to find his life completely changed. A life where, instead of money, he chose to start a family with the love of his life, Kate (Téa Leoni).

I guess this movie appeals to me because a simple suburban lifestyle appeals to me. 

Some people don't like Nicolas Cage but I enjoy most of his performances. He is often over the top but sometimes over the top actors can be entertaining. Don Cheadle as the guardian angel is brilliant casting. I love Cheadle in his serious roles but I like it when he gets to have fun in his roles too. One actor I didn't mention above is Jeremy Piven who plays Jack's best friend. Piven seems to be forever typecast as the sidekick or best friend, but it's what he does best. Lastly, I do have to say that although she is considerably older than myself I have a celebrity crush on Téa Leoni. It's not that she's hot, which at 45 she definitely still is, but she has a certain quality to her that makes her devilishly charming. I can't really say it any other way than that. She also seems like a really nice person. It's possible that she is a terrible person in real life but I somehow doubt it, although it would make her just that much better of an actress. 

This movie doesn't give us anything new but it re-teaches us the importance of love and family and that money means nothing unless you have people to share it with. 


So that's the next two down, I think I'm writing too much so I'll try to skim it down for the rest of them.