Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Third Annual Diet Of Christmas Films

It's amazing to think that a little idea I had for a Christmas Day 2008 blog post has now turned into a tradition. A tradition similar to Star Wars appearing on TV during the festive period throughout my childhood.

This year's diet of Christmas movies is slightly harder to build-up thanks to the Movies 24 or Film 24 channel (I forget what its called as it is currently known as 'Christmas 24') airing films that I watched in 2008 and 2009.

I also hope to make use of my Love Film trial account (probably discontinued by the time I post this on Christmas Day) and found a few other channels with festive movies.

For those who haven't read my earlier Christmas Day posts, what I do is simple. I record films based around Christmas, watch them and update this blog post every time I have seen one. Then, the entire post is published at 12am on Christmas morning.

I'm currently typing this post up on December 1st and - at this moment in time - there are three movies on my hard drive ready to watch. There are two more being recorded today and then another two tomorrow. This may be enough. I have a few I want to rent or stream on Love Film as well so we may be in for a feast.

So, without further ado, here is the 2010 edition.

A Chance Of Snow (1998)

Uh oh, I've started off with a bad one.
This film is about a soon to be divorced mother who - along with her sister - takes her two daughters away to spend Christmas at her mother's house. It's snowing and the four of them get stuck in an airport. The husband is also unable to fly out so you can guess where this thing is headed. The husband befriends an old man, the wife befriends the old man's wife. The old couple have been married for fifty years and share the problems they have faced in that time and it guides the husband and wife to a reconciliation at the end.
I did not like it at all.
(Sunday 12th December update - I watched this film earlier in the week and the news has just reached me that the Minnesota Vikings game against the New York Giants has been postponed for a day because of the Giants being unable to fly into the very same Minnesota airport that features in this film!)
Santa Who? (2000)

I enjoyed this one.
The story begins showing a youngster in an orphanage writing a letter to Santa Claus. He asks for a family that loves him. This scene ends with the nun - or lady who runs the home - throwing the letter in the fire when she thinks that the boy, Peter, has gone to bed.
The film then forwards to twenty-five years later and Peter is a reporter and dating a single mother with a young son.
Santa Claus has an accident whilst travelling in the skies and he crash lands on top of Peter's car and is suffering from amnesia. Peter, obviously not realising that it is the real Santa, uses the situation to milk a story and does news reports trying to locate the family of the old man.
The only person who believes that 'Nick' is Santa Claus is the young boy in the movie. As I am sure you've all guessed, the memory is returned just in time.
It was a fun film. The late Leslie Nielson played the role of Santa. The best line used was when Peter asked Santa 'You don't know a single carol?' and Santa replied with 'I don't even know a married one.'

Christmas Lights (2004)

This was the first Christmas film I saw with the Love Film application on my PlayStation 3. It's made by Granada and starred Robson Greene and Mark Benton so I am guessing that this was on ITV back when it came out.
It's a story about two neighbours/friends/brother-in-laws who compete with each other. This rivalry is amplified when they both try to outdo the other each Christmas with the decoration of Christmas lights on the exterior of their houses.
It's a similar plot to the American versions that I have seen in previous years but I think this one was a little bit better.
It has a happy ending as the two settle their dispute after one of them overcomes cancer and it makes them both realise how petty their one-up manship contest has been.
No Jerome Flynn sightings either!

The Christmas Wish (1998)

Another good one.
This film is about a young man who has returned home to help run the family business after his grandfather, who raised him after his parents died in a car accident, passes away. His grandmother says that her Christmas wish is to find out who 'Lillian' is. Lillian is mentioned in some of the Christmas Eve passages of her husband's journals so it is suspected that he may have been having an affair. The grandson attempts to grant his grandmother's wish by reading through his grandfather's diaries to work out who the lady is. Will finally tracks down Lillian - a patient at a nursing home who has no family so the grandfather visiting is the only person from the outside who sees her. We find out that Lillian was the person who crashed into Will's mother and father so the theme to the movie is about forgiveness. The film ends with the grandmother visiting Lillian and forgiving her as well.
It was a nice heartwarming film and I didn't expect the twist at the end when Lillian was revealed.
The only problem I had with the movie is the channel that I recorded it on played a dodgy version of it and all rapid movement like pages turning and cars moving made the film go out of focus a lot of times. It was a slight distraction but, other than that, it was a very nice film to sit down and watch.

Christmas In Wonderland (2007)

This film is about a family that have just relocated to Canada from Los Angeles. The problem, however, is the father has just been made redundant before he even started his first day on the job and he isn't prepared for Christmas. He tells his young daughter that he would 'need a million' from Father Christmas in order to save them. She takes this wish to heart and asks Santa for this wish when she and her two brothers are at a shopping mall. The story heats up when a trio of thieves lose their bag of counterfeit money and the children find it believing it was a gift from Santa. Patrick Swayze played the father in what ended up being one of his final performances.
I enjoyed this film. It had a good story and Carmen Electra looked mighty fine!

Mrs. Santa Claus (1996)

Mrs. Santa Claus is fed up of being neglected, especially when she offers her husband a new route to take on Christmas Eve and he wants to stick to his regular pattern. She sets out a week earlier to test out her plan but ends up stuck in New York during the 1900's after one of the reindeer injures itself and has to spend a week healing its leg. Mrs. Claus becomes friends with the people of Avenue A and becomes a positive influence on them as only the wife of Father Christmas can.
Wow, the last paragraph sounds like something you would find on the back of a DVD case.
Angela Lansbury played the title character in this musical. It was the first Christmas musical I have seen this year and was not that bad.
It was very good. I'm not sure if many young children will like it. Older children and upwards will do, though.

Holiday Wishes (2006)

Where do I start with this one?
It's about a party planner who has been employed by a family with a spoilt daughter. An orphan girl is then introduced to the story after being fostered by a family that runs a stables and this girl is expected to work for the family. So, both girls don't like the families they have got and the spoilt girl wants a pony add to this the party planner, who happens to also be an orphan, is trying to locate a missing sister she hasn't seen since she was a child in a foster home. All three end up wishing under a magical star under a Christmas tree and the two girls end up swapping bodies. What we have next is a Christmas version of those Freaky Friday kind of movies. There are predictable twists along the way but all three wishers end up living happily ever after.
I didn't hate it but I didn't love it.

Christmas Mail (2010)

This film was very good.
The story was of a postman who has taken care of his orphaned niece. He is lonely in his current life and the niece writes to Santa Claus asking for him to bring happiness to the uncle. The person who reads and writes letters for the US postal service is on special duty at the post office headquarters that Matt works at and she ends up falling for him. They give off clues that the special letter writer - Kristi North - is the daughter of Santa Claus and she travels to different towns each year to work for her father in reading and writing letters. It is a love story so, as expected, there are bumps along the way. It ends happily ever after. Definitely one of the best films I have seen this season.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

A classic that I have never seen until today.
James Stewart plays the role of George Bailey, who runs a loan company. When some of his money is mislaid and lands in his rivals' hands, Bailey decides that every one's life would be better without him in it so he decided to commit suicide. He is saved by his guardian angel - Clarence. George realises, through the angel, how important his life is not only to himself but for everyone he has interacted with throughout it.
I thought this was a really nice movie and am quite shocked with myself that I haven't gone out of my way to see it until now. I had heard so many people I know say that they liked it but I just never bothered. I'm glad that I have seen it now, though.

Four Christmases (2008)

This was another good film.
It was about an unmarried couple who have been put off getting married because their respective parents have divorced. They never visit any of their families at Christmas but when their flight to Fiji gets delayed due to bad weather, the two have to travel to the four homes to celebrate Christmas with the parents' families. This leads to a lot of laugh out loud moments and the couple learn more about each other with each flying visit.

Final Thoughts

It's 4:35pm on Christmas Eve and I think that's it with the films. I won't have enough time to settle down for any more and get this entry posted at 12am tomorrow morning.
Once again, I found some good films and had a few poor ones to boot. To be fair, the bad films are only bad in my eyes, they could very well be enjoyable to others. I guess that's what you have to do with films like this, they aren't there to be arty or blockbusters. They exist to be something fun to watch over the holidays.
Out of the ten I've watched, I'll give the award to 'Christmas Mail' for being the one I enjoyed the most.

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