Monday, December 25, 2017

A Diet Of Christmas Films X

On Christmas Day of 2008, I published a post titled 'A Diet Of Christmas Films' where I wrote about all the festive movies I had watched leading up to December 25th. I managed to cram eleven films into a few days of viewing.

I've been doing this annually ever since. I'm back with the tenth edition.

This year's journey began on November 13th - six weeks before the big day. Let's see how many films I've watched...

Jingle All The Way (1996)

A man vows to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas. However, every store is sold out of them and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else in order to find one.

I've known about this movie ever since it first came out but, I was never compelled to watch it. There is a reason why I've decided to view it this year. This will become clear in the next few paragraphs.
As for my thoughts on the movie? Well - it was good. It could have been a lot worse! Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the father who is on a mission to find an action figure of Turbo Man for his son, who he has neglected for the past few years due to work commitments. The toy is a big seller and he's looking for the item on Christmas Eve so - as you'd expect - things don't run smoothly in this quest. Until the end, that is.

A Christmas Story (1983)

No point writing any more. If you've been following along over the years, you know this has become a tradition.

A Road Trip For Ralphie (2008)

During an adventure spanning two years and two countries, two mega-fans of 'A Christmas Story' set out to discover all the film's shooting locations. Along the way, they uncover forgotten facts, discover little-known locations and recover long-lost movie memorabilia.

Okay, it isn't a Christmas movie as such, but it is about THE Christmas movie that I've written about a lot in these posts over the years. It gets viewed for that alone!
This film is available on Amazon Prime and was made using a camcorder as a couple travel around Canada and into the US looking at areas where the 1983 movie was filmed.
It was very interesting and I'd recommend it to hardcore A Christmas Story fans.

Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger (2012)

A worried new teacher has to juggle a pregnant wife and a class of children on a road trip to the National 'Song for Christmas' competition.

I watched the original Nativity! film in 2013 after waiting quite some time to get hold of a copy. I found the sequel on Amazon Prime.
I wasn't too keen on the first film. This one isn't any better, but it was okay. It's quite similar. The same school try to enter a Christmas singing competition and there's calamity and hijinx along the way.
David Tennant is in this one as the main star.

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey!? (2014)

The pupils of St. Bernadette's and the madcap, Mr Poppy, are back!
When their new teacher, Mr Shepherd, loses his memory as well as Archie the Donkey, it's up to them to save the day to reunite him with his fiancee, Sophie, in New York. Prepare for a race against time, fantastic flashmobs and plenty of Christmas fun on their greatest adventure yet.

Seeing as this was also on Amazon Prime this year, I thought I would strike while the iron was hot and finish off the trilogy.
Surprisingly, I thought the third installment was far better than the ones that came before it.
Martin Clunes played the teacher (sort of) in this one. Unlike the previous Nativity films, the main plot of this film didn't focus on the schools winning a singing competition. The main story was all about Clunes' character's amnesia and the quest to have his memory returned in time to marry his girlfriend (Catherine Tate).

Jingle All The Way 2 (2014)

Larry's daughter wants only one thing for Christmas, a talking bear. His daughter's stepdad intends to make sure that Larry can't get one.

This is only a sequel in name as it has nothing to do with the Arnold Schwarzenegger film from 1996.
It stars Larry The Cable Guy as the divorcee father who tries get his daughter a Harrison Bear after misreading her letter to Santa Claus. This results in the stepdad, by way of his associate, purchasing every toy across the town in an attempt to have Larry fail in his quest. As you've probably guessed, everything turns out right in the end.
The film was produced by WWE Studios. Santino Marella was one of the co-stars in it. I bought it late last year in a double DVD along with the original Jingle All The Way. That's why I watched the first movie to start off this year's viewing.

Ralphie (2013)

Ralph from A Christmas Story is all grown up and this year, instead of a BB gun, all he wants for Christmas is a girlfriend.

This popped up on a search when I was looking for 'A Roadtrip For Ralphie' on Amazon Prime. It was a three-part comedy all about a grown-up Ralph Parker who fancies the girl who works in the local toy shop.
It was close to a parody of A Christmas Story, but for a mature audience. It was intriguing, but not Jean Shepherd canon.
Fans of the film might get a kick out of it.

Home For Christmas (2014)

Beth Prince has always loved fairytales and now feels like she's finally on the verge of her own happily ever after; a dream job in a charming independent cinema by the seaside and a gorgeous boyfriend. There's just one problem - no man has ever told her they love her. Desperate to hear those crucial three little words for the first time, Beth takes matters into her own hands - and wishes she hasn't.

Well.... where do I begin?
Firstly, I saw the title and thought it would be a Christmas movie. As I'm writing this part, I'm fifty minutes into the film and I can't recall seeing anything Christmasy. This isn't for me, but - as a rule - I have to continue!
Later Thoughts: The film did end up mentioning Christmas in the last twenty minutes or so, but it wasn't enough. The girl got her guy in the end, though. 

One Magic Christmas (1985)

An angel must show a mother the true meaning of Christmas. It's not just presents and materialistic things, but the people she cares about.

This isn't the first time that I've watched this movie for these posts (It appears in the 2011 post) I first watched it when it first came out in the mid-80s. It's one of my favourites and I thought I would add it to this year's list because Harry Dean Stanton, who plays the angel Gideon, passed away this year.

Just In Time For Christmas (1998)

Grandpa Jim is scheduled to make a guest appearance in a special Christmas program in Branson, Missouri. Backstage at the program, it is chaos - the children are out of control, and the director is out of patience. To make matters worse, Grandpa Jim's truck breaks down on the way to the performance.

This was on Amazon Prime. It looked like a proper Christmas film and it stated that the film was fifty-one minutes long. I thought it would be a nice short film to add to the list of movies.
It was made by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and was done using a camcorder (I think!). Not really my kind of thing.

Abbott and Costello Christmas Show (In Color)

This delightful Christmas special stars the brilliant comedy team of Abbott and Costello as they perform on The Colgate Comedy Hour. The show also features Margaret Whiting, The Nicholas Brothers, Buster Shaver and Olive and Tom and Jerry. Included are skits, singing, dancing and commercials. In color for the first time, digitally re-mastered and resored!

Okay, this isn't a Christmas film or movie, but it's on Amazon Prime Video so I think it qualifies. Barely.
This was one of those variety shows that America is known for having during the Christmas period featuring some funny sketches by the two comedians.
I don't know the year this came out, but it was definitely produced for TV because the version I watched contained all the advert spots for toothpaste and soap powder.

March Of The Wooden Soldiers (1934)

Opposing the evil Barnaby, Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum try and fail to pay-off Mother Peep's mortgage and mislead his attempts marry Little Bo. Enraged, Barnaby's boogeymen are set on Toyland.

For some reason, this movie is listed as 'March of the Wooden Soldiers' on Amazon Prime, but it's really Babes In Toyland with a different title.
It isn't a full-blown Christmas film. However, it was first released in December of 1934 and Santa Claus is in a few scenes.
It has been many, many years since I first watched it. I'd hazard a guess at 1983 when I was very young. Despite being a Laurel and Hardy fan since that time, it was never one of my favourites.
There is a reason why I watched it again. The version I watched was in colour.
As I've stated in the past, I don't like the idea of Laurel and Hardy movies being made re-released in colour. I prefer them being viewed the way they were originally made. However, I get why the companies feel the need to do this and if this means Laurel and Hardy's legacy will be viewed by newer audiences in this way, it's good for me.
With all that said... This worked.
I think this is the exception to my 'Laurel and Hardy should be viewed in Black and White' argument because of all the costumes and sets being very colourful for the time. While watching the film, I couldn't help but think to myself 'what was the point of going to all this effort for costume and design if it was being recorded in black and white?' That should prove just how well it came across.
Now that I've seen it in colour, I don't think I would ever want to see this film in black and white. I can't believe I just wrote the previous sentence!

A Very Murray Christmas (2015)

Bill Murray worries no one will show up to his TV show due to a terrible snowstorm in New York City.

This is a Netflix special. A modern day version of the variety shows like the Abbott and Costello one I watched above. There wasn't much variety. Just a bit of a storyline and some singing. There were famous celebrities that appeared along the way. For example, Chris Rock, Miley Cyrus and George Clooney.

Pottersville (2017)

The plot centres on Maynard, a beloved local businessman who is mistaken for the legendary Bigfoot during an inebriated romp through town in a makeshift gorilla costume. The sightings set off an international Bigfoot media spectacle and a windfall of tourism dollars for a simple American town hit by hard times.

This was very enjoyable. It had a strong cast (Michael Shannon, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, Ian McShane and more). There were parts of it where I thought it didn't have much of a Christmas theme (not that this matters based on some of the films I've watched this year!) but it actually did come around near the end with a heartwarming close.

And that is all for the 2017 edition. I've seen some good and bad films yet again. I shall return with more in 2018 because there are still many films out there that I would like to watch. Without giving too much away, there was one movie I had my eye on for most of the year but Sky/Netflix didn't have it on their services. I'm hoping to be able to have it on the list for 2018.

Merry Christmas!

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