Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Diet Of Christmas Films XI

In December of 2008, I watched a handful of Christmas films, listed them and wrote a few things I liked - or disliked - about them in a post on Christmas Day. I decided to have another go at doing it the following year. And then the year after that.

You're now reading the eleventh edition.

When I last left you in the early hours of Christmas Morning 2017, I wrote that I had a movie in mind to watch for the 2018 edition. I had wanted to view it for the 2017 post, but was unable to find it on Sky Movies or Netflix. Well, as luck - or lack thereof - had it, I was browsing Amazon Prime a few hours after the post went live and stumbled upon the movie in question. I decided there and then that the 2018 edition of A Diet of Christmas Films must start.

And so, here we are. A year before it sees the light of day, I shall begin the 2018 Diet of Christmas Films with....

Bad Santa 2 (2016)

Fueled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie teams up once again with his angry little sidekick, Marcus, to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve.

I liked the original and think this sequel was just as good.
It was interesting to see how they managed to bring the original characters back together after thirteen years. The last time we saw Willie and Marcus team up ended in Marcus double-crossing his partner in crime. You could tell the same thing was going to happen at the denouement of this one as well. And it happens, but there is another twist that comes with it.

The months have flown by. It is November 23rd as I write this part of the post. Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the USA and Netflix dropped one of its new movies for the festive period. This is where I'll restart this year's edition after watching Bad Santa 2 eleven months ago..

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

The story of a sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about.

This was a really enjoyable film. It stars Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. It's one of the best produced Christmas films I've ever seen. There are some really cool special effects as the elves that appear in it are animated. I also found myself laughing at some of the funny scenes or lines. I have a feeling this could be one of the films my nephew will want to watch for Christmases to come.

Switchmas (2012)

A Christmas obsessed Jewish boy on his way to sunny Florida figures out how to get the Christmas of his dreams by trading airline tickets and places with another boy on his way to snowy Christmastown, WA.

I decided to watch this because I noticed that David DeLuise's name on the cast when browsing through Amazon Prime. I don't know David, but I know of his father (Dom) and brothers (Peter and Michael, who appeared in my favourite TV show when I was younger - 21 Jump Street).
As for the film - I thought it was really good and I also learned some interesting facts about some of the most popular Christmas songs (most were made by Jewish people).
Oh yeah - Ray Donovan fans will also notice a familiar face in this in the form of Elliott Gould, who played Ezra in a few of the earlier seasons.

Home Alone 4: Taking Back The House (2002)

Amidst his parents' impending divorce, Kevin McCallister must foil his old nemesis Marv and his wife Vera's plot to kidnap a Crown prince despite opposition from his dad Peter, Peter's fiancee Natalie and Natalie's butler, Mr. Prescott.

I've watched the first three Home Alone movies in the years I've published the Diet of Christmas Films posts. I first watched the third movie in 2016, The third was all about a new child as Macaulay Culkin was obviously too old to play Kevin McCallister in 1997. So - after moving in a different direction with no McCallisters - they go back to the McCallister family in 2002. All different actors. I didn't like this.
Home Alone 3 proved that it is possible to do anthology movies with the Home Alone name, so I don't get why they went back to the family from the first movie. It isn't a reboot either as the previous films are referred to in this one.
With that said, it was okay. It just would have worked a lot better if they did this movie with a different characters. Heck, I would have been okay with Marv the villain being brought in to be outsmarted by a child that wasn't Kevin McCallister. Which leads me on to...

Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)

Finn Baxter sets up booby traps to catch the ghost of his new home's former occupant, only to discover he must protect the house and his sister from three bumbling art thieves.

The fifth - and currently final - Home Alone movie. And I evidently got my wish with this one as it's about a different family but uses the same sort of ideas that are associated with Home Alone (kids at home at Christmastime stopping burglars from their property).
Despite this being a Home Alone movie in name, I wasn't too keen on it. It wasn't as good as the fourth (and that's saying something).
One thing I did laugh at was seeing Eddie Steeples in this film. I haven't seen him since he played Darnell in My Name Is Earl. He played one of the bad guys.

Christmas In Evergreen (2017)

Hoping to spur her longtime beau to action, a small-town veterinarian wishes upon a snow globe that this will be her most romantic Christmas ever.

Okay the synopsis/summary is quite rubbish here. Yes, the film is about a small-town veterinarian who wishes on a snow globe. However, there's a lot more to THAT story. She is about to leave for Washington to stay with her boyfriend over Christmas but then she winds up stuck at home and meets a widower and his daughter who are also trapped in Evergreen due to the weather. By the end, the boyfriend has managed to pop up in Evergreen, but they both realise that they aren't compatible. It ends with Allie and Ryan falling in love.
I liked it.
Oh, and on another 21 Jump Street theme, Holly Robinson-Peete - who played Judy Hoffs in the show - plays one of the characters in the movie.

48 Christmas Wishes (2017)

For the first time ever, two junior elves have to leave home after losing an entire town's letters to Santa. Wile attempting to blend into small town life, they set out to retrieve every missing wish before Christmas Eve.

When I was on IMDB getting the synopsis after watching the film, I came across a review of this movie. It was given one star and had the title 'Kids Might Enjoy...'
I couldn't agree more. I wasn't too keen on this, but I am sure that children will like it more than I did.

Mid-December Update - I've just been on the phone to my nephew, who is nine years old. I asked if he had watched 48 Christmas Wishes and he told me he had watched the beginning, but didn't like it. I'm now not so sure about that statement I made about the film being more enjoyable to children!

Die Hard (1988)

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

I have seen this film many, many times. It seems that - every now and again - I come across the question 'Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?' I've noticed it asked a lot more this year because it was brought up in a commercial (Co-Op?) and Sky Cinema has been asking it on Twitter. It's a debatable point, but I'm going to claim that it is a Christmas movie. If Gremlins is, then this is.
As you can see above, the film first came out thirty years ago. I remember seeing a pirate copy of it from a guy who used to own a video shop near me. This would have been some time in '88 (it came out in US cinemas in the summer of 1988, but reached the UK later in the year). I definitely remember telling people at my junior school class about this film long before it made its way to these shores. This is such a great action film. Nay, this is such a great CHRISTMAS action film.

Get Santa (2014)

A father and son team up to save Christmas once they discover Santa Claus sleeping in their garage after crashing his sleigh and finding himself on the run from the police.

This is a British movie and it's very good. From memory, I believe the most recent British Christmas films that I watched are from the Nativity series. This film right here is so much better. I found myself laughing out loud at many parts in this movie. I have seen this film in the TV listings and also saw it on streaming many times over the years, but I obviously passed on it until this year. I'm glad I finally caught it.

Tom and Jerry: Santa's Little Helpers (2014)

Jerry and Tuffy are living the good life in Santa's workshop, until the unfortunate day on which Tom is rescued by the Claus family. With Tom in the house, merry mayhem ensues at the North Pole, but when the dust settles, the destructive duo now have to work together to save Christmas and learn the true meaning of friendship

First of all - who the heck is Tuffy?! Have I become so ancient that I don't even remember a grey mouse that was also in the old school Tom and Jerry cartoons or is this a new character? I have no time to worry about these things. Yet.
I wasn't too keen on this film. The cartoon was more jazzy than I am used to when it comes to Tom and Jerry. Thankfully, it was only a short film. Even though I didn't like it, I'm sure children will.

By the way, I can now confirm that Tuffy IS in the older cartoons. Shows how much I remember!

The Bishop's Wife (1947)

An angel in human form enters the life of a bishop in order to help him build a new cathedral and repair his fractured marriage.

I watched a couple of TV specials about Christmas films in the space of a few days and The Bishop's Wife was brought up in both of them. I thought I'd check it out.
I had never heard of this Cary Grant movie before seeing it mentioned in the two TV specials. It is reminiscent of It's A Wonderful Life. However, it isn't as good as it despite the fact that I did find it enjoyable.

An American Christmas Carol (1979)

In an American town, an old bitter miser is given a ghostly chance at redemption on Christmas Eve.

This TV movie was mentioned on one of the TV specials I watched about Christmas movies. It is one of those films that uses the Christmas Carol plot but - instead of Ebeneezer Scrooge - we get Henry Winkler's Benedict Slade. I enjoyed this film a lot. This states a lot considering I usually avoid anything that uses the Christmas Carol as inspiration because I find them to be samey. I didn't feel that with this title.

A Christmas Story: Live! (2017)

A live broadcast of the Broadway hit 'A Christmas Story: The Musical' in which Ralphie wishes for nothing more than a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas

I first came across A Christmas Story five years ago after it was recommended by a late friend. From there, I became hooked on the work of Jean Shepherd and anything to do with A Christmas Story. I've watched the film every single Christmas since. Not only that - I also watched A Christmas Story 2 (and didn't hate it as much as many people out there). I also am aware of the Broadway stage show that is inspired by the book and movie, so - when I found out that they did a live version of the show on American TV last Christmas - I knew I had to make sure I found a copy of it as the main event of this year's Diet of Christmas Films.
Well, like in pro wrestling and boxing, sometimes the main event doesn't deliver the goods.
This didn't deliver.
I own the CD from the Broadway play, so I knew most of the songs already. The CD is superior to this. I suppose it was cool to finally see the play albeit a TV version of it. I don't think I'll watch it again.

I can't finish this year with a dud. Therefore, I have one final film to watch. No need for a Summary or Thoughts here. It's been done to death...

A Christmas Story (1983)

....Merry Christmas!

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