Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A Diet Of Christmas Films XII

In 2008, I began what became annual posts in which I kept track of the Christmas films I watched leading into December 25th. What you're reading right now is the twelfth edition.

In these posts, I list the movies in order. I add a brief description using and then share a few lines of my initial thoughts. It's then onto the next film and I repeat the process.

This year's Christmas movie viewing began in late-October, so here's what I watched...

Santa's Slay (2005)

Santa Claus is actually a demon who lost a bet with an Angel, so he becomes the giver of toys and happiness. But, when the bet is off, he returns to his evil ways.

I had been meaning to watch this film ever since it first came out. Why? Well, it's because Bill Goldberg plays Santa in it.
This is a black comedy with some dreadful one-liners and visual gags along the way. It was bad, but I absolutely loved it.
Wrestling fans will get a kick out of this film. Not only is Goldberg in it, but there's also a brief appearance from Tommy 'Tiny' Lister who old-timers will remember as Zeus in the WWF.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

On the outskirts of Whoville, there lives a green revenge-seeking Grinch (Jim Carrey) who plans on ruining Christmas for all of the citizens of the town.

I hadn't watched this movie before this year. And there's a very good reason why - I dislike Jim Carrey when he plays zany characters. He comes across as one-dimensional every time. Here's what I mean:

Ace Ventura - zany human guy
The Mask - zany alter-ego guy
The Riddler - zany comic book character
The Cable Guy - another zany human guy

After seeing his act in all of the above, I had ZERO interest in seeing him playing zany Dr Seuss character when it first came out.
The movie didn't disappoint. It strengthened my opinion that Carrey's one-dimensional when playing those kinds of characters.

Christmas Break-In (2018)

Izzy is an energetic 9-year-old. Over scheduled and running late, Izzy's parents cannot pick her up on time from the last day of school before Christmas break. A blizzard complicates the matter, but not as much as bad guys who are freezing in an ice cream truck. The school's janitor is kidnapped by the intruders and it's up to Izzy to save the day.

I liked this. It was kind of like a Home Alone kind of Christmas film only the child is a girl and the setting is a school.
Thumbs up to Danny Glover, who's the janitor in this. I've found that I enjoy the characters he has played recently.

Santa Girl (2019)

Santa's daughter gets a chance to attend college for one semester in the 'real' world before heading back to the North Pole to fulfil her duties under her father.

This movie was not very good. It took me three sittings to get through it. The thing I found myself perplexed by the most, however, is the story - the person who is meant to be the good guy in it is bribed by one of the baddies. To me - that's not a good character trait. Therefore, I found myself NOT rooting for either the baddie or the person who was meant to be goodie to win Cassandra's hand by the end of the movie.
This is what happens when you complain about one-dimensional characteristics above.

The Knight Before Christmas (2019)

A medieval English knight is magically transported to the present day where he falls for a high school science teacher who is disillusioned by love.

This was a Netflix offering for Christmas and I really enjoyed it.
I found myself laughing out loud at some of the things the knight had to learn like getting to know how to use an Amazon Echo, a TV and a car.
I think there was a tease of a sequel during the end credits, so we'll see whether it'll be on next year's list.

Scrooge (1951)

I know you don'r really need it, but here's what it's about...

Old bitter miser Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by three ghosts on Christmas Eve.

I hadn't seen this version of the movie properly before this year. And you know what? I think it could very well be the best A Christmas Carol I've seen out of all versions I've seen. Sim was excellent in the role. I particularly enjoyed his Scrooge post-visits by the ghosts because he was kind of over-cheery.
One thing I noticed when looking at the cast is George Cole played the 'Young Ebenezer Scrooge' and Patrick Macnee played 'Young Jacob Marley' - so, what we had is Young Arthur Daly and Young John Steed!

Mixed Nuts (1994)

The events focus around a crisis hotline business on one crazy night during the Christmas holidays

Well, this was VERY zany. And that's to say the least.
It had a long list of famous people in it like Steve Martin, Garry Shandling, Adam Sandler, Juliette Lewis and Ray Donovan himself - Liev Schreiber (who plays a transvestite, so imagine Ray Donovan in drag and you'll understand why I've considered this 'zany' and surreal).
It was a comedy and it had its moments, but I was just awestruck at the cast list and how I had never heard of this film until it popped up on my Amazon Prime Video list as a recommendation because I've watched Christmas movies on it.
In a way, I kind of would recommend this movie to people because it's just so.. and here's that word again.. zany!

Mrs. Miracle (2009)

Overwhelmed widower Seth Webster is searching for a housekeeper to help him with his unruly six year old twins. 'Mrs. Miracle' mysteriously appears and quickly becomes an irreplaceable nanny, chef, friend... and matchmaker

This was a nice TV movie starring James Van Der Beek, Erin Karpluk and the late Doris Roberts, who plays the title character.
It turns out that 'Mrs Miracle' (really Mrs Merkel) was an angel and she manages to pair up the widower with a lady who has encountered relationship breakdowns with partners and family. As you'll probably guess, it all ends happily ever after.

Now that I've watched Mrs. Miracle, what should I watch next?

I know...

Mrs. Miracle 2 - Miracle In Manhattan (2010)

Mrs. Merkle - AKA Mrs. Miracle - poses as a toy department clerk determined to help a struggling family-owned department store in New York City that has fallen on hard times

Another fun outing with Mrs. Merkle and her devious, yet helpful, ways of making people find love and share the spirit of Christmas.
This one was not as good as the first, but that's not to say I disliked this film. It's a shame that more sequels weren't made as I really enjoyed watching these films back-to-back.

Time for an annual classic..

A Christmas Story (1983)

No need for a summary or my thoughts other than I am surprised it has taken me this long to decide to watch it this year (it's December 12 as I write this part!).

Nativity Rocks! (2018)

The staff and students from St. Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry audition for a place in a rock musical competition.

If you've been following along from the start, you're bound to be aware that I've watched the three Nativity films that were released between 2009 and 2014.
I found out that a fourth film in the series was released last year, so kept a close out for it to drop on the streaming services this Christmas. Amazon Prime Video is where it landed.
I honestly thought this one is the best of the four.
One of the highlights of the first three films in the series is the character of Desmond Poppy who is a childlike adult who interacts with the children of the school. He isn't in this film, BUT, there is a very adequate replacement as the story has introduced his long-lost brother, Jerry Poppy who is just as funny as the original Poppy.
The film starts off with Jerry arriving at St. Bernadette's on the hunt for his brother only to find out that Desmond has left for Australia. There's a story there for a future Nativity movie with the Poppy's finally meeting each other, but I would presume Jerry was introduced because the actor who played Desmond was unavailable or something.
Bottom line: there would have been no movie without a Poppy in it and they found a very good replacement!
I do hope they make more of these films because they're fun and I'm sure kids love them. They also tend to have a lot of Britain's popular actors and actresses in them and this one was not an exception.

In 2016, I watched a terrible film called Beverly Hills Christmas. In the 'Thoughts' section after I watched it, I noted that IMDB had listed its sequel was due for release in 2018 and I vowed to watch it when I had the chance. Well, for a random reason, I was looking back at the 2016 and it reminded me to seek out the sequel. I did that...

This Is Our Christmas aka Beverly Hills Christmas 2: Chris Crumbles (2018)

The Foxworth Family decide to spend the Christmas holiday with their Aunt Maggy, only to find her beloved bakery is under threat. It's up to the family to band together, save the bakery and pull off a Christmas miracle.

I don't recall for sure how bad the acting was in the first part, but I'd have to say it has improved. Slightly!
I cannot even remember how the story went in the original, but this one was okay. Nothing special, but not something that made me hate it as much as I evidently liked the first!

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch (2018)

A grumpy Grinch plots to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville.

To start off, I thought the animation was good. However, I was kind of tired when I was watching this and I must have zoned out half-way through. I managed to pull myself back near the end and enjoy it, but I wasn't THAT into it.
With that said, this version is better than the idiot Carrey edition I saw earlier in this marathon of movies.
I suppose this one is more truer to the story as well (although I cannot say that with conviction as I haven't read the book!).

Let It Snow (2019)

In a small town on Christmas Eve, a snowstorm brings together a group of young people.

I really enjoyed this Netflix film. We see a load of characters and the main plot is that the snow has kind of forced them together and we see how all of their relationships develop with the snow as the backdrop. It's written well and is definitely one of the best Christmas films I've seen this season.

Merry Kissmas (2015)

A woman engaged to marry a self-centred film and stage director falls for a caterer whom she kisses, as does he for her.

I was not keen on this film.
It had a nice(ish) story, but it wasn't that fulfilling. Even though the lady who is engaged to the 'self-centred film and stage director' who doesn't treat her well, I found myself feeling a bit sorry for him in parts as she was quick to move onto the other bloke.
It all worked out in the end, but I still felt there was a bit of shallowness to both of their characters.
There was a funny coincidence though. You know Doris Roberts has been in the two Mrs Miracle movies I watched this year? Well, she's in this film as well. She's in a few scenes and plays a frisky old lady who is smitten with the male lead. She's nothing like Mrs. Miracle in this!

Angela’s Christmas (2017)

Set in Ireland in the 1910s, Angela’s Christmas is a funny heart-warming and poignant story about the power of family and the innocent desire of a child to ensure everyone is safe, warm and loved at Christmas time.

I came across this short film on Netflix. It killed half an hour and was fairly enjoyable as it has a good message and the animation was really good.

A Merry Christmas Miracle (2014)

Boyd Mitchler and his family must spend Christmas with his estranged family of misfits. Upon realising that he left all his son's gifts at home, he hits the road with his dad in an attempt to make the 8-hour round trip before sunrise.

Earlier this year, I was looking at films on Amazon and noticed a DVD cover with Joel McHale (Community) and Robin Williams on it. I realised that it was a Christmas film, so ordered it just so I could watch it for this year's marathon.
The movie stars the two actors and came out a few months after Williams passed away. There is a tribute at the end of the credits for him.
As for the film itself - I enjoyed it. I found myself laughing out loud at certain parts because it was well written.
The acting was also good.
By the way, over in the USA, it's called A Merry Friggin' Christmas.

A Christmas Carol (2019)

A television adaption of Charles Dickens' classic Christmas tale of the miser - Ebenezer Scrooge.

I read that the BBC had a three-part mini series of A Christmas Carol and that Guy Pearce played Scrooge, so thought I'd give it a go considering I've watched a lot of A Christmas Carol movies (or films using the same plot as Dicken's famous work!) over the years.
This version was okay. There was a lot of changes made to the original work like a Jacob Marley backstory, suggestion that Scrooge was abused by boarding school master, the Cratchits is a mixed-race family, Mary Cratchit was seemingly offered sex in exchange for money from Scrooge in exchange for money to fund Tiny Tim's healthcare among other things..
I'm not against any of this, though. I like writers using their own spin on classics. With that said, I can understand if some disliked this version of the story.
Guy Pearce was a good Scrooge and Stephen Graham was excellent in his role of Marley.

The Holiday (2006)

Two women troubled with guy problems swap homes in each other's countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

For many, many years, a friend of mine kept telling me to watch this film for one of these posts, but I always passed on it. I didn't do that this time.
The thing with this film is - yes, it's a Christmas movie. However, Christmas is just in the background of the story unlike a lot of the films I watch. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the it. I just think this doesn't completely pass my 'Christmas Movie' test. And this is coming from somebody who recognises Die Hard as one!

Final Thoughts
Just like every year, it's late on Christmas Eve as I finish off this post. I feel that - this year - I have ran a good race. However, I still have tons - nay TONS - of films still left to watch. Just to highlight this point, I have twenty-six movies stored on my cable box's hard drive. Some still left over from last year that I couldn't get around to watching.
There's going to be more piled onto those titles next year as Disney Plus is set to launch in the UK during the spring, I want to see the recently released Last Christmas and Netflix has The Christmas Chronicles II scheduled for 2020.
I think next year's marathon HAS to start earlier than I've ever started before. When that will be won't be known - by you - for another 365 days.
Until then, thanks for reading and Happy Christmas!

HOLD UP.. I forgot the important part of the 'Final Thoughts' and that's to point out the film from this year's viewing that I liked the most.
It might be a controversial pick because it wasn't really the best film I've watched this season, but I have to give it to Mixed Nuts just because of how zany it is. I still cannot believe this film has hidden away from me for all these years and - as crazy is as it sounds - I could see myself watching it again in the future

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