2015 Christmas Movie-Palooza

November 22, 2015

Like last year ALL movies are rated as CHRISTMAS MOVIES. Emphasis on the Christmas. A high dose of Christmas lights, Christmas spirit and all things Christmassy are required. Of course it has to be an actual good movie. Good script etc… My wife thinks I don’t make this clear enough. I think I make it perfectly clear… For example last years’s Christmas Bounty was both a bad movie overall, AND a terrible Christmas movie due to lack of Christmas themes etc… Claiming it’s Christmas isn’t good enough. It better be represented on screen and ooze in every shot! Good enough explanation? Good, let’s move on…

Movie #1: Ice Sculpture Christmas

I’ve always been a fan of ice sculpture. Saw a trailer for this and while it didn’t leap out at me, I needed Christmas movies to watch for my second year of this project, and it was a Christmas movie…

Well I picked a real winner. The premise deviates from the usual cliches. It does however have the requisite “evil person” trying to sabotage the heroes. Tired of that cliche… It doesn’t, however, derail what is a very sweet movie.

The leads have an ABSURD amount of chemistry together. Some of the best I’ve seen in a movie.

It’s predictable, a bit cliche, and ultimately quite lovely.

Four Snowmen out of Five.

Movie #2: A Christmas Snow

First of all, this movie has religion in it. This review is not the place to get into the history Christmas, and the Pagan solstice etc…. Just to let folk know if you like your holiday religion free, this has a bit. However it doesn’t really affect the movie. In fact it makes certain things even more surprising.

So here we have Catherine Mary Stewart, who I mostly remember from the terrific sci-fi movie Night of the Comet from the mid 80’s. She plays a restaurant owner who hates Christmas. Through twisted circumstance she winds up snowed in at her house in the days before Christmas with her boyfriend’s 10 year old daughter, and an old guy named Sam. There is an odd scene at the start with Catherine walking into her restaurant. A guy comes skating past and slams into a pole. HARD. It makes you think this is going to be a slapstick comedy. However the scene is never referenced, there is no explanation, and I’m going to be tweeting Catherine later and asking about it. If I get a reply I will add it to the end here.

You will need tissues for this movie. I called the last ten or so minutes and how it would end. It’s a cute movie. Avoids a lot of the cliches, remarkably. Great cast.

Living in Alberta, and looking at the 10cm+ snow outside that’s fallen in just the last few hours, I find it deeply amusing to see what Tulsa’s definition of “snowed in” is…

Three out of Five Snowmen

Movie #3: Santa’s Little Helper

Last year I made the terrible mistake of watching the movie Christmas Bounty. It starred “The Miz” from WWE. It was utterly terrible and had precious little to do with Christmas. I’d go as far as to call it one of the worst films ever made!

When I heard Miz was doing another Christmas movie I recoiled in horror. When I heard it was called Santa’s Little Helper I had hope somewhat restored. Surely THIS would actually be Christmassy, right?

My hope was rewarded. The movie stars The Miz and Paige, both performers in WWE. The movie is a WWE Films production, like the appalling Christmas Bounty. However this time it’s very good. Miz is a business jerk who gets fired. After having a chance encounter with Santa, he is given a series of tests for the job of being the HoHoHo. (I won’t spoil what it stands for.) This leads to many comic shenanigans. There was also an odd side plot involving another elf which, while not detracting from the story in any way, served very little purpose.

Unlike Miz’s last effort this is a terrific Christmas movie. Very funny in spots. Miz is awesome in it. Paige is good as the… Well let’s not mince words, evil elf…

I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Four Snowmen out of Five. (Revised score after more consideration and comparison to later movies.)

Movie #4: The Christmas Parade

Another Hallmark movie. The plot involves the usual cynical Christmas hater coming to love the holiday. This isn’t great. In fact I was almost falling asleep. (Okay that’s partially due to medication I’m on…)

Plot involves a TV host who finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her (bizarrely her boyfriend is played by Drew Scott from Property Brothers!) and goes on a drive to clear her head, and crashes into a fence in a small town. (Just how far did she drive??? She starts in Manhattan!) Fence belongs to judge. Judge sentences her to community service in their small town where she helps a single guy build a Christmas float for the parade.

There’s shady business dealings. There’s art. There’s adorable kids. There’s inordinately slow bits that will try your patience, but it all picks up in the final half hour and becomes very Christmassy.

Has my favourite trope of Christmas movies I’ve found during this and last years viewing. The AERIAL ESTABLISHING SHOT! It especially amuses me when it’s of Manhattan for some reason. Probably because so many movies take place, or at least start there.

Three out of Five Snowmen, rounded up as I don’t want to cut Snowmen in half as that just seems cruel!

Movie #5: Help for the Holidays

Starts with our dear friend THE ESTABLISHING AERIAL SHOT! This time of the North Pole… Short scene… THEN ANOTHER ESTABLISHING SHOT!!! This time of the area of California where the movie is set.

SUMMER GLAU IS A FREAKIN’ ELF! I love Summer from Firefly/Serenity. Seeing her as an Elf was too much of a chance to pass up!

Here we have a family. Mother, father and daughter hate Christmas. Parents run a Christmas themed store. (Which begs the question… How do they make money from January to, say, September?) Young son loves Christmas. Summer is an Elf, sent by Santa after said son sends a wish to Santa. She inserts herself into their life as a Nanny to fix their Christmas spirit make the parents get their crap together. Shenanigans ensue!

It’s a delightful film. Summer is awesome in it. Absolutely adorable. The kids are great actors.

This was a great Christmas movie! I wound up having to drop the rating of Santa’s Little Helper as I couldn’t really give that five and this one five as this was way better as a Christmas movie.

Avoids a lot of the cliches. Very sweet plot. Lovely ending. If you don’t feel Christmassy after this I advise you go to the ER because you may actually be dead!

Five out of Five Snowmen!!!

Movie #6: The Christmas Consultant

It’s David Hasselhoff! Or David Hoff as he’s known now? Let’s just call him THE HOFF! Saw this a couple of years ago and loved it so much I BOUGHT IT THIS YEAR!

An overworked Mom has to arrange a Christmas party on Christmas Eve to seal an important business deal for her boss. A large portion of the Mom and Dad’s respective families are visiting too. Overwhelmed, Mom and Dad decide to hire a consultant who arranges everything at Christmas. The titular consultant being THE HOFF in a bow tie and, over the course of the movie, many awesome Christmas sweaters!

I’ve seen reviews say this is a terrible movie… Well it is… IF YOU HATE CHRISTMAS! Anyone with Christmas Spirit will love this. The Hoff is amazing as Owen, The Christmas Consultant. Has some truly funny segments and its hard to picture anyone other than Hoff doing it to be honest, but then I always was a fan. I want Owen to spend Christmas with MY FAMILY!

The rest of the cast is equally good. The youngest daughter has a Wednesday Addams vibe which just adds to the fun. The star, however, is The Hoff who is absolutely delightful as Owen.

I love this movie. I’ve watched it. And I guarantee I’ll watch it again before the big day.

Five out of Five Snowmen! 

Movie #7: A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas

This is on the list from last year. I love this movie. So few adult Christmas movies, and NONE have the heart or humour this movie has. So many movies aimed at kids and families mention the “Santa not being real” thing…  (One reason it’s no longer in my rotation.) This makes me extremely angry. Yet here is an R rated movie, for adults, AND SANTA IS IN IT!If you’re of legal age I highly recommend this movie. It’s crude, it’s rude, it has a baby on drugs, it has so many great gags, and DANNY TREJO! MACHETE CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS!

Cannot give this movie enough love. It has more Christmas Spirit than a lot of NORMAL Christmas movies, and it’s a tie between this and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation as my favourite Christmas film.

Five out of Five Stoned Snowmen!

Movie #8: 12 Gifts of Christmas

ESTABLISHING AERIAL SHOT OF MANHATTAN! Ah hello there, my favourite Christmas movie trope! In the opening few minutes this movie REALLY bashes you around the face with “WE ARE IN MANHATTAN! SEE! CENTRAL PARK! SEE, BROOKLYN BRIDGE!!!” shots. For the entire movie it’s BONK! BONK! BONK! BONK! With visuals of Manhattan.

The audio is clearly ADR’ed on a lot of occasions. I also love that movies like this don’t license actual brand names, so the ubiquitous search engine in this movie is the delightfully named Thurbble.

So to the plot. Uptight advertising executive has no time to Christmas shop. Hire’s someone to do it for him.

There is an African American briefly in this movie! I wasn’t going to bring this up, but it’s only when he appeared I realised these Hallmark movies seem to take “White Christmas” very literally. In fact off the top of my head I can only remember A Snow Globe Christmas from last year’s list actually having an African American in it! (Donald Faison. Turk from Scrubs.) That’s pretty bloody pathetic!

Usual scenario follows, budding relationship, something sabotages it, but all is well in the end.

Three out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #9: Charming Christmas

Julie Benz, who I only really know as Darla from Buffy/Angel plays a shop manager who has to play Mrs Claus opposite Santa at the store she runs.

Nick is the store Santa. Or is he the real Santa?

This is quite the unique movie in that it didn’t follow the normal conventions or tropes of Christmas movies. It was that rare beast… an original Christmas movie! It also follows multiple character’s stories which was nice.

Really enjoyable. David Sutcliffe is extremely likable as Nick. Benz is great as Meredith who opens her heart to Christmas.

By the end you’ll feel Christmasy, I guarantee!

Four out of Five Snowmen!

Movie #10: A Christmas Eve Miracle

It’s a Wonderful Life!!! The producers of this movie likely wish that movie had never happened so this may actually seem original.

Whereas Capra’s movie is a work of genius, this is a hole in the ground where talent, script and quality goes to die.

Great cast. Abysmal movie.

Zero out of Five Snowmen!

Movie # 11: I’m Not Ready for Christmas

This movie stars Alicia Witt. I ADORE Alicia Witt. I would watch her in anything.

Once again a lead character works at an advertising industry. I think advertising industry is this years “establishing aerial shot” trope.

The movie is a spin on Liar Liar! Alicia plays Holly (Haha!), an ad exec who lies a lot, especially to her niece. Niece wishes Auntie Holly couldn’t lie. Shenanigans ensue. Big difference is Holly also loses all the filters between brain and mouth, revealing how her train of thought runs.

Now I love the original Liar Liar! However Alicia is considerably more understated and it works better. Much more subtle. Not only that, this movie avoids a lot of the usual cliches in a Christmas movie.

I’m giving it an extra snowman due to my love for Alicia Witt and my desire for her to be in EVERY Christmas movie.

Four out of Five Snowmen

Movie #12: Christmas at Cartwright’s

My beloved Alicia Witt again! This time she’s a single mom looking for a job at Christmas. She stumbles into a job as a store Santa Claus at Cartwright’s, and becomes a huge hit. There’s love. There’s intrigue. There’s an adorable little girl as the daughter who is constantly trying to fix her up with men named Bill!

It’s hard to detail the plot without giving stuff away, suffice to say it was quite good.

Three out of Five Snowmen

Movie #13: Christmas Incorporated

ESTABLISHING AERIAL SHOT OF MANHATTAN! AND THEN SKATERS AT 30 ROCK! This is pressing all the buttons.

Unemployed woman (another recurring meme!) lucks into a job with a corporation who are about to close a factory in a small town. She suggests the CEO goes to the town. She goes too as his new assistant. A brief throwaway bit at the start sets up a case of mistaken identity which is a touch predictable.

The leads are cute. The story isn’t bad.

Apologies for the short review but I’ve badly hurt my hand today.

Two out of Five Snowmen

Movie #14: Northpole

Bailee Madison is going to be huge. She played young Snow in Once Upon a Time, and now she’s Clementine, the Elf. She’s only 16 years old and is already an incredible actress. (Trivia: She was the girl next door in the movie on last years list, Pete’s Christmas.)

Northpole (it’s a town!) is running out of magic because all us humans suck and are losing the happiness of Christmas. Without it the Elves can’t make toys etc… Clementine comes up with a plan to save Northpole, thereby saving Christmas.

Good movie. In fact it avoids most of the usual Christmas movie plot points which gives it a huge boost. It’s much more like Elf than a Hallmark movie. There is of course a romance angle, but they don’t beat you around the head with it.

Bailee is absolutely adorable as Clementine and many others must have felt the same as Clementine is BACK in a sequel which I’ll be watching closer to Christmas because it’s absurdly Christmassy!

Special mention of the set design for Northpole. Whoever was responsible did an amazing job on what must have been a tight budget. Movie also has the establishing aerial shot trope, but it’s of Northpole and looks beautiful.

Everyone needs a Clementine in their life, if only for a little while.

Five out of Five Snowmen

Movie #15: The Nine Live of Christmas

This is one of those times I’m hoisted by my own petard. This was a romantic comedy, at Christmas. It was very good, the leads were lovely together. Brandon Routh is especially great in this. He has some great scenes with a cat! And with the fire chief. (He’s a fire fighter.) “So that’s a firm no then?” had me roaring.

It’s a typical “Hallmance” (Hallmark Romance) but it’s funny, has a good script… It’s just set AT Christmas. There’s not much Christmas in it. Since this is for reviewing Christmas movies as movie that invoke the Christmas spirit… It’s just not that great.

However it is a very fun movie. I really want to give it four out of five, but can’t because as a CHRISTMAS movie it didn’t have a lot of Christmas in it.

Screw it, I’m giving it four. It has mistletoe!

Three Four out of Five Snowmen

Movie #16: A Christmas Horror Story

Holy cow! Here we have an anthology movie, rather like Halloween Tales which I saw earlier this year. (Which was also very good.) Instead of telling the tales separately they’re interwoven over the course of the movie. There’s four stories. Trying to spoil as little as possible the stories are:

Group of stupid teens investigating a murder from the previous Christmas eve. Easily the most cliched of the four stories, as well as the least Christmas related.

A horrible family discover the meaning of Krampus.

A family get a Christmas tree, and brings a little something extra home…

Santa has elf problems. (This is by far the funniest story. Elves dropping the “C” bomb was hilarious. And I don’t mean “Christmas”.)

The movie is anchored by WILLIAM FREAKIN’ SHATNER! He’s a DJ hosting a Christmas show on the towns radio station and pops up from time to time. It’s very cool. The segments he’s in reminded me of yet another clever horror film, Pontypool.

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed this movie. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I avoid trailers. (I watched the trailer after watching the movie, and as always it gives away FAR to many surprises!) I was completely satisfied with the film, enjoyed it all. None of the stories were weak. With the structure of switching from story to story I never thought “Dammit, I want to go back to that other story.” The pacing was great, and the endings were all great.

Of the four stories, only one isn’t Christmas related really. The rest are bulging with Christmas cheer. And it’s all held together with an awesome and increasingly drunk Shatner at the helm.

Bloody brilliant!

Five out of Five Snowmen!!!

Movie #17: A Crown for Christmas

New York maid is hired to be widowed king’s daughter’s governess. Daughter hates her. Then loves her. King is ambivalent. Then fancies her. And blah blah blah you know the rest.

About as Christmassy as Ebeneezer Scrooge’s underpants, pre ghostly visits. Aside from two scenes, the movie could have been set any time in winter.

One out of Five Snowmen

Movie #18: Christmas Eve

Patrick Stewart STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR!

This is an odd movie. Power is knocked out to a bunch of buildings, and people are trapped in elevators. What plays out is multiple separate stories of the goings on in the elevators, only for us to find out some individuals are related to others.

It’s not Christmas related at all really. It’s an enjoyable film. A unique film in many ways. It’s just not got a lot of Christmas in it.

So as a regular movie I’d give it 3 out of 5.

However, for Christmas it gets…

One out of Five Snowmen

Movie #19: Last Chance for Christmas

After taking a day off from the endless cavalcade of Christmas movies (to watch Netflix’s A Very Murray Christmas, it wasn’t bad) I return with this… This… Atrocity.

Plot sounded good. One of Santa’s reindeer is injured, so the stable worker (human, not elf) is sent to a small reindeer farm to borrow a reindeer. Said farm is at danger of being foreclosed on.

This is a terrible movie. Tim Matheson, who always plays jerks, plays an enormous one. The funny thing is the movie has delusions of grandeur and there is a CITIZEN KANE allusion where the evil developer stops and looks mournful at a sled. A BLOODY SLED! They should have just flashed the words “ROSEBUD” on the screen. Urgh. Zombie Orson Welles could not have saved this movie. Then again…

I can find nothing to redeem this movie. At time of viewing it didn’t even have an IMDB entry. That’s like… Not possible. Uwe Boll movies have IMDB entries!

I’m starting to question if I didn’t imagine the whole thing.

Zero out of Five Snowmen

This blog has gone from chronicling Christmas movies to documenting my descent into madness.

Movie #20: Just In Time For Christmas

Here we go again. Woman gets the job offer of a lifetime, right before boyfriend proposes. Gets overwhelmed, gets picked up by William Shatner (Yes, William Shatner again!) who sends her into the future to see how her life goes if we she makes one choice. Wonderful Life shenanigans occur. The.

The cast is great. Michael Stahl-David (who was in Cloverfield) is the boyfriend. Christopher Lloyd is the grandfather. Given his previous roles there is one very good gag in the movie that had my wife and I laughing.

Eloise Mumford is the lead, and she’s great. She reminds me of mid 90’s Samantha Janus, which is a good thing. Frankly without Eloise’s good work as the lead this movie would have been garbage.

The big problem… THERE’S NO DAMN CHRISTMAS! Shatner may or may not be Santa. There’s decorations. That’s it. It’s a fun film but NO CHRISTMAS! So sadly I have to knock a Snowman off.

Two out of Five Snowmen

I’m burning out FAST!

Movie #21: All About Christmas Eve

Cute concept for a film. Party planner gets a gig in Los Angeles. The movie follows two timelines. One where she makes the flight to LA. One where she doesn’t.

It’s not bad, but lacking Christmas.

Two out of Five Snowmen

Movie #22: Christmas In A Day

Okay so it’s a Sainsburys promotional film, but it’s a great little documentary. People filming their Christmas. I love seeing how other people do Christmas. The woman murdering eight geese is especially nutty!

It’s great seeing the kids reactions. One little kid goes absolutely nuts and it’s delightful.

Five out of Five Snowmen

Movie #23: Guess Who’s Coming for Christmas.

Washed up rock star rehabilitates image spending Christmas with a fan.

Look at your walls. Now watch them for ten minutes. There we go. You just spent a more enjoyable ten minutes than you would watching ten minutes of this trash. I can understand religion in a Christmas movie, but what I dislike is movies that sucker punch you with it. Like religion is a con trick. This does, and it just makes for an even worse movie as it’s dishonest and just… Bad.

Zero out of Five Snowmen

Movie #24: Northpole: Open for Business

The sequel to #14 on my list. Clementine returns to save a hotel that is one of Santa’s vital magic portals that help him deliver presents to everyone.

Bailee Madison is adorable once again. Lori Loughlin is the humbug that gets her groove back. There’s a love story of course. Evil property developers.

It was really good.

Five out of Five Snowmen

And with that I’m DONE! I’ll only be watching old movies between now and the big day. I can’t take anymore of these made for TV movies. Last year was okay but this year was just unbearable. So many cliches. The establishing aerial shot. People working in advertising. Dead people. Romance messed up by stupid conflict. Characters acting completely unlike ACTUAL people would.

Also the amount of Christmas movies that bring up that Santa isn’t real is REPREHENSIBLE! I’m sorry, if you’re making a Christmas movie, YOU DON’T RUIN SANTA!

I am done! Merry Christmas!

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