With a title like that I smell Groundhog Day style shenanigans!

This is a 20 year old “gem” from ABC Family. Grumpy teen hates Christmas.’ This is before the era of HD so it’s 4:3 aspect ratio and BLURRY AS ALL GOOGLY!

Through the blur I’m able to see that when the new day dawns we focus on a RADIO… It’s 7am… It’s not playing “I Got You Babe” though…

Douche relatives show up. Hang on, am I watching Krampus again???

Relative is a developer, planning to bring a mall to destroy their small town. This is the source of much consternation.

Stuff occurs. A contest to count the number of jelly beans. A nativity play. On Christmas Day?

Film then commits the CARDINAL SIN! THE ONE UNFORGIVABLE SIN I WILL NOT LET GO! Oldest teen, after having a bad day, goes off on a tirade about how Santa isn’t real. Not just a throwaway line but an entire rant about how the big guy isn’t real. THIS IS A MOVIE THAT AIRED ON ABC FAMILY FOR GODS SAKE!

Dear Christmas movie producers who think this is acceptable… YOU ARE BASTARDS! Why even risk ruining the magic for kids when the world is a god awful, hideous place? There is absolutely ZERO reason to include this in ANY Christmas movie, and from now on any movie I review that does this gets a -2 modifier to its score.

After hurriedly trying to mute the TV, the scene ends with the baby sister wishing it was Christmas every day, and her convincing the brother to wish it too.

Groundhog Day ensues. Only instead of Bill Murray you’ve got a petulant jackass teen who frankly you develop no empathy of any kind for. He’s a jerk. May he be stuck in Christmas Hell for eternity.

Through repeated days the jerk sees the error of his ways. What I can’t get past is HOW BUSY THE TOWN IS on Christmas Day. I don’t know about you but my town, and I live in a big city, is DEAD on Christmas Day. In fact it’s the way I wish my town was EVERY DAY.

The final half hour is tolerable but the Santa thing is just unforgivable and it must be paid for.

2 out of 5 Jingle Bells.

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Tired of the usual Christmas nonsense. Seen too many bad movies the last few days… So I decided to go with this. A movie set during and just after World War 2. An Allied soldier and a Belgian girl fall in love and vow to meet the first Christmas Eve after the war is over.

Starring a guy who looks a bit like Bradley Cooper, and a woman who looks a bit like Kate Beckinsale!

The movie isn’t very Christmassy because… Well it’s World War 2. The lead German officer is played by what can only be described as Jason Statham’s older, angrier brother. As the movie continues though you start to really feel for the guy. Yes, a German officer.A testament to the actor.

This is basically a war movie. The plot. (Mentioned in the opening paragraph) is NOT the plot of this movie. It’s the ending of the movie. The plot is actually about a small town which has been re-occupied during the Battle of the Bulge. The love story evolves but with 90 minutes gone (of the two hours with ads) the description has not happened.

It’s not bad. Not much humour to be had, obviously, but it’s a refreshing change of genre.

Contains this year’s trope, which is “One Year Later”. This point is when the movie gets all warm and fuzzy.

A war movie is always going to have a hard time being festive, but there’s a weight and depth to the lead characters that ensure the inevitable finish is delightful.

Given some of the absolute garbage I’ve watched so far, I’m going to say this is worth watching.

3 out of 5 Jingle bells. It’s seriously skirting near a 4 as it’s good to be reminded how lucky we are (assuming you don’t live in a war zone currently).

2016 Christmas Movie Reviews List

While I’ve had zero standards and have, quite literally, recorded every single Christmas movie on my cable guide, I did record this for a reason. It has the mom and dad from Family Ties in it!

In this a man, Connor, is shocked to learn that the parents of his girlfriend, Holly, are Santa and Mrs Claus.

I’ve noticed in a couple of these movies now some social commentary about how children spend all their time looking at screens. Connor works in toys and can’t get the kids interested in anything without an app.

Holly invites Connor to her parents’ place. Connor is an ENORMOUS idiot who fails to realise, duh, it’s SANTA AND MRS CLAUS!

Terrible visual effects. When Connor and Holly sit on the roof of Santa’s house, the snow is so clearly cotton…

The penny finally drops for Connor after being sent to the toy workshop. On the plus side the actor playing him plays dumb REALLY well.

Sadly the movie disappears up itself. There’s a fun twist, but sadly it’s ruined by the “some idiot turns up to ruin everything” cliche. And he’s entirely hateful and you wish he was dead. Many, many times.

It’s a huge shame as it starts out very promising. The leads are charming. The parents… I mean they’re the FAMILY TIES PARENTS!

Sadly it’s all for nothing and the movie starts to drag like you wouldn’t believe. Just an endurance test. It perks up for the final ten minutes, but that’s not enough to save it.

What few interstitial shots there are are very pretty.

out of 5 Jingle Bells.

 

2016 Christmas Movie Reviews List

Two people who dislike Christmas decide to pose as a couple to make Christmas easier to deal with. I fear shenanigans may ensue!!!

Nice Christmassy opening music and titles. Lovely. Also a genuine laugh in the opening two minutes. Promising!

You know how this movie is going to end. It’s the journey there. The couple set up a legal agreement for how their pretend relationship will go over Christmas and call it The Mistletoe Promise. (When she complains she doesn’t like The Mistletoe Contract.)

“Winning Stuff” made me laugh.

The fake snow on the exterior shots is so obviously foam… Rather disappointing. I mean giant LUMPS of foam and as they land on the actors they look quite silly. In later scenes I’d say to the wife “Hey look! It’s foaming again!”

This is a cute movie. The leads are charming. The premise is cute. You know how it’s going to be at the end, but it’s still great.

4 out of 5 Jingle Bells

2016 Christmas Movie Reviews List

ESTABLISHING AERIAL SHOT! Of the Capitol Records building! So that’s… Los Angeles?

Sadly this means no snow. BOO!

Lori Loughlin plays a TV host who accidentally disparages Christmas on air. She goes to a small town to repair her image and has the Christmas Spirit shoved up her.

Lovely little movie. Avoids a lot of the cliches of the genre and actually presents a sort of Christmas mystery.

Recommended. (Apologies for short review. Real life issues.)

4 out of 5 Jingle Bells.

2016 Christmas Movie Reviews List

 

I can’t stand Seth Rogen. I used to like him. In Freaks and Geeks he was great. Not sure when it happened but around Zack and Miri I started to dislike the guy.

It’s with that in mind I say I LOVED him in this movie.

So we have Seth, who I generally don’t like. Anthony Mackie who I only really know from being Falcon in the Marvel movies, and a brilliant portrayal of Martin Luther King Jnr in All The Way. (The Lyndon B Johnson biopic. I HIGHLY recommend it BTW.)

Then we get to the third member of the male leads… Joseph Gordon Levitt. My absolute favourite current actor. Levitt is up there with the late Heath Ledger in my opinion. A tremendous actor who has charted their own course. Ironically I became a fan of both due to the film Ten Things I Hate About You. (One of the most underrated movies ever made.)

The plot (spoilers for the first five minutes of the film, and no more than you got in the trailer): In 2001, Ethan (Levitt) loses his parents to a drunk driver right on top of Christmas. His close friends Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie) rally around him, and begin a Christmas tradition of drinking, and generally mucking about on Christmas Eve. Fast forward to 2008 and the friends learn of a legendary Christmas Eve party called The Nutcracka Ball.

Fast forward to the present. Ethan is still alone, having split with his girlfriend, played by my favourite actress, Lizzy Caplan. (Rare to see your favourite actor AND actress in the same film.) Isaac is a family man with a heavily pregnant wife, while Chris has a late blooming NFL career which is revealed right from the start to be due to steroid abuse.

As their lives are moving on, for two of them at least, they decide this is the last year. Coincidentally Ethan just happens to get hold of three tickets for the Nutcracka.

As the three get ready to leave for their final Christmas outing, Isaac‘s wife, to thank him for being a rock through her pregnancy, gives him an early Christmas present. A box full of various drugs. Mushrooms, coke, weed, you name it… Of which he almost immediately starts to imbibe.

Cue Seth Rogen being completely off his face for the entire movie, which is comedy gold! Especially a scene at Chris’ moms involving a cellphone. I won’t spoil it but it’s very crude and graphic and I don’t think anyone other than Rogen could have pulled it off as convincingly. I also enjoyed his time with Spencer.

What we have here is a buddy movie, and a fairly good one, set at Christmas. An examination of how our lives change and the effect it has on others. A line toward the end says as you get older it’s harder to keep friends as you “have your own shit to deal with”. I’m 45 years old and can attest to this.

It’s in that rare category of R rated Christmas comedy. Harold and Kumar being the benchmark. This movie is fun, has some great gags, great cameos, and is worth seeking out so long as you don’t get offended easily. (If you saw Harold and Kumar, you can expect much the same.)  It’s a breath of fresh air after a week of Hallmark and Lifetime movies.

And as a huge fan of both, Lizzy Caplan and Joseph Gordon Levitt shine when they’re together.

4 out of 5 Jingle Bells.

2016 Christmas Movie Reviews List

 

 

I do like a good Christmas documentary. Sadly they’re a fairly rare genre. Heard about this documentary and tracked it down. Was hoping I could find it on my VOD services like Netflix, my cable provider etc… Wound up having to buy the DVD.

It was well worth the $15. This is a documentary about people obsessed with Christmas music. I don’t mean Rudolph and Frosty or the usual standards. I mean unusual and obscure Christmas music.

It’s a terrific documentary. There is a great part documenting the creation of one of my favourite Christmas songs, Run DMC‘s Christmas in Hollis. There’s also an interview with the always great John Waters.

I cannot recommend this enough. It’s so Christmassy, it’s full of interesting, quirky people.  It’ll make you want to listen to Christmas music! I plan to take the soundtrack list and try and find them all on Spotify. At the very least I’ve found Back Door Santa, the original track Run DMC sampled for the aforementioned Christmas in Hollis, and added it to my Christmas playlist.

The irony is since watching it, my Christmas playlist full of traditional Christmas songs has felt lacklustre… That’s what happens when you see a movie about rare Christmas music.

5 out of 5 Jingle Bells

2016 Christmas Movie Reviews List