I remember going to the theatre to see Four Christmases on a date, and my reaction to the film hasn’t changed upon revisiting it now, eight years later: Why does this exist, and what does it offer me in terms of heartfelt moments and comedy?
The answer is “nothing.” Four Christmases is nothing but a series of terrible jokes about lesbians, fat kids, and white trash hors d’oeuvres strewn together by a premise designed to justify the lack of plot continuity. Brad (Vince Vaughn) and his girlfriend, Kate (Reese Witherspoon), are pressured into attending family Christmases this year – and since both of their parents are divorced, that makes four whacky families that we get to visit, each complete with their own set of potential laughs. Continue reading ‘Four Christmases’ – 12 Days of Christmas Movies
“Ha! She’s so grumpy!”
The above statement essentially sums up the reaction you’re expected to have throughout Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever – the first (and last?) film to feature everyone’s favorite Reddit cat meme. If you’re anything like me, watching a movie that features Grumpy Cat living in a pet store, espousing cynical philosophy about the true nature of Christmas, doesn’t carry with it a whole lot of expectations in terms of quality.
And yet, somehow the Worst Christmas Ever ends up being the worst Christmas film ever. As we watch Grumpy Cat and her human friend, Crystal (Megan Charpentier), thwart a robbery at the mall, saving the life of some pompous dog apparently worth a fortune, it becomes apparent that things go off the rails during the plot’s setup, leaving no meaningful takeaways to be found. But, this won’t stop jokes from appearing on screen every three seconds, since every character in this movie is a cartoonish goofball who can’t go a split second without trying to make me laugh. In case you’re wondering, they all failed. Continue reading ‘Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever’ – 12 Days of Christmas Movies
By Bradley Redder
The Santa Clause has always been for me that movie that signals Christmas is here. Well, maybe not literally always, but at least since I was in 6th grade and watched it a minimum of once per day every day in December… Minimum meaning, yes, there were days when I watched it twice, sometimes three times in a single day. That seems insane to me now, but the fact remains: Christmas just isn’t Christmas without revisiting The Santa Clause.
Revisiting this film annually as an adult has been a much different and (surprisingly) rewarding experience. As a kid, I just saw the funny gags and overwhelming Christmas spirit, which are still there in abundance, but now, whether due to my growing up and developing a better understanding of human relationships, or perhaps having sat through the last fifteen years of depressingly sanitized family films, I see The Santa Clause as a really sharply written film that not only acknowledges that some kids may have messy home lives, but merges that reality with a welcome dose of fantasy to create a holiday film with just enough honesty to balance out its heavy sentimentality. Continue reading ‘The Santa Clause’ – 12 Days of Christmas Movies
Christmas Vacation is a holiday tradition for me, and for that reason I am in no position to judge the film. There are certain movies we all associate with memories, and so they transcend quality and stand outside of criticism and comparative analysis. Regardless of what arguments we hear or better films we see, some movies will always have a special place in our hearts.
For me, Christmas Vacation is one of those films. I have watched it all my life, and I associate it with Christmas – and so, it always works. Nothing can change that.
This year I decided to be a little more critical as I watched it, if only for the purpose of this blog post. I can be honest and admit there are some flaws; in an alternate universe where quality matters, Christmas Vacation wouldn’t mesh well with the part of me who demands something well-crafted and coherent. That said, it’s still a genuinely funny movie, one that makes me laugh despite having seen it dozens of times. Continue reading ‘Christmas Vacation’ – 12 Days of Christmas Movies
For some unknown reason, people love Christmas with the Kranks, and every year I end up watching the film despite my attempts to avoid it. Few movies make me cringe like this one – the Kranks (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis) are a perfectly reasonable couple who wish to escape the cult of Christmas by spending time together on a cruise. Their fascist neighbors have other plans; through disturbing and illegal acts of coercion, the neighborhood systematically makes the lives of the Krank family a living hell until the couple agree to conform to society and celebrate Christmas like all good people must do.
Be it the abuse of police power or invasive caroling, the tactics used by the pro-Christmas forces are nothing short of horrific. I shiver instead of laugh as a maniacal block captain Vic Frohmeyer (Dan Aykroyd) brainwashes an army of children to protest the Krank’s refusal to decorate their home with an inflatable Frosty the Snowman. The justification for this idiocy is Frohmeyer’s looming fear that his neighborhood will lose some asinine award for Best Decorated Street. And to the movie, that seems perfectly reasonable. Continue reading ‘Christmas with the Kranks’ – 12 Days of Christmas Movies
I usually avoid Will Ferrell comedies like the plague – visions of the god-awful Old School dance in my head. But Elf is the exception to the rule, partially because Will Ferrell’s inherently odd brand of visual comedy lends itself well to a director like Jon Favreau, who is nothing short of a master when it comes to conjuring genuine displays of sentiment.
When you mix the steady hand of Favreau with the shameless comedy of Ferrell, the end result is something absurdly funny and bizarrely warm, which is a surprise for a film that seems to be so open and honest about the asinine nature of its premise. Buddy (Ferrell) is an orphaned human raised by elves in Santa’s North Pole, blind to the truth of his origin. It’s a concept that, on its face, is worthy of only ironic laughter. But, thanks to Ferrell’s unwavering dedication to the role, I buy into it every time I watch it – even though I know I know it’s all a joke. Continue reading ‘Elf’ – 12 Days of Christmas Movies
The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of those films that makes me cry each and every time I watch it, unless it’s just on in the background while I’m busy expressing my teenage angst through poetry and wearing black clothing.
In all seriousness, it’s one of those movies I’ve watched long before I had teenage angst and, speaking now as a mostly grown man, its appeal to me is different but equally powerful as it ever was.
I used to like the film simply because it was charmingly odd; it’s a darker project for Disney to get behind, and at the time I had never seen anything like it. I hadn’t heard of director Henry Selick, and stop-motion animation as a concept seemed radical – to think you could create an entire film by taking a series of snapshots! Continue reading ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ – 12 Days of Christmas Movies
With little ability to concentrate on a movie due to an excessive backlog of paying work, our 12 Days of Christmas Movies begins with whatever crap I can find on Netflix. The pickings are slim, probably so you’ll feel compelled to run out and buy your favorite films on Blu-ray or DVD, thus feeding the for-profit beast that Hollywood sends out to devour moviegoers every season.
If you’re tired of the rich, white families on the Hallmark Channel who inexplicably learn the value of Christmas despite their obsession with material possessions, turn to Netflix and watch The Christmas Bunny. It features white people who are down on their luck. So, it’s a little different. Continue reading ‘The Christmas Bunny’ – 12 Days of Christmas Movies
The film opens on the unsettling scene of an unconscious girl being dragged down the street by her hair; the surrounding scenery shows the cracked sidewalks and overgrown backyards of an abandoned neighborhood somewhere in the suburbs of Detroit. It’s a brilliant hook, one that sets an intense tone for the unnerving home-invasion flick that follows.
The story focuses on three down-on-their-luck millennials (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto) who have taken up burglary in hopes of stealing enough to start a new life. Despite targeting a blind Gulf War veteran (Stephen Lang), the trio are instantly sympathetic due to the extreme nature of their personal circumstances, coupled with an effort to preserve life during the course of their criminal activities. In a strange way, writer/director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead) is able to paint them as underdogs worthy of our support – a feeling that is later confirmed when the blind vet becomes a hulking psychopath, murdering one of our heroes with his bare hands. Continue reading Review: ‘Don’t Breathe’
In a brilliant opening laden with dark comedy, a man looks out at the ocean as he struggles to kill himself with a necktie, haplessly unable to get the job done. Luckily, the corpse of a well-dressed man washes up onto the beach, releasing a series of nasty farts to prove he’s dead. It’s then that our protagonist robs the cadaver of its belt and moves to continue his suicide attempt – the scene is hilarious, sad, and intriguing. And it was the first and last moment of Swiss Army Man that I found the least bit interesting. Continue reading Review: ‘Swiss Army Man’