Archive for the ‘Seasonal & Holiday’ Category

Movie Review: White Christmas

Monday, January 1st, 2007

“I’m…dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the one I used to know…”

If any movie is a Christmas Classic, it is White Christmas. In fact, White Christmas is to Christmas movies what Apple Pie is to America. New generations know of this movie and they probably do not even realize it. Chevy Chase, in Christmas Vacation, immortalized the starring duo in the film when he said, “We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny -fucking- Kaye.”

As you may have guessed, White Christmas, stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. White Christmas is a movie musical that was directed by Michael Curtiz. The cast is superb. The acting cannot be compared with anything that is available in a modern setting. The movie is entertaining, and the music, along with the infamous Bing Crosby rendition of “White Christmas” is far superior to any Christmas music you will hear by the artists of today.

The Plot

In White Christmas, the war (no not Iraq…WWII) has just ended. Army veterans Bob Wallace (Crobsy) and Phil Davis (Kaye) have left the armed forces and have formed a traveling song and dance act. In fact, they have become one of the most popular song and dance acts in entertainment.

The two men, thanks to Phil, meet a female song and dance act, sisters Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen) Haynes. The men, who are enchanted by the sisters, follow them to a lodge in Vermont where they have a gig, and hilarity ensues as mix-ups occur between the couples, and as the two men realize that the Vermont lodge is run by none other than their Army commander, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Dean Jagger).

Thoughts on the Movie

It is hard to compare modern movies with the movies of yesteryear. The actors were better. Classic is the right word for them. The movies were amazing despite the lack of quality compared to modern movie magic. These stories are timeless classics. They stay with you and have withstood the test of time through multiple generations of children and adults alike.

When you see a movie like White Christmas, that warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling is ever-present. In fact, you want to snuggle up with your eggnog, a fire in the fireplace, and your loved ones as you settle down for a night of Classic Christmas movie fare. Of course, there are bad movies even from the classic cinematic era. However, White Christmas is not one of them!

What People are Saying

It is hard to find a negative word about White Christmas. It is kind of like saying something bad about Casablanca or Gone with the Wind. Even if the movie does not suit your tastes, you must agree the plot, cast, and movie are remarkable. Besides, Christmas is a time of fun, sharing and moments spent together with the ones you love. When you watch White Christmas, you have the opportunity to enjoy all the most special aspects of your life.

The Bottom Line: White Christmas is one of those movies you simply will not want to miss watching each year. With the amazing, all-star cast, and an upbeat plot interwoven in true Hollywood musical fashion with an excellent musical score, you will be singing in no time along with Bing and the gang.

Movie Review: Jingle All the Way

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

It is Christmas time, and the countdown has begun, as the days quickly fade. It is now time, since the kids who are not schooled at home are finally on vacation, to curl up in the family room and indulge in a little Christmas entertainment. Not only has the countdown begun to the holiday celebration (whichever you may celebrate), the countdown has also begun for those who celebrate Christmas (and even some of those who don’t) to watch all of their favorite Christmas movies.

Jingle All the Way is a relatively new Christmas movie. They do not make classics as they did in the olden days. However, every once in a while an entertaining Christmas movie is released. For those of us in the Evans household, this is one of them.

This hilarious Christmas comedy stars badass action star turned Governor Ah-nold Schwarzenegger, Christmas sweetheart Rita Wilson (a.k.a. Mrs. Tom Hanks), the infectiously humorous Sinbad, the equally as funny late Phil Hartman, and Star Wars superstar Jake Lloyd.

Christmas is right around the corner and Jamie Langston (Jake Lloyd) wants "Turbo Man", the ultimate action hero for Christmas. The only problem is that all the stores are out of the toy. Jamie’s father, Howard (Ah-nold) has not always been there for his son. After one too many screw ups, including promising his wife Liz (Rita Wilson) he will buy the toy, Howard has no other choice but to go out on Christmas Eve and purchase it or face letting his son down.

Unfortunately, Howard must fight off all the other last minute shoppers and deadbeat parents who are desperate to buy the ultimate toy, "Turbo Man", for their children. One parent is the psychotic, post office employee/parent Myron Larabee (Sinbad) who is so desperate for a "Turbo Man" he will go to any lengths to get one.

Howard’s absence (which is no big surprise to his wife and son) gives Liz and Howard’s Super Dad, Next Door Neighbor, Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman), the opportunity to move in on Liz. He is the shining example of a father, though he only started noticing his kid until he divorced his wife. Of course, he is perfect now, and his helpful and caring nature (though he seems too perfect) is perfectly exhibited in front of his dear neighbor Liz.

Jingle All the Way may not be a classic Christmas movie like some of the others on this list. However, seeing Sinbad and Ah-nold fighting over toys is enough to make the movie worth watching. The acting is not bad since the cast is decent. With so many comedic actors in it, you can bet the movie is most likely entertaining. Of course, some people do have different tastes and may not agree.

Jingle All the Way is a reflection of our society as it is today. In this Go, Go, Go world we, as parents, sometimes forget what is important. Jingle All the Way points out the blatant commercialism of Christmas, what this United States has become as a consumer-filled nation, and it also describes the relationships many children have with their busy parents who might not always be there for them like they used to in the past.

With Jingle All the Way in the DVD player, we can actually spend time with our kids as we watch a family friendly comedy everyone will enjoy and reflect upon whether the true meaning is found through the purchase of a toy…or the moments we spend with those in our lives who matter the most.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for a light-hearted comedy you can watch with your kids, check out Jingle All the Way. The funny moments are littered throughout the entire movie as the scenes shift from moments at the various stores throughout the city where the movie is set, to the home of Howard and Liz. So, consider adding Jingle All the Way to your Christmas Collection. While it is definitely not Miracle on 34th Street, it does have its appeal as a modern Christmas comedy.

Movie Review: The Year without Santa Claus

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

The year without Santa Claus is a remake of the old Rankin and Bass animated classic with the same name. This live-action remake features some relatively well-known names including John Goodman, Delta Burke, Chris Kattan, and Eddie Griffin. There are also a few special appearances by Michael McKean and Carol Kane.

Unfortunately, if you are looking for a new Christmas classic this probably will not be the movie you are looking to raise to cult status. While interesting, comical, and occasionally heart-warming, The Year without Santa Claus is a fun but forgettable movie when stacked against other Holiday fare.

This new version is slightly different than the original classic. In this version, Santa Claus (John Goodman) is faced with the (probably true) fact that he just isn’t needed anymore. The head Elf, Sparky tries to get Santa to understand that he needs to get hip and with the times.

We learn how behind the times he is when we visit an Expo for upcoming Christmas toys. Santa is visiting the Expo to learn about the new possibilities for the good little boys and girls in the world.

At the Expo we are introduced to action figures that are meant to kill one another and Goth dolls (think Bratz) that come in child size and baby size, with dogs for all sizes, clothing, and plenty of other accessories. Needless to say the B-Goths are not Santa’s cup of tea and he begins to wonder why anyone even notices if he’s been there once the presents have been dropped off. Every year Santa gives more and every year the kids want more. Naturally, his trust in the children has waned over the years as the kids have continued to get greedier.

Despite Sparky’s suggestions, Santa is old school. He’s a simple guy who doesn’t want to change. He just wants to know that he is needed. Unfortunately, Santa doesn’t see that and for this reason he decides to call off Christmas.

Mrs. Claus (Delta Burke) sets out to prove Santa wrong though she does not do the job she had hoped she would. In fact, she only further convinces Santa that calling off Christmas is the right thing to do. When she cannot help him, Jingle (Eddie Griffin) and Jangle (Ethan Suplee)  steal a sleigh and head off to find someone who can help show Santa that Christmas will never be the same without him.

Meanwhile, Sparky is still attempting to make Santa more popular. As the CEO and head Elf of Santa Corp. it is his job to bring Santa into the mainstream. Sparky comes up with the best possible plan, for him, Super Santa. Super Santa comes with muscles, a cape, and a very ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ look. Whatever he is, he definitely isn’t Santa.

However, the following questions remain…

  • Will Santa be proven wrong and go on his Christmas run?
  • Will Super Santa go out this year in Santa’s absence?
  • Will Jingle and Jangle even make it home?

The Year without Santa Claus had some worthwhile actors and some funny scenes. Scenes by Carol Kane and Michael McKean add small bits to the story, though their parts are not too long. The acting is good though parts of the movie have a rushed feeling to them. There are parts that could be omitted or shortened and other scenes would have done better if they were expanded.

John Goodman and Delta Burke both put in excellent performances. Chris Kattan also did a wonderful job as the annoying and hyper Elf, Sparky. The majority of the cast members were worth casting and it shows when watching this movie.

Bottom Line: The Year without Santa Claus is a cute movie that works well while on in the background during the Holidays. However, it might not catch the attention of the entire family like such notable classics as A Christmas Story or Miracle on 34th Street. If you are interested in seeing something new this Christmas, you might want to check this out. However, if you are looking for the next Christmas Classic you might be sadly disappointed.