Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!


Merry  Christmas, everyone! Here is a Christmas montage I made, so please enjoy:



Saturday, December 23, 2017

Quartet of Christmas Movies

I've been watching some Christmas movies on Netflix, so I thought I would share my thoughts about them. Spoilers ahoy (if you really care that much!)

A Christmas Prince (2017) - If you have Netflix, you are probably familiar with this because they've been promoting it hardcore. It was okay, but nothing great. It stars Rose McIver as a journalist named Amber who is suppose to travel to the fictional country of Andovia to get a story on Prince Richard. When I heard "Andovia", I thought for sure they had stolen the country from The Princess Diaries, but I guess that's Genovia. They sound exactly alike except for the first syllable! The King has recently died and Prince Richard, his oldest son, is suppose to be taking the throne and the crown on his coronation, which is Christmas Eve. He has a reputation with the press for being a play boy and is never around to take questions from them. To worm herself into the Palace, Amber pretends to be the tutor for Princess Emily, the little sister of Richard. They were expecting a tutor from Minnesota, but thought she wouldn't be arriving until AFTER the New Year. Amber just tells them she's the tutor without having to show any proof of ID and they believe her. Lucky for her, they don't seem to know what a Minnesotan accent is suppose to sound like! At first Princess Emily is a little snot to Amber and doesn't like her, but that only lasts one scene and in the next scene they have become friends. Emily also has found out that Amber isn't really a tutor (I'm sure she figured out that really fast because it was obvious she had no idea what she was doing when she was trying to teach Emily calculus) and finds out she's a journalist. She makes a deal with Amber, saying she won't say who she really is as long as Amber writes "the truth" about her brother. Apparently, Prince Richard is very kind-hearted and generous, giving to charities and playing with the homeless children. I'm not sure why the press says he's a playboy if there's no evidence of him ever being one. As you can guess, Amber starts to fall for the Prince. Of course we can't have a movie without having a couple of villains. This includes Simon, the cousin of Richard and Emily who is second in line to the throne, and Sophia, Richard's ex, who was only dating him in hopes of becoming the Queen someday.

There is this scene that is totally stolen from Beauty and the Beast (animated or live action, take your pick) where Amber is horse back riding by herself (she's following the Prince) and gets thrown from the horse while in the woods. A wolf growls at her and comes towards her and all she can do is just sit against a tree. Guess who comes by and saves her? Yep, the Prince. He shoots his gun to scare away the wolf. I thought it was going to be revealed the wolf was a family pet and it was going to start licking her face and being all cute, but nope.

Amber happens to stumble across some documents that reveal Richard is actually adopted (but Emily is still their own child) and therefore he wouldn't be able to take the throne. She tells her newspaper co-workers/friends back home in New York and they tell her she has a great story, but she doesn't want to betray the Prince like that. Like a moron, she leaves the papers out in the open in her bedroom, so while she's gone, Sophia and Simon start snooping around in there cuz they know something is up with her. They find the papers and at Richard's coronation, just before it is asked if anyone has any objections to him being the King (does it really work that way?), Simon brings out the adoption papers and the Queen admits it's true. Richard cannot be King, thus making Simon the rightful owner of the crown and throne. He marries Sophia the next day, Christmas, and demands to be made the King right that moment.

Meanwhile, Richard is angry at Amber because it is revealed she found the papers. She's on her way back home and calls her dad at the airport who tells her something that makes her think of something. In a previous scene when the Royal Family was decorating the tree, the Queen tells her about an acorn ornament her husband loved and Amber thinks there is a clue inside of it. She is right and there is a message from the King before he died saying he wants his son, even though he was adopted, to inherit the throne. Amber makes it just in time right before Simon is knighted and Richard becomes the rightful King! Yay!

The end scene was so bad. Amber is now back in New York at her dad's diner. It's about ten minutes to midnight on New Year's and guess who happens to be in town? Yep, the Prince, er King. And he asks Amber to marry him, telling her "There can't be a King without his Queen." And even though they only knew each other for a month, Amber says "yes." But then she tells him she can's leave her dad and he's like, "Bring him along too! We'll build a diner in Andovia." It is sooo ridiculous.


Get Santa (2014) - This was my favorite of the ones I'm reviewing. It's a cute family British movie about a young boy, Tom, and his dad, Steve, who are trying to get Santa out of prison. Steve has been in prison for the last couple of years because he was the get away driver in a burglary, but, as his parole officer pointed out, he was not able to get away. It's the day before Christmas when Steve is released and he gets a call from Tom, telling him that Santa (Jim Broadbent) is in their garden shed and needs help finding his sled. It's the middle of the night when Steve gets this call, so of course he's very concerned that his son is alone with a man claiming he's Santa and tells him to get his mother, but Tom refuses to wake her up. Steve comes over and dismisses the man's claims saying he's the real Santa and tells him to leave.

Santa is arrested when he's trying to get his reindeer out of the animal pound. It was a big story in London that a few days earlier a bunch of reindeer were wandering around the city. The news reporter joked that if these were Santa's reindeer, then a lot of kids were going to be disappointed on Christmas Day. If she only knew! Santa being arrested makes the news and on their first day together since Steve's released from prison, Tom wants him to take him to see Santa. Although when his son told him that, he just assumed he wanted to see Santa at the mall, but, no, his son wants to go to prison (the same one where Steve was held) to visit the man from the night before. Santa, now dressed in prison garb, tells them he wants them to save Christmas and he needs them to find his reindeer, who can communicate and they'll know what to do. I think it's Dasher who's the head reindeer and will be able to help them. Steve is still not buying any of this. There is a funny moment where he calls the old man "Nick" and he tells him that he sometimes go by that name and how did he know that?

To humor his son, they drive around until they find the reindeer. They don't talk, but they start farting and Tom is convinced this is the way they communicate. He asks a question and they all start farting. Yeah, it's pretty juvenile, but it made me laugh. I don't know what it is about farting reindeer. This was also a reoccurring theme in The Santa Clause movies . They find Santa's sled and this is around the time Steve thinks that this actually COULD be the real Santa. He accidentally dumps out all the magic powder, but, Santa tells him on the phone that he keeps a manual in his glove department (which is an oversized mitten, haha). There's a map to a tower that will help them. Meanwhile, Steve has already missed his parole meeting, has trespassed on the grounds where the reindeer were, and has knocked out a police officer (although it was the reindeer that did that), so the police are after him. While all this is going on, I'm thinking, Wouldn't it be kinda crazy if this were like The Game, (don't read ahead if you don't want to be spoiled by that movie!) that David Fincher movie where all of this crazy stuff is set up to make Steve believe it's all real, but in reality, EVERYBODY is in on it? That would have been so cool! They need to make a Christmas themed The Game movie! But I knew that wasn't what was going on because a) this is a kid's movie, and b), the next scene completely demolished any notions of that because Steve and his son find a magical slide that takes them to the North Pole (aka Lapland). I don't think there's any way you could explain that! When they arrive, they meet Santa's elves who tells them they can't ride in the sleigh because if they go more than a thousand feet in the air, they'll explode! With only one reindeer (poor reindeer!) to fly the sleigh, the elves instruct Steve how to control it. It's pretty cool how they get started because they start on a huge platform with a giant slide and go down it to gain momentum. There's also a loop-de-loop which I don't understand, but it's all part of the fun and charm, I guess. They're on their way to prison to get Santa. There's a really funny moment where Santa, with the help of  Sully, a littler person (Warwick Davis) escapes and they find a hole that Sully had dug through. There's a poster of a woman in a bathing suit and it's ripped to reveal the hole ala The Shawshank Redemption. Very clever movie, very clever. Of course they are able to get Santa back to his sleigh and save Christmas. This is a very cute movie and I just happened to stumble across it because it was the first movie that popped up when I looked for Christmas movies!

The Christmas Project (2016) - This is a movie that you could tell wanted to be A Christmas Story because there a lot of moments that totally reminded me of that film, but misses the mark. It was a fine movie, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it or anything. It's about a group of four brothers, the Buckley's, who are bullied by the Hagbart kids. There's three girls and one boy and they're really only bullied by the boy, Finn. The two older sisters aren't very nice, but they don't beat anyone up or do any mean pranks like their brother and the little sister is pretty harmless.

Mrs. Buckley, who is pregnant with her fifth child (who, to her delight, will be a daughter), wants them to "Elf" the Hagbart family this year. To Elf someone is to leave gifts like candy and mittens on someone's porch, ring the bell, and then hide to watch their expressions. It's clear that the Hagbart family is poor and their mother left them a long time ago. I thought we were going to find out that the father is abusive, but that wasn't the case. He just works a lot so he's never home. In fact, even though we hear about him, we never see him in the movie. Whenever they Elf the Hagbart family, they see the happy expressions on their faces and it makes them feel good, but Finn keeps on being a bully to all of them, especially Matthew, the kid in his grade and the one narrating the story as an adult (another reason this reminded me of A Christmas Story). Finn is a pretty sh*tty kid. He beats up Matthew's older brother, he steals cookies from his younger brother, he pins Matthew's underwear to a map so the class sees it when the teacher pulls the map down and it says "Buckley's bloomers" and he steals and takes credit for the project Matthew made for the egg drop challenge (you know, when you build something to protect an egg when you drop it from a certain height. I never had to do it in school, but this seems to be in a lot of movies and TV shows). However, we're supposed to feel bad for Finn because he's poor and has no mother or something like that. Yeah, he and Matthew become friends at the end, or at least he stops tormenting Matthew all the time, but gimme a break! This kid was a little twerp and never got in trouble for what he did. Everyone (like the teacher and Mrs. Buckley) felt sorry for him.

That was the main storyline, but there were also little subplots such as the Buckleys' getting new neighbors and Matthew and his older brother falling for one of the daughters, Juniper, who looks like Blake Lively's not-as-pretty younger sister.  Her older sister bakes them cookies and they are nasty because there's no sugar in them and very hard when they bite into them. It was a really weird scene because when Matthew's older brother was eating the cookie, the girl was standing really close to him, watching him intently as he eats it. Like, who does that? Later in the movie, Matthew tricks Finn by making cookies that have toothpaste in the middle so when Finn steals them and gives them to his teacher, she'll get mad at him. However, why didn't they use these gross cookies the older sister made? That's where I thought the movie was going with that, but nope. There were some little vignettes peppered in, like one where one of the brothers becomes attached to a chicken (they have chickens for some reason) and his dad accidentally kills it and serves it for dinner because he couldn't tell that one apart from the other ones. And there's an ongoing storyline about "the Christmas catalogue" and if it came in the mail yet and who has it.

It wasn't a terrible movie, but it was clear it was trying too hard to A Christmas Story.
be

Christmas in the City (2013) - This had to have come from Lifetime or the Hallmark channel. It was a very paint by numbers Christmas movie. It's about a young single woman, Wendy, and her six-year-old daughter, Grace, who move to the city after her dad's candy store is going under foreclosure. It's about three weeks until Christmas, so she decides if she gets a job at a department store (where her friend from the city, Angie, works) then she can make enough money to send home to her mother so she can keep the store running. I thought the city in question was New York, but it was Los Angeles. I was wondering why there was no snow until I realized this. When you think of Christmas city settings, you think of New York or London or Chicago. You don't think of L.A.! But I'm guessing it was set there because it was filmed there, so therefore it was easiest to do that. The only person in this movie who I was familiar with was Ashanti (and even then, even though I know she's a singer, I couldn't tell you the name of any of her songs) who plays this really bitchy woman who has been brought on by the head of the department store to fix things so they can achieve higher sales. Nobody likes her because she's a real hard-ass and everyone calls her Cruella DeVil because she wears a lot of furs. Her ideas to fix the store is to get rid of all the Christmas-y stuff like the decorations, the piano, the carolers, even Santa! She then proceeds to put up more sexy decorations like posters of buff, shirtless guys wearing Santa hats and she has models in slinky dresses serving h'or doeurves on platters. This is a little weird, but whatever, sex sells, right? But what's really weird is that she puts the posters of shirtless buff guys and has shirtless buff male models walking around in the TOY department (the department where Wendy starts because that's where Angie works). WTF? No kid would care about that, unless they're trying to get the attention of the mothers? It's so weird. Everyone is mad at all these changes, but nobody will do anything to stop Ashanti (I don't remember her character's name), so they pretty much let her get away with making the toy department a male stripper show. Wendy falls for the son of the guy who is the head of the Department Store (whose name I've also forgotten) and of course, they fall in love. The little girl is pretty cute (and a good little ice skater, I'm guessing that's why she was cast because that's a little subplot of the movie), but she would whore her mother out to any single dude they came across. This includes the son of Department Store Guy and her bus driver. She would just tell the guy, "Isn't she prrrreeettttyyy?" Wendy's mother ends up selling the candy store, but guess what, Wendy's new boyfriend buys them out and wants to set up their own candy store at the department store where he wants Wendy to be the manager of, so she ends moving back to L.A. so she can live her happy life. Blah. And Ashanti was fired, in case you were wondering. But we all knew that was coming. Terrible movie, but kinda fun to watch because it was so bad. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Too Many Clauses

The Santa Clause
Director: John Pasquin
Cast: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, David Krumholtz
Released: Novemer 11, 1994


The Santa Clause 2
Director: Michael Lembeck
Cast: Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, David Krumholtz, Spencer Breslin, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd
Released: November 1, 2002


The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Director: Michael Lembeck
Cast: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margaret, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, Spencer Breslin
Released: November 3, 2006



Oh, boy. This is a Christmas trilogy that gets considerably worse with each movie. I saw that they were all on Netflix and watched all of them in a span of two days. I had only seen the first one, but it had been a very long time since I had revisited it. All I had remembered was that Tim Allen kills Santa Claus (accidentally, of course, as this IS a Disney movie) and becomes him. There are a lot of unanswered questions and things that don't make sense, but they just brush over all of these.

The movie begins on Christmas Eve where Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is spending the day with his six-year-old son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd). His ex-wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her new psychiatrist husband, Neil (Judge Reinhold) drop him off. Scott is upset because apparently Neil has told Charlie that Santa isn't real, but Scott tells his son that he IS real and, just to humor his son, tells him he believes in him too. This movie would have made more sense if it had been Scott who told his son there was no Santa Claus. 

While there are no funny moments in the sequels (well, there are, but none of them made me laugh), there were some funny moments in the first movie. One of them is when Scott is reading his son "The Night Before Christmas" and when he sees Charlie is (seemingly) asleep, he yada-yadas through the last few pages. However, since it's Christmas Eve, of course Charlie is still awake. They both hear something on the roof and go outside to check it out. Scott sees a man dressed as Santa and yells at him. The man slips and falls off the roof with Charlie exclaiming, "You killed Santa!" Scott pulls out a business card from the man that says "Santa Claus North Pole" and there's a little riddle on the back telling the person who finds the card whoever puts on the suit will become Santa. There's also some very fine print on the border of the card that goes into more detail. Scott, like any sensible adult, is trying to make sense of it and just thinks it was some dude dressed up as Santa. I think he's more concerned that there's a dead guy on his front lawn than that it was actually Santa. However, he can't explain how a sleigh and eight reindeer (why does Rudolph always get the shaft?) and the body somehow seems to disappear.  He doesn't want to put on the Santa suit, but his son convinces him to do so and he becomes Santa Claus, delivering the rest of the presents. Apparently, it looked like the previous Santa was 99.9% done with delivering his gifts because Scott only goes to about three homes before the (scary CGI) reindeer take him and Charlie "home" to the North Pole.

None of the elves (who are all played by children, in fact, there's even a shot of a baby dressed in an elf costume at one point!) seem upset that the previous Santa had died. They welcome their new Santa with no questions. I thought for sure they were going to be upset that their Santa had died and wouldn't be accepting of the new guy, but nope that isn't the case. They just go on with business as usual. I had just assumed the Santa Claus who fell off the roof had been Santa for eternity, but we don't discover until the third movie that there have been thousands upon thousands of Santas throughout time. We know this because Santa Scott shows his ex-wife's daughter who she had with her new husband (the little girl refers to Scott as her uncle) a room filled with thousands of snow globes and tells her each one represents every Santa Claus that has ever been. Does this mean that being Santa Claus is like being a Vampire Slayer? When one dies, the next one takes its place? What if a Santa dies, but is revived? Does that mean there are two Santas? (Actually, that wouldn't be a bad idea...one could do the Northern hemisphere and the other could do the Southern. Why am I asking such stupid questions?) Also, why have there been so many damn Santas? No way Santa didn't exist back in the cave man day. Also, we know he has a long life span. We meet ones of his elves who tells Santa Scott that she has been perfecting her hot cocoa recipe for twelve hundred years. There shouldn't have been thousands of Santa...unless the original was the only magical one who could live for thousands of years and when he did finally die, he passed on his powers to just mere mortals who only lived out the rest of their lives. But what happens if a woman puts on the suit? Or a child? I'm so confused. Why do I have so many stupid questions about this movie?

Anyhoo....Santa Scott (btw, notice Scott Calvin has the same initials as Santa Claus) and his son land at the North Pole and he meets Bernard (David Krumholtz), the Head Elf. He explains to him about the Santa Clause, showing him the fine print on the card. He also tells him that he's free to leave tomorrow to get his "affairs in order" and is due back at Thanksgiving to get ready for the holiday season. Now in the sequels, he lives at the North Pole year round, so I guess when they're making the transformation, they're allowed to go back to their real lives to make changes.

Scott wakes ups the next morning in his own bed and just thinks he had a crazy vivid dream. Okay, that does make sense, but shouldn't it send warning signals that his son is also talking about visiting the North Pole and his dad turning into Santa? It's pretty funny when Laura and Neil come to pick up Charlie the next morning who's blabbering on about this and they're just giving Scott a strange look.

Scott goes through some physical changes he can't do anything about on his first hiatus as Santa. For one thing, he gains a lot of weight. So much so that he can only fit into sweatpants and sweatshirts and even goes to an office meeting in a sweatsuit. Nobody believes him when he tells them he's all bloated because he got stung by a bee. And especially not after he orders a bunch of desserts when he's giving his lunch order. Supposedly in this universe, Santa loves his sweets. A LOT. When he goes to the doctor about his weight gain (among other changes), he tells the doctor that he's only been eating cookies and milk. Okay, real talk: If you visited billions of homes once a night (oh, and by the way, in case you really care, they explain how Santa is able to visit so many homes in one night by saying there's a space-time continuum) and ate all the cookies and milk the kids left out for you, would you want to eat cookies any other time of the year? No, I don't think so! I would think Santa would get so damn sick of all the sugar, he'd want to only eat vegetables the rest of the year! But, nope! According to this Santa lore, he loves the sweets! I like cookies too, but, ugh! Even Cookie Monster would get sick of all them cookies! Another physical change is that no matter how many times he keeps shaving, a beard keeps growing on his face and eventually turns into the snowy white  beard we all associate with Santa. There's even a scene where he has just shaven it, looks in the mirror and pats his face dry, and the beard automatically grows back. His doctor dismisses it as "a hormonal imbalance".  But even more concerning is that his doctor also dismisses the fact that when he listens to his heartbeat, he hears it thumping to the tune of Jingle Bells. Uh, you should have this man on the operating table, STAT!

Fed-Ex sends Scott a ton of boxes filled with the names of all the children in the world and whether they're on the naughty or nice list. While it's a funny visual gag because we see his house is just filled with all these boxes, from floor to ceiling, it just doesn't make sense. This is a world where Santa has magic so shouldn't it just be a magical scroll that has every name of all the children on it? (Also, wouldn't it be a pain in the ass to update that sucker every year?) And is Fed-Ex in on this?

The movie takes a bit of a weird, dark turn when Charlie's mom and stepdad are worried that he truly thinks his dad really is Santa Claus and want to take away his visitation rights. I had totally forgotten about that part. They also think Scott is intentionally changing his appearance so he does look like Santa. Someone made this great trailer of The Santa Clause as a horror/thriller and it's super creepy considering that they used footage and dialogue from the actual movie, a Disney family comedy! Now if they had made this movie, it would have been way more interesting! Click here to watch.

So clearly this is set in a universe where Santa does exist. I have no problems with movies like this, but if that is the case that he DOES exist, then why are people, like in this movie, so skeptical that he does exist? How do they explain the presents under the tree the next morning? Unless Santa skips the houses where he knows they don't believe in him because he knows the parents have the presents covered? Or do the parents just assume their spouse put the gifts under the tree while they slept? I am so confused by this. Also, over the course of the three movies, a lot of people find out about Santa, so they're not keeping him top secret or anything.

Scott seems to accept his duties as Santa without question and is fine taking on such a big responsibility. It's too bad there's not some way he can get out of this job he never asked for in the place...oh, wait, we'll get to that later! By the time next Christmas comes along, he does much better than last Christmas. There is a funny moment the first time he's Santa he tells a little girl he's lactose intolerant, hence why he doesn't drink the glass of milk she left out for him. The next Christmas she has soy milk for him because she remembered what he told her.

Laura and Neil realize that Charlie was telling the truth about his dad being Santa all along and give Scott (even though he is now Santa, he still goes by Scott throughout the movies...only the kids and elves seem to call him Santa) back his visitation rights. They now believe in Santa because Laura gets her Mystery Date game she always wanted and Neil gets the "weenie whistle" he always wanted when he was three, but never got, hence the reason he doesn't believe in Santa. A few things:

1. If there REALLY is a Santa, wouldn't he know what Laura and Neil wanted when they were kids? Duh.
2. Neil's parents couldn't splurge for a stupid "weenie whistle?" (BTW, if you don't know what that it, it's a whistle in the shape of a hotdog).
3. Isn't a whistle a choking hazard for a three year old? This one is especially small. That's probably why you didn't get it, Neil! Although, that doesn't explain why Laura never got her board game.
4. Who stops believing in Santa when they're three?
5. Who even remembers anything when they're three?

I did laugh at the end of the movie when Charlie says he wants to go into the "family business." Um, is he going to kill his dad so he can be Santa? Oh, one more thing. This movie came out during prime Home Improvement time so of course get a scene of Tim Allen grunting "Ho, ho, ho" like he did on that show. No kid watching this movie today or in the future will get that at all. Also, in an early scene before he turns into Santa, we see a store in the background called something Timone. This is a cute little Easter egg (um, Christmas cookie?) because Timone is a character from The Lion King, another Disney movie from 1994 and it stars Allen's TV son, JTT!

Okay, it's time to move on to the second movie. The third one is probably the worst in the trilogy, but
this one might be my least favorite. The main premise of this one is that Scott can't continue on being Santa unless he gets married because he needs a Mrs. Claus! Ugh! Can you imagine if the roles were reversed and this was a movie about a woman who couldn't keep her job unless she got married? Also, um, I don't remember the previous Santa being married because we never met his wife in the first movie! Unless, when you die as Santa, Mrs. Claus automatically dies as well!

Santa Scott goes back to wherever he was from in the United States for two reasons:
1) to find a wife
2) his son, Charlie, now in high school, is now on the naughty list because he's been spray painting around the school. And he's super surprised when Bernard tells him this (or maybe it was Spencer Breslin, who plays the next-in-line elf, who told him...I don't remember). Um, you're Santa Claus. You're the one making the naughty or nice lists! Shouldn't you know this? Especially your own kid?

There is an amusing scene where Scott's ex sets him up with one of her friends (Molly Shannon is a terrible blonde wig) who is obsessed with Christmas. She wears a sweatshirt with a huge print of Santa's face and shows him her Christmas charm bracelet. Nevertheless the date is a bust. While Scott is in "the real world", he begins to look like his old self and thus looses weight and gets rid of the awful beard so he no longer looks like a Santa doppleganger. This is probably only for him to attract a mate, because, let's be honest? Who would be attracted to Santa Claus?

Guess who he ends up falling for? The principal of Charlie's school, Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell aka Juliette from Lost).  They bond over Christmas or something...IDK. I could really care less. Scott ends up telling her, after their first date that he's Santa Claus, but she doesn't believe him. Not until Charlie shows her the snow globe that makes her believe. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention the damn snow globe. It's kind of an important thing in the movies. Get this: whenever Charlie wants to see his dad (since he lives so far away in the North Pole), all he has to do is shake the snow globe and his dad will appear. However, in the third movie we find out the snow globe is locked in a special room in Santa's workshop. So why is it there and not with Charlie? Did he give it back when he got older and didn't care about seeing his dad that much anymore? These movies make no sense.

While Scott is gone, he makes this really creepy clone of himself (played by Tim Allen with a weird plastic head) because they still need to have someone in charge of the elves since it's so close to Christmas and they need to continue making toys. Why didn't he just put Bernard in charge? All of these elves are really stupid because they believe he's the real Santa. He slowly becomes a dictator and it's a really weird B plot line and it's just best to forget about it.

Somehow Carol goes back to the North Pole with Santa Scott and, after, like a month of dating, he asks her to marry him and she's like, "Of course! Yes!" Excuse my langague, but what the f**k? Who decides to marry someone after only knowing the for a month? And who would uproot their whole entire life to move to a cold, remote location with the only company being a bunch of elves and a jolly fat man who eats sweets all day? No, thank you! I would much rather live on the Lost island! They are married right there on the spot and Scott automatically turns back into Santa. You know, I never really thought of this, but I was listening to a podcast and someone pointed out while Scott physically turns into Santa, Carol (haha, I almost typed Juliette) doesn't become a Mrs. Claus type: elderly plump woman with gray hair and round glasses, but rather she stays young, thin, and blonde. So yes, they are married on Christmas Eve, exactly the deadline he needed to be hitched by, and hurry! Christmas is saved! Ugh!

In the third and (hopefully!) final movie, we learn there is an Escape Claus where, if in the event the person who assumes the role of Santa, does NOT want to be Santa, all he has to do if hold the super special Snow Globe and say "I wish I were never Santa" and everything goes back to the way it is. Gee, they conveniently left this out of the first movie! They never told Scott there was a way out of this. Of course, by this time, twelve years later, Scott loves being Santa and blah, blah, blah. He is now married to Carol and they are expecting a baby, and eww...I don't want to think of Santa procreating. Besides, it seems really unfair that Santa has his own child. You just know this kid is going to be the most spoiled kid in the world! He has every single toy right at his fingertips! What kind of bs is that?

In the second movie we were introduced to the Council of Legendary Figures (or whatever they were called) which includes Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, Mother Nature, and Father Time. (Hey! Where is the Hanukah Armadillo?) In this movie we are introduced to Jack Frost (Martin Short) who wants to take over Christmas and become Santa. I know "jack frost" is mentioned in The Christmas Song ("jack frost nipping at your nose"), but I don't think of it as a legendary holiday figure. Apparently he's the one who gives children their runny noses. He ends up tricking Santa into making him not be Santa anymore (and it takes awhile to get there) so he can take over the job. Scott is now back to his old self and we learn that he and his son are no longer close, his ex-wife divorced her new husband (yet their daughter was still born...I thought for sure in this timeline she wouldn't exist) and everything and everyone is so miserable. We also learn that Jack Frost as Santa Claus has made the North Pole into a theme park, charging everyone to come and visit. Scott tricks the Santa Frost into saying he wished he never became Santa and they go back in time to when Scott first became Santa. I thought for sure Scott was going to find a way to save the original Santa, the one who fell off the roof in the first movie, so he would continue on being Santa and Scott would remain himself and still maintain a good relationship with his son and ex-wife AND marry Carol, but live a nice, normal life in Wherever, USA. But no. He was destined to be Santa Claus.

There's also this stupid subplot where Carol's parents (played by Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret) are coming to visit for her upcoming birth. They, of course, have no idea she's married to Santa Claus and think her husband works at a toy company in Canada. To trick them, they make signs all over saying they are in Canada and everyone says "Eh!" at the end of every sentence. Santa Scott brings the Sandman with him so he can make Carol's parents fall asleep while they're riding in the sled.

Yeah, these movies are terrible. Maybe I would have liked them better if they came out when I was a kid. The first one has its moments and is the most interesting so I would slightly recommend that one as a movie to watch around the holidays, but definitely skip its sequels!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Gremlins
Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Corey Feldman, Polly Holliday
Released: June 8, 1984


This movie is INSANE, y'all! I first saw it when I was eight or nine and it scared the everliving crap out of me! I have seen it again since then, but the last time I saw it was probably in the early 2000s, so it has been awhile. In fact, it's been so long that there were quite a few things I didn't remember or remembered wrong. I'll address those when I come to them. Even though this movie is 33 years old, I'm sure there is an entire generation who hasn't seen it so there are spoilers! Like The Goonies (which came out a year later and has its own Gremlins reference), it was also written by Chris Columbus, produced by Steven Spielberg, and Corey Feldman is in it.

The movie begins with the father of the main character, Mr. Peltzer (Hoyt Axton), looking for a Christmas gift for his son. He's in Chinatown looking through an old shop with lots of strange and mystic stuff while an old wise Chinese man oversees him (the whole thing reeks of stereotypes) and he comes across a strange (and SUPER ADORABLE!!) creature known as a Mogwai. I didn't remember it ever being called a Mogwai, I always just thought the creatures were known as Gremlins whether they were in the cute and furry stage or the, ahem, monstrous stage. Peltzer tells the shopkeeper he has to have it and "it's exactly what [he's] been looking for." Wait a sec. A strange creature he has never heard of or seen in his entire life is exactly what he's been looking for? How is that even possible? He says he'll pay $100 for it, then ups it to $200. The shopkeeper tells him a firm no because he really is wise. He tells Mr. Peltzer that a Mogwai "comes with much responsibility" (and boy, does it!)  However, his young grandson tells Mr. Peltzer to meet him around back and secretly sells him the strange creature because they need the money. There are three rules (simple rules, really!) when it comes to owning a Mogwai:

1. Keep it out of light, especially sunlight. It could kill the Mogwai.
2. Don't get it wet.
3. And most importantly, whatever you do, never, ever, EVER feed it after midnight.

I, like many, as I'm sure, have a few issues with these rules and I will address these more as I continue on with my review. You'll notice the kid only tells what happens if you don't keep the Mogwai out of sunlight: it will die (which seems way more important than the third rule!) He never says what happens if you get it wet or feed it after midnight. Maybe if he did, then the Peltzers would be a little more careful with their new pet! Hmm, you think? Oh, and guess how long it takes before the rules are broken?

Because Mr. Peltzer is an inventor (and a crappy one at that - he's invented a "bathroom buddy" that's way too bulky and shoots out toothpaste, a juicer that explodes when you put the fruit in it, a coffee maker that pours out sludge, and a wireless phone (hey, I guess he was before his time, but if it only worked!)), he names the Mogwai Gizmo and gives it to his son, Billy (Zach Galligan), that evening, a few days before Christmas. I could have sworn that Billy was a young kid. I would have guessed anywhere between eight and thirteen years old. But he's not! Billy Peltzer has a job at the bank, he drives, he hangs out at a bar. I'm not sure exactly how old he is (Galligan was 19 when he filmed this), but he can't be any younger than eighteen. When we were first introduced to Billy working at the bank, I just assumed he was the older brother of the main character and he was going to be involved in the plot. I didn't realize he WAS the main character until his father gives him the gift. I think this movie would have worked much better with a younger protagonist. I really can't see a teenager (or someone in their early twenties) wanting a pet for Christmas. (Especially if they already have one, as Billy has a loyal dog named Barney). A teenager wants a car or something cool to wear to impress everyone. Now it's possible I was thinking of Corey Feldman who was probably 11 or 12 when he filmed this, but I do remember him not being in this movie as much as he was in The Goonies or Stand By Me or The Lost Boys (he only has a couple scenes). I guess I just assumed he plays the friend to a kid, who is, you know, his own age!

Billy opens his gift and this is when the audience is first shown Gizmo and OMG HE IS THE CUTEST LITTLE THING EVER!! He's so wittle and cute!!! I want one so bad!! Well, maybe not. As we will find out, this adorably cute little guy can cause A LOT of problems, especially if you don't follow the rules (And, obviously, I would follow these rules!) I also want to point out that NONE of the mayhem that will soon occur is Gizmo's fault, NONE OF IT. He is perfectly blameless in all of this mess. He is an innocent little bystander. They created Gizmo and the Gremlins with puppetry and animatronics. As you can see in the film, Gizmo is super tiny. When they showed close ups of just his face they used a large animatronic head. Sure, there are some scenes where it's super obvious Gizmo isn't real, but you have to admire they weren't using CGI (since this IS 1984) and had to create something that was actually in all the scenes with the actors.

Billy's dad tells him the rules of owning a Mogwai. You know, I felt really bad for Barney because Billy has dropped him like a hot potato and is spending all his time with Gizmo. Barney is probably thinking, I've been Billy's loyal pet for however many years and now I'm being pushed away for a cuter pet who can play the piano AND talk. (Gizmo is voiced by Howie Mandel. I thought that name was familiar and realized I know him best as the host of Deal or No Deal. Haha, remember that game show from the mid-2000s?) He can't talk in full sentences, but he does say phrases. Whenever Billy turns on a light, he'll say, "Bright light, bright light!" so Billy can turn it off. He also says "Uh-oh!" a lot (and with good reason!)

When Gizmo gets a boo-boo on his head (because he falls into the trash because Billy shows him his reflection in the mirror after putting on a Santa hat, so this is all BIlly's fault, mind you), Billy takes him to the freaking bathroom of all places to put a bandage on him. Now, I don't know about you, but my bathroom sink and counter is usually wet! WTF are you thinking, Billy? Can't you leave Gizmo in your room and get the bandages from the bathroom? I thought for sure something was going to happen in this scene, but it doesn't. Gizmo is so cute!!! I just wanna cuddle him and give him kisses on the top of his head, awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!! He's so cute, he makes me cry.

The next day Corey Feldman comes over to deliver their Christmas tree. He grabs a glass of water and goes upstairs to Billy's room, which is in the attic, where Billy introduces him to Gizmo. Corey, his glass of water, and Gizmo are all on the bed. Seriously, why isn't Billy saying, "Damnit, Corey Feldman, get your glass of water away from my pet." Cuz that glass is tipping towards the Mogwai. But nothing happens...yet. Billy takes him over to his table where he likes to paint. There is a glass of water for cleaning brushes. Guess who clumsily knocks over the glass and spills water all over poor Gizmo? Now you can blame Corey Feldman all you want, but I'm blaming this all on Billy. Corey didn't know about the rules. Billy, however does know about the rules and brings Gizmo over to a table that has a glass of water on it. Moron. The water causes Gizmo to shriek in pain and his fur starts to boil and a small ball of fur (a hair ball, you could say) pops out of his back. Billy and Corey are more interested in the small ball of fur and don't seem to care that Gizmo is writhing in pain. I wanted to smack Billy so hard across his face. Four more of these small balls of fur pop out of Gizmo's back and start to grow until they become the size of Gizmo. Billy now has five more Mogwai! While all this is going on, Barney seems very concerned. In fact, the damn dog (and Gizmo, of course) is the only one who seems concerned about this. Poor Gizmo looks so sad and is shaking his head. He knows what's up! (And it isn't good!) Corey wants one since there are now five more, but changes his mind when one of them bites him when he tries to pet it. This one has a stripe of white fur across his head and he will eventually become the leader and go by the name Stripe.

Billy tells his father about what happened and he thinks this will be a great way to create and sell more Mogwai to kids and that it will become the new popular pet. Their plans for this will soon be sidetracked, but how would that even work? You might be able to sell a couple, but if other kids wanted one, they could just ask their friends for one and all they would have to do is throw water on their Mogwai. If you can make things multiply by five just by adding water to it, then it wouldn't be that rare! Billy also brings one to his science teacher and multiples another Mogwai. The teacher asks if he can keep one so he can run tests on it.

Now I remembered these creatures being good when they were in the cute and furry Mogwai stage and thought they only turned evil when they became the scary lizard-looking monsters, but that's not the case. Even when Stripe and the others are in the Mogwai stage, they are all mischievous and up to no good and have a sinister look in their eyes. In their Mogwai form, Stripe spits at Gizmo (so mean and uncalled for, Stripe!), ties up Barney in Christmas lights (totally uncalled for and how did five little creatures manage to do that to a pretty good sized-dog? They must have super strength? Also, why didn't Barney start barking the minute the Mogwai had him? He doesn't start whimpering until after he'd been tied up), AND they trick Billy into feeding them after midnight. They had unplugged his clock so when they're all begging for food, he think it's only 11:35 and grabs them a plate of chicken which they all eat like they're piranhas. See, this is a reason you could never make this movie today because all he would have to do is look at his phone! The feeding after midnight rule is a little confusing, because when, exactly can you feed them again? When the sun comes up? But, technically, it's still after midnight. Also, even if Billy does think there's still twenty five minutes left before midnight, doesn't he need to account for the food being swallowed and digested? I know, I know, I'm reading way too much into this. Point is, the Mogwai trick him and he feeds them after midnight. He even offers Gizmo some chicken, but he refuses. Meanwhile, at the lab, the stupid science teacher leaves his sandwich in plain sight right in front of the cage where he's testing the Mogwai so he's able to easily grab it. ("Yum, yum!") Now, to be fair, I don't think Billy ever told him about the rules. Geeze, Billy, when you introduce people to the Mogwai, you think you might want to tell people about the three rules?

The next morning when Billy wakes us, he sees these weird pod things. He shows his mother and realizes that the cord to his alarm clock was chewed through and that he did, in fact, feed the Mogwai after midnight. He seems to have no concern at all that these weird shells are in his room. He goes to the school to speak to the science teacher where he's looking at the pod in the cage. Now, until this moment, the movie has been a cute story about a boy and his strange pet ala E.T., but from now on it turns into a straight up horror show. Sh*t is about to hit the fan (and a couple of Gremlins too, ba-ba-ba). Billy's mom hears something coming from upstairs. She gets a phone call from Billy warning her to get out of the house after the Gremlin at school has killed the teacher with a lethal dose of something (why is something so dangerous at a school, anyway?), but one of the Gremlins has disconnected the phone. She then hears Do You Hear What I Hear? playing downstairs. Hands down, that is my favorite Christmas song of all time (I'm partial to the Whitney Houston version), but man, is it ever creepy when they play it in this scene! Mama Peltzer has her carving knife (from baking gingerbread cookies...don't ask) and she's about to go to town on these little demon monsters. Let's see: she throws one into a huge industrial blender, she sprays bug spray into the eyes of another until it backs up in the microwave and she nukes it until it explodes, she straight up stabs another one...Mama P. don't play around! She is attacked by the fourth one, but Billy comes home in time to knock it off of her and send it into the fire. Fun fact: this movie (and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) is the reason the PG-13 rating exists. The studio didn't think this movie should have been rated R, but it was defintely way darker for the PG rating it did get, so thus became PG-13. This movie almost got an R rating because it was supposed to be A LOT darker than it turned out to be. For one thing, the poor dog and mom were supposed to be killed by the Gremlins (and in quite gruesome ways!)

Stripe is the only Gremlin left and he runs to the YMCA where he jumps into the pool, producing hundreds of other Gremlins. I would have guessed that these creatures are only able to multiply when they're in the Mogwai form, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Stripe and the rest of the Gremlins wreck havoc on the town of Kingston Falls. This includes terrorizing Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday), the old mean lady who lives in town. We have been introduced to her earlier, and, boy, is she a nasty old witch. She threatens to kill Billy's dog (more than once) and she doesn't care about anyone. You just know she's going to get a nasty comeuppance, and boy, does she! She has one of those mechanical chairs attached to the wall that takes her upstairs/downstairs and a Gremlin messes with the mechanics of it and when she sits on it to go upstairs, it speeds out of control and she goes around and around (the house is only two stories, but she is going up way more than that) and it sends her flying out the window and crashing into the snow. A pretty horrifying, yet satisfying and hilarious death for a horrid character. Oh! Speaking of snow, all the Gremlins are all out in it. Why aren't they multiplying?

Billy, Gizmo, and Kate (Phoebe Cates), the girl Billy works with at the bank and has a crush on try to stop the Gremlins. Kate tells Billy that this is just another reason for her to hate Christmas. Why does Kate hate Christmas, you ask? (Oh, as if you didn't know!) Even if you haven't seen this movie, you're probably familiar with this crazy monologue Kate tells about the day she discovered Santa Claus wasn't real...which is the same day her father died. When she was nine, he had dressed up as Santa and gone down the chimney, but had slipped and broken his neck and died instantly. They didn't discover him until they had started a fire and smelled something and the firemen came out and pulled out his body. Just a few questions: why was Kate's dad so stupid? And how did he fit down the chimney? I'm pretty sure nobody can fit down a chimney. Everyone knows Santa uses magic to go down them, duh!

All the Gremlins have assembled at a movie theater where they're watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (I was surprised Disney gave a Warner Brothers movie permission to use one of their films) and Billy and Kate sneak into the broiler room where they set off an explosion, killing all the Gremlins except for Stripe who has managed to escape to a nearby Montgomery Ward. While Billy is trying to ward (no pun intended, honest!) off the little demon monster, Kate is trying to find a light switch. Stripe has a chain saw and is going after Billy who is holding up a bat to stop the chainsaw. You would think the saw would easily go through a bat, which is made out of wood, but nope. I mean, it does go through it, but quite slowly so Billy has time to escape when Kate finally is able to turn on the lights. Also, Billy is a bit of a wuss. Here is his mother who singlehandedly butchered four of these creatures in a matter of minutes and he can't stop a little two foot creature from throwing balls at him. Just kick it. Stop being a baby, Billy! However, it's Gizmo who saves the day by pulling up a shade when Stripe has put his hand in a fountain and is about to produce more offspring. I laughed so hard when Gizmo pulls the shade because it's so freaking obvious they just attached a Gizmo-like stuffed animal to the cord and it just sort of falls. OMG, it is the funniest thing! It was also really super cute when he says "Bye-bye!" Spike is killed and all is well. Interestingly, Gizmo was supposed to be the evil leader (obviously he was intended to change into a Gremlin), but Spielberg knew that the audience would (rightly) fall in love with him and wanted to keep him pure and good (and super adorable!)


The old wise Chinese man comes to claim Gizmo, saying Billy isn't ready for a Mogwai. Yes, I agree, but where was he in the first place? A couple days has passed since his grandson sold Gizmo to Mr. Peltzer. Surely he noticed the Mogwai was missing before then? Billy is a little upset that Gizmo is being taken away from him, but if I were him, I would be bawling! Gizmo is so freaking adorable and he can talk and play the piano! And he's soooooo cuuuuute! Super cute! However, I was all for the old Chinese man taking him back. Aside from the mother, these Peltzers don't know how to take care of a Mogwai.

An '80s classic for sure!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Carol of the Muppets

The Muppet Christmas Carol
Director: Brian Henson
Cast: Michael Caine, Steven Mackintosh, the Muppets  
Released: December 11, 1992


I remember going to see this film as a kid with my dad and older brother, but the projector broke and they weren't able to show it. They either let people get a refund or go see another movie that was showing around the same time. We went to see Aladdin which was starting just a few minutes later. We did eventually see this one, probably the next weekend.

In my review of Scrooged, I mention that this is my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. Now, to be fair, I really haven't seen many renditions of the Dickens classic. And there's been A LOT of them, both theatrical and TV adaptations. I think the only other version I've seen is Mickey's Christmas Carol where Scrooge McDuck plays Scrooge (who else would play him??) Even if I did see all 100 (I may be exaggerating a little there, but not much!) adaptations of A Christmas Carol, this one would still remain my favorite because of the nostalgia factor, and, c'mon, who doesn't love the Muppets? Not only is it my favorite version of A Christmas Carol, it's also my favorite Muppet movie.

The movie breaks the fourth wall with Gonzo as Charles Dickens talking to the audience and narrating the story. He even says, "Hello and welcome to The Muppet Christmas Carol", acknowledging that this is a story within a story. I watched the commentary with the director, Brian Henson (who, as you probably guessed, is the son of Jim Henson) and he said they took much of the dialogue from the novel, so this retelling is pretty faithful to the original. Gonzo/Dickens is joined by Rizzo the Rat who plays "himself" and is there to be the comic sidekick and to ask "Charles Dickens" any questions the audience might have. He is the only Muppet (well, maybe besides Animal) who plays himself. The other Muppets are characters from the novel, the main ones being Kermit as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy as his wife, Emily.

Ebenezer Scrooge is not played by a Muppet, he is played by Michael Caine. It amused me that in this world real humans and Muppets interacted together, as did real animals and muppet animals (and when I say muppet animals, I do not mean the likes of Kermit or Miss Piggy even though they are technically a frog and a pig, respectively, I am talking about the likes of Muppets that don't talk and act like their real life counterpart, much like the Muppet cat that attacks Rizzo. It only meows and walks on all four legs, instead of two like the other humanoid Muppets). In the commentary, Henson said when they created the sets, they built it up a level because they needed the puppeteers to hide underground and control the puppets. There were both floors and open spaces on the set.  Since they also had real actors, they had to choreograph where they could walk, as they obviously couldn't walk in an open space where the Muppets were. There are a few shots where Michael Caine walks with Muppets on either side of him and he did that by walking on a wooden plank.

There is a scene that made me laugh very hard, even though it's not suppose to be funny. A Muppet named Mr. Applegate has come to talk to Mr. Scrooge about falling behind on his payment on his mortgage and Scrooge picks him up and throws him out the door. It was a terrible thing to do, but it just made me laugh because it's just Michael Caine picking up a Muppet and throwing it out the door. Maybe I'm just easily amused. On second thought, even though it does show us what a horrible person Scrooge is, maybe it was suppose to be funny.



Scrooge is a curmudgeon who doesn't care about anyone. His nephew, Fred (Steven Mackintosh), stops by to invite him to Christmas dinner, but he refuses. Two charity collectors (played by Dr. Bunsen and my personal favorite Muppet, Beaker) come to ask him for money to give to the poor and homeless and he refuses to give them anything (even though he has the means to give) and basically tells them it would be better if they just died to "decrease the surplus population". ("Oh dear, oh dear!") He also almost doesn't let Kermit/Bob Cratchit and the rest of his employees get a day off on Christmas. When he tells Kermit/Bob he'll see him tomorrow at 8, Kermit/Bob says, "Tomorrow is Christmas" and Scrooge replies with "8:30 then." He does reluctantly let his employees have the whole day off when Kermit/Bob tells him no other business will be open that day.

That night, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of his former business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley, played by the two old geezer Muppets, Statler and Waldforf (yeah, I had to look up their names) who are always heckling and jeering other Muppets. They tell Scrooge (through song, as this IS a musical!) that he will be visited by three ghosts that night and the first one will arrive at the strike of one. I laughed when Scrooge says, "Can't I meet them all at once to get it over with?"

Eesh!
The Ghost of Christmas Past is a creepy child apparition with red hair and blue eyes and has a flowing white gown. Obviously, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is suppose to be the scariest, but honestly, if I saw this ghost, it would haunt my nightmares forever. Even though she is a child and suppose to represent innocence and childlike wonder, she is hella creepy. Henson said she was a puppet that they submerged in a tank of baby oil (and later, water) to get that flowing effect. She takes Scrooge on a journey to the past and they come upon the school he attended as a young boy. He tries to say hello to his old chums (I was surprised he actually had friends as a child), but she tells him they can neither see nor hear him. It made me laugh when we see the busts of famous scholars such as Dante, Shakespeare, Moliere, and Aristotle and they all have Muppet features. All the students are real boys and the headmaster is played by the Muppet Sam the Eagle. There's a funny fourth wall-breaking moment where the Headmaster is telling the young Scrooge that he needs to work and study hard and will become a man of business and that "It is the American way". Gonzo (for some unknown logic the people in Scrooge's past can't see him, but they can see and hear the narrator of the story), takes him aside, calls him "Sam" and whispers something to him. The Headmaster corrects himself and says, "It is the British way!"

Even as a young lad, we see that Scrooge had no interest in playing with other kids his age and didn't care about Christmas and just wanted to study and read all the time. The creepy child ghost next takes Scrooge to a Christmas party thrown by his then employee, Mr. Fozziwig (played, of course, by Fozzie Bear. The real name of the character from the novel is Mr. Fezziwig, so they lucked out with the similar names!) he attended as a young man. This is the only scene Animal is in. He screams at everyone to be quiet when Mr. Fozziwig is trying to make a speech. A young Jacob and Robert Marley are there as well and they heckle their boss. We also see Rowlf the dog (playing the piano, of course) and the Swedish Chef make cameos in this scene. At this time, Scrooge is a young man and this is where he meets and falls in love with a young woman named Belle (played by a real woman; would be a bit unsettling if she was played by a Muppet!) Scrooge begs Christmas Past not to show him the next Christmas he spent with Belle because that was the one where he chose money over her. Scrooge starts crying and begs her not to show him anymore. Still crying, he finds himself back in his bedroom and the first ghost is gone.

The Ghost of Christmas Present was obviously a human inside a Muppet costume. He starts out as a giant, but then shrinks so he is the same height as Scrooge and is able to walk alongside him. He's very jolly with a red beard. Think Santa Claus mixed with Hagrid. He shows Scrooge how his family and employees are spending Christmas. They first go to Fred's home where and his wife, Clara, are having a Christmas party. They are playing a yes or no game where everyone is trying to guess of the thing Fred is thinking of. The clues have been narrowed down to it's an "unwanted creature" but it's not a mouse, rat, leech, or cockroach. Clara excitedly says she knows the answer and that it's "Ebenezer Scrooge". You feel really bad for Scrooge in this scene as his face falls. He begs Christmas Present not to show him anymore, but he is next taken to the Cratchit home where he will hear more of people talking badly about him (mainly Miss Piggy/Emily). Scrooge sees the meager Christmas meal Kermit/Bob and Miss Piggy/Emily are having with their children (twin girls who are pigs, an older boy frog and a younger boy frog with crutches who is obviously Tiny Tim). Kermit/Bob raises his glass as a toast to his employer and calls him "the founder of the feast." This does not make Miss Piggy/Emily happy and she rips into her husband's employer.

The last ghost to visit Scrooge is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, or the Ghost of Christmas Future. He takes Scrooge on  bleak journey to the future where he is dead and nobody is too upset about it. He's not the only one who has died, though. He visits the Cratchit home where Tiny Tim has died and Kermit/Bob returns home after putting flowers on his grave on the hill that overlooks the river because he loved watching the ducks on the river. It is a pretty bleak moment for a Muppet movie! The entire segment with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is bleak and even Gonzo/Dickens and Rizzo tell the audience they can't be part of the narration anymore because it's gotten to be too scary and tell the audience, "See you at the finale." I do love the moment when Scrooge has woken the next morning and everything has gone back to normal and Gonzo/Dickens and Rizzo return and Rizzo says, "We're back!" and Gonzo/Dickens adds, "We promised we would be!"

Ebenezer Scrooge is now a changed man. He declares, "I will live my live in the past, the present, and the future" and "I'm as light as a feather! I'm as happy as an angel! I'm as merry as a schoolboy!" He also decides to buy the biggest turkey (which is twice as big as Tiny Tim, which, if you think of it, isn't that big since Tiny Tim is a little frog!) for the Cratchit family AND to give Kermit/Bob a raise. On the way there, he sees the two charity collectors and gives them money. In return, Beaker gives him his red scarf and that got me a little teary eyed. Also, on his way to the Cratchit home, Scrooge makes a couple of stops along the way to give gifts to Fred and Clara, Mr. Fozziwig (who they made look older by adding a white wig) and his old school headmaster. He even gives cheese to the mice who live in the walls of the buildings. While this is going on, he is singing a catchy merry little tune that all the other Muppets walking along with him are also singing. The film has a handful of songs, and the first ("Scrooge") and the last one are my favorite and the most catchy. The movie ends with Scrooge and every Muppet in town all around the Cratchit dinner table ready to eat the turkey (good thing they got a huge turkey!) and Tiny Tim saying, "God bless us" and Scrooge agreeing and saying, "God bless us, everyone!"

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

There's No Crying in Baseball

A League of Their Own
Director: Penny Marshall
Cast: Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, Bill Pullman
Released: July 1, 1992


When people think of baseball movies, I'm sure this one is always at the top of the list. And when people think of movies with a predominately all-female cast, I'm sure this one is also at the top of that list. It is set during 1943 which means since there is a war going on, there is no longer anymore Major League Baseball since all the men are overseas. This movie tells the story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (or the AAGPBL (it's still quite a mouthful even when it's abbreviated!)) 

Sisters Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit Hinson (Lori Petty) who live in Willamette, Oregon are recruited by an AAGPBL scout named Ernie (Jon Lovitz) who wants to take them to Chicago to be on a team. Correction: he only wants to recruit Dottie who is an exceptionally good player (she can easily catch a ball without a glove and without any warning a ball is being thrown to her). Dottie has no desire to leave her rural farm life and wants to wait for her husband (Bill Pullman) to return home from the war. Her younger sister, Kit, who loves baseball, but isn't as good as her Dottie really wants this opportunity and Dottie tells Ernie she'll go to Chicago, but only if Kit can also go to which he agrees. 

They make a pit stop in Fort Collins, Colorado so Ernie can check out a ball player named Marla that he hears is really great. And she is really great and she's ready to sign her and take her to Chicago until he gets closer to her and she lifts her hat up so he can see her face and it is revealed she is quite homely. At first he doesn't want to sign her, despite her being a great hitter, because image seems to be the first and foremost priority of the team. They are looking for beautiful young women to wear short skirts (although what's the point since the majority of their target audience are overseas, anyway?) However, Dottie and Kit refuse to go on unless Marla also goes with them.

They find out they will be playing for a team called the Rockford Peaches (such a...wussy name....haha, that reminds me, my dad and I went to someone's house once (I forget who or where or what for) and they owned a cat named Peaches (because it was orange) and after we left, my dad said that was a wussy name). We meet some of the other players, most notably "All the Way" Mae (played by Madonna - I think you can guess why they call her "All the Way Mae")  and her smart mouth friend, Doris (played by Rosie O'Donnell). There's also a player who can't read and needs help from another player to see if she made the team because she wouldn't know if her name was on the list or not. In another scene, we see Mae (whoops, almost typed Madonna!) teaching her how to read on the bus, using an erotica (no pun intended, I swear! I forgot for a split second that that's a name of a Madonna song) novel. Tea Leoni is also a player and last, but not least, there's a woman who has a young son who is a complete and utter brat and she has to bring him along to all the games.


The first time they are all gathered is when they learn they'll be wearing skirts which they think is ridiculous because how can they slide in skirts?  This is also when we learn they'll be going to charm school because this was 1943 and everything was so sexist back then. One of the instructors gives a stylist advice on what to do with each player's hair and/or skin and when she comes to Marla, she doesn't have any advice to make her look any better.

We see a montage of the girls being photographed for newspapers and magazines and one of the headlines is (and get ready to roll your eyes!), "Trading oven mitts for baseball mitts!" Ugh. Just ugh. Oh, wait. That might not be the worst part. There's a TV ad about the new league and a voiceover says, "Girls playing baseball?" Yes, I don't know which one is worse. We also get a montage of many of their games and this is where we see Dottie catching a ball while doing the splits and a huge nasty bruise on the back thigh one of the players received after sliding onto one of the bases. I thought for sure it was just make up because this thing is huge, but after doing some research, apparently it was real. Ewww. And ouch!

The Peaches' coach/manager is former player for the Cubs (he hit 58 home runs in 1936), Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) who is not thrilled to be coaching a bunch of women at first and spends most of his time drinking, but does come around in the end. He gives us the most famous line in the entire movie, "There's no crying in baseball!"

There's a very odd scene where he has to deliver bad news to one of the players that her husband has been killed in the war. It's odd because we first get a mail carrier who comes to the locker room after a game, announcing he has a telegram for one of the ladies from the war department. Well, this could only be bad news and all of them (well, the ones who are married and/or have a loved one overseas) are all understandably apprehensive about this news. The mail carrier is being really callous, saying how this should have been sent personally for someone to find out that their husband is dead. He looks through the list which doesn't have the name of the receiver and tells them he has to go back to the post office to straighten it out. Seriously, you just told this group of women that one of their husbands is dead, and now you have to go back and straighten something out, only making it more agonizing for them to have to wait any longer to find out who is getting possibly the worst news of their life? Yeah, that just seems really unprofessional and something that would never happen in the real world. By this time, Jimmy has taken a liking to his players now and demands that the carrier give him the telegram. He has to snatch it out of his hand and push him out of the room with the carrier protesting about it being "official war business." Dugan opens the letter and reads it, finding out who is about to get bad news. Now I realize there's no good way to tell someone their spouse is dead, but I think in this instance the best way would be for Jimmy to announce the name from where he's standing. Instead, he slowly starts to head to the brand new widow, making the other women he passes fearful that it might be one of them who he's headed to. This includes Dottie who is very scared that her husband, Bob, is dead. Of course, the woman he is headed to, Betty Spaghetti (I think they call her that because she makes a mean spaghetti?), is towards the back, so therefore he passes many women on his way to deliver her the telegram.

In the very next scene, Bob has arrived in Rockford after being discharged from from the army. This literally happens thirty seconds right after Betty received her telegram that I was sure that this was a dream sequence and Dottie was imaging her husband was with her, after hearing the horrible news about Betty's husband, but no, after a few minutes, I realized that this was reality. This is around the time where the Peaches lose a few of their players. Obviously Betty doesn't come back after losing her husband. Dottie decides to leave when her husband returns because she wants to starts a family with him. Despite her looks, even Marla finds love and marries a man she met at a club all the players snuck out to one night and marries him shortly after.

Because of the Hinson sister's rivalry, Kit has been traded to the Racine Belles (yeah, female sports teams sure had some wimpy names). Wearing skirts comes in handy for them because their motto is "Dirt in the skirt". Dottie has decided to play until the end of the season so she is playing against her sister when the Peaches and the Belles are playing against each other in a game that will determine the champion. Dottie gives the pitcher advice since she knows her sister and Kit misses the first two, but hits a home run. Dottie had caught the ball, but dropped it, declaring Kit safe.

The movie starts and ends in "present day" 1992 where Dottie is going to visit an exhibition of the AAGPBL at the Baseball Hall of Fame. At first I thought it was Geena Davis in old age makeup, because that was certainly her voice I was hearing, but it didn't quite look like her. I found out they got older actresses to play elder Dottie and Kit, but had Geena Davis and Lori Petty do the voiceovers, which was very odd. The young boy who used to be a nuisance is now a middle aged man and comes to pay his respects to the team and tells the others that his mother has died. We also learn that Jimmy has also in 1987.

The movie ends with Madonna's "This Used to Be My Playground" playing over the credits. I was familiar with that song, but I had no idea it was used in the movie. It's a bit of a downer song for it: "This used to be my playground, this used to be my childhood dream. This used to be the place I ran to whenever I was in need of a friend....why did it have to end?" Yeah, pretty dreary lyrics! They could have at least changed the title to "This Used to Be My Ball Field."

I believe this is the only Madonna movie I've seen and she's really only a background character. Her one big scene in the movie is when they sneak out to a club called the Suds Bucket and she swings dance, which she's quite good at (I'm assuming that was really her!) This is probably smart of me that A League of Their Own is the only Madonna movie I've seen because from what I've heard, she's a terrible actress. I never saw Evita or the one where she has a baby with her gay friend or any of the ones she made when she was married to Guy Ritchie.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

RepuTAYtion

I haven't listened to Taylor Swift's new album yet (won't have time until Monday or Tuesday), but I did make a list with my fifteen favorite songs of hers:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Ghostbusters
Director: Ivan Reitman
Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts
Released: June 8, 1984

Oscar nominations:
Best Visual Effects (lost to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)
Best Original Song - Ray Parker Jr. for "Ghostbusters" (lost to Stevie Wonder for "I Just Called To Say I Love You" for The Woman in Red)


I remember watching this movie a lot as a kid, although it must not have been that many times because there were things I didn't remember during my recent re-watch or just thought had happened differently. I do remember the Ecto Hi C Cooler, although I don't think I ever drank it because it looked pretty gross. I remember the cartoon. I do know there was a sequel and that I saw it, but I could not tell you anything about it. And I definitely remember the catchy theme song by Ray Parker Jr. They even still play it on the radio around Halloween. (The remake of the song they play in the 2016 version of the movie is TERRIBLE!) 

Everyone's seen this movie, right? I don't really need to do a plot synopsis, do I? Well, in case you haven't seen it or don't know what it's about for some ungodly reason, our four main characters: Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson), all go around NYC to bust ghosts, hence their name. They all have cameos in the 2016 rebooted Ghostbusters (except for Ramis who passed away).

Slight spoiler for Stranger Things 2 coming up, but nothing that will ruin the plot of the season: So I love the second episode where the four boys dress up as the Ghostbusters for Halloween and wear their costumes to school. The montage scene where the theme song is playing and their mothers are taking their photos is very adorable. I loved when Mike and Lucas were bickering because they both came as Venkman and Mike says there can't be two Venkmans (Venkmen?) and thought they had decided on Lucas being Winston (pretty much because they're both black), but Lucas doesn't care for Winston as a character because he joins the group later (he joins about halfway through) and isn't a real scientist. Personally, I would have thought Egon would have been the character to fight over being as he is the best one, right? Well, he is my favorite Ghostbuster. I suppose Venkman IS the main character and he has more of the funnier lines and he gets the girl in the end. But when I think Ghostbusters, I think Egon.

Oh, and I also think of Slimer...who is barely in this movie. I remember him being the mascot of the Ghostbusters. Am I thinking of the second movie? Or am I thinking of the cartoon? He's not even given a name in the movie. The Ghostbusters (minus Winston since this is before he joins the team) gets a call from a fancy hotel about a ghost terrorizing the place. Their receptionist, Janine (Annie Potts) takes the calls and tells the hotel that "They'll be totally discreet" and we see their car zooming down the street with all its bells and whistles making a huge ruckus. They do get Slimer when they lock him into the ballroom of the hotel where it looks like a function is about to start soon and end up just destroying the room while they try to capture the poltergeist. We briefly see him again when all the ghosts are released due to Walter Peck ordering their operation to be shut down, thus realizing all the ghosts that have been captured, but that's about all you see of Slimer in the first movie.

Another thing that I remember differently is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The reason he comes to exist is because Gozer, the Big Bad of the movie tells the Ghostbusters that whatever they think of, that will come to life and destroy the city. Three out of the four Ghostbusters manage to keep their minds clear, but Ray ends up thinking of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man because it was the least harmful thing he could think of. (I guess he didn't realize it would be the size of a Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon!) I do not remember the Marshmallow Man being created this way at all. I could have sworn it came to be in Dana's kitchen cuz all that weird stuff happened with the eggs cracking and cooking by themselves on her counter and when she opened her refrigerator, she saw a Hellscape. I do remember those moments and I also remember she bought a bag of the Stay Puft Marshmallows, hence is why I thought the Marshmallow Man was created in her kitchen.

Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) calls the Ghostbusters about her freaky fridge situation and is one of their first clients. Peter takes a liking to her (and some of the comments he makes to her are very unprofessional). Luckily he is there when she becomes possessed by Zuul and when she starts talking to him in a deep guttural sound, he tells her, "What a lovely singing voice you have." Peter isn't the only one who has a thing for Dana; so does her nerdy neighbor Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) who lives in the same apartment building. He's always inviting her to his parties which she politely refuses. Forget Venkman; I would say Louis is the funniest character in the movie. We see him throwing one of his parties and telling one of his guests, "I'm giving this whole thing as a promotional expense which is why I invited clients instead of friends." At that same party, he takes the coats of two guests who have just arrived and throws them into the closet not seeing the demon-dog sitting in there. When he hears the growl, he asks his guests, er clients, "Okay, who brought the dog?" You kind of have to see his scenes to appreciate how funny he is...it's his line delivery that's great.

This movie scared me as a kid, but yeah, it's not scary at all. There might be a few jump scenes, but nothing too bad. Also, the "special effects" are just terrible, especially the demon-dogs. They looked good when they were just standing still, but whenever they jumped or ran, it just looked terrible. Anytime they used puppets for the ghosts, it looked fine, but there's a lot of things that just look bad. I suppose for 1984 it looked good...