Thursday, December 20, 2018

I'm Dreaming of a Netflix Christmas

It's time for another review of original Netflix Christmas movies!

Our first review will be The Holiday Calendar which stars Kat Graham aka Bonnie (aka the witch) from The Vampire Diaries as Abby a photographer who dreams of one day owning her own studio where she can work on selling her own photos instead of just taking photos for people's passports and Christmas cards which she only does "to pay the bills." Well, that job not only helps her pay those bills, but it helps her afford a super nice apartment! Seriously, for a girl who's moaning about not having enough money to pay the rent for an open space she wants for her own studio, she sure has a beautiful and spacious apartment with some super nice furniture. Though her dad is a lawyer, so I'm sure he's helping her with some funds. Her parents don't approve of her photography passion and want her to find a "real" job. Her dad wants her to work at the law firm like her older sister does. 

In the first minute of the movie we are introduced to Josh. At first I thought he was her brother, but he is introduced as her "oldest friend." They have a very sister/brother relationship, you know, goofing off with each other, but there will be a romantic relationship between them later on which I just don't see because he is always so goofy around her and they act more like siblings than a romantic pair. In fact, I didn't have any reason to suspect that they liked each other that way until Abby starts dating someone and we see Josh get jealous. I guess that's our cue we're supposed to be rooting for those two to end up together at the end. (Spoiler alert: they do). Josh is a successful travel writer and has been all over the world living this wonderful and fabulous life, making some major bank as we will find out later. 

Abby's gramps (played by Ron Cephas Jones aka Randall's biological father on This Is Us) gives her an antique advent calendar (in the shape of a house) that belonged to her (now deceased) grandmother and Gramps tells her Grandma wanted her to have it. I remember having advent calendars when I was little. It was fun to see the little surprise behind the door when you opened it; I remember one year there were little pieces of chocolates behind each door. (I'm pretty sure my mom got my brother and me each our own that year so we wouldn't fight over who got the chocolate piece that day!) When Abby takes it back to her (beautiful and spacious) apartment, she tries to open a few of the doors, but they won't budge, so she just assumes her gramps gave her a piece of junk. That night (which is the first of December), the clock strikes midnight and the calendar glows and the first door pops open to show a small wooden pair of black boots. The rest of the figurines will be more related to Christmas/winter such as a Christmas tree, candy cane, nutcracker, ice skate, snow flake, etc. Though I guess you could argue that black boots are what Santa wears. 

So the point of this calendar is that it is possibly a magic calendar. Each item of the day correlates with something that happened to Abby that day. For instance, the first day with the boots, Abby also receives black leather boots Josh bought for her in Italy. Even though this is before she starts dating the other guy, this is probably the first clue that Josh is into her. A guy does not buy a girl Italian leather boots (which you know cost a couple hundred bucks!) if he is not into her. This is the only instance of the calendar where there seems to be an eerie connection, but honestly, everything else just seems to be pure coincidence. I mean, everything is generic Christmas stuff, so of course you are going to encounter a Christmas tree or candy cane or a snow flake. There is nothing magical or supernatural about this calendar at all as Abby seems to think. (Hmm, I think she spent a little too much time in Mystic Falls!)

The second day the calendar reveals a Christmas tree and that's how she meets Ty (played by Ethan Peck aka Gregory Peck's grandson) who she will eventually start dating. They have a meet cute when she knocks the tree off of his car, then the next day when her advent calendar reveals a nutcracker, she finds out that his second grade daughter is a nutcracker in the school Christmas pageant. This has to be the smallest town ever because when Abby and Ty (Tabby!) go on their first date, who should walk up and see them when they share their first kiss? That's right, Josh. What are the odds of that? We see a montage of Tabby going on all these wonderful and magical dates and of course each one correlates with what little trinket the calendar reveals. When it reveals carolers, they are serenaded by carolers at a restaurant; when it reveals a wreath, Ty gifts Abby with one; and when it reveals a reindeer they go on a horse-drawn carriage ride. Eh, close enough.

Everything seems to be going great until Abby has a date with Ty on the same day that she promised Josh and another friend that she would go see A Christmas Story with them. Now what she should have done is canceled the date with Ty since she made the plans with her friends way in advance. But she assures her friends she'll be able to make the movie since it starts at 3 and the date is in the early afternoon. Ty doesn't tell Abby where they're going and he takes her to a soup kitchen, which seems a little weird for a date, especially a surprise one. While Abby is talking to some of the regulars, she learns from two guys that Ty often brings the women he's dating to show them what an altruistic person he is. Abby is late getting to the movie theater and it's sold out and Ty reassures her that her friends will understand because she was doing something much more important. Abby tells Ty about the calendar and when he mocks her about it, she breaks up with him.

There's a few more mishaps and misunderstandings between Abby and Josh (because they can't get together just yet since we still have half an hour left), but eventually they get together AND Josh pays for the studio she's always wanted since he's done so well as a travel-blogger or whatever he does. Abby also displays her photos and they get lots of attention and her parents tell her they were wrong about not backing her dream. We see Abby and Josh in their new studio one year later hosting a Christmas party (with some terrible hip hop "Christmas" music) and when they tell their guests they have an announcement to make, I'm thinking they're going to announce they're engaged, but nope, all they say is, "Merry Christmas!" Seriously, you're hosting a Christmas party and your big announcement is "Merry Christmas!"? Lame.

Before they end up together, there is some Inception-style flashback Abby has of the calendar and all the little trinkets and everything that had corresponded with it and realizes the fate of the calendar was pointing her in the direction of Josh this entire time. Remember when she thought the Christmas tree she knocked off Ty's car? It was actually her own Christmas tree she was hanging out by with Josh that same day! Or something like that.

So here's a fun little Easter egg (Christmas cookie?): there's one scene where Abby is about to watch something on Netflix (again, shameless promotion) and these are the movies/shows that are on her list: Christmas Inheritance (what a coincidence as you will soon see!), The Kissing Booth (SO terrible!), Set it Up (haven't seen), Glow (still need to see the second season), and Stranger Things (always a good choice). What, no A Christmas Prince of The Princess Switch?

Speaking of Christmas Inheritance, that is exactly what my next review is. It came out last year and it's about a spoiled party girl named Ellen Langford who's the heiress to her dad's gift business. Yes, that's right, a gift business called Home & Hearth. What does a gift company sell? Little trinkets? Kitchen gadgets and appliances? Jewelry? Bath and body supplies? Clothes? All of the above? I mean, literally anything you buy and give to anyone is a gift.

To teach her a lesson about where she came from, her father sends her to the small town of Snow Falls where he's from (she lives and works in NYC) to deliver a box of letters for Santa to his former business partner. She only has $100 with her for a 24 hour trip and can't tell anyone who she is, so she uses the alias Ellie London. Apparently the folks in the small town would know her name, but they wouldn't recognize her. Which is kinda weird if you think about it because you think they would know what the daughter (who appears on social media all the time) of one of the citizens who went on to have great success would look like. As soon as she gets there she doesn't have any cell phone reception, yet there is an Apple store in this really tiny town.

Ellen thought she would only spend a night at the Inn and give the letter to Zeke, her dad's former business partner, but he isn't there and there's a huge snowstorm that keeps her trapped there for a few days so she has to work as a housekeeper to pay for her room. Ellen already has a rich and handsome fiance back home who's a douche, but you know that's not going to last because she meets Jake, the owner of the inn and when they don't get along at first, you know they're going to end up together at the end. (Spoiler alert: they do.) Jake has this (unintentionally) hilarious backstory where whenever he hears "Silent Night" it makes him angry. This is because his ex (who's from NYC so when he finds out Ellie is also from there, he immediately  dislikes her) broke up with him at a restaurant while that song was playing. He must really hate the holidays because you can't escape that song. Can you imagine if Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" was playing? Now that's a Christmas song you can't escape around the holidays!

So Jake thinks Ellie is just a spoiled rich city girl and blah, blah, blah, but he has a change of heart when she shows her compassionate side: letting the homeless man in during a bad winter storm, making Christmas cookies with And McDowell who runs the local bakery, and gathering nice items for the silent auction. This is how I know the small town has an Apple store because she persuades the guy to donate a computer. In the end she proves to herself she can handle the business (which she will inherent) and find the true meaning of Christmas. She breaks up with her douchy finance and ends up with Jake. There's even a cheesy line where he says, "Is this the part where we're supposed to kiss?"

Oh, and Andie MacDowell sings "Silent Night" at the end and it doesn't send Jake into a rage because he's in love now! Thank God for that! 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Elf Discovery

Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, Peter Dinklage
Released: November 7, 2003
Viewed in theaters: November 8, 2003 and November 28, 2003

I know what you're thinking: How could I have this movie blog for nearly ten years (!!) and have never done a review on Elf, one of the most beloved Christmas movies of our time and a movie I've mentioned on several occasions (especially around this time of the year) as being one of my favorite holiday films? Well, the truth is, I DID write a review for this movie back in 2009, the year I started this blog. But it was a terrible review and only about two paragraphs long. Yeah, my early reviews are pretty terrible. I wouldn't recommend going back and reading them; seriously, don't. So I just deleted that one. But, shhh! Don't tell anyone! It will be our little secret.  So now I'm giving this beloved Christmas classic the review it deserves.

I would be shocked if there's anyone out there who has never seen this movie. It's not just one of the funniest holiday movies I've ever seen, but one of the funniest movies I've seen, period. I'm sure I have seen it well over ten times (possible even more!) and I still laugh at certain scenes even though I know what's coming up. I can pretty much recite the dialogue verbatim and have used many of the lines in my own life. Who haven't we called a "cotton-headed ninny muggins"? And while there are many important things in this world that I SHOULD know, but don't, I can proudly recite the four main food groups of elves: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup. Because God knows when you're going to need to know that! (By the way, wouldn't candy canes and candy corns be lumped in with candy? Why do they get their own special group? I kinda get candy canes because they're synonymous with Christmas, but candy corn is more of a Halloween confection. If you really think about it, elves only have one major food group and it is SUGAR! We know Buddy LOVES sugar! I love the scene where he pours syrup all over his spaghetti, then  crumbles a Pop Tart over it.)

It's fun to see the North Pole and Santa's workshop in the beginning of the film. I loved the way they created the North Pole; it's very reminiscent of those classic holiday specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. You could have almost had a spinoff movie just based on that. Not only do you have Bob Newhart as Papa Elf (hmm, I guess The Smurfs don't have a trademark on that!) and Ed Asner as Santa and all the other elves, but you have Leon the snowman, the Arctic puffin, and Mr. Narwhal. The North Pole seems like this wonderful place to visit, however, I don't think it would be such a great place to work! Seems like those elves aren't getting a fair deal; not that I think they really care as they all seem to really love what they do. I love that the head elf tells them that Christmas was a success and that it's time to prepare for next year. It's literally Christmas Day and now they have to get ready for next year. Do they not even get a week off? I suppose when you have to make toys for all the kids in the world, you're going to be pretty busy and won't have any time to rest. Like in The Christmas Chronicles, this also seems to be another Christmas movie where kids only get one present from Santa as we see there's only one toy described next to their names in Santa's naughty/nice book. But to be fair to Santa, if you have to make every single kid in the world several toys, that could take quite a long time as I'm sure making all those kids ONE toy takes plenty of time as it is!

The elves kinda seem to be jerks because they shame Buddy when they learn he's only built 85 Etch-a-Sketches, making him 955 off pace. I remember having an Etch-a-Sketch as a kid. Come to think of it, was it even possible to draw anything but a few squiggles? I love that Buddy draws the Mona Lisa on one later when he's preparing for Santa's visit to the department store ("SANTA! I know him, I know him!"), but there's no way anybody could ever do that, right?? I think the worst part of being an elf would absoluetly have to be testing the Jack in the Boxes. I would be like Buddy, cringing ever time the creepy figurine would pop up and it would be even worse if it popped up later than expected. Jack in the Boxes are the devil's toy!

When Buddy learns he's actually a human and not an elf (took him awhile to figure that out and he only found out because he heard the elves talking about it), he decides to trek to New York City to find his father, Walter Hobbs (James Caan) who's on the...DUN DUN DUN....naughty list. I love how immediately after we're told this, we cut to a scene where we see Walter, who works at a publishing company, telling a sweet frail old nun he has to take back the books because they missed the payment and the nun says, "But the children love the books!" They're really showing us this guy is a real a-hole!

Will Ferrell is infectious and has a childlike earnest as Buddy that you can see why he's so likable, but you can also see why people would get impatient with him! A few years after this movie was released, I wrote a Harry Potter fanfic called Hogwarts' Next Top Witch (obviously a parody of America's Next Top Model) and there's a chapter where Harry, Ron, and  Ron's dad go to Harrods and I blatantly stole a lot of things out of Elf  (don't worry; I gave the movie credit) when Buddy goes to Gimbel's: I had Arthur go through the revolving door about four times just like Buddy; I had him eagerly except passion fruit spray, spraying it in his mouth just like Buddy; I had him afraid to go on the escalator, again, just like Buddy; and I had him push all the buttons on the elevator, just like Buddy does when he pushes all the elevator buttons when he's at the Empire State Building. ("It looks like a Christmas tree!)  I told you I blatantly stole a lot of lot of things from Elf while writing that chapter! I visited New York a year and a half after Elf was released and I'm sure I mentioned something about that scene when we went to the Empire State Building. I have a feeling there's no way you could do that as they have people who work there manning the elevators, right? I don't remember for sure, but they must so people can't mess with the buttons. My friend and I once did that at a hotel in Denver (but there was, like maybe ten buttons instead of the 100 or so buttons the ESB probably has.) We also didn't do it while someone was in the elevator with us, but when we saw someone was getting on the elevator as we were exiting, we sure ran as hell!

I love when Buddy first meets Walter dressed in his green elf uniform and yellow tights and Walter tells him, "You look like you came from the North Pole" and Buddy's eyes light up and he replies, "That's EXACTLY where I came from!" Also, when he meets Walter's wife, Emily (Mary Steenburgen) and his son, Michael (Buddy's half-brother) and Emily asks him how long he'll be staying at their house, Buddy replies, "I haven't thought about it, but I was thinking forever." Hehe. That is the worst answer any house guest could ever give you!

Another great scene is when Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) is taking a shower in the Gimbel's restroom (do most department stores have a shower? Maybe it's just for employees) and Buddy is right outside and starts singing along with her. Normally this would be a totally creepy scene, but because it's Buddy and he doesn't know any better, it comes off as completely innocent. While it is cute that he falls for Jovie because she's wearing an elf uniform, it is a little weird that she falls for him since he has the mind of a child. It's like in Big when Elizabeth Perkins falls for a twelve-year-old who looks like a thirty-year-old Tom Hanks. But Jovie is important to the story because it is the mantra Buddy supplies her with, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear" that she uses when she gets all the people to sing Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town so Santa's sleigh can run on Christmas spirit. I'm not ashamed to tell people that I cry during Elf, especially during that scene. That scene gets me every time. EVERY TIME!

And of course another great scene is when a pre-Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage plays Miles Finch, a popular and highly-regarded children's author who has agreed to write a book for Walter's publishing company. Of course Walter's worst nightmare comes true when Buddy ends up coming in the room and is excited to see another elf and asks Finch if Santa knows that he's here. Rightly this should make any small person angry, but Miles, as we already saw in a previous scene is very high maintenance and thinks himself to be the greatest children's author since Dr. Seuss. He already has a very high ego so when Buddy calls him an elf, it really irks him and he dares Buddy, "Call me elf one more time!" and when Buddy declares, "He's an angry elf!", Miles runs across the table and kicks him in the chest. I loved that Buddy was certain he was a South Pole elf.

Lots of great scenes and great actors with great Christmas music makes this film a Christmas classic.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Netflix Christmas

It's December. You know what that means...Christmas movie reviews! I'll first begin with a couple of Netflix original Christmas movies that were released just this year. It seems like Netflix loves to churn out Christmas movies.

We'll first begin with The Christmas Chronicles which stars Kurt Russell as Santa. It also stars Oliver Hudson and Kimberly Williams-Paisley (mini Nashville reunion!) as the parents of the two kids we follow, Teddy and Kate. When the movie opens we see a montages of Christmases the family has spent together from 2006 to 2017. In the current day, we find out that their fire fighter father is no longer alive and later we will learn the he died saving a family from a fire. Teddy and Kate seemed to be close when they were younger, but have seemed to drift apart. Well, what does Kate expect? Her brother is a teenager...why would he want to hang out with his little sister who is between the ages of seven and eleven years old? (I seriously have no idea how old she is). It is implied that they drifted apart after their father died. Tell me if you think this is weird: they used to call each other nicknames (and will resume calling each other once they inevitably reconcile at the end of the movie (like you didn't know that was going to happen!)) Kate called her brother "Teddy Bear" and Teddy called his sister "Kitty Cat." Is it me or do those sound like nicknames significant others would give each other, not siblings?

Kate is recording a video message for Santa (so that's what the kids are doing these days) and Teddy is about to let her in on a devastating truth, but he doesn't have the heart to disappoint his little sister, so he tells her, "There is no.....chance he's gonna watch your video." Kate wants to hang out with her brother, but he just ignores her and goes to hang with his hooligan friends. Kate follows him and records him helping his friend steal a car. She uses this as blackmail to get her brother to help her with finding out if they can catch Santa in the act. While reviewing some old Christmas footage, she sees a red-sleeved arm reach towards the Christmas tree. She is convinced it was Santa and wants to set up the camcorder, that night, which is Christmas Eve, to record him. She tells Teddy she'll destroy the incriminating tape if he helps her. Yes, that's right, it is Christas Eve and Kate was just recording her video message to Santa. No kid would ever procrastinate when it comes to telling Santa what they want.

Sure enough, they catch Santa and unbeknownst to him, end up in his sleigh. This is actually the first Christmas movie where the dangers of hypothermia and hypoxia are brought up when riding in Santa's sleigh. Of course you're going to get cold if you're several miles up in the sky going really fast. When Santa sees that there's two kids, he loses control of his reindeer and Kate is flung out of the sled and starts falling. Of course, Santa saves her, but you think that would have been the most traumatizing thing that has ever happened to her and she would just want to go home, but no! She wants to help Santa! His sleigh has crashed and he has lost his reindeer. The two kids from Massachusetts find out they're now in Chicago....(wait, why did Santa go from MA to Chicago without giving any presents to all the places in between?)

I did like the look of this Santa. Because he's played by Kurt Russell, he's more of a "cool" Santa (and we'll get this more in a later scene when he sings a blue-sy Christmas song with a bunch of convicts at a jail. Don't ask). He's not your typical "jolly fat Santa." Everything that is usually a snowy white is matted and gray (like his hair and beard and the fur trim on his coat. It looks like he's wearing a reindeer pelt around his neck...which is a bit messed up if you think about it! He also tells the kids he doesn't say "Ho, ho, ho" and that's "fake news." Ha-ha!

Santa tells the kids if he doesn't get his sleigh up and running in half an hour, then half the continent won't get their presents. We learn that it's important for Santa not to miss Christmas because, according to him, all the wars that have ever started were started the years he missed Christmas. WTF? Good job, Santa. So you're the reason for every single war that ever started! He tells them, "People need Christmas to remind themselves of how good they can be." This line and a following scene made me think this movie was going to be different that what it turned out to be. When they enter a restaurant, Santa knows the hostess (because he knows everyone) and that she wanted to be a fashion designer (because he knows what everyone wants), but she never had the money to pay to attend Parsons. I thought this movie was going to go an altruistic path and Santa and the kids were going to grant wishes for people they met along the way. For instance, giving the waitress the tuition money for Parsons. But alas, the movie doesn't go in that direction. Santa needs to fix his sleigh and find his reindeer and bag of toys so Christmas can go on (and so everyone doesn't wake up to World War III in the morning!)

They need a ride into the city (where the reindeer are) and Santa ends up stealing a car (it's okay because the car itself was stolen by someone who's always been on the naughty list). Kate finds and coaxes the reindeer out of hiding and she and Teddy fly them away while Santa is taken to jail for grand theft auto. That's when he sings with the other convicts.

Meanwhile, the siblings have discovered the bag of toys. It looks like a normal bag, but considering it's holding all the toys for all the children in the world, it turns into a Mary Poppins bag that can hold just about anything and everything. Kate crawls into the bag and is able to crawl further and further until she's in this black hole of gifts flying around. I laughed when an actual car is circling around her. This vortex takes her to the North Pole where she meets some interesting elves. They don't look dissimilar to the House Elves from Harry Potter. This movie was produced by Chris Columbus who also directed the first two Potter movies so maybe that was the inspiration. Also, there's a scene where the two kids stop outside a church to hear a choir and I'm pretty sure it's the same church from Home Alone, but we only see the exterior of it.

I need to touch on a minor fashion note for a sec: Kate wears this purple coat with a hood...and also a winter hat with a pom pom. (The winter hat is really cute by the way, it looks like a lot of confetti has been sprinkled on it; I would totally wear that hat). But what is the point of wearing a winter hat when your coat already has a hood attached to it? Seems a little redundant, no?

When Kate is in the North Pole she comes across a huge area filled with drawers upon drawers where Santa has apparently kept every single letter that every single child has ever written him. First of all, even though they only show us the "P" section (for Pierce, the surname of the kids) and even though what we see is pretty impressive, that thing would be MUCH bigger. Also, why does Santa save every single letter from the previous years? I understand why he would keep the letters of the current year, but why is he hanging on to Teddy's letter from, say, 2006? Also, does he keep all the letters from adults and senior citizens who wrote them when they were kids or do those get tossed when they reach a certain age? Does this mean Santa Claus is a hoarder? This is all very confusing.

So Kate convinces the elves to fix the sleigh, Santa is released from jail, and the kids help Santa deliver his presents to the rest of the continent because he's unsure if he will have time to do it himself. As a tearful Kate tells him, "There can't be Christmas without presents!", Santa tells them he'll be able to deliver the gifts twice as fast if he's not carrying his bag (and the movie has already established he's pretty fast when he is carrying his bag) and Kate will be the one to call out the names and addresses and throw the gifts to Santa while Teddy takes the reins, literally. It seems in this world kids only get one gift from Santa which seems pretty bogus to me. Can you imagine if you only got one present from Santa as a kid? Oh, man, I would be so ticked. We see a montage of all the cities they visit and this is the order they go in after they're done with Chicago: St. Louise, New Orleans, Denver, St Paul, Calgary, Anchorage, Honolulu, Vancouver, Seattle, Boise, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, L.A., and San Francisco. Is it me or do some of these seem out of order? Shouldn't Honolulu be your last stop? Why did he hit Seattle before Boise? I think Santa needs to learn some U.S. geography!

Teddy's letter to Santa was that he wanted to see his dad again and for a moment I was thinking, is the movie really going to go there? Are they going to bring back the kids' dead dad? No, he gets an ornament and when he puts it on the tree he sees a reflection of his dad who tells him he's proud of him. The movie ends with Santa back at the North Pole and he's with Mrs. Claus, who is played by, of course, Goldie Hawn. I should have seen that coming! And that's when I realized that Oliver Hudson is Kurt Russell's stepson. Now where was Kate Hudson's appearance?

This movie was fine, but nothing I would put in my must see movies to watch every holiday season. It's probably going to get lost in the slew of Christmas movies Netflix already has out and no doubt will keep churning every Christmas.

Speaking of the slew of Christmas movies Netflix churns out every year, our next Christmas movie  review will be The Princess Switch which stars a double dose of Vanessa Hudgens. Seriously, whoever pitched this to Netflix must have just finished watching The Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan version) because there are too many similarities. Vanessa plays Stacey, a baker from Chicago who finds out that her sous chef and best friend since high school, Kevin, and his daughter, Olivia (also Stacey's god-daughter) have enrolled her in a fancy schmancy world baking competition that takes place in the fictional country of Belgravia which I'm sure is near Genovia and Andovia. Hell, I'm sure they're all the same country! And don't worry, I'll get to A Christmas Prince in a minute. I was listening to a podcast review of this movie and someone called it "Bel-mashed potatoes and gravia" which made me laugh so hard.

We find out that Stacey recently broke up with her boyfriend of three years and just wants to mope around, but when she runs into him on the street (literally like two minute after she leaves the shop) and finds out he's seeing someone new, she changes her mind and decides to go to Belgravia with Kevin and Olivia. There seemed to be some hint that Kevin was into Stacey, but Stacey didn't reciprocate those feelings. As the movie progresses this seems more evident and it's clear that Stacey has put Kevin (who looks and sounds a lot like former POTUS Barack Obama) firmly in the friend zone. Olivia really wants her dad to get together with Stacey and even tells him that she wishes "they were a thing." Kevin tells her that they've been friends since high school and if sparks were going to fly, they'd know by now. To which the little brat replies, and I'm not joking, "You're not trying hard enough." Oh, no you did not, little girl! Stop trying to meddle in your dad's personal relationships.

They should have just called Belgravia "Christmasville" because that's what it is. Everything is decorated for Christmas, there are carolers, a Santa village, an ongoing performance of The Nutcracker, gingerbread making hut, etc. While Stacey is touring the studio where the competition will be filmed and held, she runs into Margaret Delacourt, the Duchess of Montenero (another fictional my computer automatically changed it to "Montenegro" the first time I typed it!)  who is set to marry Prince Edward, the Prince of Belgravia (who is played by the guy who played Gunner on Nashville...seems like everyone on that show is finding their way to Netflix Christmas flicks! Can't wait to see Hayden Pannetierre in the next one!) Oh! Did I mention they look exactly alike? Except that Margaret has shorter hair and some faux British accent going on. (Just like in Lohan-style Parent Trap!) Surprise! She's played by Vanessa Hudgens too!

There is somewhat of a (super lame) explanation of why the girls look so much alike. Margaret's great-grandmother's cousin ended up in the United States and his daughter married someone with the surname DeNofrio which is similar to Stacey's last name, DeNovo. So that would make them, what? Second or third cousins? Even if they were related, they wouldn't look exactly alike. Who has ever heard of identical cousins? At least in The Parent Trap, they're identical twins.

Margaret's only wish it to be a real girl and she wants to switch places with Stacey for two days so she can see what it's like to be "normal". She assures Stacey that Edward won't even be in town and the only thing she'll have to do is have tea with his parents. Stacey agrees to this and the only person who knows about this is Margaret's assistant. However, Olivia quickly figures out Stacey's not really Stacey when she can't do their complicated handshake (another bit taken from The Parent Trap). And also the fact that when Margaret makes breakfast the next morning, she burns everything, something Stacey would never do. She agrees to keep the secret, though.

Guess what? Edwards doesn't go out of town and ends up staying in Belgravia. Ruh-roh! Also, guess what? Stacey falls for Prince Edward and Margaret falls for Kevin. Insert groan here. There's a close call where the two couples almost run into each other at a toy store but the crisis is averted by the kindly man who keeps appearing throughout the film at just the right time and seems to know everything that is going on, almost like he has magical powers. You would think his character is going to have some kind of revelation in the end, but nope.

There's a really stupid scene where Kevin, Olivia, and Margaret-as-Stacey are painting ornaments in Chistmasville and Margaret has painted a heart on hers and claims, "Christmas should be about love." Kevin tells her that he's never seen her so sentimental and she actually has the gall to reply, "Maybe you don't know me that well." Yeah, no s**t. Of course he doesn't know you BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT WHO HE THINKS YOU ARE! And I'm guessing the real Stacey would never draw a heart on an ornament and get all sappy because he does know her. Duh!

Then we have another stupid scene where Stacey-as-Margaret is attending some royal soiree with the Prince and she is invited to play the piano as the Duchess is known for her remarkable piano playing skills. Of course Stacey doesn't know how to play the piano, not even the simple repeated four notes to "Carol of the Bells" when Edward suggests they play that as a duet. She blames it on "stage fright," but gimme me a freaking break! An accomplished pianist would be able to play four simple notes to a well known song. Yet nobody seems to find this very odd.

The best part of the movie (and when I say best, I really mean worst) is when Kevin and Margaret-as-Stacey decide to watch A Christmas Prince because that's Stacey's favorite Christmas movie. What the huh? That movie has only been out a year and it's her freakin' favorite Christmas movie? Seriously? SERIOUSLY? A Christmas Prince? Has this girl never seen Home Alone or Elf or It's a Wonderful Life? Has she never seen ANY Christmas movie if A Christmas Prince is her favorite? No shade to A Christmas Prince, but, c'mon! We even see them turn on the TV and scroll through the Netflix movies. Shameless promotion there, Netflix. However, I think they could have gone with two other options. The first is that they could have promoted the sequel to A Christmas Prince, which I believe was released a week or two after this one. They could have Margaret-as-Stacey say that she loved A Christmas Prince and that she's so excited to see the sequel and they could even show a little clip from the movie. But personally, I think they really missed the mark by not combining the two worlds together and having them exist in the same universe! Hello, Netflix! You could have had Vanessa Hudgens x 2  and her two beaus attend the wedding of whatstheirnames in A Christmas Prince 2 and you could have whatstheirnames attend Duchess Vanessa and Prince Edward's wedding at the end of this movie! I have no doubt that Belgravia and Andovia are right next to each other. There could even be a crossover movie called The Christmas Princess Switch. Obviously I am a genius! Whoever missed this at Netflix really dropped the ball. A missed opportunity in the Netflix universe if there ever was one.

When it is revealed that the girls have been impersonating each other, neither man is upset in the slightest that they've been deceived for the last two days. In fact, Edward proposes to Stacey and they get married at the end of the movie (which is about three minutes away from that point, although in the course of the movie it's the next year.) It is just ridiculous that she agrees to marry someone she's only known for TWO FREAKING DAYS!! I guess she really wanted to be a Princess! I must say, their wedding cake is on point. Even though they don't mention it, I'm sure Stacey made it. Who the hell makes their own wedding cake, especially one that elaborate? Who has time to when they're planning a wedding? And they all lived happily ever after. I especially love how Olivia wanted her dad to get together with Stacey, but is just as content with her dad getting together with Stacey's doppelgänger.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

My 12 favorite Disney Renaissance songs

With the recent release of the "live action" Lion King trailer, I was inspired to make a list of my favorite Disney songs from their animated movies. I'm only doing songs from movies that came out during the Disney Renaissance era which are the movies that came out from 1989-1999. I'm doing this for a few reasons:

1) This is the era of Disney I grew up with and I am very familiar with these songs and own most of the soundtracks, so therefore I already had the songs available!

Yeah, that's pretty much the only reason. I do have a few of the older well-known songs but, honestly, they wouldn't even make my top 12 anyway. And the only songs from the 21st century animated Disney movies that I can remember liking are "Let it Go" and a couple from Lilo and Stitch.

It was difficult ranking these (believe me, I did a lot of switching around before I settled on my final list) and I still had to leave out a few that I really like but just didn't make the final cut. So don't get mad if your favorite isn't on here! I'm sure it would have been #13!