Sunday, December 24, 2023

Do You Want To Build a Snowman?

Jack Frost
Director: Troy Miller
Cast: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross, Mark Addy
Released: December 11, 1998

This is a weird movie. I had never seen it before until now, but the only think I knew was that Michael Keaton's character dies and he is reincarnated into a snowman with the help of his young son. The first half hour of the movie he is alive and, well, honestly, I kept waiting for him to die. (Well, I knew it was eventually going to come!) He plays Jack Frost (yes, that's his real name; who names their child 'Jack Frost'?) and he's in a band called The Jack Frost Band (very original) that sometimes get air time in the small town they live in, Medford, Colorado. The radio station seems to pride itself on playing music from the '70s and '90s and promises it won't play anything from the '60s or '80s. Wouldn't it make more sense to play something from two consecutive decades? I would rank the '70s as my least favorite for music from those four decades, so I wouldn't be listening to that station! The Jack Frost Band has a song called "Frosty the Snowman." No, it's not a cover; it's an original song. At the beginning of the movie, we see them playing and a talent agent is there and is just so amazed by them. :::whispers:::: They're not that good. 

Jack is married to Gabby (Kelly Preston) and they have a ten-year-old son named Charlie (Joseph Cross). Charlie is on the hockey team and he wants his dad to attend the big game. His dad has band practice or a gig or something to do with his band, but he promises Charlie he'll be there. When he's saying this, I thought for sure he was going to get killed in an accident while driving there, but that doesn't happen. He does miss the game and Gabby is furious with him since he promised Charlie he would be there. He apologizes to Charlie and gives him a harmonica that's special to him because he got it the day Charlie was born. He tells Charlie it's a "magical" harmonica because he can hear it whenever Charlie plays it, no matter where he is. Since Christmas is near, he tells Charlie that he has a great idea of the three of them spending the day at their cabin in the mountains with no distractions and have a nice family Christmas and Charlie loves this idea.

Somewhere between this scene and before Christmas Eve, Jack and his son build a snowman and Charlie tells his dad it looks like him (it doesn't) because it's wearing his hat or something. I don't know. 

On Christmas Eve they've got the car packed and are ready to go to the cabin, but Jack gets a phone call from a big name label that wants to listen to The Jack Frost Band and potentially sign them. When he tells this to his family, they are ecstatic for him, but when he reveals he has to do it tomorrow (which is Christmas Day), they are not so happy. Gabby is a little more understanding and asks him how long he would have to play. He says only a couple songs, it wouldn't be a full set. Both him and Gabby think he'll be able to play the set, but still be able to spend time at the cabin. Charlie, however, is not happy about this at all and he gives his dad he harmonica back, telling him he doesn't want it anymore. 

Jack and his friend, Mac (Mark Addy), who's also the band's keyboardist, are driving to the gig in one car while the rest of the band and equipment are following them in a van. At one point, Jack tells Mac to pull over. He has decided he needs to be with his family and that they're more important than his career. He takes Mac's car and its now dark and snowy and the windshield wipers won't work and he's driving through a windy mountain road and I knew this was when he was going to die. 

Ironically, if he had just stayed with his band, he not only would have (most likely) still been alive, but he probably would have had a very lucrative career and I'm sure his son would have forgiven him for missing the Christmas when he was ten. But now he's dead and Gabby is working two jobs: we see her as a teller at the bank and a teacher at Charlie's school. Well, maybe she's just volunteering at the school; I wasn't really sure. 

After the car careens off the mountain, the screen goes black, then we are given a title card saying that it's one year later. This surprised me somewhat because I was thinking the snowman that Charlie and his dad had built was the one that is reincarnated into Jack. But it does make sense that they let a year go by because it would be a lot to deal with in this family comedy if we had to see how a young boy copes with the death of his father right after it happens. He's still pretty torn up about it a year later which is understandable. 

He has withdrawn from his friends and has quit the hockey team. One of his friends is played by Andy Lawrence and I'm like, okay, that's the one who wasn't on Blossom or Boy Meets World. Mika Boorem plays another friend who is also on the hockey team and I think she lives next door to him and I think she has a crush on Charlie, but they don't really explore that. We also never see them walk home together, so I may be wrong on her being his next door neighbor. There's also a bully named Rory who picks on Charlie and we see this in a scene before Jack dies and Charlie is usually able to get the upper hand on Rory. 

One snowy evening, Charlie builds a snowman while "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac plays over the scene. He draws the snowman's mouth in the snow instead of using material like most kids would do, but this is probably for the sake of the production of the snowman (which was created with puppetry and some CGI). He's wearing a hat (the one that made him look like Jack) and a red scarf. He has a cork for a nose and his eyebrows are made out of pine needles, which I thought was clever. I can't tell what his eyes are made out of. 

Even though Charlie gave the harmonica to his dad before he died, he has it back and starts playing it in his room. We see some wind whip around the snowman and voila!, he comes alive. Okay, if I had built a snowman and it came alive, I would be terrified. Espeically if it looked like this snowman. And Charlie is terrified. Jack doesn't seem to realize he's a snowman until he sees his reflection in the mirror and even that doesn't deter him from people seeing him walk around town. 

When Charlie is pelted by snowballs the next day by Rory the bully, Snowman Jack has followed him and starts launching snowballs at Rory, just like that scene in Elf when Buddy pelts snowballs at the kids. Rory and his minions start chasing after him and Snowman Jack saves the day by rescuing him on a sled and they go down the mountain (I didn't even realize they were on top of a mountain in the first place) with the bully entourage chasing him with sleds and snowboards set to some very '90s song. I did some research and found it was "Hey Now Now" by Swirl 360, a song or a group I'm pretty sure I've never heard of in my life...and I was around in the' 90s. The song is so '90s it simultaneously made me cringe and feel nostalgic. While they're sledding down the mountain, Snowman Jack says, "I'm the man! No, I'm the snowman!" Insert groan here. 

Since the snowman helped Charlie escape the big bully and the little bullies, he thinks it might actually be his dad, so he asks him a few simple questions that his dad should know, right? Wrong! Jack gets them both wrong! But then he calls Charlie "Charlie-boy" while he's talking to him and Charlie is all, "What did you call me?" And this is his proof that the snowman is his dad. Really? I honestly feel like any random person could just guess that "Charlie-boy" is his nickname. I don't think that would be enough proof for me, but it's enough for this eleven-year-old. 

I mentioned that this was the first time seeing this movie and while watching it, I thought that perhaps the snowman isn't actually sentient; perhaps it's all in Charlie's minds and he's just imagining it to be alive because his grief is still so fresh. Charlie tells his dad that he came alive as a snowman after he played the harmonica and says he didn't know it really was magical and even Jack admits that he was bs-ing him when he said that. Being that this is just an ordinary harmonica, I wondered if Charlie had created this fantasy when he played the harmonica. However, there were a few scenes that made me question if this could actually be the case. Snowman Jacks tells Charlie he's hungry, so they go back to the house where Charlie gives him frozen vegetables (I guess that's what snowmen eat? Why would a snowman even need to eat anything? It's a snowman!) and while they're in the kitchen, they don't hear Gabby's car pull up. She's walking towards the house and notices the snowman isn't there. Snowman Jack is hiding in the pantry and Charlie tries to distract his other until the snowman can go back to the front yard where it was. When Gabby opens the blinds, she sees the snowman back in its place and just thinks she's losing her mind. The only thing I could explain for this scenario if the snowman isn't sentient is that Charlie brought in the snowman himself (Gabby did mention the floor was all wet). 

Charlie isn't the only one to witness a talking and moving snowman; his hockey coach sees Snowman Jack when Jack, who seems to forget that he's a freaking talking snowman, stops the coach in his car to ask him something and the man just screams. We will see later that he's being interviewed on TV about it and when the reporter asks if there were any other witnesses around (heh, clearly she doesn't believe him), he can only tell her no. Also, when Rory was chasing Charlie down the mountain, Snowman Jack comes up from behind him to wipe him out and Rory sees a snowman on a sled and he screams, "Ahhh! Snowman!" 

So those two examples don't really help my case that the living snowman is all in Charlie's mind. Even though it's still December and we got a couple months of winter left, the weather is getting warmer and if Charlie doesn't help him, he's going to turn into a puddle. 

After some heart to hearts with his snowman dad, Chatrlie has decided to rejoin the hockey team and Snowman Jack goes all the way to the rec center or wherever they have hockey games and watch his son play hockey since he always missed it when he was alive. The best thing about this movie is the adorable pet dog Charlie has named Chester and he uses the dog to pull a sled. By this time Snowman Jack knows he can't just be walking about since he's a freaking snowman so he has the dog pull him on a sled. You might be thinking the dog was a husky or a Samoyed, but it was a Wire Fox Terrier; at least that's what Google told me. I knew it was a terrier, but I had to look up what breed it was. But whatever it is, it is an absolutely adorable dog and easily the best part of there movie.

So Snowman Jack makes it to his son's hockey game (don't worry, he's not sitting with the rest of the spectators, he's sort of hidden...somewhere) and he only sees about the last fifteen seconds of the game, but Charlie scores a goal and he's able to see that, whoopee. After the game, Charlie doesn't seem one bit surprised that he's there. He does notice his snowman dad needs to get somewhere colder because he's starting to melt. He runs to the bank his mom works at, telling her she needs to help him and admits the snowman is her deceased husband. Of course she doesn't believe him and basically tells him she's not driving a snowman up a mountain. I mean, can you blame her? She had seen him talking to the snowman and was worried about him, but never did she think it was this bad! She runs after him, but he's gone, so she goes to see if Mac can help. By this time, Charlie has spotted an alpine tree truck heading towards the mountain so he decides to get his snowman dad on the truck. He does this with the help of Rory, of all people. At first, Rory taunts the boy, but then Snowman Jack talks to him, startling the boy. It kind of reminded me when Woody talks to Sid, but Rory handles a sentiment snowman way better than Sid handled a sentient toy. I probably would be more like Sid. Rory has grown up without a dad...I think he's in jail, maybe? I don't know, but he knows what it's like to not have a dad so this makes the two boys bond, I guess, and he helps Charlie get Snowman Jack in the truck. Charlie also rides with him even though Snowman Jack could easily just jump out of the truck when the truck reaches the  top, but I guess they need Charlie here as part of the plot. 

So they go to the top of the mountain and jump out and slide down. There's lots of snow and it's very beautiful, but the jacket Charlie is wearing looks very light. Maybe it's one of those coats that are warmer than it looks. I also noticed that this kid never wears a scarf or anything to cover his neck or lower face and I can just imagine how cold he must get. Maybe it wasn't as cold as it looked, I don't know. Maybe I'm just a wimp when it comes to cold weather and I like to bundle up. But luckily, they are near their cabin, so Charlie is able to get warmed up on the couch in front of the fire. We don't see who made the fire, but how f***ed up would that be if the snowman made it? 

It's now dark outside and you can imagine that Gabby is besides herself with worry because her son not only thinks his dead dad is a snowman, but he's also missing. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, when she and Mac are looking for him, we see them go down a street, just missing Charlie and Snowman Jack jumping onto the truck. Gabby gets a phone call and it's Snowman Jack telling her that Charlie is safe and he's at the cabin. Gabby wants to know who's calling her, then realizes it sounds like Jack's voice and when she says "Jack"? he hangs up. I would be a little concerned if I were her and would probably call the cops to accompany me to the cabin. Who knows if this is some sick creep who kidnapped Charlie and maybe he knew Jack so he's able to impersonate his voice and now he's trying to lure Gabby into his trap. Just saying!

But Gabby drive-up alone and there's nothing to worry about because it's just a sentient snowman who's her deceased husband. I guess the magical curse or whatever you want to call it wears off because the snowman disappears, but then we see Michael Keaton with a glow emitting from him as he says goodbye to his son and wife for the final time. By the time Gabby witness this, I knew for a fact that Michael Keaton was really a sentient snowman this entire time and Charlie wasn't just imagining it. I sort of figured this out earlier, but kept trying to tell myself that they would explain the odd things. No, it's a real f***ing snowman! That was brought to life by a regular old harmonica! O-kay! 

Another thing I felt they never address or maybe I just missed it, was if Gabby and Charlie knew that Jack was coming to see them at the cabin last year at Christmas? Did they figure out when they realized his car was coming towards them? But his car flew off a mountain, so how would they know if he was going towards the cabin or away from them? I kept waiting for Snowman Jack to tell Charlie this, but he never does. Maybe he just didn't want to make Charlie feel guilty. 

I suppose this could be classified as a Christmas movie and even though it's set around Christmas and there's a Christmas tree and Christmas decorations, it just doesn't feel like a Christmas movie. It feels more like a winter movie, you know, with the winter sports like hockey and snowboarding and, duh, the snowman. When I was looking up the song that played during the sledding scene, I noticed there were Christmas songs listed, but I honestly don't even remember hearing them. I doubt this is on anyone's top ten Christmas movie list, let alone top fifty! 

Okay, bye. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Santa Slay

Violent Night
Director: Tommy Wirkola 
Cast: David Harbour, John Leguizamo, Alex Hassell, Beverly D'Angelo
Released: December 2, 2022

I feel like this movie was made because of the "Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?" debate. Because this movie is basically Die Hardexcept Santa Claus (David Harbour; guess he had a little break from Stranger Things) is now taking the role of John McClane. And, for the record, I definitely think Die Hard is a Christmas movie (it takes place at a Christmas party, there's Christmas songs, there's a Christmas tree, and who can forget the dead terrorist wearing a Santa hat and the message John McClane left for the deceased's friends: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho." However, despite all that, I think it is easy to forget it's a Christmas movie once it gets going because it's not saturated in Christmas-y goodness. Also, it takes place in a warm weather location and I need my Christmas movies to have snow, damnit! This movie, on the other hand, you don't forget it's Christmas. There's snow, there's Christmas decorations (complete with a large Christmas tree), there's plenty of Christmas music, there's nods to other Christmas movies, and Santa Claus (the REAL Santa Claus, this isn't some mall Santa!) plays a big part. 

It's Christmas Eve and we first meet Santa at a pub in London where he's "taking a break between shifts". There's another man dressed as Santa who tells the real Santa he's been doing this gig for four years now and the real Santa tells him he's lost count of how long he's been doing it and forget why he started in the first place. The faux Santa tells him it's for the money (do mall Santas really make that much? I guess it might be some nice extra money during the holidays) and Santa tells him that "this whole planet runs on greed." This is a very cynical Santa. He has noticed that kids just want the next present as soon as they open one, that "they just want care, consume." He thinks this might be his last Christmas. 

Santa had mentioned he needed to get back to his sleigh to deliver the rest of the presents and the barmaid and mall Santa had just chuckled at this, but when he gets up to leave, he hands the barmaid a gift for her grandson which has his name on it, then leaves out the door that leads to the roof. The woman wants to know how he even knows her grandson's name or how he even knows she has a grandson, then chases him out the door once she realizes he's on the roof. She doesn't seem him, but then sees a sleigh and reindeer flying and he flies over her and pukes on her head. We're really setting the tone for this movie. Now, I can handle a bad guy getting his eye gorged out with a sharp star ornament (spoiler alert!), but someone getting vomit on their head? Ugh, no thanks. I could have done without that! 

We're now in Greenwich, Connecticut, where we will stay for the rest of the film. We meet Trudy, a girl of about eight or so (I thought she was six, but we find out later she's older than six, but I am horrible at trying to figure out how old kids are!) and she is the epitome of pureness and goodness. Her parents, Jason (Alex Hassell) and Linda (Alexis Louder) are separated (we find out why later in the film), but they are coming together for their daughter's sake to spend Christmas at Jason's mother's mansion. 

When Trudy and her mom pick up her dad, she tells him, "Merry Christmas, Daddy, ya filthy animal" and we find out that she watched Home Alone the night before. I thought this was just a fun little shoutout to a classic Christmas movie, but this will actually come back in a big way later. 

Gertrude Lightstone, the matriarch of the family is played by Beverly D'Angelo and I have to admit I didn't recognize her at first, especially because her voice is so raspy. It is a fun little wink that they got the mother/wife from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The Lightstones are very wealthy from their company (something involving oil, maybe? I don't really know exactly how they made their fortune) and Gertrude (no mention of her husband, so he's out of the picture whether he's dead or they're divorced) lives in a compound so huge that it's gated and a guy works at the little post at the front of the gate and lets people in and out of the grounds. The guy's name? Al. That cannot be a coincidence. This guy was clearly named after one Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohson's character from Die Hard). Honestly, they might as well just named him Carl Winslow and we would have gotten the wink. But unlike Die Hard Al, who survives the movie (pretty sure he survives the entire franchise), this Al will not make it and as soon as I saw him let Trudy and her parents through the gates, I go, Oh, this guy isn't making it out of this movie alive. (Spoiler alert: I was right). 

You know, for a mansion with huge grounds, they were pretty stingy with the outdoor decorations. I saw a lit-up deer, a wreath, and a few lights that were wrapped around tree trunks. The inside was a little more festive at least, but, man, that outside was lacking. I guess since nobody can see their house from the outside since it's hidden from view and it's on a private road, they don't think it's worth to decorate the exterior. 

We meet the rest of the Lightstones who aren't the most likable of people. Gertrude is very foul-mouthed and doesn't have any qualms about swearing in front of her young granddaughter (who Trudy is named after, although Gertrude thinks her nickname makes her sound like "a whore"). Her grown children seem to be a little scared of her and accuse the other of always sucking up to her. Jason has a sister named Alva (Edi Patterson) who tells him she thinks this is the year their mom is gonna choose one of them to "start running the show." 

Alva has a 14/15 year old son named Bert. His real name is Bertrude (she was attempting to name him after her mother) and he's just your typical rich douchey teen who isn't very bright. We don't know anything about Bert's father, but Alva is dating an actor named Morgan Steel (Cam Gigandet) who is famous in "parts of Asia", but other than that, nobody would ever recognize him or care about him. He and Alva are trying to get up the nerve to ask Gertrude to fund a movie for him. Morgan is also a bit of an idiot. When we first meet him, he's telling Alva that if he were on one of the planes that was hijacked on 9/11, he would have saved everyone. At that moment, I figured he, too, wasn't going to survive this movie. I knew Trudy and her parents would make it, but, honestly, wasn't sure about Gertrude, Alva, or Bert. 

Before getting ready for bed, Trudy shows her parents the homemade cookies she's made for Santa. Actually, I think someone else must have made them and she just decorated them with frosting. She's worried that Santa won't know which of the many chimneys to go down and her mother tells her that Santa "just knows" because of "Christmas magic". Trudy is worried that Santa doesn't know what she wants for Christmas because her dad never took her to see him at the mall. Jason looks extremely guilty and tells her to put on her pajamas and he'll be right back. We see him open a closet full of board games and other random junk until he finds a Walkie Talkie with an ear piece which he wraps and gives to his daughter, telling her she can open one present tonight (am I the only one whose family opens presents on Christmas Eve?). He tells her the Walkie Talkie is a "direct hotline to Santa" and she can communicate with him that way, but warns her that Santa probably won't answer because he's very busy tonight delivering presents. Heh, nice save to explain why she won't be getting any reply!

Trudy is enthralled by the gift and immediately starts talking to "Santa". Her parents leave and they can hear her talking behind the closed door. She tells "Santa" she was extra good this year and wrote him a list with all the stuff she wanted, but the she realized she didn't really need any of that stuff and instead the only presents she really wants for Christmas is for "Mommy and Daddy to make up so we can be a family again." Boy, that's enough to make any parent feel guilty!

At the house, there's a bunch of catering people and other people hired for the holiday party. Right away, I could spot the bad guys who are sprinkled among the workers. They were the ones that gave sinister looks or weren't smiling. I understand they need to find a way to get the bad guys in the house, but it's literally just Gertrude and six other people. There are more workers than family members; it seems a little overkill to have all those extra people there, but again, I understand it's part of the plot. 

Before Santa will inevitably arrive at this house, we get a funny montage of him delivering presents and you can tell he's just so over it. At one house, you see a bunch of Amazon packages under the tree and that made me chuckle. At another house he finds a list where a kid has told him he just wants "cash" and "video games". Aren't kids supposed to tell Santa what they want BEFORE Christmas so he already has it with him? Duh. 

When Santa arrives at the Lighstone mansion, he really enjoys the cookies and especially likes the fact that they're homemade. I loved the "mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!" sound he makes. However, he's not fond of the skim milk and pours it out in an ice bucket and goes for some brandy that he sees sitting on a shelf and comments, "That's the stuff." He thinks the brandy "pairs well" with the cookie. He also finds a massage chair he sits in and starts to use and I'm thinking, Santa sure is spending a lot of time here! Isn't he on a tight schedule? He's only in Connecticut, he still needs to do the rest of North America; who knows if he's even been to Central and South America yet! Tick tock, Santa! 

Our bad guys soon take over after their leader, who calls himself Scrooge (John Leguizamo), shows up and kills Al (poor Al never had a chance), then enters the house where all the security and staff are killed too. Those poor people never had a chance, either. Scrooge has a team of people and they're all given Christmas code names: Gingerbread, Candy Cane, Peppermint, Jingle, Sugarplum, Krampus, Frosty, Tinsel." I'll tell you right now: Gingerbread, Candy Cane, and Krampus are really the only ones that have the most screen time. Gingerbread cuts the phone lines so no one can call for help. It is funny that Scrooge gave his team these code names since he hates Christmas (hence why his name is Scrooge). 

Before they start killing the staff and security, Jason and Linda have a conversation. We find out they're estranged because Gertrude keeps coming between them and causing rifts. He tells Linda that they can just walk away from his family and the company and never have to see them or deal with them again. Before he can continue, gunfire is heard downstairs. Santa, still in the massage chair, also hears this too. 

Scrooge instructs two of his cronies to bring all the Lightstones to the living room and to kill anyone else they find. Santa is hiding in a room with a fireplace and he tries to use his magic (by touching his nose) to go up the chimney, but it won't work. Tinsel finds him and they get into a fight.  Tinsel starts firing his gun, but when Santa tries to get the gun away from him, he ends up shooting at the roof and the reindeer are scared off and fly away. Let's just say Tinsel has a gruesome death when ends up impaled on a large icicle decoration right below the window. Santa also ends up outside and is about to get the hell out of there, but when he looks up he can see a scared looking Trudy in the living room with the rest of her family, so he decides he's going to stay and get help.

In the living room, we learn that Scrooge has "spent months planning a complex break-in to the most secure private residence in the country." We also learn that he's there to take $300 million in cash that he knows is in the vault. 

We get more stupidity from Morgan when he tells Alva that this reminds him of a scene from one of his movies called Dark Ransom and if these guys didn't have guns, he could take out three or four of them. 

Gertrude tells Scrooge that if he had done his research, he would know that her brother was kidnapped in the '70s, but her father never called the police, but instead sent in their own private extraction team and her brother was home a week later and the kidnappers were never found. He tells her he knows all about that and her extraction team and how long it's going to take them to get there. (Surely the extraction team they have now isn't the same one they had in the '70s, because those guys would be old). 

The bad guys are communicating by radio and Candy Cane calls Scrooge when she finds the impaled Tinsel. 

Meanwhile, in another room, Santa is trying to call for help, but the phones are dead. He hears Frosty approaching him and reaches in his bag of toys (bag of tricks?) to find a weapon, but all he seems to pull out are video games. His sack looks empty, but the way it works, you reach in and a gift comes out. Even though all of these gifts are wrapped (in the same red and white striped wrapping; where's the fun in that?), Santa always seems to know what it is. There is one moment he pulls out a small toy guitar that's easy to tell what it is because of the shape. We get a funny line where he mutters, "Doesn't anyone ever ask for a bat or a sword or Molotov cocktails?" The best he can come up with is a doll which he uses to bash Frosty on the head with after sneaking up on him. Santa reaches in to see what else he can find and there's a nice little wink when he pulls out Die Hard on Blu-ray. Of course, since the gifts are wrapped, Santa has to say what it is out loud for our benefit. 

Even though Frosty gets knocked in the head a few times with a stocking full of pool/billiard balls (they're in a room with a pool table), he is still conscious. (Frosty the Iron Man?) Somehow he gets the upper hand on Santa, having him in a tight grasp. In their struggle, the Christmas tree (I think they must have a Christmas tree in every room or maybe it just seems that way) has fallen over. Santa starts reaching for ornaments to smash against Frosty's head, but nothing works. Finally he reaches for the pointy Christmas tree star topper and jams it in his eye. Yes, this is the scene I'd rather watch than someone getting puke on their head. Okay, maybe I'm being a little hyperbolic, but I really can't stand vomit. Frosty is still alive (owww!), but Santa turns his lights out ironically when he plugs in the string of lights it was attached to and it electrocutes him. 

Santa collects Frosty's radio and hears Scrooge, Gingerbread, and Candy Cane talking about how the Kill Squad (what Gertrude calls her extraction team) won't be there for another two hours. Santa tries to see if he can call for help by trying a different channel, but gets Trudy, who asks, "Can you hear me, Santa?" Before this whole scene, we had seen Trudy on the couch talking into the ear pierce. Now while nobody is sitting right next to her, there are still people in the room (obviously, since they're being held hostage) and surely they can hear her end of the conversation. I guess they just think she's playing pretend and not actually talking to a live person, let alone the real Santa! I guess this is why they gave her an ear pierce to talk into! 

She tells Santa her name and he takes out his magical scroll which shows any name he needs to look up and whether they're on the "Nice" or "Naughty" list and traits on why they're either one. (All the bad guys are on the naughty list; what a shock. Although, to be honest, I'm surprised there are adults on the list; I would think  it would only be reserved for children.) I paused the movie to see all the reasons why Trudy is on the nice list: 
-sweet to everyone
-listens to parents
-kind to animals
-kept room clean
And the one that made me laugh:
-invited weird kid to party 

From their conversation, Santa realizes there are still six bad guys left. He tells her he's going to help her and her family and asks if she has any suggestion and she must tell him about the phone at the front gates, but when he gets there he finds Al dead and the phone line dead. 

In the surveillance room with all the video footage of the house, Scrooge finds out there's "a Santa Claus running around" and Candy Cane tells him there's no Santa listed on the employee manifest. When he tries to check in with Frosty on the radio, Santa answers and basically taunts Scrooge by saying, "Frosty? Is that the naughty guy I met in the basement? Your friend is dead." When Scrooge gets confirmation that he is talking to their "Santy Claus" and asks what he wants, Santa tells him he wants him to put down their weapons and leave and let this family go. He also adds, "I want to find my reindeer and I want to continue delivering my presents." The three bad guys are just looking at each other with amused looks and Scrooge asks him, "Are you f**ing kidding me?" He demands to know who he really is and thinks he might be "some security guard who's watched too many action flicks." Santa tells Scrooge they need to talk in person and adds in a sinister voice, "Santa Claus is coming to town!" I mean, technically, Santa is not only in the same town, but also in the same property, but I get what they were trying to do and it's still pretty funny. 

Santa puts the radio away and we see that he's bleeding quite heavily (he was gashed on his side with a sharp object when fighting with Frosty) so he goes into a room where he bandages his wound with wrapping paper. 

Meanwhile, Scrooge and the others go to the living room and he demands Gertrude to tell him who Santa Claus is, but she tells him she didn't hire one; that she never has a Santa because "it's tacky." Scrooge grabs a nutcracker from the mantel and tells them if someone doesn't tell him who this Santa is, he's going to start torturing someone with it. Unfortunately, for Jason, he's the one chosen. Trudy, who was whimpering in her mother's arms, gets up and yells, "Sop hurting my daddy or Santa will get mad!" This gets Scrooge's attention and he asks her what she knows about Santa. Before she can reply, Jason says she doesn't know anything about the Santa that's running around, and Linda adds that she's playing make believe and pretending to talk to Santa. Trudy insists she really is talking to Santa, adding that he's her friend and that he's going to save them and beat up Scrooge (glaring at him while she tells him this). Scrooge tells her, "I bet he'd come out of hiding if you asked him to." Jason tells her to tell the truth, that she really isn't talking to Santa, but Trudy won't deny it. Finally, he snaps, "Damn it, Trudy, Santa isn't real!" There are hilarious reactions from everyone, including the bad guys (especially the bad guys!) when they realize he's dashed her childhood dreams and basically ruined Christmas for her. He realizes he's upset Trudy and apologizes to her and admits that he and her mom give her the presents and just tell her they're from Santa. He adds that Santa isn't saving them because he doesn't exist. Trudy is upset and runs out of the room. Her mom starts to run after her, but Gingerbread stops her from leaving and Candy Cane is sent to look for her. 

This brings me to a point I've brought up in other movies that deal with Santa Claus existing in that film's universe: if Santa is real, wouldn't everyone know about it? Who do they think is leaving all the gifts under the tree? The other parent or the grandparents? I understand why they have people (usually adults) not believing him in because it is a fun reveal when they do realize he's real, but surely if he was real, the secret would be out. 

Trudy hides in the attic and calls Santa on the radio to tell him where she is. Seeing them chat on the Walkie-Talkies felt very Die Hard to me. However, Trudy has another movie on her mind. She tells Santa that she "can set up booby traps, like in Home Alone." Santa replies that he doesn't know what that means, but she should do it quietly. I guess Santa doesn't have time to watch Christmas movies since he's preoccupied with other stuff around that time of year! 

She asks him if he really is Santa Claus and that her dad told her that Santa isn't real and that her parents give her gifts and say they're from Santa. Santa tells her that a lot of parents say that to their kids, but that he "still brings presents to kids that need me; kids who really believe." He tells her that he remembers she wrote to him when she was six (I seriously thought she was six right now, so I'm guessing she's eight) and in her letter she told him she felt lonely so he brought her Mr. Bunny, her stuffed rabbit that's already been introduced to the audience. He also remembers when she wrote and told him she had a dream where she flew and her Christmas wish was to fly. He said that even though he had magic, he didn't have the magical ability to make a little girl fly (can make reindeer fly, though! Just saying, Santa!) and gave her a kite for that Christmas. This confirms for Trudy that he is the real Santa. 

Santa tells her not to be too hard on her parents because "grown-ups have a hard time believing in things." Trudy asks if he can use his Christmas magic to have her parents reconcile, but he tells her it doesn't work like that. He says that he and Mrs Claus are going on year 1100 and that "grown up relationships are complicated." 

We get some backstory on Santa when we (and Trudy) find out that he had a life before this "a long, long, long time ago." He used to be called "Nicomund the Red" (because he had red hair, I presume) and he was a viking/warrior and he used to be "a warrior, a raider, a thief" and had a large hammer he called Skullcrusher and you can guess why it was named that! Trudy asks him why he used to do those things and he tells her because he was "mean" and "greedy" and that if there was a "naughty list" back then, he'd be at the top of it. So how the hell did this guy become Santa Claus? We really need an origin story for this Santa! 

It makes sense that this Santa has a background of being a brutal warrior and is no stranger to killing people. I mean, can you imagine if 1994 Richard Attenborough's Santa from Miracle on 34th Street found himself in this predicament? He wouldn't be making it out alive. No pop culture Santa would. You just can't throw a good and pure-hearted Santa into this situation and just have him act like he's John McClane! 

Trudy tells him maybe he can use all the bad things he's done in the past to do "good things instead." She says that he's "good and kind" and he can help her family and adds "You mean more than just the presents you bring. That's why I believe in you, Santa." Damn it, Trudy, stop making me cry! (Disclaimer: I actually didn't cry during this movie, but if I had, this would have been the scene to bring me closest to tears.) He tells her to stay hidden until he can get to her. 

Back in the living room, Krampus wants them to open their presents because he wants to see what "rich a-holes get each other" and that they might as well see what they got for Christmas before they die. Morgan uses this opportunity to give his present to Gertrude which is a pitch for the movie he wants her to fund and he adds that this is "a gift of a golden opportunity" Alva gives her mother "a sentimental photo of the day [she] was born." Ha, I honestly don't know which gift is worse. They're both very self-involved. Gertrude wants to see Jason's presents, but he tells her he left it in the car. Bert tells him he remembers seeing him put a gift under the tree, but Jason insists it's in the car. Now, I admit, at first I thought he was trying to use that as an excuse to go to his car and drive away and get help, but obviously they weren't going to let him leave just to get a gift out of his car. Or they would have someone (with a gun) escort him. Krampus grabs the gift and it's whiskey, but when Gertrude reads the note, she doesn't look too pleased. Alva wants to know what the card says, but she tells her it's between her and Jason. 

We get another update that the extraction team will be arriving in thirty minutes and we see the team getting prepared to leave with their leader, Commander Thorp, telling them to take care of "any idiot who gets in their way."  

Okay, let's yada yada through some action scenes that brings Santa to being tied up to a chair with Christmas lights and Scrooge, Gingerbread, and Candy Cane questioning him. They're in a room that's right below the attic and Trudy is able to hear (and see a little bit) through a grate on the floor. Candy Cane notices that he's not armed and the only thing he's carrying is his bag. Gingerbread reaches into the bag and pulls out a wrapped presents and after opening it, Scrooge asks, "What kind of moron carries a chess set with him?" Gingerbread keeps pulling out more gifts and Scrooge asks, "What's the gimmick with the bag?" and Santa replies that it's "Christmas magic" and even he doesn't know exactly how it works. 

When Scrooge asks who he is, he lists a bunch of names including "Weihnachtsmann", "Babbo Natale", "Pere Noel", "Kris Kringle", "Jolly old Saint Nick", and that "people call [him] a lot of things." Gingerbread wants to know where his reindeer are and he says they ran off because they were scared by the gunfire. Candy Cane is gullible enough that she starts to believe that he actually may the real Santa, but Scrooge isn't buying any of it. He throws the bag into the fire which enrages Santa. 

We get to hear the backstory of why Scrooge hates Christmas. Little Jimmy Martinez (his real name) didn't use to always hate it, but when was 11/12/13 (I can't remember how old he said he was), his dad got laid off and they didn't have a Christmas that year because they weren't able to afford anything, but their neighbors had gone all out for Christmas and he felt like they were rubbing salt in the wound, I guess, so he snuck into their house on Christmas Eve to steal their presents (his code name should have been Grinch!), but the grandfather was up to use the bathroom and he was scared by seeing an intruder and fell down the stairs and broke his neck, then later died in the hospital. I was a little confused because Scrooge says that everyone accused him of doing it, then says he may have pushed the old man. Well, whether he pushed him or not, he was the one to cause him to hurt himself since he was the one who scared the old man! I get that it's worse if he purposely pushed him. Also, if Gramps fell down the stairs, why did Jimmy even go upstairs in the first place? Or did Gramps just hear/ see someone downstairs and got startled and fell? I'm a little confused when I probably shouldn't even give this any thought. Also, Phoebe Cates called and she would like to say her character in Gremlins had a much worse Christmas memory (third paragraph from the bottom, but seriously, does anyone not know what I'm talking about?) 

Santa calls them by their real names and while Gingerbread and Candy Cane (I don't remember what their real names were) wonders how he knows their names, Scrooge doesn't really question it. He points a gun to Santa's head and tells him he has five seconds to tell them who he really is and he's not accepting "Santa Claus" as an answer. Before he can pull the trigger, they're distracted because "snow" is starting to fall and Candy Cane thinks he's "doing this with his Santa magic." Well, of course, it's just Trudy who has dumped a bunch of Styrofoam bits through the grate. 

During all this distraction, Santa is able to knok himself over and use his magic to go up the chimney. The others had their backs turned, but Gingerbread saw the last few seconds of it and Scrooge thinks there are rigs and pulleys to help him do that "trick". 

Okay, now is the time I'm going to put a spoiler warning up. I don't think anything I've mentioned so far has been too spoiler-y. There's a couple of twists coming up (though I predicted one and I should have realized the other one) and I will be revealing (if anyone) if any of the hostages or anyone else of importance dies. 

SPOILER ALERT IN 3....2.....1! 

Everyone can hear the extraction team (there must be about 30 of them?) approaching on their snow mobiles. Morgan and Bert taunt Krampus that they are about to be saved. Morgan, feeling confident, I guess, punches him, but when Krampus begins to fight back, Morgan runs and jumps out the widow (I guess he was feeling like he was in an action movie) and tells the extraction team he's one of the hostages.

Okay. When we first heard about the extraction team and were given updates of when they would arrive, I knew they would be working for Scrooge now. For one thing, there was just too much time left for the hostages to be rescued. For another thing, I just found it so super obvious. And I was right. Morgan is shot and killed. Totally called it that he would die.

Commander Thorp is given the update by Scrooge about the Santa running around and he has his men posted around the property to keep an eye out for him. He joins Scrooge and a few others in the room with the vault, attempting to open it. Obviously, Scrooge has promised Thorp a share of the money for his help. He has a key that will help open it. Ironically, while they're working on opening it, Thorp shares an anecdote of when he was a kid he loved opening presents so much, that his mother would give him empty wrapped boxes for him so he could unwrap them and he didn't care if anything was inside. Sheesh, what a waste of paper! Well, guess what? The vault opens....and nothing is inside! I bet he cares now! 

Scrooge doesn't understand how this could have happen because he had "rock solid" intel and he knows that 300 million in cash was delivered to this residence yesterday. He thinks "somebody must have intercepted it." Do you remember the card Jason wrote to his mom? He was the one who took the money and told his mom in the card. Of course, he thought he would be long gone with it and his wife and daughter and that his mom would find out about it the next morning when she read the note. He only reveals this to Scrooge when he's about to shoot Linda because he doesn't think an in-law would know about the money. He and Gertrude (not really sure why she goes with them) lead him out to a life-size replica of a manger and the money is hidden in the hay. He gives orders to Krampus to kill the remaining hostages, but they are able to overtake him and kill him by beating him with some fire pokers.

While all that is going on, Santa is in a tool shed (one that's the size of a barn) where he finds a sledgehammer and this helps him single-handedly kill a bunch of the Kill Squad set to Bryan Adams' "Christmas Time" (which I always thought was called "Something About Christmas Time"). Other fun Christmas-y weapons of choice include an ice skate blade and a candy cane shiv. That reminds me; I haven't had a candy cane yet this holiday season! What is wrong with me? 

Now we get to the part of the film that me me simultaneously made me laugh and cover my eyes in horror while I cringed. I call this the R-rated Home Alone scene. Trudy has managed to set up a few traps and I was amazed that she set all this up in a couple hours, tops, but the I realized that in Home Alone it took Kevin a couple hours to set up all his traps which seems insane. Gingerbread and Candy Cane are walking through the upstairs hall when they see a board of nails (the sharp sides facing up, of course) on the floor and the ladder that leads to the attic is down with a nail on one of the rungs. Gingerbread calls up to her, "Booby traps don't work unless you hide them." Trudy hears him and radios Santa to tell him the bad guys have found her and he says he's on his way.

Gingerbread climbs the ladder, but Trudy has done something to one of the rungs so it's lose and he falls and his chin lands on the nail. Ahhhhhh, no! I honestly think that was way worse than the dude who got a star ornament stuck in his eye. Candy Cane climbs over him and enters the attic, but Trudy has lined up about five or six bowling balls and released them so they bounce off a small trampoline and roll towards her. She is able to get out of the way and they end up falling on Gingerbread. By this time he has lifted his chin off the nail (owwwwwwwwww) and one of the bowling balls knocks him into the board of nails. He pulls a nail out of his butt and stupidly looks closely to it. I wasn't really sure what he was doing, but it was very close to his eye and I was cringing hard just waiting for the last bowling ball to drop and send the nail in his eyes. Well, instead of his eye, it jabs him right in the middle of the forehead and he falls over, dead. So are you still on the nice list if you kill someone even if it's in self defense? 

After Trudy gets stuck in super glue and steps on ornaments (she had to take her shoes off), she's getting pissed off. The only contraption Trudy has left is a slingshot that doesn't really do anything but make the woman even more irate. Candy Cane takes out her gun, but here comes Santa to save the day. He's just like Old Man Marley! But instead of a shovel, he has a sledgehammer. Since she's still alive, he finishes her off. Now, isn't Santa a murderer in this scene? Yes, he has killed many other people this night, but that was in self defense, but here Candy Cane is pretty defenseless. Yes, she is a bad person, but maybe they should have tied her up and let the cops deal with her. 

Santa and Trudy meet up with the others in the living room and nobody really questions who this man dressed like Santa is, probably since they know he's helping them. Santa and Linda go outside to eliminate some of the men that are with Jason and Gertrude. There's some tense moments and many of the Kill Squad are killed, but Scrooge and Thorp (and maybe a couple more) are able to get away with the money on the snow mobiles. Jason and Linda passionately kiss when they realize they're both safe (for the moment) and Trudy sees this. 

We soon get to our stand off between Santa and Scrooge and Scrooge realizes that this is the real Santa when he gets his hands on the scroll and sees his name on the naughty list. Here are some of the reasons why he made that list:
-killed his best friend
-spreads misery
-broke his mother's heart
-hates Christmas

Okay, what if you hate Christmas, but you're not a murderer? Would you still be on the naughty list? This proves to Scrooge that Santa is real. Now Scrooge wants to kill him so Christmas will end forever. He gets the upper hand on Santa, but Santa kills him by stuffing him up a chimney. Don't even ask me how that worked, but it certainly looked like an unpleasant death. Oh, and Thorp is killed by Gertrude so all our bad guys are dead as far as I know. 

Santa isn't doing too well and the others are gathered around him. He's cold and there are fires around him from the snow mobile crashes, but they're going out so they need to find something to burn to keep them going. Jason grabs the money from the snowmobiles and Alva isn't happy about that. 

Santa tells Trudy he thinks he used up all his Christmas magic and that he's sorry he didn't give her what she asked for, but Trudy tells him that he did. He dies (I thought he was just unconscious, but it is confirmed that he's dead) and I'm thinking, Wow, this movie is really gonna kill off Santa. Jason comments that "whoever he was, he was a brave man." Trudy insist that he's Santa and that she'll always believe in Santa. This makes everyone go around saying they also believe in Santa. (Linda believes in him because he saved Trudy and saved their family). Santa wakes up and Jason is shocked because he was dead. Santa replies, "Christmas magic." Jason tells him he doesn't know how he'll ever replay him, but Santa tells him since he brought him back from the dead, they'll call it even. I mean, are we sure he just wasn't unconscious? 

Trudy sees the reindeer have come back and Santa goes over to inspect them. Apparently they flew all the way back to the North Pole and got his spare stack and Mrs. Claus put Skullcrusher in the sleigh for him with a note that reads "Thought you might need this too! Mrs. C."  A little too late for that now, Mrs Claus! I wonder how she even knew her husband needed that? Can the reindeer communicate with her somehow? I loved how she signed it Mrs. C., but I guess we don't know her first name. It's too bad we never meet her because I want to see who would be married to this Santa. I also want to know how the hell this man became Santa in the first place. 

Sunday, December 10, 2023

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

A Christmas Story
Director: Bob Clark
Cast: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin
Released: November 18, 1983

I know this movie is a Christmas staple for most people, but, honestly, it wouldn't even make my top ten holiday movies. What are those ten movies, you ask? Well, I would have to give it some real thought, but I know Home Alone, Elf, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation would be on there.

I think this was the second time in my life I have seen A Christmas Story in its entirety from start to finish. Now, I've seen certain scenes about a million times because back in the 2000s, (they may still do this; I honestly have no idea) it used to be on 24/7 during Christmas week on TBS or TNT or one of those channels, so often, if I was watching TV with my brother, we would catch certain scenes at certain times and watch those. But I don't think I've seen a single second of the movie for the last ten years! (I kinda got sick of it from being on TNT or TBS all the time in December!) 

This is a pretty straightforward movie. It revolves around the Parker family during Christmas in 1940s Indiana. I had a Today I Learned moment when I watched the movie recently: TIL that A Christmas Story takes place in the 1940s. I had no idea; I always thought it took place in the '50s. To be fair, I don't think they actually tell us when the movie is set, but when I streamed it, it was part of the description. It had to specifically be the year 1940 because there is no talk of World War II and there's mention of The Wizard of Oz which came out in' 39. Nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) is the main character and he narrates the movie as an adult, looking back at one of his most memorable childhood Christmases. Fun fact: the narrator is Jean Shepard, who wrote the novel the movie is based on. Ralphie wants a BB gun for Christmas, but since there isn't enough material to make that into an hour and a half film, the movie is comprised into many vignettes.

Ralphie first sees the "official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle" at a window display of Higbee's department store. So I thought Higbee's was a made up place, but it actually existed. Although it was in Cleveland, so they must live pretty close to the Ohio border if they're going there twice during the movie. Or they just didn't care if the geography made sense or not. I know the movie was filmed in Cleveland, so they probably just used it for convenience's sake. 

He's been thinking of ways to get the BB gun into his parents' subconscious, so he places an ad (which is more like a full-sized booklet than an ad!) for it in his mother's "Look" magazine so she'll see it. Ralphie thinks she'll read the ad, but I doubt she would. He places the magazine on his mother's bed. Yes, his mother's bed; not his parents' bed. His parents' room have two single beds with a bedside table between them. The two single beds are weird for a married couple and I wonder if this was how married people in the '40s slept or if this was how movies made in the '40s portrayed married couples so it wouldn't be scandalous. And, yes, I realize A Christmas Story was made in the early '80s, but maybe they were trying to go with a "realistic" approach. Or maybe this is a subtle way to show up that Ralphie's parents (Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin) actually really can't stand each other. 

We never do see if Ralphie's mom finds the ad, but she does ask Ralphie what he wants for Christmas during breakfast and he just blurts it out. Isn't that easier just to tell her what he wants instead of going to all this trouble to give her subconscious hints? His mother's reply is, "You'll shoot your eye out." Yeah, I would never let my kid have a BB gun...that's just asking for trouble. It's either going to hurt someone or cause damage. 

Ralphie's teacher, Miss Shields, wants her students to write a theme, "What I Want For Christmas." This makes young Ralphie excited and adult Ralphie narrates, "I knew when Miss Shields read my magnificent, eloquent theme, that she would sympathize with my plight and everything would work out somehow." I guess he thinks his teacher is going to love his paper so much and agree that he should have a BB gun and she'll convince his mother to let him have one? I'm not sure what his thinking is here! 

Ralphie's "theme" is only about a paragraph long: 

What I Want For Christmas 

What I want for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time. I think that everybody should have a red Ryder BB gun. They're very good for Christmas. I don't think that a football is a very good Christmas present.

That's it. That's the entire paper. Maybe when Miss Shields said "theme", she meant paragraph. Look, I understand he's in third grade, but even as a third grader, I can guarantee you my class wrote longer papers than that! I cracked up when narrator Ralphie says, "Oh, rarely had the words poured from my pencil with such feverish fluidity." This paper is just awful. I think my favorite part is the last sentence because where the hell did a football suddenly come from? What does that have to do with anything? 

When Ralphie hands in his paper the next day, he tells us he knew he was handing in a "masterpiece" (this kid is delusional!) and that maybe his teacher would excuse him from writing theme papers "for the rest of [his] natural life." Like your third grade teacher could keep you from writing papers in high school or college. Often, Ralph has little daydreams about how he envisions certain events to go and one of the funniest is when he has a daydream of Miss Shields giving Fs to every single paper (and there's a huge stack of them in his fantasy even though there's probably about only 20 kids in the classroom), but then she comes to his paper and she is overwhelmed with emotion because his paper is so fantastic. She claims the sentence, "....Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time" is the sentence that she's been waiting for all her life and calls it "poetry". She writes A+ on his paper, then gets up and writes his name on the board with A++++++ next to it while all the kids around him cheer and hoist him on his shoulders. It is absolutely ridiculous, but that's what makes it so hilarious. 

As you can imagine, Ralphie did not get an A+ on his paper and his teacher did not think he was the next Shakespeare. He got a C+ which I thought was pretty generous, cuz that was a D+ paper at best. In red ink, his teacher writes, "You'll shoot your eye out" and Ralphie thinks his teacher and his mom are in cahoots together. 

Ralphie has one more chance to get the word out that he wants a BB gun and that's when his family goes to Higbee's to see Santa after watching a Christmas parade. Asking Santa for a gift makes more sense for a kid rather than writing a paper about it for his teacher. 

The line for Santa is a lot longer than Ralphie and his little brother, Randy, think it is. In front of them is this creepy kid who never stops smiling or staring at them. He tells them, "I like Santa", then, when people dressed like characters from The Wizard of Oz who were in the parade they saw, interact with the kids in the line, he tells them, "I like The Wizard of Oz." The Wicked Witch comes up to Ralphie and says, "What a tasty boy." Ralphie tells her, "Don't bother me. I'm thinking." Heh. I love that he basically told her to get the f*** away from him in the most polite way. 

Ralphie and his brother make it closer to Santa, but the clock is ticking down and the store will be closing at nine, which is just minutes away. Santa, who has an unnaturally red nose, tells one of the elves, "If Higbee thinks I'm working one minute past nine, he can kiss my foot." But the thing is, once it is announced it is nine o'clock and the store is closing, he has at least five more kids come up to see him! Granted, none of them are visiting with him that long, but still, the way he was acting, I thought he was going to get up and leave. The elves are being rude and aggressive, telling the kids to hurry up and manhandling them and forcing them to sit in Santa's lap. If I were a kid in that line, I would definitely turn around and leave! Although the slide they go down after they see Santa looks like fun so I would be disappointed about missing out on that. Once it is Ralph's turn and Santa asks him what he wants, he can't remember what he's supposed to say. I can't really blame him since the elves are being extremely rude, telling him to hurry up. Santa suggests that he might want a football (I guess a football was a popular gift for Christmas in the '40s?) and her nods in agreement, but as he's being put on the slide, he stops himself from going down and blurts out what he really wants: "an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle." He says it so fast that if I didn't already know what he was going to say, I would not have understood him. Santa understood him and tells him that he'll shoot his eye out. Hmmm, that seems to be a running theme!

Despite all that, Ralphie does get his beloved BB gun for Christmas. It's after all the presents have been opened and his father tells him there might be one more gift behind the desk. The mother is surprised, so she wasn't behind that at all. The father tells her that he had a bb gun when he was eight. 

Watching this movie again in a very long time, I found myself really disliking the mother and Randy, the little brother. Randy was just whiny, and yes, I realize he's just a little kid, but I just couldn't with his constant whining. I thought the mother was a little bit stupid or maybe naive (don't worry, I'll give examples shortly) and she treated both her sons like they were babies, especially Randy, she infantilized him. 

Point #1: When getting ready for walking to school, Ralphie is wearing normal winter clothes: jeans, sweater, coat, hat, mittens. Randy, on the other hand, is being stuffed into a red snowsuit while already wearing a bulky sweater. Ralphie compares his brother getting ready for school to getting prepared for deep-sea diving and he's not wrong. Randy is already wearing a hat, but his mom puts the hood of his snow suit over the hat. This is such a pet peeve of mine! If there is a hood already attached to the coat you're wearing, YOU DO NOT NEED A SEPARATE HAT! You already have one! She then proceeds to wrap a long scarf completely around his face, like a mummy. He starts whining and because his mouth is covered, he's muffled. I thought for sure he was going to tell her he needed to use the bathroom, but instead he whines that he can't put his arms down. He's just so overstuffed that it's impossible to put his arms by his side. His mom tells him that he can put them down once he gets to school. We never do see how he got out of that thing at school, but we do see him wearing it when he walks home from school, so did he ever take the stupid thing off? Also, that kid had to be ROASTING in that thing, good Lord! You would think his mother would just get him a normal coat and not a snow suit that takes forever to bundle up in. Ralphie has a normal coat, so why not her other son? There is a hilarious moment when they're walking to school and Randy gets knocked down and he's rolling around on his back like a turtle because he can't get up, so Ralphie has to help him. 

Point #2: Ralphie tells us that Randy "had not eaten voluntarily in over three years." I think this is because his mom is a horrible cook. All the meals just look so disgusting. The oatmeal he has for breakfast makes me want to vomit because it looks like vomit. She also serves them a disgusting dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes (didn't see any gravy) and red cabbage not once, but twice during the film. Although, her husband and Ralphie seem to have no problem eating this disgusting meal and it seems more like they're telling us that Randy is just a picky eater. He's just playing with his food (building a sculpture) and his mother tells him, "Don't play with your food, eat it" and that starving people would be happy to have it. Ha! Now while they may eat it (because they're starving), I doubt they would be happy about it! She asks Randy to pretend he's "a little piggy" and that his plate is the trough and show her how one would eat. We get this gross scene of him just putting his face in the plate of food and his mother is laughing in delight like it's the cutest thing she's ever seen when just seconds before she had told him not to play with his food. I would have more of the reaction that Ralph and the dad have...they just look on in disgust, especially the dad. This scene goes on way too long and I definitely could have done without it. 

Point #3: When they're opening presents Christmas morning, Ralphie is told by his mother to open the gift from Aunt Clara because she always sends him "such wonderful presents." Really? Does she? Because for this Christmas, Ralphie gets a pink bunny onesie. This is just not ugly, but creepy, because attached to the feet are pink bunny slippers....why would a bunny have heads attached to their feet? That makes no sense. Adult Ralphie narrates to us that not only did Aunt Clara seemed to think he was "perpetually four years old, but also a girl." But I don't think even a nine-year-old girl would want that pink atrocity. I don't think anyone in their right mind would want that. Of course, Ralphie is embarrassed as he's forced by his mother to show everyone what he got. She tells him (and she's being sincere here) that Aunt Clara "always gives [him] the nicest things." Huh? Is she for real? Is Aunt Clara her sister? And how old is Aunt Clara? Cuz I'm picturing this eighty-year-old woman who has no idea what a nine-year-old boy would want for Christmas. She makes Ralphie go upstairs to try it on and reluctantly he does. Once he returns, she says, "That's the most precious thing I've ever seen in my life." Again, I ask, is she for real? How can you think something so UGLY and CREEPY look "precious"? At least the father think it's a sh*t present. He tells his wife that Ralphie looks like "a deranged Easter bunny" and "a pink nightmare." Finally, the mother realizes how miserable Ralphie looks and tells him he only needs to wear it when Aunt Clara visits. I hope for his sake that Aunt Clara lives on some remote island off the coast of Alaska, but why would he need to wear it when she visits? 

So pretty much all the examples I've given so far are how she treats her sons like babies, but I do have one last example of her being a little bit dumb. (Although I think she's pretty dumb if she thinks Ralphie would like that creepy bunny outfit.) After Ralphie gets his bb gun, he goes outside to play with it. It came with a paper target that he's taped to a tree and after he shoots the gun the first time, the force is so strong that it ends up knocking his glasses off his face (and losing one of the lenses) and he gets a scratch on his face. While looking for his glasses, he ends up stepping on them and the other lens crack. He decides to make up this bullshit story of how an icicle broke and shattered his glasses and his mom buys this story! Seriously? Like, he was literally just playing with an effing BB gun that she was worried about and she believes that his glasses were broken because of an icicle? So stupid. There's no way anyone would buy that story. 

All right, so now I'll talk about some of the vignettes that are sprinkled throughout the story. I'm going to start with the ones I remember the most.

While walking to school with his two friends, Schwartz and Flick, Schwartz tells them that he asked his "old man" if sticking your tongue to a metal pole in winter will make it stick and he said it was true. Flick doesn't believe that to be true. Schwartz tells him that his dad knows because he saw a guy stick his tongue to a railroad track and it got stuck and the fire department had to come and help. I see what you're doing there, movie. A little foreshadowing. 

At recess, while standing next to the flagpole, Flick tells Schwartz he still doesn't believe one can get their tongue stuck to a metal pole and Schwartz double dares him to do it. Flick tells him he doesn't want to stick his tongue to the pole because it's dumb and Schwartz replies, "That's cause you know it'll stick." Can't argue with him there. He next double dog dares him. Ralphie's wide-eyed reaction is hilarious and so is his narration: "Now it was serious. A double dog dare. What else was left but a triple dare you? And finally, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple dog dare." Schwartz skips the triple dare and goes right into the triple dog dare which shocks everyone (all the students are pretty much gathered around the flagpole watching this whole thing unfold...I guess they didn't have a teacher out on the playground in those days). Because of the triple dog dare, Flick finally agrees and the stupid kid sticks his tongue to the flag pole and it gets stuck. I'm pretty sure this movie is the reason why I've never stuck my tongue to a frozen pole, though I've never had any inclination to touch my tongue to anything. Even before Covid, the idea just makes me shudder with disgust. 

The bell rings and all the kids start running back towards the school. Flick (who can barely talk, mind you) pleads for Ralphie to stay with him and he's all, "The bell rang!" When Schwartz asks Ralphie what they're going to do, Ralphie's only response is just to whine, "I don't know! The bell rang!" and both friends just run off, leaving poor Flick by himself. At least Schwartz, the one who dared Flick to touch his tongue to the pole, tried to act like he cared! When all the kids are back in the classroom and the teacher asks where Flick is, a little girl points to the window where she sees him and the fire department has to come and help him. Maybe back in those days, the fire department would be the best people to call, but I feel now people wouldjust Google what to do! Honestly, if I were that kid, I would be mortified in a firetruck came and caused a huge scene. I think even one kids mentions that the cops are, what the hell? Of course, I would never be that stupid in the first place to touch my tongue to a cold (or even non-cold!) metal pole! 

Since we're already in the school setting, there's a scene at the beginning of the school day where the teacher has just come in and says good morning to the class while her back is turned to them writing something on the chalkboard. The class replies to her in muffled voices and when she turns around, they're all wearing these exaggerated fake front teeth. She doesn't even crack a smile, but instead just holds out her hand for them to all put their fake teeth, which have been in their disgusting little germ-filled mouths, mind you. Ewww! Why not tell them to throw them away in the trash? She opens a drawers in her desk and dumps them in there and we see it is full of other jokes and gags which includes chattering teeth, a rubber mouse, a rubber frog, sunglasses with a fake nose, and a fake ear with a fly. Whoever bought those fake teeth sure wasted their money!

The leg lamp ("Oh, wow!") is another storyline that is very memorable. Actually, what I didn't remember is how the dad obtained it in the first place, but I guess he won a trivia contest in the newspaper and he would be getting his "award" that night. I don't know why he referred to it as an "award"; when I think of an award, I think of a trophy or a certificate. Wouldn't this be a prize for winning the contest? 

For some reason, he thinks he might be getting a bowling alley and his wife asks him how they're going to deliver that to their house (another reason why I think she's dumb) and he tells her they would deliver the deed. But instead he is delivered a huge wooden crate that says "fragile" on it and the dad pronounces it "frah-gee-lay", claiming it must be Italian until his wife points out what it really says. Personally, I think we should all pronounce "fragile" like "frah-gee lay"! 

Since it's a wooden crate, he has to open it with a hammer and he opens the box to find the tacky and gaudy leg lamp wearing a heel and fishnet stockings and the lamp shape is made to look like the skirt. The dad and Ralphie are instantly enthused by it. The dad wants to put it on a table in the middle of their front room window, basically so all the neighbors can see and be envious of his arousing leg lamp. He plugs it in and we see there's about ten plugs in one outlet; guess they didn't care about electrical safety back in those days! He goes outside to direct his wife where to move it so it's in the perfect spot and he attracts a crowd around him and his poor wife is just mortified. I guess back in those days, that lamp would be considered scandalous and racy. Ralphie keeps caressing the leg and his mom distracts him by telling his favorite radio program, "Little Orphan Annie" is on. 

This brings me to the next vignette, one I didn't remember much of. After school one day, Ralphie gets his "Little Orphan Annie" secret decoder pin that he's sent away for and it finally comes in the mail. He tunes in to listen the numbers that are given which he writes down and will decode a secret message. Once he has the numbers, he goes to the bathroom because it's the only private room in the house (he shares a room with his brother) because he thinks this is some top secret, important, for his eyes only kind of message. While he's in there, his brother has to use the bathroom (guess they only have one bathroom in this house!) and so far he only has "Be sure to..." written down. I thought it was going to reveal to say "Be sure to tune in tomorrow night for...." or something like that. By this time Randy is knocking on the door and whining for him to hurry up and his mother is yelling at him to get out of the bathroom. I really can't blame either of them; I would be livid if I had to go and the only bathroom in the house was being occupied by someone who wasn't even using the toilet! The message actually ends up being "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine" and Ralphie is greatly disappointed. I really hate how this kid writes. He leaves no spaces between his words so it looks like BESURETO....He really should be grateful he got a C+ on that paper because even a D+ seems pretty generous for that atrocious paper! 

And finally, the last vignette I'll talk about is when Ralphie gets his mouth washed out with soap for saying a bad word. It's when the family is driving home from buying a Christmas tree and the car gets a flat tire. When the dad gets out to take a look at it, the mom tells Ralphie to go and help his dad. (By the way, in case you hadn't already noticed, the parents in this movie aren't given names). I thought Ralphie was going to whine, but instead he seems excited about the prospect of helping his dad. His dad gives him a bowl-shaped thing so he can hold the bolts in it. Because of the dad's actions (he flings his hands too quickly and it ends up knocking the bowl), the bolts go flying in the air and Ralphie goes, "Oh, fuuuuuuuuu-dge." But of course that's not what he really said! The dad is appalled by his language and when they get back in the car, he whispers to his wife what his son just said and she is just so aghast. This leads to Ralphie getting his mouth washed out with soap when they get home and when she asks him where he heard that word, he tells her it was his friend.

This whole thing just made me mad. First of all, it was his dad's fault for flipping the bowl over and losing the bolts! I think Ralphie just had a natural reaction to it. I could totally understand him getting in trouble if he had said, "Hey, Ma, this meatloaf looks like f****** s***!" Now, he would have been telling the truth, but I would totally understand him getting in trouble if he had said that! But if I were in his situation, off the shoulder of the highway, helping my dad fix a flat tire and a bunch of bolts flew all over, yes, I'd probably have some choice words to say! (I don't think the bolts are ever retrieved, so they must not have been that important!) I get that he's in trouble for the word he used and not because of what happened to the bolts, but it is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS that the mom asks Ralphie where he heard that word because she should know he heard it from her husband. There's a scene early in the movie where it is established that the furnace often breaks down and he has to go down to the basement to fix it. When he's down there, we can hear him saying gibberish words which are meant to be obscenities the whole family can hear. It kind of reminds me how Joe Pesci "curses" in Home Alone. Since he wasn't allowed to swear in a PG movie, he just ended up saying gibberish words which were being substituted for swear words his character would probably say in real life! But the mother is right there and I'm sure she's heard other instances of her husband cursing like a sailor because Ralphie tells us that he's heard his dad use "the f dash dash dash word" at least ten times a day! I'm not really sure why he's trying to protect his dad and tells his mom he learned the word from his friend, but his mom should know. Hell, even Mrs. Schwartz knows when she calls his friend's mom and tells her the word that Ralphie just used (I love that she whispers the word instead of just saying he said "the f word") and asks her does she know where Ralphie heard that word and you can hear Mrs. Schwartz (rightly) say, "Probably from his father." Just another reason why I think the mother in this movie is an idiot! She tells Mrs. Schwartz that he learned the word from her son and you can hear Mrs. S screaming at and smacking her son. I felt bad for the kid since he did nothing wrong and Ralphie sold him out. 

Ralphie is sent to bed early for his punishment and we get a funny daydream where he has gone blind and when he visits his parents, they're shocked to find out he's blind and when they ask how this happened, he dramatically tells them, "It was soap poisoning" and they're besides themselves, crying. It's hilarious when they go back to Ralphie, laying on his bed, with a big grin on his face. 

Oh, something I had completely forgotten about was their neighbors, the Bumpuses, have about five or six bloodhounds (Ralphie will tell you it's 785) who "ignore every other human on earth but [his dad]." I remember the family ends up eating at a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day, but I thought it was because their turkey had deflated (I must have been thinking of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation!), but it's actually because the dogs get in the house (I guess Ralphie had left the door open when he came in from playing with his BB gun) and gobble (ha!no pun intended, honestly!) up the turkey. 

I know people love this movie and while there are some fun and memorable scenes, for the most part, I can take it or leave it (mostly leave it). It's not as funny as Elf or Home Alone or Christmas Vacation or even as sentimental as those! 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Are You Ready For It?

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour 
Director: Sam Wrench
Released: October 12, 2023
Viewed in theaters: October 20, 2023

Since I'm deprived and Taylor Swift didn't bring her Eras Tour to my city, I had to settle for going to her concert movie. But that's okay because I hate crowds and even if I did get tickets to her show, I would be in the nosebleed section. That's what I keep telling myself! I felt like everybody in my theater had already been to her concert. Now, I don't have any proof of that, but it just felt like everybody knew all the little inside moments. Most likely they could have just seen these moments on Instagram or Tik Tok. 

I do know that a lot of people who did go to the (actual live) concert did appreciate the concert movie, because, depending on where you're sitting, you're not always seeing everything and with the movie you are able to see these details much better. 

So, for some idiotic reason, I was thinking the concert movie was spliced together with the different cities she visited. I thought they would do that so it would be "fair"; surely they wouldn't just film the movie at one concert. In my mind, they would show a different era from a different city. But when I saw the movie, it appeared to be filmed on one night towards the end of her U.S. tour when she performed at SoFi Stadium in L.A. Then I saw an Instagram video of someone who was at her concert when the movie was being filmed and you could see some guy on stage with her, following her with a camera. Haha, that sounds so stalkerish and weird, like some guy just jumped on stage and started following her with a camera (like they would let that happen!) No, this guy is clearly supposed to be there and he's obviously filming her for the movie. That's when I realized....duh, of course. The way the movie was filmed, OF COURSE there was someone on stage with her with some of the way the angles were shot. There's no way they could have filmed the movie the way they did if they just stuck a few stationery cameras around the stage. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean: 1) When she's performing "The Man" and she's at the top of that scaffolding prop they use for that song, there's a close up of her looking into the camera; 2) there's a 360 degree shot at one point. Unfortunately, I cannot remember what song this is during, but I love a good 360 degree shot. It's just so cinematic and epic! 

I was listening to the podcast Every Single Album: Taylor Swift (the best TS podcast in an ocean of TS podcasts, IMO!) where the two hosts were talking about the movie and from them I learned that movie was filmed at SoFi more than one night and that there were cameras everywhere. (At least one of them was at one of those shows!) We do get some audience reactions during the movie and while that would be cool to be immortalized in the Taylor Swift Eras Concert movie, I do have to wonder how distracting that would be. Not just with all the cameras around, but also with the cameras that are on stage with her at all times too. I wonder if your experience is diminished in anyway. Not that I would know! So I looked up online to see when the concert was filmed (which is what I should have done in the first place instead of just assuming!) and found out they were filming the first three days of the six days she performed there. So they must have just used the best footage they had from each of those three concert and spliced that together. 

Okay, enough of this boring technical stuff! Let's talk about the good stuff: the music and the fashion! 

So as you may or may not know, the concert is divided into her different eras (i.e. albums) and she sings about 3-5 songs from each era. Yes, this is why it's called the Eras Tour! She does not perform each era in chronological order (because that would be boring!) No, I'm sure there's a logistical reason for the way the show is structured the way it is. This is the order she performs each album:

1. Lover
2. Fearless
3. Evermore
4. Reputation 
5. Speak Now
6. Red
7. Folklore
8. 1989
(secret songs)
9. Midnights

Now, you may notice that her debut self-titled album is missing and, honestly, that's fine with me. There are a few songs I like from that album, but I hardly ever listen to it. Technically she does sing a song from it during her secret songs and I think they did that at least to have one song from her debut album in the movie. At least, that's my theory! I'll explain more when I talk about that part of the concert/movie.

Starting with Lover makes sense because that was what should have been her previous concert, but was cancelled because of Covid. Just think, if Covid never existed, neither would have Folklore or Evermore and this would have been the Midnights Tour. That seems like such an odd alternate universe!  

Okay, you know how when you're eating dinner at a fancy restaurant and they serve you a palate cleanser between courses to get you ready for the next course? (BTW, I've only had this experience once: at a restaurant when I was in NYC a million years ago). I kinda feel like the Evermore and Folklore sections are the palate cleansers of this concert. I don't know if that's even a great anaglogy and it sounds like I'm dissing those two albums and I'm not because I love those albums. I even ranked Folklore as my favorite TS album. I did love the performances from these two sister albums, but it is my theory that she strategically placed them where they are in the setlist so people could sit back and relax. Hell, I've ever heard jokes that people used that time to go to the bathroom. (This is during the four hour live concert, not the two and a half hour movie!) I feel like I got major whiplash from going from "Tolerate It" (was that the last song in her Evermore set?), then pretty much going straight into her Reputation set with the booming bass sounds from "...Ready For It?" 

I remember listening to the Every Single Album: TS right after she announced she was going on tour and the hosts were speculating on what she would perform. They thought she might do her huge pop hits in the massive arenas and her stuff from Folklore and Evermore in smaller venues. While I feel like that would make more sense, logistically it just wouldn't work, and besides, it is called the ERAS tour and not having two of her albums (and one that won a Grammy) would be blasphemy. Like, people can live without her debut album, but NOT the sister albums! 

When she performed "Tolerate It" from the Evermore set, I felt like I was watching a play with the table and one of her male dancers "acting" in it. I really liked it, but I have a feeling this worked much better being filmed for a movie than watching it at a live concert. "The Last Great American Dynasty" from her Folklore set also had a theatrical play element to it. I liked that one of her dancers played Rebekah Harkness and that moment where she and Taylor exchange a knowing glance when Taylor sings "and then it was bought by me." Again, this probably shows up better for the movie than a live show. I know a lot of people thought it didn't make sense that "Cardigan" was cut (about five or six songs were cut from the movie), especially since she sang "Betty" and "August" and they thought "TLGAD" should have been cut, but I am so glad that they did not cut it because, hot take, that might be a top five Taylor song for me and "Cardigan" is just okay to me.

My favorite set was the Reputation Era. It just got you so pumped, which was why it gave me major whiplash coming after the more subdued Evermore set. I personally would have swapped the Reputation and Red sets. They are only separated by her one song from the Speak Now era, but it would make more sense for Reputation to come a little bit later. I wonder if the ten minute "All Too Well" is exactly at the halfway mark of the concert and that's why they had it that way. The only thing that would have made the Reputation set complete perfection is if she had sung "Getaway Car". I have a hard time trying to figure out which song from the Reputation setlist I would swap out for that one, so in my mind, I would cut "Lavender Haze" from her Midnights set, but only because that's a song I'm pretty meh on. Like, give me "Getaway Car" over that song any day! 

The Red set was a lot of fun too. She sang "22", "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", "I Knew You Were Trouble", and, of course, "All Too Well." If she had swapped "IKYWT" for "Starlight", she would have sung all my favorite songs from that album. During "22" she gives the hat she's wearing to someone her mom has picked out from the audience (usually a little kid, but sometimes it's someone older.) When I saw the very young girl who received the hat in the movie, I knew it was Kobe Bryant's daughter. I only knew this because I had read that Taylor gave her hat to her at one of her concerts at SoFi. I did double check to make sure I was right and I was. She is only six years old! She is so young! I think showing this little girl who tragically lost her famous father and older sister at such young ages receive the hat makes more sense than showing a random kid receiving it. You see Taylor talking to her and give her a big hug after she gives her the hat. When I saw her give the little girl a hug, I had a feeling it was Kobe Bryant's daughter because I don't know if she gives all the other hat recipients hugs, but maybe she does. It is a very sweet moment and just seeing the joy on that little girl's face almost brought a tear to my eye. 

She sings her "secret songs" after the 1989 set. These are two songs from her catalog that she sings that aren't part of the show. In the movie, she sings "Our Song" followed by "You're On Your Own Kid." I think that was strategic because with "Our Song" you're getting at least one song from all her albums, so all her eras are truly represented in the movie. "YOYOK" is immediately followed by her last set, the Midnights era, so it easily falls into the right set and this is the song with the "make the friendship bracelets" line and Taylor knows about the exchanging of friendship bracelets at her concerts. Having this song be in the movie was no coincidence, especially with the dedication/thank you to her fans at the end being in the style of beaded friendship bracelets. 

Speaking of which, the friend I saw this movie with invited me over to make bracelets and it was simultaneously fun and a pain in the ass. One bracelet in particular I had to do four times because I dropped all the beads twice, I had a letter backwards, and I had too many beads between letters. I made three: "Wildest Dreams" (ironically, that was my nightmare bracelet!), "Delicate", and "Bejeweled". Here is a photo of them:

This is a movie where it was encouraged to sing and dance along, so on a scale of one to ten with one being nobody singing or dancing and ten being over the top chaos, I would say my theater was about a 4.5. There were people singing along to some of the songs, but it wasn't so obnoxious or overly loud that you couldn't hear Taylor (though the movie was pretty loud). Nobody was dancing in the aisles, but a lot of young kids were dancing at the front of the theater and they were throwing and waving their little light-up batons. They were even dancing to the Evermore set...which was weird. This one little girl was singing her little heart out  along to "August" which was hilarious and adorable. 

I was singing along too...internally! 

Now for fashion corner because she never goes out of style (ha, ha, ha). I loved most of her ensembles; my favorite being the sequined t-shirt dress she wears when she performs "Lavender Haze" and "Anti-Hero." There was one particular dress I did not love, but everybody seems to go gaga over: the humungous lilac gown she wears when she performs "Enchanted". I hate this dress! She looks like a freaking wedding cake! Yes, I realize it's supposed to be like that, but it's just too much for me. I've seen the other ballgowns she's worn while performing this and I like all the others so much better. Also, I chose that moment to use the bathroom, heh! I'm sure people were judging me for leaving during this song.

She also has each nail painted a different color and I'm not sure if she did this for every concert or only for when the movie was being filmed because it would translate better on screen. Each of her albums represents a different color. She has ten albums and she has ten fingernails, so therefore this was the perfect time to do this! Some of her album/color combinations are pretty obvious, like the color for Red is, wait for and indigo blue for Midnights. Usually the color for the album is whatever color dress/outfit she's wearing on the album cover: yellow for Fearless, purple for Speak Now. She's going to be running out of colors pretty soon (she has orange and white left for the basic colors) and will have to pick colors like fuchsia or chartreuse or persimmon. She better get the Pantone site open! 

Overall, it's a fun movie to watch if you didn't get to see the concert. I have no doubt it doesn't even come close to seeing it live. I do wish she had just released it to Netflix instead of making it a theatrical release, but I get she wanted to make it an "experience" so people could dance and sing. Maybe it will be released to Netflix in the future and it will include the deleted songs.