by Adam Riske
Boot and rally!
Welcome back to Merry Movie Month! I hit a rough patch this week as I quit the challenge (albeit for less than a day), citing that I was altogether tired of Christmas movies. I’m not sure what got me back on the horse; nevertheless, the second half of the week went more smoothly.
Read Days 1-3 here.
Day 4: Nothing like the Holidays
This was my second viewing of the Puerto Rican-themed Christmas dramedy Nothing like the Holidays
, and while I remember being kind of indifferent to it last time, this time I really enjoyed it. It’s like if you took The Family Stone
and made it not insufferable. The cast of the movie (including Alfred Molina, the late Elizabeth Pena, John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Vanessa Ferlito, Jay Hernandez, Luis Guzman and the bangin’ Melonie Diaz) is what really makes it work. Man, do I have a crush on Melonie Diaz. She looks like if you took Alexis Bledel and cross-bred her with Rosie Perez. I should also point out that it’s nice to watch a Christmas movie depicting a non-white family for a change – too many Christmas movies devolve into waspy bickering, whereas Nothing like the Holidays
feels more caring, sensitive and full of warmth. If you haven’t seen this one, it’s worth a rental. It’s not perfect but it’s certainly overlooked.
Day 5: Christmas with the Kranks
Oh G-D is this movie bad. And oh G-D do I love it so. Along with two other movies (which I’ll get to later in the challenge), Kranks
is a core member of my Christmas “trilogy of bad.” These are Christmas movies that are so ridiculously wrong-headed that they may as well be from Mars. I am also a Tim Allen apologist, which might further explain my love for Christmas with the Kranks
. There is so much wrong about this movie, from the Nazi-esque neighbors led by Dan Aykroyd (who thinks he’s funny but really is not) to Jamie Lee Curtis’ has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed performance to the fact that the Kranks
spent $6K+ on Christmas last year to Tim Allen’s character passing out interoffice memos to his co-workers stating that he is not observing Christmas (he might as well be announcing to his boss that he is NOT WORKING). I have to think the people behind Christmas with the Kranks
knew they were making a lousy movie so they upped the awful content in some kind of sick game of one-upmanship for who on set had the worst ideas. In any event, this is a perennial favorite of mine and probably the movie from 2004 that I watch the most, which is something I never would have thought possible 10 years ago.
Day 6: A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
What a piece of trash. I love bad Christmas movies, but this is just too much. A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
is an ugly, mean (but of course, also saccharine) leap into the dumpster starring Joel McHale, Lauren Graham and the late Robin Williams. It wastes a pretty good cast! My problems with the movie are many: 1) it’s ugly visually, looking like it was shot on very cheap digital cameras; 2) Clarke Duke is in it and he’s like the Paul Dano of comedy for me and 3) it’s 80 minutes but feels like 800 minutes. I can’t think of a single thing in this movie I enjoyed. It’s a new release (I think it went direct to video or had a short VOD release). Skip it. It’s one of the worst movies of the year and an awful send-off for the talented Robin Williams. What a bummer.
Note: After A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
I needed to watch something good to get me excited again about this challenge. I starting watching The Ref
(which I have never seen) but had to turn it off after about 25 minutes. Why? Because it’s just rich white people arguing! I couldn’t take any more of that -- not after the last two movies I had watched. So I called an audible before Day 7 and chose something a little more pleasant.
Day 7: The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet Christmas Carol
wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping it would be. The movie takes a while to get going and the songs are particularly weak, but it does indeed get better as it goes along. Before I forget, does anyone else think the special effect of The Ghost of Christmas Past is also terrifying, especially for a kids movie? What The Muppets Christmas Carol
has going for it is the strength of the source material. So even during some rough patches in the movie where the Muppets and Dickens feel like an ill fit, what shines through is the strength of the “A Christmas Carol” story. The Muppet Christmas Carol
is nothing special but it’s just good enough to warrant a recommendation.
Day 8: The Long Kiss Goodnight
The last time I had seen The Long Kiss Goodnight
was many years ago when it first debuted on home video. I remember thinking it was fair at the time, but on this recent re-watch I must say that I quite enjoyed its over-the-top, energetic tone. Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson make for a surprisingly charismatic pair and the script by Shane Black is quirky and often quite funny. Director Renny Harlin really knew how to handle the action sequences in this movie as each one works and is just different enough to be memorable set pieces each on their own. If you haven’t seen this one in a while, I recommend giving it a revisit.
P.S. I love how Black incorporates the Christmas holiday into each one of his scripts, if for no other reason than it lends the movie some personality. Hey, if it worked for Die Hard
and Lethal Weapon
then why mess with the formula?
Day 9: Home Alone
What can I say about Home Alone
that hasn’t already been said?
Well first, I don’t know about you, but I have noticed that I enjoy the clever, non-slapstick first 2/3 of the movie much more than the climax as I have gotten older. Also, I am always taken by surprise by how much of a jerk the Macaulay Culkin is set up as at the beginning. In a smart move by the filmmakers to avoid having Kevin be entirely unlikeable, I appreciate that he’s not cynical but rather sincere when it comes to the Christmas holiday. He’s a kid with some genuine awe for what the day represents and the traditions that go with it. I also found myself especially liking the scene in the church with the scary next door neighbor. That scene, while a little on the nose, is pretty well written and acted. Is Home Alone
a great movie? No, not really but it does have a certain magic to it that can only be stumbled upon by accident and not manufactured.
Day 10: The Holiday
This one is a mixed bag for me. It takes forever to ramp up and the first hour is pretty laborious, but once the romance between Cameron Diaz and Jude Law kicks in, it becomes a pretty pleasant romantic comedy. The Kate Winslet character is a problem. She’s portrayed well by the talented actress but pairing her with Jack Black doesn’t generate much in the way of fireworks. Overall, The Holiday
is fine. It’s lifestyle porn directed by queen of the lifestyle porn Nancy Meyers (who is the female Garry Marshall), but it goes down smoothly and is almost immediately forgettable. So what is there really to get all up in arms about? Movies like this are why the network TBS exists.
Join me next week as we’ll discuss a modern day favorite starring (who else?) but Tim Allen, a classic among Christmas classics with a young Natalie Wood and a huge hit from Joe Dante
about a horde of creatures you can’t serve milk and cookies after midnight.
What do you think of these movies?
Black also did "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" which takes place during Christmas as well, if I remember correctly.ReplyDelete
I like this challenge you are doing! It's already given me 2 Christmas movies that I haven't even thought of seeing and will do so this year. The last new Christmas movie I can remember seeing that I liked was "All is Bright" with Giamatti and Rudd. I would recommend checking it out if you haven't already.
I bought All is Bright but haven't watched it yet. Glad to hear someone has seen it and liked it!Delete
MerryMovieMonth sounds pretty horrible. Adam you truly are the FThisMovie masochist. I finally got around to watching Invasion USA (#HeavyAction) and it is indeed a Christmas movie. An ultra-violent, mean-spirited Cannon movie may help the month go a little smoother #MattHunterReplyDelete
I simultaneously love and loathe Invasion USA.Delete
I will wear the title of F This Movie masochist proudly. But only in 2014. Because re-invention or something.Delete
I really enjoy Muppet Christmas Carol. I like seeing Michael Caine taking on the Scrooge role, and I think Rizzo and Gonzo are great as the narrators. The movie is one of the better film entries in the Muppets universe.ReplyDelete
I also have thought on multiple occasions to check out The Holiday, but always pass when I hear how mediocre it is. You seem to validate this opinion even further for me.
Don't give up! There are lots of Christmas classics that you haven't even gotten to yet!
Michael Caine was pretty great as Scrooge. I agree with you there.Delete
I honestly think Caine is the best onscreen Scrooge. He never acts like he's playing with felt and gives it a good amount of pathos (I greatly dislike CC movies where Scrooge is a complete horrible monster). Plus, it's the most faithful adaptation.Delete
I discovered I liked Family Stone a lot more when I realized I needed to be rooting for Sarah Jessica Parker's character against that awful, cloying family. (Seriously, who the hell hugs someone on the first meeting?)ReplyDelete
Ugh..I saw The Family Stone in the throes of a huge late 2005 Rachel McAdams crush. She's reading this, right?Delete
I'll defend THE REF. It's not really about rich white people arguing, but about taking those arguing rich white people and knocking them down several pegs. It's got one of the most well-structured and tightly-written screenplays you're likely to find, cat pee jokes and all.ReplyDelete
I'll give it a shot at some point. Thanks for letting me know it's worth watching.Delete
I hope The Ice Harvest makes your list. One of my favorite Christmas movies!ReplyDelete
I love The long kiss goodnight. I find it a good take your brain out movie. It also has one of my favourite lines from this type of movieReplyDelete
" Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
" I hope not, cause I'm thinking how much my balls hurt"
i had totally forgotten about the long kiss goodnight, i think what i like most about that movie is Samuel L Jackson is basically playing a parody of a Samuel L Jackson performance, its really bizarre.ReplyDelete
Ah Adam, you brave but crazy man. I always thought Kate Winslet was way too good for the movie but I kind of like her bits. But then again I am a bit biased considering my on going crush on Kate Winslet.ReplyDelete