Archive for December, 2011

A Christmas Story

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on December 26, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: November 18th, 1983

Rating: PG

Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Directed By: Bob Clark

Cast: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Tedde Moore, Zack Ward

FILM INFORMATION

All Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun and tries to get his parents, his teacher, and even Santa onboard with the idea.

After his mother and teacher both tell him he’ll shoot his eye out with the gun, he figures Santa is his last hope. When Ralph and his younger brother, Randy, visit Santa at the mall, Ralph mistakenly asks for a football instead. When he blurts out what he really wants, he is disappointed when Santa tells him “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” At this point, Ralph isn’t really having too much high hopes for his ultimate Christmas present until Christmas morning comes.

THOUGHTS

This is the one movie I make sure to sit down and watch every holiday season as it is one of my personal favourites. There are a lot of people that dislike it for the fact that it is constantly shown on television. Even TBS shows a 24 hr. marathon of it for Christmas. Being someone that enjoys the movie, I do completely agree it is way overplayed and there are definitely better holiday films out there.

The movie focuses on the Parker family. We never learn what Ralph’s parents names are which I have always wondered but it isn’t a huge detail in the movie. It focuses on Ralph and his quest for the Red Ryder BB gun. Along the way, we see his adventures with his friends and family, along with how he tries to the adults to see why he wants the gun. He also comes into contact with the local bullies and we see his interactions with them.

During a bet, one of Ralph’s friends sticks his tongue to a pole at school and the fire department and police have to come and help him out. As children, we all have heard the tale of how if you stick your tongue to something outside in the winter, it will stick but it didn’t seem possible (but of course it was). It just surprised me that the movie didn’t have them pour hot water on the pole to let his tongue free.

I love the scene where Ralph has had a terrible day and is slushied in the face by a snowball, thrown by Scut Farkus. Normally, Ralph is terrified of Scut and would take a beating but he is full of rage and lets Scut know it. Ralph’s mother comes to the rescue which causes Ralph to see his mother in a new light.

When Ralph and Randy visit Santa at the mall, they don’t quite get what they bargained for. Instead of the holly jolly Santa, they get a cranky one who is kind of a jerk to all the children. Even the elves are a little creepy. Another thing is that once the children are done with Santa, one of the elves chuck them done a slide which I have personally never seen before. While Ralph is waiting in line, he comes across a strange boy who constantly smiles at Ralph and tells him that he loves everything… such as Santa and The Wizard of Oz.

Ralph’s father is a bit of a potty mouth when he gets angry. We see this when he is trying to fix the furnace. The words are all jumbled together so you can’t understand what he is saying, but you can still tell. This comes into play later when Ralph helps his father with a spare tire and after the bolts go flying from Ralph’s hands, he says “Oh fuuuuuuuuuuuuuudggggggggggge” expect he didn’t say “fudge”. When asked where he heard that from, he lies and says one of his friends told it to him.

A part of the movie that most people know is the leg lamp. Ralph’s father wins in from a contest and he is instantly in love with it. The mother however hates it and wants it destroyed. After she accidently hits it and it falls and shatters, the Father is furious and tries to put it back together, without much hope. He ends up burying it in the backyard and the sound of “Taps” can be heard in the background.

While Ralph’s mother is preparing the turkey, the neighbours dogs break into the house (they are constantly seen with Ralph’s father, who hates them) and eat the turkey. The family have no other choice but to go to a Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner which causes a lot of laughs for the family.

The movie is a memorable one for me. I grew up with it and still love it to this day. It isn’t the most amazing movie in the world, but I still really enjoy it. I always find myself laughing at scenes in the film even after having watched it so many times.

FINAL RATING 

Frosty the Snowman

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 25, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: December 7th, 1969

Rating: G

Running Time: 30 min.

Directed By: Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass

Cast: Jimmy Durante, Jackie Vernon, Billy De Wolfe, June Foray, Paul Frees


FILM INFORMATION

After Prof. Hinkle comes to perform magic for a classroom and his hat doesn’t work, he decides he no longer wants it and it somehow ends up on a snowman the children have made. When he discovers the hat is really magic and brings the snowman to life, he stops at nothing to get the hat back.

The children name the snowman Frosty and he sings and dances. Karen, one of the students, learns that the climate is too warm for Frosty so they set out for the North Pole. After being unable to purchase a train ticket, Karen and Frosty, along with Hocus (Prof. Hinkle’s rabbit), set out inside the icebox compartment of the train for the North Pole. They leave after it appears to be way to cold for Karen but unfortunately, the encounter Hinkle along the way, who will do anything in his power to get the hat back.

Frosty comes across a greenhouse in the middle of the forest and after Hinkle looks him and Karen in, Frosty is done for. Hocus finds Santa and brings him to the duo but they are too late. Luckily for Karen and Frosty, Santa has the magical powers of being able to bring him back to life.

Hinkle is told that he must write out how sorry he is for what he has done a hundred, zillion times, and then maybe Santa will bring him a new hat for Christmas.

In the end, everything works out and Frosty makes it to the North Pole.

THOUGHTS

Frosty is one of the really short films I watch for the holidays. It is only 30 minutes long so it is a very quick watch.

There is music throughout (the classic Frosty song) and the animation is great. The story is a classic one.

Every character in the film, even Hinkle, you like. It is kind of unbelievable that Karen would go along with Frosty to the North Pole, but this is an animated film so what can you expect?

FINAL RATING 

Gremlins

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 25, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: June 1st, 1984

Rating: PG

Running Time: 2 hr.

Directed By: Joe Dante

Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Francis Lee McCain, Polly Holliday, Corey Feldman

FILM INFORMATION

Rand Peltzer is an inventor on the search for the perfect Christmas present for his son Billy. He comes upon a shop which has all sorts of odds and ends and finds a Mogwai which he ends up buying (without the owner’s consent). Rand is told of the three rules you must follow when in possession of a Mogwai: 1. Don’t expose him to bright light; 2. Don’t ever get him wet; 3. Never ever feed him after midnight (the most important rule of all).

All seems well and Billy loves his new present (Gizmo) but unfortunately has a difficult time following the rules and there are consequences for not obeying them.

Gizmo is adorable and after Billy’s mom takes a photo of Billy with Gizmo, the flash goes off and the first rule is broken. After Billy is shows off Gizmo to Pete (a boy from the town), water is accidently spilled on Gizmo, resulting in tiny fur balls popping out of his body, which in turn means water makes Gizmo spawn Mogwai. Right off the bat, you can tell these new Mogwai are different from Gizmo. Gizmo is cute and sweet, friendly and caring while these new ones like to make a lot of noise, almost bite Pete’s finger off, and are messy. One of them, Stripe, even has a little stripe on his head and is the leader of the new Mogwai. After Billy takes one of the Mogwai to the local high school and shows the science teacher it, he applies a drop of water causing it to spawn a new Mogwai. This new one stays with the teacher and he performs some tests on it. Back at home, Billy feeds the Mogwai (he checks the clock and it is before midnight). The next day, the Mogwai have gone into some sort of cocoons and when his mother asks him if he broke any of the rules, he checks the clock and sees the wire was chewed through. When they hatch, the Mogwai are no longer cute and fuzzy but gross, green, and very alien-like and are now called Gremlins. They also love to cause mischief and mayhem.

It is now up to Billy, along with Kate (his love interest) to help save their town of Kingston Falls from the Gremlins.

THOUGHTS

Gremlins is a mixture of a horror, comedy, fantasy, and a good holiday film. The acting is decent in the film but the focus is on Gizmo and the Gremlins.

One of the characters I hate in this movie is Mrs. Deagle. She is the lady that everyone in town knows and despises. She owns the town and only cares about herself. Repeatedly she threatens Billy and his dog (enough to say she will kill his dog) and you have no sympathy for this character. A woman in the film with two small children begs Mrs. Deagle to give her more time to pay her and is told to shove off. In a lot of ways, Mrs. Deagle reminds me of Mr. Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life. There is even a shot in Gremlins where the movie is shown. Much like Mr. Potter, Mrs. Deagle doesn’t do anything to redeem her character and it is bittersweet when she comes in contact with the Gremlins and actually gets what she deserves.

While pretty much all of the Gremlins are kind of stupid, Stripe is very intelligent and avoids death a number of times throughout the movie while his comrades bite the dust.

The Gremlins love causing mayhem but all sit down together and watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the local theatre which is a pretty funny scene plus there is a hidden Mickey in the scene. Another funny scene is at Dorry’s Bar where Kate works. The Gremlins have all gone there and we get to see all of the different personalities, including a workout fanatic (think Flashdance) and a flasher. Kate discovers the Gremlins don’t like bright light and uses it to her advantage to escape.

One of the downer moments of the movie is when we learn why Kate hates Christmas. She tells Billy (and Gizmo) that when she was 9, her mother and her were waiting for her dad to return home from work but he never showed up. They contacted the police but he was never found. One night when Kate is lighting the chimney, she smells a terrible smell. When the chimney is checked, it is discovered that her father is inside, dressed as Santa with presents. Wanting to surprise his wife and daughter, he broke his neck and died instantly. Talk about a reason to hate Christmas… This moment just seems completely out of place in the movie. Being that Kingston Falls is a small town, you would think Billy would have known that about Kate, but oh well.

Another part of the movie that is kind of off is when Pete first meets Gizmo. Gizmo is watching television and a bright light is on behind him but he is fine. Gizmo hates bright light so I just found this kind of odd since he should be afraid of it, but oh well again.

The special effects for the movie are actually really good. You can believe that Gizmo and the Mogwai are really creatures and not animatronics. They move pretty fluidly throughout. If they remade this, I imagine the creatures would be CGI instead of animatronics even though clearly the animatronics work really well.

Overall, the movie is a good one to watch for Christmas but has the horror aspect thrown in so it is good any time of the year.

FINAL RATING 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 18, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: June 1st, 1964

Rating: G

Running Time: 53 min.

Directed By: Kizo Nagashima, Larry Roemer

Cast: Burl Ives, Billie Mae Richards, Paul Soles, Larry D. Mann, Stan Francis, Janis Orenstein

FILM INFORMATION

Rudolph is a young reindeer who is born with a shiny red nose that his father (and Santa) can’t stand so he makes Rudolph wear mud to disguise it and hopefully fool everyone.

Hermey is an elf that just wants to be a dentist more than anything in the whole wide world.

Both Rudolph and Hermey’s paths cross and the two become instant friends and decide to set off on a journey together. They meet several characters and even encounter some danger along the way.

THOUGHTS

Rudolph is narrated by Sam the Snowman, voiced by Burl Ives. He tells of the stories of Rudolph and Hermey. This is a classic and is one of my favourites by Rankin-Bass.

It shows of how both Rudolph and Hermey aren’t accepted by society for the way they are. Rudolph is at first part of the gang but after it is discovered he has an abnormality (his red nose), he is shunned by pretty much everyone (aside from Clarice, a young doe that has caught Rudolph’s attention) and cast out, even by his own father.

Hermey is also different in that he doesn’t enjoy making toys like the rest of Santa’s elves. He would rather be a dentist and is put down for his way of thinking.

Both characters cross paths and become misfits together. Along the way, they encounter Yukon Cornelius who is also an outcast himself and enjoys searching for silver and gold. Yukon is a really good character and accepts the two for who they are.

Bumble the Abominable Snowman (probably my favourite) is another character the gang come across on their journey. He is supposed to be the villain of the story but the lesson is to not judge a book by its cover and that Bumble may seem harsh on the outside, but he is really a softy on the inside and just wants to be loved and accepted like everyone else.

The music in the movie is classic. Everytime I hear it, I just think of Christmas. The style of film also works really well. I even own some Christmas tree ornaments of characters from the film because I enjoy it so much. It has been an annual tradition to watch ever since I can recall.

My only gripe with the film is Santa. He is kind of a jerk in this. He doesn’t accept Rudolph because of his nose and also acts rudely towards the elves when they put on a special singing performance for him. Santa is supposed to be about love and happiness but in this, he is cranky most of the time. Of course, it isn’t until he realizes that Rudolph’s shiny red nose is the key to delivering toys to the children in the terrible snowstorm and is all about welcoming Rudolph with open arms.

Another part of the film I enjoyed was the Island of Misfit toys. It shows the toys that have things wrong with them and that children don’t seem to want, such as a train with square wheels.

Overall, this is a classic and if you haven’t watched it (which I think is highly unlikely), definitely check it out.

FINAL RATING 

Journey’s in Classic Film

Posted in Random with tags , , , , on December 14, 2011 by bluehawaii19

My friend, Kristen, writes a blog called Journey’s in Classic Film. 

http://journeysinclassicfilm.wordpress.com/

Be sure to check it out. Kristen is a great writer and explores all different genres of film. At the moment, her blog is focusing on holiday films, like mine. She even did a review on Die Hard so you can see someone else’s more in-depth views on the movie.

Kristen (along with co-host Eric) is also the host of a wonderful podcast entitled The Midnight Matinee Podcast. They discuss all things film and even throw in some commentaries from time to time as well as read listener feedback.

http://midnightmatineepodcast.com/

Die Hard 2

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 14, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: July 2nd, 1990

Rating: R

Running Time: 2 hr. 4 min.

Directed By: Renny Harlin

Cast: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, William Sadler, Art Evans, Dennis Franz, John Amos

FILM INFORMATION

This time around, John McClane must defend the Dulles International Airport against a group of terrorists, lead by Col. Stuart. McClane has more at stake when Stuart’s team takes control of the airplanes, one of which has McClane’s wife, Holly, aboard.

THOUGHTS

Just like Die Hard , this movie does feature Christmas but of course, doesn’t focus on it. The action and comedy is here, like the first movie, but this one isn’t nearly as good. A few of the actors return, including Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson (for a very brief appearance), and William Atherton.

Out of the new characters introduced, I enjoyed Art Evans as Barnes the best. He is almost like Al from Die Hard. He believes in John from the beginning and teams up with him to help stop the terrorists.

Dennis Franz as Carmine Lorenzo, the leader of the airport police, is a jerk to McClane throughout the entire film but does redeem himself at the end.

William Atherton plays a larger role this time around. He just happens to be on the same plane as Holly (he has filed a restraining order against her) but learns of what is happening at the airport and just makes things worse.

John Amos is one of those actors you see in all sorts of movies and television. He plays Capt. Grant here and his character is kind of a jerk to McClane but also redeems himself.

William Sadler did a good job as the leader of the terrorists. He wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as Hans Gruber was from Die Hard but they are two completely different characters. There is a brief shot at the beginning of his characters nude backside which is completely random and has nothing to do with the story.

Die Hard 2 is a good watch but not nearly as enjoyable or has as much replayability factor as Die Hard. There is a twist near the end of the movie that I had forgotten about from watching it a couple of years ago and the movie does provide a few laughs and some good action sequences. However, it just isn’t as good as Die Hard and even seems almost too goofy at times.

FINAL RATING 

Die Hard

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 11, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: July 15th, 1988

Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hr. 54 min.

Directed By: John McTiernan

Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, William Atherton, Hart Bochner


FILM INFORMATION

John McClane is a New York City cop who flies to L.A. to visit his estranged wife, Holly, for a Christmas party at her place of work, the Nakatomi building. Unfortunately for everyone at the party, including John, the building is taken hostage by a group of Europeans, headed by Hans Gruber. It is up to John to figure out a way to take back the building and rescue all the hostages, including Holly.

THOUGHTS

Unlike a lot of people out there, I only recently started watching Die Hard. When I was younger, I probably watched it on TV but have no recollection of doing so. I bought the 3 movie collection a few years back and really enjoy the first Die Hard.

Die Hard is a classic action flick that people either consider a Christmas movie or they don’t. While the movie isn’t directly a holiday film, it does feature some Christmas music, Christmas decorations, and has a Christmas party thrown in.

Bruce Willis makes for a fantastic John McClane. He works as an action star but also throws in a lot of funny one liners. A few others actors were either considered for the role or turned it down but I can only see Bruce Willis in the role. He just worked perfectly.

Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber was pretty good. He is suave and isn’t a downright villain. He tries to reason with people and does give them a chance to survive but doesn’t take any bull either.

I always enjoy Reginald VelJohnson as Al, the cop who responds to John’s plea for help and is the one who believes in John the entire time he is stuck in the Nakatomi building. He is the ray of light guiding McClane to safety. His acting in Die Hard was just really good. He always manages to play a cop in everything I have seen him in (my notably Family Matters).

Overall, Die Hard is the classic action film. It has everything you need for a good time and the movie just flows right along. You get caught up in the action and everything just works perfectly.

FINAL RATING