Archive for 3 1/2 stars

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 

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 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 9, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: November 25th, 1987

Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Directed By: John Hughes

Cast: Steve Martin, John Candy, William Windom, Laila Robins, Michael McKean

FILM INFORMATION

Neal Page’s plane is delayed, then cancelled. He has to try and figure out a way to make it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately for him, he decides to team up with Del Griffith, an overly friendly yet sometimes abnoxious shower curtain ring salesman. This decision may be the worst or the best of Neal’s life.

THOUGHTS

Even though this movie is a Thanksgiving film, I watch it for Christmas. In fact, I already watched it earlier this year, after finally buying the DVD.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is such a classic comedy. Both Steve Martin and John Candy did a fantastic job in both their roles. Even though Neal is the main character, he can be pretty stuck up and rude at times so you do have some sympathy for this character but not a ton. Del on the other hand is a really genuinely nice guy. He is the main reason why terrible things have happened to Neal (without his knowledge) and you really like his character.

The movie offers a lot of funny moments and a good amount of laughs. One in particular is the scene where Neal and Del have to share a room and a bed. When they wake up in the morning, they share a “tender” moment followed by a hilarious yet awkward one. The scene always cracks me up.

The movie really only focuses on these two characters. From time to time, we see glimpses of Neal’s family, but they really aren’t a big part of the movie. When Neal realizes why Del hasn’t been home in years near the end of the movie, it just brings everything together and offers a really nice moment between the two.

FINAL RATING 

It’s a Wonderful Life

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 3, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: December 25th, 1946

Rating: G

Running Time: 2 hr. 15 min.

Directed By: Frank Capra

Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers

FILM INFORMATION

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of those classic Christmas films that is good for the whole family.

James Stewart stars as George Bailey, a man who has always tried to do good by others. After an unfortunate event at his office, he learns he is worth more dead than alive and contemplates suicide. Luckily for George, his guardian (wingless) angel, Clarence, prevents it and after George makes a wish of him never having been born, Clarence grants it. George is then shown how those he cares about most would be affected by this wish.

THOUGHTS

James Stewart did a fantastic job as George Bailey. He really has a wonderful life but he doesn’t appreciate it until the end. Donna Reed was also really good as Mary Hatch, the young woman who fell in love with George as a child and would be in love with him until the day she dies. Henry Travers made a good Clarence, who is assigned the task of helping George in exchange for his wings. Lionel Barrymore did a fantastic job as grumpy, evil old Mr. Potter because I despise him everytime he is on the screen. He is the sole reason why George considers suicide and there are no redeeming qualities to his character.

FINAL RATING 

Home Alone

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 3, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: November 16th, 1990

Rating: PG

Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

Directed By: Chris Columbus

Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Candy

FILM INFORMATION

I always find time to watch Home Alone every year for the holidays. I was five when this came out in theatres and it has been a tradition to watch it on television once a year. I recently bought the DVD (own the original VHS) so now I can watch it whenever I like.

This movie is such a classic. What kid doesn’t want to have the situation Kevin does? Being home alone to do whatever you want is just what most kids wish could happen. Of course, that can be a dangerous thing, but still…

Kevin is left behind when his family go on vacation to Paris. When he wakes up and realizes this, he believes it is because of a wish he made the night before after being fed up with always getting dumped on. Kevin is in complete heaven and discovers he can do anything he wants but soon starts to miss his family. At the same time, his mother is trying everything to make it home to Kevin and a couple of thieves (Marv and Harry) have cased the house out. It is up to Kevin to be the man of the house and defend it against “The Wet Bandits” while at the same time, trying to keep a good household.

THOUGHTS

This movie is a classic. I grew up with it and still love it to this day. The traps Kevin sets up are nothing short of awesome and you can almost believe he is able to rig up his house the way he does. I even enjoyed the subplot with Kevin’s neighbour. It wasn’t a huge part of the movie but Kevin freaks out everytime he sees Marley but learns not to judge a book by its cover. I enjoy John Candy in everything I have seen him in and even though his part is small in this, I still really enjoyed his character.

The movie does have a few sequels but only the second one matters and in my opinion, almost as good as this one.

FINAL RATING 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on December 3, 2011 by bluehawaii19

Release Date: December 1st, 1989

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Directed By: Jeremiah Chechik

Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki

FILM INFORMATION

I started off my holiday film viewing this year with a classic, Christmas Vacation. The film is the third in the series of National Lampoon movies that follows the Griswold family. This time around, they stay at home for the holidays and nothing goes as planned. Relatives are invited to spend the holidays with them and one family shows up unexpected.

Chevy Chase always does a really good job in the Vacation films. Out of the four, I would say Christmas Vacation is by far my favourite. I make sure to watch it every holiday season. The jokes never get old and the movie doesn’t seem dated at all.

The premise for those that haven’t possibly seen the film:

Clark W. Griswold is an all-American family man that ranks his family at the very top of his list. He works for a company and is expecting a big Christmas bonus this year. With the money from the bonus, he will be putting in a swimming pool. His and his wife (Ellen) have invited both their parents to spend the holidays with them. Clark’s children, Rusty and Audrey, are your typical teenagers that are played by different actors and actresses in every movie (a running gag throughout the films). Clark’s cousin, Eddie, along with his wife and two children, show up uninvited to spend a month with the family. They bring along their RV and their dog, Snots (appropriate name when you watch the film). Throughout the movie, Clark is excited for Christmas (goes shopping and hits on a woman selling lingerie, puts up thousands of Christmas lights on his home but has difficulties, and so on) and just wants everyone to have a good time. However, things of course don’t go as planned and when Clark learns what his bonus really is this year, he blows a gasket, to say the least.

THOUGHTS

The movie has very little flaws. My only complaint, and it isn’t even that, is the whole subplot with the neighbours. We see them for maybe 5-10 minutes out of the whole movie and they aren’t really a necessary part of the film, at least to me.

FINAL RATING