Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 10 Movies/Announcement

Well, I wanted to do a Top 10 Movies of 2008, but I realize that due to my 2-year old son and very busy life - I just don't get out to the movies as much as I would like to.

I have been doing my best to catch up on DVD when I have a chance, but even that takes awhile.

So, here are my Top 10 Movies of 2008 (that I have seen).

1) The Dark Knight
2) Iron Man
3) Tropic Thunder
4) Wanted
5) Forgetting Sarah Marshall
6) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
7) The Incredible Hulk
8) Definitely, Maybe
9) Hancock
10) Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

Also, I wanted to put out an announcement that in this new year - hopefully very soon if I find the time - I will have a new design to the site and will officially join the LAMBs.

Scrubs: My Screw Up

As I have mentioned numerous times on this blog, Scrubs is probably one of my favorite television shows of all-time and is definitely my favorite comedic television show.

I recently got season seven on DVD and finished it in two days.

Anyway, this blog is about a an episode that occurred way back in season three entitled 'My Screw Up'.

I have a lot of favorite episodes on Scrubs, in fact it is pretty hard to narrow down my favorites. But, I think this one just may be my favorite.

Scrubs has that quality that can both have you on the floor laughing, and also tug at your heart strings - and that is not a clearer point then when watching this episode.

-There will be spoilers from here on out-

This episode marks the return of Jordan and Dani Sullivan's brother, Ben - played wonderfully by Brendan Fraser.

The last time Ben visited Sacred Heart, he was diagnosed with leukemia. However, for the past two years he had been out living his life in remission - but is best friend, Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), scolded him for not seeing a single doctor during that two years, and recommended he get a check up.

Around this same time, Dr. Cox's son, Jack, was having a birthday party - so Dr. Cox had to bail the party clown out of jail and left all of his patients - including Ben - in the hands of J.D. (Zach Braff).

J.D., however, tells Dr. Cox that he is swamped with patients, and is worried about a patient's heart. Dr. Cox tells him not to worry about it - he won't be dead in the time it takes him to return.

This is where the show gets really interesting, as sort of an homage to The Sixth Sense we are led to believe that while Dr. Cox was away, J.D.'s patient dies - but we don't find out until the conclusion that it was in fact Ben who passed away.

For the rest of the episode, Dr. Cox blames J.D. for the death - which the audience still believes is the heart patient - and takes over all of his patients. Ben is still around, and talking to Dr. Cox - in the same vein as Bruce Willis - however, if you pay attention he never interacts with any other character on the show after the 'death'.

In the end, J.D. is finally forgiven - and Ben even convinces Dr. Cox to forgive himself. The final scene is Dr. Cox believing he is heading to his son's birthday party, but as Ben fades away we now are aware that it was Ben who died - and this was his funeral that everyone was attending.

Like many Scrubs episodes, this one still had its many comedic parts, but there was something about the way they led up to Ben's death. I mean, Ben was only in two other episodes prior to this one - and for some reason you still feel horrible about his death.

Perhaps it's because you are so attached to Dr. Cox, and realize just how hard he is taking the loss of his best friend.

Anyway, kudos to Bill Lawrence (the creator), Chris Koch (the director) and Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan (the writers) - this is truly a rose of an episode that sticks out on a show that, in my opinion, only has roses for episodes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

My brother-in-law came up for a visit on Saturday night, so we decided to toss in a movie that we hadn't seen yet.

We are all pretty big comedy buffs, so Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was selected.

This is another film out of the brain of Judd Apatow which stars John C. Reilly as Dewey Cox, a musician whose #1 hit was entitled Walk Hard.

The story starts with Cox standing in a hallway, unable to clearly be seen, waiting to go on for a show. But, we immediately get a flashback of how far Cox has come - including the true start of his music career, the killing of his brother with a machete.

One day while playing in the barn - Dewey and his brother, Nate, are playing with their father's machetes (of course with a cover on them), when Dewey takes a large swing, the cover flies off and Nate is cut in half - literally. It was then that I realized this was going to be one crazy film.

And I was right.

There were definitely some laugh out loud moments in the film - but the best part for me was trying to figure out all of the small cameos in the film, such as who was playing each member of The Beatles.

The Saturday Night Live influence is also pretty heavy in the film, as Tim Meadows, Kristin Wiig, and Chris Parnell make appearances.

The Office's Jenna Fischer plays Cox's second wife Darlene - while also being a duet singer with the band.

I felt the movie was watchable, and funny at times. Not the greatest of the Apatow films, but definitely worth a watch.


Monday, December 29, 2008

VGR: Sonic Unleashed

Well, Christmas came and went and with it came a very Wii Christmas for this I mean oldster.

I got a good helping of games on my list and decided to start with Sonic Unleashed.

I have been a pretty big fan of Sonic the Hedgehog despite never owning a Sega. My sister, however, did have a Sega Game Gear - and a Sonic game.

Anyway, because of this I was super excited when Sonic was announced for Smash Bros. Brawl - and pretty excited when Sonic Unleashed was announced.

I tossed in the game on Friday and I have been playing it ever since. It is pretty addicting.

This is unlike any Sonic game I have played in the past. Sonic, in this game, turns into a werewolf when the sun goes down - so for at least part, if not most, of the game Sonic is not the speed demon we are used to, but a beast with fighting power.

It is actually a pretty good change of pace - despite the change to Sonic. I mean Sonic is known for his speed, so taking that away was a little hard to grasp.

The game is very entertaining, however, my main complaint is the setup of the screens. It feels a little old school that you have to go to different locations and talk to people - with scrolling words. Plus, the animated movies are a bit long and you have to watch them - there is no skipping.

I guess it's a small thing, because the overall game looks pretty good and so far is really entertaining.

When Sonic is his normal self during the day stages - the speed is unreal. It's so hard to control, but I am getting the hang of it.

So far, Tails and Amy Rose - not to mention Dr. Eggman, are the only former characters I have seen. Except, Sonic is the only player that I have been able to use - so far.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

25 Days: Elf

I must admit that I did laugh out plenty of times last night while watching Will Ferrell as Buddy in Elf.

Buddy is an orphan who climbs into Santa Claus' (Ed Asner) sack one Christmas Eve night and ends up at the North Pole.

Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) raises Buddy as his own - and as an elf - despite his huge size difference to the other elves.

After overhearing a few other elves speak about him being a human, Buddy sets out to New York City to find his birth father, Walter (James Caan).

Buddy, however, despite being about 30 years old still has the mind of a child and is constantly trying to spread Christmas cheer wherever he goes.

The only thing that convinces Walter that Buddy is his child is a blood test - and even then it appears that Buddy is more of a nuisance to him than a son. Walter's other son, Michael (Daniel Tay) is also neglected by his father - who is a bigshot children's book producer.

Buddy also falls for a girl who works at the Gimbels Department Store, Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) - and takes her out on his first ever date, and even gets his first ever kiss.

After interrupting a very important meeting that might cost Walter his job - Walter unleashes on Buddy and throws him out of his office. Buddy decides to leave and on his way sees that Santa's sleigh hs crashed in Central Park.

This is where things get sort of weird for me. I know that a movie only has a short amount of time to tell a story, but when Michael comes to get his father to come help find Buddy - it was an awfully quick turn around for Walter. I mean this man has been married to his job for years, including blowing up at Buddy not a few hours before - and all of a sudden he is a great family man, I don't buy it.

The story itself was rather interesting - Ferrell did a great job as Buddy and I really enjoyed Deschanel as Jovie. I think she is a really underrated actress.

I wasn't as thrilled with Caan's performance but I guess he was going for a Scrooge-like character that all of a sudden catches the Christmas spirit.

A decent film that one can watch each Christmas - but doesn't truly leave a lasting impression.


A Charlie Scrubs Christmas

Yesterday I sort of came down hard on A Charlie Brown Christmas because after not having watched it for a long time, I finally did - and it wasn't all that I remember it being.

Anyway - here is an alternate version from the great cast of Scrubs.


Monday, December 22, 2008

25 Days: Ernest Saves Christmas

This is another film that I am sure doesn't rank very highly when people are thinking of great Christmas movies, but it is one of my favorites.

The late Jim Varney created an amazing character in Ernest, and Ernest Saves Christmas was his second theatrical release with the character as a lead.

Santa Claus (Douglas Seale) has landed in Orlando to track down Joe Curruthers (Oliver Clark) to take over his duties as Santa. Apparently, Santa is like a torch that must be passed on to another individual after a long period of time - or else the flame will estinguish and Christmas will no longer be.

Santa has held onto the duty for far too long, and has slowly started to forget things. The transfer from the old to the new Santa has to take place by 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve or Christmas will be lost forever.

Lucky for Santa, Ernest is his cab driver and takes him to the Children's Museum to meet with Joe. Along the way picking up another passenger in Harmony Star (Noelle Parker), a young girl who is fending for herself after running away from home.

As he drops Santa off, Santa forgets his sack in Ernest's cab. And, after trying to talk to Joe about becoming Santa - gets sent off to the slammer by Joe's agent.

Thanks to Ernest's ability to play different characters, he and Harmony are able to bust Santa out and take him over to see Joe to explain things.

Harmony, however, takes off with Santa's sack - hoping to get something valuable out of it.

As the clock ticks, Santa hopes that Joe will change his mind, Harmony will return his sack - and Ernest and his elves can get the reindeer and sleigh to the museum on time.

I am a pretty big Ernest fan - probably even bigger than a Pee Wee Herman fan. Varney did some excellent work with the four theatrically released Ernest films.

This one is probably my favorite, and the number of different things that happen to Ernest along the way is pretty funny.


25 Days: Charlie Brown Christmas/Garfield's Christmas

This may actually offend some people, but I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, and I have to say I wasn't too impressed.

I think it's luster has sort of disappeared - I mean I never even heard of an aluminum Christmas tree, that is how old this film is.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of those Christmas films that you are just supposed to love - like Rudolph and Frosty. I mean these are classic holiday favorites. And I always had this misconception that I loved this movie.

I must not have watched it for a long time, because after watching it last night the only time in the film I enjoyed was when they rescued the poor Christmas tree and then sang as the credits rolled.

I was definitely glad this one was a quick watch - because I don't think I could have lasted more than half an hour.

On the other hand, despite being some pretty awful looking animation by today's standards A Garfield Christmas Special was still enjoyable.

It was fun to see grown, adult men still waking their parents up at 1:30 a.m. to see if they could open their presents. It was also nice to see Odie making a special gift for Garfield - and Garfield doing something nice for Grandma Arbuckle.

This one was very easy to sit through, and I could have watched a lot more of it as well.

Charlie Brown Grade:

Garfield Grade:

25 Days: Christmas with the Kranks

Yet another Tim Allen Christmas movie. He seems to have cornered the market, although Vince Vaughn appears to be nipping at his heels.

Anyway, Christmas with the Kranks is a holiday movie adapted from John Grisham's novel, 'Skipping Christmas'. The name was changed due to Ben Affleck's Surviving Christmas which was released around the same time - the powers wanted to avoid confusion.

So, Luther (Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) are usually filled with Christmas spirit, except this year their daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) has joined the Peace Corps and will not be celebrating Christmas with the family.

Instead of sulking their way through the holidays, Luther devises a plan to skip Christmas altogether, and take a cruise with his wife. He even figured that they spend over $6,000 on Christmas each year - but would actually save money by taking the cruise.

This begins sort of a Twilight Zone effect from the neighborhood. Apparently, the entire neighborhood relies on attending the Kranks Christmas Eve party, and without the Kranks holiday decorations - including a large Frosty the Snowman - the neighborhood lost the lighting contest.

Nora is a bit apprehensive about taking the trip and skipping Christmas, but soon comes around. With just 24 hours to go until the cruise - the Kranks receive a phone call. Their daughter is coming home for Christmas, and is bringing her fiance.

This throws the Kranks, and soon the entire neighborhood, into Operation Bring Blair Home, as they decorate the house, get things ready for the holiday party and pick the pair up at the airport.

I was a bit confused by Luther's intentions. While watching I was under the impression that he didn't want to celebrate Christmas due to his daughter being absent - and it would hurt too much celebrating without her. But even after she came home, he was determined to go on the cruise.

The end of the film is rather touching - as Luther has a change of heart and helps out his neighbors across the street, the Scheel's.

A lot of famous faces in the film, including Dan Aykroyd as Vic Frohmyer, Erik Per Sullivan as Spike, Cheech Marin and Jake Busey as police officers, M. Emmet Walsh as Walt Scheel and Tom Poston as Father Zabriskie - in what would be his final film role.

Walsh and Poston were also in Allen's television series Home Improvement.

This film took a lot of hits from critics, but I have to admit I rather enjoyed it. It's not a holiday classic or anything, but it was pretty funny - and a good watch.

My lone complaint was Luther's antics after Blair was coming home. It would have been a lot better if he was sincere about his reasonings for going on the cruise - because he missed his daughter.


25 Days: The Santa Clause(s)

This weekend was a serious catchup weekend for Christmas movies.

I managed to watch around seven or eight - most of which had something to do with Tim Allen. I am not completely finished with my list, but I am getting there and I might actually do it by Christmas Day.

Anyway, on Sunday I did the trifecta for The Santa Clause films starring Tim Allen as the big jolly guy himself.

I hadn't watched these in awhile, nor had I ever watched them in succession - so I got a little more perspective.

I must say that the first film really does blow the other two out of the water.

In the original The Santa Clause, Allen stars as Scott Calvin, a divorced father who is a pretty high up in the toy making business. Because of this, however, he has lost touch with his son Charlie (Eric Lloyd).

Charlie would rather spend time with his mother Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her new husband Neil (Judge Reinhold) then stay the night with his father on Christmas Eve.

But Charlie begins to change his mind after his father becomes Santa Claus. After the old Santa fell of the Calvin's roof, Scott put on his suit and finished his deliveries for the night - and fell under the Santa Clause - which reads that if you put on the suit, you become the new Santa.

After a night in the North Pole, Calvin wakes up in his own bed not really believing what happened - perhaps it was a dream. But, Charlie knows it to be true and spends the rest of the year trying to convince Scott, Laura and Neil.

Scott, meanwhile, has begun the transformation into Santa, as he begins to balloon up, go grey and grow a beard.

This was the best of the three movies, as it was more about a father and his son, instead of anything fairy tale-ish.

The second film is all about the Mrs. Clause.

In a missed clause, the elves led by leader Bernard (David Krumholtz) scramble to tell Santa that he must get married by the end of Christmas Eve, or he will be de-Santafied.

This is all happening while Charlie has landed on the naughty list, due to spray painting Christmas cheer at the school - and being busted by Principal Newman (Elizabeth Mitchell).

Scott must leave the North Pole to deal with Charlie and find a wife, and in order to keep the North Pole running, Curtis (Spencer Breslin) creates a life-size toy version of Santa to fool the elves while Santa is away.

As Scott slowly begins to de-Santafy, he begins to fall for Principal Newman, despite Charlie's hatred for her.

We find out that the reason Charlie is lashing out is because he must keep the secret of his father being Santa Claus - and it is tearing him up inside. He plays the hero and convinces Principal Newman that his father truly is Santa.

The story outside of the North Pole was good, and if that would have been it the movie would have been just as good as the original. However, they made another story-line of the Toy Santa taking over the North Pole and Scott and the elves must stop him from destroying Christmas.

The Toy Santa, also played by Allen, was way over the top. Almost to annoying factors. The story of Charlie acting out and the Scott-Principal Newman courtship were strong enough to carry the movie iteslf - the other storyline just went one too far.

Finally, the third movie - entitled Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause shows Santa with his new wife Carol (Principal Newman) expecting a child. Carol is a bit saddened by the fact that Santa doesn't have time for her as this is his busy season - so Santa invites Carol's parents up for the holidays (hiding the fact that they are in the North Pole - instead they are in Canada).

Also along for the ride were Neil, Laura and their daughter Lucy (Liliana Mumy) - for their first visit to the North Pole.

It also appears that Jack Frost (Martin Short) is trying to get his own holiday, but has been turned down repeatedly by the other mystical members. He is on the verge of getting kicked out, but Santa throws him a lifeline and allows him to help out over the holiday.

This is what Frost needs as he pretends to be helping out, but is dismantling the workshop, hindering the relationship between Santa and his in-laws, and has devised a plan to become Santa.

After finding out about the Escape Clause, Curtis is tricked into telling Jack that every Santa has a snow globe that if they hold and say "I wish I would have never become Santa at all" then everything would be returned back to when they first became Santa - giving Jack the opportunity to take over Christmas.

Santa shows Lucy his snow globe collection, and Jack sneaks his way into steal it. Then finds a way to trick Santa to say the words as he has given Santa his snowglobe as a gift.

The rest of the film is Santa trying to oust Frost as the new Santa to return everything back to normal.

I found this to be my least favorite of the three films, although I must say I enjoyed the Jack Frost enemy a lot more than the Toy Santa. But, the overall film wasn't as polished as the second.

Santa Clause Grade:

Santa Clause 2 Grade:

Santa Clause 3 Grade:

Friday, December 19, 2008

25 Days: Christmas Vacation

I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of the original Vacation movie.

I do find it pretty funny, however, that the parents of the movie continue to stay the same, but the children are always replaced - and never look alike at all.

Last night, I popped in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to add to my 25 Days of Christmas movie marathon.

The film, like all Vacation films, stars Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold.

Clark is looking forward to his "Good, old-fashioned, Griswold family Christmas". He takes his family out to the middle of nowhere to find 'the perfect' tree. He and his son Russ (Johnny Galecki) string the entire house with Christmas lights. And he invites his extended family members to their house for an extended Christmas (they showed up on like the 18th, that's crazy).

Anyway, I enjoy this film because most of the things that seem to go wrong - can pretty much happen to anyone during the holidays. Perhaps not all at the same time, but I can definitely see it happening.

Everyone has that black sheep-type family member, Clark's happens to be his cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), who shows up with his family unexpectedly.

Then there's the senile old lady, and her grouchy 'who the hell cares' husband. The old lady brings her cat (wrapped of course), who then proceeds to fry itself while chewing on Christmas lights. And the old, grouchy man torches the Christmas tree (and almost himself) while lighting a stogie in the living room.

Most of Clark's misfortunes, however, happen to come from himself. He tries so hard to give his family a great Christmas, which is nearly impossible. It doesn't help that he spent $7,500 to have a pool put in with the help of his bonus check - that just happens to be missing.

The film is pretty darn hilarious, one of Chase's best projects.

BONUS: Although I am not technically apart of LAMB yet (most likely joining after the New Year), I thought I would toss out my favorite holiday scene, which happens to be in this film.

The scene is Cousin Eddie kidnapping Clark's boss and bringing him to the house for Clark to confront. When the cops show off and yell freeze, it's downright hilarious. Especially Clark's wife Ellen's (Beverly D'Angelo) pose.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

25 Days: Home Alone

This movie was basically the creation, and probably the destruction, of Macaulay Culkin.

Home Alone is a holiday classic thanks to great performances by both Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern - and on a little lesser extent, Culkin himself.

The McCallister family is heading out on vacation to Paris, France. Basically the entire clan is staying the night at Peter McCallister's (John Heard) house and heading out early in the morning for their flight.

Kevin McCallister (Culkin), however, has grown tired of his family, mostly his brother Buzz who won't seem to stop picking on him.

After causing a whole lot of commotion, Kevin is sent upstairs to the attic for the night by his mother, Kate (Catherine O'Hara).

During the night, a fallen tree branch knocks out the power and phone lines, and the McCallister's oversleep causing everyone to rush to the airport. While counting heads, a neighbor is counted by accident - and Kevin is forgotten at home, thus starting all the mayhem that follows.

As Kate realizes that she left Kevin at home, she begins her journey back home from Paris to be with him.

Kevin, meanwhile, believes he made his family disappear by a wish he made. Like most kids, he runs amuck the first few days he is home alone.

That is until Marv (Pesci) and Harry (Stern) begin their little crime wave in the neighborhood. And it is up to Kevin to protect his home from the 'Wet Bandits'.

I felt that Marv and Harry really make this movie special. Pesci takes a different brand of film than he is used to, and pulls it off. Stern is one of the funniest people in Hollywood - and I feel is very underused. The two together are a great team.

Culkin, meanwhile, exploded after this film. He did a fine job acting wise, but he was nowhere near the capabilities of child stars nowadays.

This film is funny, crafty and heart warming as well. A perfect holiday film.


25 Days: Bad Santa

Talk about a complete opposite of the family Christmas movie.

Bad Santa stars Billy Bob Thornton as Willie, a drunk mall Santa who, along with his helpful elf Marcus (Tony Cox), have devised a plan to rob shopping malls on Christmas Eve.

We start off by seeing Willie and Marcus rob what is apparently their sixth shopping mall in six years. After the heist, Willie apparently wants out to live in Florida, stop drinking and open a bar.

Fast-forward nearly a year, and Marcus is calling Willie again to meet in Arizona for mall number seven. Of course, Willie has not stopped drinking - in fact he may be worse - and has already pissed away all the money from last year's job.

So, Willie heads out to Arizona.

Billy Bob's Santa is disgusting, and really has me thinking about ever letting my children near a shopping mall Santa. He is pretty much drunk the entire time, has a foul mouth, has to smell and even pissed himself while on Santa's chair.

Things sort of go a little haywire as the mall's head of security Gin (Bernie Mac) gets wise to Willie and Marcus' plans and wants in - at a 50% cut.

Also, Willie has sort of taking a small liking to The Kid (Brett Kelly) and a bartender named Sue (Lauren Graham). He has sort of found what has been missing his entire life - a family.

The ending has a lot of twists and turns that I won't ruin for those who haven't seen it. But, it is pretty nice to see how far some of the characters have come by the end of the film.

This was also John Ritter's final film as an actor - he did have a few voice acting jobs after this one though. He played Bob Chipeska one of the heads of the mall, who hires Willie and Marcus

This is definitely not a kids movie, there is sex, drinking, foul language and some disgusting humor. However, for the adults, I found it pretty darn laugh out loud funny at times. Although my wife was not as impressed.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Survivor: Gabon

I figured since I had a spare moment that I would toss out my opinions about the latest since of Survivor.

The season wrapped up on Sunday and, despite the person not winning who most deserved to win, I feel the season was a pretty nice success.

It was definitely not the best of the bunch, but it certainly was not the worst.

Anyway, the finale came down to Bob, Susie and Sugar - and Bob Crowley was crowned the winner with a 4-3 vote over Susie.

Congratulations, Bob.

Anyway, here are a few rants of mine - the first beginning with the final vote.

Susie was a parasite on this game. She did absolutely nothing the entire time she was there (except apparently talk), but lucked out on two immunity challenges, including the final one, and made it into the finals.

OK, so what? There usually is at least one person who slides under the radar and makes it far into the game - thanks to their alliances with others. My issue was that SHE GOT THREE VOTES.

This season's jury was horrible. Each and every one of them held a grudge of some sort, and because of that the most deserving of the final three, Sugar, did not receive a vote.

In season's past, the jury would obviously be upset by someone getting them kicked out of the game, but would vote for that person because it was a strategic move, and they played the best game. This group, however, just couldn't let their own insecurities go.

Sugar deserved to win, and she was left with third. Out of everyone, however, Kenny may have been the best player in the game, but he started thinking too much and that led to his downfall.

Finally, I just have to say that it was so nice of Survivor to get two of the bitchiest people on the planet on the exact same show. Say what you want about Randy, he was an ass. But, he never really attacked anybody - and some of his antics were sort of funny.

Enter Corinne Kaplan, she can now be crowned the meanest Survivor ever.

Congratulations, Corinne.

Her attack about Sugar's deceased father was well past the line - and even with a chance to recind her comment at the finale, she didn't do it. She was booed, and she loved it. I don't know how a person can be such a crab at all times.

So, the season is over and we say goodbye to these contestants. Some I will miss, others I will not, and still others I was wondering who they were at the finale - way to make an impression.

Hopefully a handful may make it to another All-Star edition.

Until then, adios Gabon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

25 Days: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been a staple on television for over 40 years in cartoon version.

In 2000, Ron Howard directed a live-action film starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, which is obviously over the top, but in my opinion still worthy of watching each Christmas.

The animated version only runs about 26 minutes, but this live-action film is stretched to 104 minutes.

Carrey is a pretty decent Grinch, as he is almost always over the top.

Cindy Lou Who, who had a very small part in the animated version, is front and center in this version. Played by a newcomer, Taylor Momsen, she did a pretty nice job in one of her first roles. She is interested in the Grinch and does some digging into his past - so we are shown glimpses into the Grinch's past and we see why he is the way he is now.

Is this movie way over the top? Absolutely. But, most Christmas movies are, and I feel it is still a welcomed addition to the collection each and every Christmas.


25 Days: The Muppet Christmas Carol

Over the weekend, my family and I watched a load of Christmas movies in order to catch up on my 25 Days of Christmas.

Following along the lines of my Muppet Day from yesterday, comes the final installment - The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Much in the same vein as all other Christmas Carol-type movies, this one of course stars those lovable Muppets.

Kermit stars as Bob Cratchet with Miss Piggy as his wife Emily. Tiny Tim is portrayed by Robin.

This version still has a narrator, however, this narrator is seen. Gonzo tells the story as Charles Dickens with Rizzo along for the ride.

Like all Christmas Carol-type movies, we follow Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) as he is visited by his former partner(s) now deceased Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler and Waldorph).

The Marley's tell Scrooge he will be visited by three spirits (past, present and future) that should set Scrooge on a better way of life and avoid what they have to withstand in the after life.

The story is a classic, and the addition of the Muppets only makes it better. Caine was a brilliant Scrooge and in true Muppet fashion, the addition of musical numbers truly adds to the mistique.


Monday, December 15, 2008

25 Days: A Muppet Family Christmas

For our second Muppet Christmas film, we tossed in A Muppet Family Christmas.

This originally aired in 1987 and, unfortunately the DVD film was cut up due to licensing issues. Some of the songs were forced to be removed, and although it would have been nice to have it in its original form - the cut up version is still awfully enjoyable.

This movie is about getting together for Christmas. Ma Bear (Fozzie's mother) is about to head to Hawaii for Christmas and has rented her house out to Doc and his dog (from Fraggle Rock). Little does she know that her son and his friends are on their way to surprise her for the holidays.

Once they arrive, things of course get out of control. Doc and his dog, who were looking forward to a nice quite holiday, aren't too thrilled when everyone arrives - while Ma is forced to cancel her trip.

Soon, the Sesame Street gang is heard singing carols outside - and they join in on the festivities.

The whole film revolves around everyone being together for the holidays, as a snowstorm hits and Miss Piggy is not at the house yet. But, Doc sets out to find her so everyone can be reunited.

This is one of the only places where you can find the Muppet crew, the Sesame Street characters, Fraggle Rock characters and even a puppet version of Muppet Babies.

It's also pretty funny to see a little red monster with the Sesame Street gang, who at this point didn't even have a name, but would later be known as Elmo.

Jim Henson has a small cameo at the end of the film, as he and Doc's dog do the dishes from the Christmas meal.

This is a pretty short film, but one that has been a staple in our household for years. The mixing of all four different television shows is pretty amusing to see - as you see Animal and Cookie Monster interact, as well as Bert, Ernie and Doc.


25 Days: It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas

I have officially finished my first semester back to school as of Friday, so the 25 Days of Christmas was turned back on as of this weekend.

I watched a handful of Christmas films this weekend, and I will do my best to spread those out.

On Saturday, it was a Muppet day.

The first film we watched, as selected by my son, was It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas. This is the newest one that is available on DVD (the newest one will be broadcast on NBC this Wednesday, however, if you are interested).

In my opinion, you really can't go wrong with a Muppet movie. They have a pretty exact science to them, and for the most part the films are pretty funny.

This particular movie is about the Muppets losing the Muppet Theater thanks to the evil Rachel Bitterman (Joan Cusack). Kermit begins to think that he has let everyone down and contemplates that everyone would have been better off if he had never been born.

A rookie 'acconountant' in heaven, Daniel (David Arquette), has been watching his case and brings it before God (Whoopi Goldberg) to send an agent down to Earth to help Kermit out.

Out of the Muppets' Christmas movies, I felt this one is pretty subpar, although I still rather enjoy it.

The Christmas theme, however, technically really doesn't need to be here. Like the He-Man review I did before, this could have been any other time of the year and it would have still worked fine - it was more of an extended Muppet Show, than a Christmas special.

Although, like all Muppet films, a lesson is learned, some fun is had and we all come away feeling pretty good.

Some bonus cameos in this film were: William H. Macey, Carson Daly, Kelly Ripa, Matthew Lillard, Joe Rogan, Molly Shannon, Trimph-the insult comic dog, and the cast of Scrubs (Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, Neil Flynn, John C. McGinley, Judy Reyes & Bill Lawrence).


Monday, December 8, 2008


I have taken a small hiatus from my 25 Days of Christmas due to the fact that I am on the final push for my first semester back to school. I will be wrapping everything up tomorrow with two finals - so I should be back on it after that. Plus, I will make up for the films I have missed during the past few days during the weekends - so I will definitely have at least 25 films when I am completed.

That being said, I received Wanted in my Netflix mail box this week and I have been wanting to check it out since I saw the previews last spring.

I am not the biggest Angelina Jolie fan. She is hot and cold for me with her acting, and I am also not one of those people who thinks she is the most gorgeous woman in the world. That being said, I thought this role was perfect for her - but I am ahead of myself.

The film stars James McAvoy as Wesley Gibson, a drone who works in an office (much like Office Space) and takes medication to control his weird impulses. His boss is a bitch, his best friend is banging his girlfriend - yeah his life pretty much sucks.

Anyway, along comes Fox (Jolie) to recruit Gibson to a secret assassin group to hunt down the man who has killed his father (another assassin).

The first half of the film is basically Gibson getting trained to be the perfect assassin - learning how to take a punch, fight with knives, and even bend a bullet. Then he is finally sent out to start killing people.

The secret group is headed by Sloan (Morgan Freeman) who receives his targets from a loom through binary code. Very odd, but also very interesting.

I don't want to give anything away, but this movie was very action packed and the plot actually made sense - even though a few things were tossed in that you have to scratch your head about actually happening.

The final few scenes were amazingly well done and I was on the edge of my seat there was so much action.

I was surprised with McAvoy as I have only really seen him in Chronicles of Narnia and heard he was in Atonement. But he proved here that he has the range to play an action star - and even had a few one liners as well.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

25 Days: Jack Frost

Let me put out a disclaimer: I am a Michael Keaton fan.

There I said it. I thought he was an amazing Batman in the original two films, and he of course was born in Pittsburgh - so that helps his cause.

Last night I watched Jack Frost for the 25 Days of Christmas. I could have sworn I had watched this film before, but I could not remember ever seeing it as I watched it last night.

Anyway, Jack Frost stars Michael Keaton as Jack Frost, a husband, father and struggling musician of The Jack Frost Band.

His son, Charlie, is absolutely enamored with his father - despite his father's absence due to constant touring.

After a trip to Denver, Jack returns home and makes a snowman with Charlie and gives him what he calls a 'magic' harmonica. If you blow this harmonica, apparently he would hear it wherever he was and come back.

On this particular Christmas holiday, Jack promises his son that he will make it to his hockey game - despite having to record a demo that same day. Well, he doesn't make it and it appears to be pretty much the last straw with Charlie.

After another promise to take his wife (Kelly Preston) and Charlie to their cabin for Christmas Eve and Christmas, Jack receives a phone call from a record executive, saying he has to perform on Christmas Day to be considered for signing.

This is the last straw for Charlie, as he hands Jack back his harmonica and walks back into the house.

On the way to the gig, Jack gets a change of heart and decides to blow it off and meet his family at the cabin - as he traveled through a snow storm his wipers freeze and he is tossed off of the road and dies.

Here is where things get a little weird.

Fast-forward a year later and Charlie is still struggling with his father's death. He has quit the hockey team, given up on his friends and his grades have slipped.

As he is building a snowman again one night, he finds his 'magic' harmonica and plays it. When this happens - the snowman he has just made becomes alive and is now harboring his father.

A very strange change of events. The first part of the movie was so realistic and interesting, then it sort of went downhill with the introduction of the snowman.

Don't get me wrong, the film was still enjoyable to watch - and I am sure a lot of fun for most people, especially children. But the concept of the family film at the beginning I felt could have been a much better film.

Moving forward, Jack reincarnated helps his son with bullies, teaches him the 'J-shot' for hockey and actually attends a game where his son scores the winning goal.

So, Jack became the father he always should have been after his death a year ago.

The special moment might have come at the conclusion when both Charlie and his mother are able to say good-bye to Jack. Something they weren't able to do the first time around.

Also featured in the film were small roles by Henry Rollins (he plays the team's hockey coach), Ahmet Zappa (Snowplow driver), Dweezil Zappa (John Kaplan, music executive) and a young Andy Lawrence (Tuck Gronic).

One name I was happy to see at the beginning was Mark Addy (he played Mac MacArthur, Jack's best friend and band mate). I am a pretty big fan of Addy's work with his hilarious roles in both The Full Monty and A Knight's Tale. So, I was very much looking forward to his humor in this film - but I was let down. There weren't very many funny scenes that include Addy.

Overall, this is a pretty decent family film. It has a wonderful meaning behind it as most family films do. But I still think it could have been a lot better.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

25 Days: He-Man/She-Ra: A Christmas Special

In my youthful years growing up, He-Man was my absolute favorite cartoon. And, I had many of the toys that go along with that.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the toys, but I was given He-Man/She-Ra: A Christmas Special on DVD last Christmas, so I thought I would take that in as well.

I was a little thrown off because the film itself really didn't have too much to do with Christmas.

He-Man and Man-at-Arms have developed a spaceship that they will be using to spy on their enemy Skeletor. Orko, however, gets into the spaceship and accidentally sets it off - crash landing on Earth.

This is one of the small parts of the film that talks about Christmas, as Orko meets Miguel and Alicia, two kids he saves from an avalanche. They just happened to be out getting a Christmas tree when Orko saved them. And, they explain Christmas to him.

Once Man-at-Arms gets his transporter working, Orko and the kids are transported back to Eternia. Once this happens, Horde Prime feels a disturbance as the children have too much 'Christmas cheer'. So he sends Skeletor and Hordak to capture them.

The rest of the film plays out like an episode of He-Man or She-Ra as they both head out to rescue the children, and defeat their nemesese.

Skeletor, however, if you dig a little can be classified as a bit of the Scrooge character in A Christmas Carol because of his small morph into a good person - including saving the children from Horde Prime.

In the final scene, Prince Adam is dressed as Santa Claus - and they say this is how Christmas was first brought to Eternia.

Not really a Christmas movie. More of an extended He-Man/She-Ra episode with Christmas sprinkled in.

Because of that I had to give it a lower grade - but for a He-Man/She-Ra fan - it is a definite watch.


25 Days: Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

For the third night of the 25 Days of Christmas we took in one of the many Muppet Christmas movies, this one, however, starring some very different muppets.

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas was created by Jim Henson in 1977, and besides the narrator being Kermit the Frog, the film doesn't have any of the iconic muppet characters.

Instead, we follow Emmet Otter and his mother, Ma, as they struggle to make ends meet.

When Christmas rolls around, Emmet would do anything to purchase his mother a piano, while Ma knows Emmet had his eye on a brand new guitar.

To make ends meet, Ma bakes pies, knits and does laundry in her washtub. Emmet, meanwhile, helps out with odd jobs thanks to a tool kit his departed father left him.

News of a talent contest that offers the top prize of $50 quickly spreads to the Otter household, and Emmet joins his three friends in a jug-band, in hopes of winning and purchasing his mother that piano. The only downside is, to play the washtub bass he must put a hole in his mother's washtub.

Ma Otter also hears of the talent contest, and with some persuading by a neighbor, decides to enter the contest in hopes of getting Emmet that guitar. In order to get some fabric to make her costume, however, she has to sell Emmet's tool kit.

It's a pretty touching story, that has a pretty happy ending.

The puppeteering is a little old school, as on multiple occasions you can view the strings that are being used to move the marionettes.

But, for being a 1977 film, the overall look of the film is pretty well done.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

25 Days: Fred Claus

The 25 Days of Christmas rolled on last night as we took in Fred Claus.

Fred Claus came out last year in November and stars Vince Vaughn as the titular character.

The story follows an unknown relative of a certain jolly fat-man named Santa Claus, played by Paul Giamatti. This relative is his older brother, who has been in his younger brother's shadow for years.

We learn that when Nicholas was born, he was immediately a giver and a saint. Fred began to resent his younger brother, as his mother often wished he would be more like him.

Fast-forward many, many years and Fred is still the black sheep of the family, while Christmas has totally taken off thanks to Nick.

In order to start up a company, Fred asks Nick for a loan - but to get the loan he has to go to the North Pole to visit and work off some of the debt.

This just happens to intertwine with the visit of Clyde Northcut (Kevin Spacey), a efficiency expert with a grudge.

Of course, as things start to pile up thanks to Fred and his bumbling ways - Christmas comes very close to being canceled. That is, of course, unless Fred can save the day.

I have two very different opinions about this film. First, because it is a Christmas film and obviously meant to have a lesson, I cut it a little slack. The entire story as a whole was very nice and very easy to watch.

I felt that all of the characters played their parts very well, and seeing Giamatti as Santa was pretty entertaining in itself.

I did have a few issues, though. The main one being the simple fact that a man (Santa) who spends his entire time doing things for the benefit of others for no reimbursement, would ever have an efficiency expert - or at least would ever listen to him. He isn't profiting from what he is doing, so there was no need. So, you really had to look past that.

Also, the main elf, Willie, is played by John Michael Higgins who just so happens to be a normal sized person. There were also a few others mixed in, like a DJ played by Ludacris. However, a few of the others were played by little people, or even children. What was the point of mixing that up? They should have went with the all of one to make things flow a little better.

And finally, this seems to happen in every Christmas film, but there is one 'elf' who happens to be regular size named Charlene, played by Elizabeth Banks. No real mention why she is regular size, she just is. Besides the main family and Northcut, everyone else was a small elf that was in the North Pole - so why was this one person normal size?

Just a few beefs, but it didn't really take a lot away from the film. I laughed out a few times and the story obviously held a lesson for the end.


Monday, December 1, 2008

25 Days: The Polar Express

The 25 Days of Christmas got off to a slow start this weekend, but we were able to catch one Christmas movie over the holiday.

The film, The Polar Express, came out in 2004 and is adapted from a short story by Chris Van Allsburg, much like Jumanji and Zathura.

This particular film, follows a young boy during Christmas Eve. This boy has slowly stopped believing in the miracle of Christmas.

In order to get him to continue believing, he has been selected to travel to The North Pole on a magical train known as The Polar Express.

Of course, there is many exciting things that happen to the boy on the train, as he meets other children, the conductor and a magical ghost-like hobo.

Once in the North Pole, the adventure doesn't stop as he and three others are lost in the magical underground of Santa's toy shop.

He finally gets to meet the big guy himself, and is selected to receive the first gift of Christmas. He is unaware why is not able to hear the sleigh bells when everyone else can - but once he starts believing again, the bells are heard full force.

This film was directed by Back to the Future's Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks as at least six different characters including the conductor, hobo, Santa and the boy's father.

Overall, it was pretty well done, and a pretty good adaptation from the original short story by Van Allsburg.

The animation was a little creepy looking, as they tried to make the characters look as life-like as possible, but it still looks wonderful.