Ernest Saves Christmas (1988) Movie review; Sweet and tacky !

I have fond memories of this film, if I was to place this film, I would say it was for the kids who already know about Santa but are open to find out more.

Ernest is quite captivating for a child, my son could not take his eyes off his wacky expressions and goofy reactions.

As much fun as this movie is, it is pretty low down the list when you consider the best Xmas movies, Ernest is great for kids but for  an adult he kind of grates on you after a while, he is like that character you come across every now again who likes to talk a lot but has no observational skills to sense that the listener stopped listening several minutes ago.

Great for the under 12’s

6/10

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Surviving Christmas (2004) Movie review; Could have been good if…

This Xmas film is a weird one, never heard of it before so I went into it open-eyed expecting the worse, a guy who is rich decides to pay a family he has never met before to be his family for Christmas.

It’s an original idea for an Xmas film but there are too many things wrong with it –

First off, you are not aware that Ben Affleck’s character is a millionaire, so when he starts to throw $50,000 around like he was giving away a dollar you start to question when this information was explained.

Ben is good in parts but I feel that he turns off in moments throughout, the audience can always tell (most of the time) when someone is coasting, by this I mean they are just churning out the lines and forgetting that they are supposed to be acting a certain way.

The editing in the first twenty minutes is quite awful, it feels really choppy and does nothing to get the story going.

As a positive, when Ben arrives at James Gandolfini house the comedy is pretty good, Ben and James actually make a decent comedy duo,I think James brought out the best in Ben, when the film is based in the house you have a good movie on your hands, whenever the production team shot anything outside the house it just feels cheap and takes away from the film.

70% bad – 30 % good.

4/10

Here is some background information to explain why this movie is such a mess –

The production was shot without a completed script. As a result, there were many delays and arguments over what to shoot. Actor James Gandolfini admitted in behind the scenes interview that most of the film was “improvised”.

Jon Favreau was offered a chance to direct, but made Elf instead.

James Gandolfini was only 10 years older than Christina Applegate, who plays his daughter in the film.

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Santa Claus The Movie (1985) Movie review; A slow drab affair!

On my journey through the old Christmas movies I arrived at Santa Claus the movie, what a sorry excuse for a Xmas movie this is.

It starts off in the snow hundreds of years ago, the shacks they all live in look bleak and depressing and it takes a little time to come to terms with the fact that this is Santa, the early years, you see a fat bloke in a beard and just presume he can’t wear that red number every day…

Then starts a sluggish tale about how a man who gets great joy out giving presents has now been chosen to become Santa, David Huddleston plays Santa like he is performing down the local super market, he never gets too excited or too much of anything, I imagine him knocking back the bourbon in between takes begging for his agent to find him a new part, and quickly.

The snail paced story continues on up until the half point, and then the story arrives into the present day, I say present loosely as it was released in 1985 but this writer decides it would be a good idea to create his own tiny Tim and Scrooge characters and hope that nobody else notices, the story is really naff and the acting is over the top or under cooked through out.

I was four years old when this film came out, I remember enjoying it, but it must have been for the fact that it had Santa in the title and the big fat guy is in it, that’s about as good as it gets.

This film is now a contender for the worst Xmas movie ever made.(even Dudley Moore could not save it.

1/10

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Home Alone (1990) Movie review; The monster Xmas hit from 1990

Having downloaded a bunch of Xmas films to introduce my little toddler to the world of Santa Claus I thought Home Alone would be a good place to start.

First off I remember how big this film was, and its very easy to see why it was so successful back in 1990 when I was 9, Macaulay Culkin is adorable and even though you know everything he does is designed to make the granny’s wet their knickers and the children want to be him, I happily go along with this carefully crafted money making machine.

John Hughes has that knack of writing family movies which I don’t think have bettered, If I was to describe his style I would say he looks for the humour in the truth but is not afraid to offend anybody.

My favourite element of this film is the bad guys, Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern are marvelous ( not a word I use often) to think I saw this movie before Goodfellas makes the older me smile to think that Joe (”Whats so funny”) Pesci was known to me as the man who played the idiot thief in the Home alone franchise, while my toddler did not take in everything, he did laugh at the aftershave scene with Culkin and did not stop laughing at Pesci & Stern each time they fell,collapsed and generally got abused all in the name of comedy.

INTERESTING FACTS ;

Entered into The Guinness Book of World Records as the “Highest Box Office Gross – Comedy”, accumulating $533,000,000 internationally.

Joe Pesci kept forgetting that he was filming a “family” movie during his character’s on-screen outbursts, so director Chris Columbus advised him to say “fridge” instead of the “F-word”.

Daniel Stern agreed to have the tarantula put on his face for exactly one take. He had to mime screaming because the noise would have scared the spider, and the scream was dubbed in later.

John Candy filmed his part in only one day, albeit an extremely long 23-hour day. The story about having once forgotten his son at a funeral home was entirely improvised. His part is obviously inspired by the character he played in Planes, Trains & Automobiles also written by John Hughes.

The concept for this movie originated during the filming of a scene in Uncle Buck in which Macaulay Culkin plays a character who interrogates a would-be-babysitter through a letterbox.

In the scene where Harry attempts to bite off Kevin’s finger, Joe Pesci actually bit Macaulay Culkin, leaving a scar on his finger.

Old Man Marley wasn’t in the original screenplay.

Hope Davis plays the French ticket agent, you would not have cared at the time of release as she was unknown, but since then she has starred in some monster movies.

8/10

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Prisoners (2013) Movie review; like a train that is delayed only to be eventually cancelled

The older I get the more I find I appreciate a good mystery, normally you work it out in Scooby Doo speed by the time the first quarter has passed, it’s normally the one who is acting overly nice or the character that doesn’t give lasting eye contact.

Well I had my magnifying glass glued to the TV scanning for clues throughout this film, and with a lot of frustration I always seemed a step or should I say two behind, now I would like to say it was a super intelligent film that flew far above my head, but I am afraid that wouldn’t be an accurate account, the film is smart, the acting is believable and the story is intriguing, the biggest issue is the pace of the film, it’s super slow, It feels like someone has asked you to look out the window to spot anything exciting, little clues to the ending are there but the film has too many chunks of nothing going on.

I stayed with the film expecting there to be an explosive ending to make this TWO AND HALF HOURS feel worth it, I enjoyed the style of the film but they included far too much film in the final edit, this would have been great if they could have wrapped it up in 90’mins.

Instead you’re left with that frustrated feeling, like a train that is delayed only to be eventually cancelled.

7/10

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Dexter season 4 (TV review) = John Lithgow

I was very slow to pick up this great show, but now I am in, I am ankle-deep….

I remember giving Dexter a go when the first season was released, It did not give me that reason to tune in again and before long I forgot about the show, with Breaking bad now over I was in need of a replacement and Dexter has surprised in more ways than one.

Rather than view it as a bit of a gimmick this time round I enjoyed his depressive mind-set matched with a sarcastic wit, I think we all have that inner voice that says what we are really thinking when talking to someone we find irritating, I don’t think any other show has expressed these feelings better than Dexter.

Moving on to season 4 and I have to stand up and applaud John Lithgow, my oh my, the man can act, his eyes burn anxiety through my chest when watching him, he improves the show immensely and I have to say he is one serial killer that I will miss.

Spoiler.

The climax to this season was simply beautiful, with all that has gone before it, I thought the way John Lithgow’s character discovers Dexter’s true identity was thrilling and shot in way that created a great deal on tension and emotion, the director deserves an award just for that one scene alone.

I hear from fans of Dexter that it starts to go down hill once I catch up with the current season, until then I will continue to munch my way through the seasons with sheer delight.

Take a bow John Lithgow.

8/10

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Arthur Newman (2012) Movie review; A depressing cock tease of a movie.

The film has all the ingredients to be good, two decent actors and a story about a man who decides it may be more fun to live a different life, with a ton of questions thrown at you from the off the movie really falls flat early on, he meets a love interest who is a bit crazy and erratic while the lead played by Colin Firth is a quiet man who struggles to express himself ( Big stretch for Mr Firth).

As a viewer I felt cheated by the end, all the things that showed a glimmer of hope or interest soon faded into… nothing.

A depressing cock tease of a movie.

3/10

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