Dec 18, 2014

Review: Window Wonderland (2013)

I went ahead with another Hallmark Christmas TV movie, this time about two would-be-lovers who work as window dressers. It's a job that melds art and marketing together which speaks to me personally since it's my field. I was honestly looking forward to seeing the kind of work that would be featured in the movie actually. Christmas window dressing is a pretty cool subject for a movie if you ask me, so I was pretty impressed that a good idea like this could be found in a Hallmark original movie.

Store windows at Christmastime have actually always meant something to me. It's maybe a bit silly I guess, but I still remember looking at the awesome Ogilvy Christmas window display in Montreal that my mom would take my sisters and I to go see every year. People would all huddle around, looking at at the mechanized characters, usually animals, skating around in what was a beautifully detailed environment. It's an early Christmas memory of mine and although I don't go see the Ogilvy window every year anymore, I have fond memories of it.

Dec 17, 2014

Review: Home Alone 3 (1997)

Home Alone 3 was the final film that John Hughes was contractually obliged to do with Twentieth Century Fox and I'd like to think that he didn't really care too much about it. For a movie with a kid planting traps for bad guys, there's only so much you can do anyway right? He is the only returning cast or crew member of importance to return besides director Raja Gosnell who was originally the editor of Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Good for Raja I guess who went on to direct a bunch of mediocre to bad movies.

Home Alone 3 features a whole new story with a whole new bunch of characters. Is this a reboot before the word became so popular in Hollywood? One thing's for sure, Alex D. Linz definitely has some pretty big shoes to fill with the powerhouse performances that Macaulay Culkin was able to pull off. You got to sort of feel for him because there aren't many people who can succeed in situations like that.

Dec 16, 2014

Review: VeggieTales: It's a Meaningful Life (2010)

I'm feeling good right now because I'm one movie closer to being done with VeggieTales forever. I know that there's a lot more to go though but being finished with the Christmas themed entries would be a great Christmas present for myself. Of course, the real concern here is Big Idea continuing to make new films which does seem to be the case. They seem to be settled on making three films a year which is awful, awful news for me. It's sure to make lots of Veggie fans very pleased though.

Made in 2010, It's a Meaningful Life makes it pretty clear which movie it's inspired by. It's a shame that it's been pumped so full of references to God and being made special by Him. Talk about ruining a good story. All the same, seeing all these Christmas-themed VeggieTales movies has been great for me personally to get a good cross-section of the series as a whole.

Dec 15, 2014

Review: The Swan Princess (1994)

I'm sorry, but I never heard of The Swan Princess when I was younger. It was however one of the larger profile animated releases that wasn't under the Disney banner at the time besides what Don Bluth was putting out. With a lot of budget sunk into high quality traditional hand-painted cel animation, you got to give ex-Disney director Richard Rich credit for trying to compete with the giant that Disney was at the time though. From 1989-1999, this was Disney's Renaissance and a period of time where they could do no wrong.

It's a true David vs. Goliath story and one that didn't end well for David. It was competing with a lot of big movies at the box office as well as what some see as an act of sabotage by Disney. A re-issue of The Lion King was released at the same time, leaving The Swan Princess without much of a fighting chance to capture the family market. With only a little under $10 million earned domestically, The Swan Princess transitioned into nothing more than a cheap direct-to-video series.

Review: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

If I remember correctly, I believe that as a kid I actually liked Home Alone 2 more than the first Home Alone. Watching it now I can actually totally understand that. HO2 turns up the cartoony violence and adds a lot of things that make it super interesting for kids. We're talking an avalanche of room service desserts, one of the great toy store scenes in cinema history and a lot more. This is like a film buffet for kids with all the best Christmas treats.

Critical reception for Home Alone was already pretty cool and it's even cooler for Home Alone 2. All the same, for a movie that at times makes it a little too clear that it's probably only being made to capitalize on the success of the first movie, it hits a lot of the right notes if you ask me. Every important cast member from the first movie is back as are Chris Columbus and John Hughes which is key.

Dec 14, 2014

Review: All About Christmas Eve (2012)

So, is All About Christmas Eve some kind of homage to All About Eve or something? I haven't seen the 1950 classic, but a really quick glance at the story seems to indicate that it jumps around a bit to different time periods. AACE on the other hand is a parallel universe story that presents two sides at the same time. I guess whoever titled this movie just liked the Christmas play on words that could be had with a main character called Evelyn.

All About Christmas Eve stars Haylie Duff, the less famous sister to Hilary Duff. At the same time, Haylie does deserve some credit for always having work and keeping herself busy with different projects even if most of her work is composed of TV movies these days. It's also kind of unfortunate that she's pretty much started doing two Christmas TV movies a year since 2013. Not sure if she'll continue that pace but if it pays the bills right?

Dec 13, 2014

Review: Home Alone (1990)

So a warning here, Home Alone has been a childhood favourite of mine for a long time and I know that I'm far from the only one in that regad. It's difficult to critically evaluate a favourite movie, but I'll try my best anyway. I make no promises to not throw logic out the window though.

The teaming up of Chris Columbus and John Hughes feels like a match made in heaven if you ask me. The work these guys have done meshes together quite nicely and the proof is in the pudding when you look at the success that Home Alone had during its box office run. People loved Home Alone. People continued to see it long after Christmas was over, making it not just one of the most successful Christmas movies, but one of the most successful comedies of all time.

Dec 12, 2014

Review: Veggietales: Saint Nicholas - A Story of Joyful Giving! (2009)

There are a whole lot of things about VeggieTales that brings out the worst in me. The preachiness is always a problem, the animation is usually an eyesore but probably it's the combination of voice acting and writing that gets to me. I understand that VT is for kids, but even kids deserve better entertainment than this. Yeah there are good messages and all that but if you need movies to teach your kids how to be good citizens then that's a parenting problem if you ask me. Let the kids have fun for crying out loud!

Dec 11, 2014

Review: Hitched for the Holidays (2012)

It's exactly two weeks to Christmas now and here I am still watching TV movie tripe. I definitely want to up the quality the closer we get to Christmas, but I'm having a pretty good time laughing at this stuff anyway. For my sanity though I probably want to think about moving on to some other stuff pretty soon.

I don't know anyone in the cast of Hitched for the Holidays except for Marilu Henner, very loosely anyway. She's mostly known for the TV series Taxi from the late 70's, but I personally know her from some random talk show that  I saw my girlfriend watching. Apparently she has this super crazy memory or whatever which must make memorizing lines quite easy. Too bad it doesn't take a genius for anyone to memorize the lines in HftH.

Review: The Wishing Tree (2012)

I don't know what I expect to find by going so deep into Christmas TV Movieland, but I'm guessing it won't be a deeper understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. Hallmark certainly likes to think that it has the answer in its 90 minute productions, but I think we can all agree that it has a better chance of doing that with its cards. It's doubtful that The Wishing Tree is any different.

The only actor I could recognize in The Wishing Tree was Richard Harmon who I remembered from the awful sequel Grave Encounters 2 which spoiled everything the first Grave Encounters accomplished. Harmon's character is pretty much just as annoying this time around too. He plays a rich emo kid who refuses to be anything else but negative at all time. All he needs is a good dose of Christmas spirit eh Hallmark?