Tis the Season to Watch Movies Day 11

For day 11 of our advent calendar I thought it would be a good idea to show to nice side of Jack Frost. Seeing as in his first appearance during day 10 he was presented as a big old meanie who was trying to steal Santa’s job, I feel he needs another try. So please give a big warm welcome to film number 11, Jack Frost.

Released in 1998, Jack Frost is the heart-warming tale of Michael Keaton’s second chance of being a good father. After letting his son, Charlie down time after time, thanks to his determination to get a big break in the music business, Jack Frost (Keaton) finally decides that enough is enough and chooses his son over his career. Unfortunately Frost passes away in a tragic car accident on the way home leaving behind his son and wife.

However, this being Christmas, Frost returns the following year thanks to a magic harmonica. But there’s one slight difference. Although he still has the same bat voice of Michael Keaton, he sure doesn’t look like him at all. For Frost has returned in the form of Charlie’s handmade snowman. As Charlie soon faces the fact that his father has risen from the dead as a snowman he realises he can’t reveal this to anyone and has very little time with him. And so father and son bond over the things they never did when they had the chance.

Now, with a story like that it almost seems made for TV and at times it does look like it is. However it’s still a great family film and a nice modern (for 1998 at least) twist on the tale of Jack Frost. And not a bad deed is done by snowman Jack so we won’t be having the same problems we had with The Santa Clause 3. And although its filled with some of the same clichés – father trying to reconnect with his son and an obligatory snowball fight – it will still give you a little something in your eye at least. And if you’re not affected at all by the closing scene then you clearly have a heart made of pure ice.

The acting is nothing particularly notable however Joseph Cross plays Charlie better than most child actors would have been able to and manages to bring just enough emotion into the character. It does tend to drag a bit at the beginning however once it gets into it, you’ll soon start to have fun.



Tis The Season to Watch Movies Day 10

Now that we’ve hit double figures for our Christmas movie advent calendar, I believe a celebration is in order. So how about instead of just one film to warm our cold December hearts today, we treat ourselves to an extra two? Sound good? If not then just choose one of the next three films featured in this article and be done with it. But if, like me you want to be greedy, let’s continue with The Santa Clause trilogy!

The Santa Clause

Released in 1994 starring Tim Allen, The Santa Clause surely should now be considered a classic. Although it’s full of all the usual family comedy clichés with a bit of Christmas thrown in for good measure, it’s still a great way to spend your time. Yes we’ve all seen the story of one half of a divorced couple who tries desperately to do right by their child and it’s not new to us at all but originality isn’t something you come across a lot, especially when it comes to Christmas themed movies.

Allen plays Scott Calvin (who’s initials are very similar to a certain Christmas character… what luck!) a divorced parent – tick! – who tries to connect with his son Charlie over Christmas but fails when he burns the turkey – tick!. That’s until late on Christmas Eve, the jolly fat man himself accidentally falls to his death off of Scott’s roof. Probably not the best of starts to a family Christmas film, but when Scott puts on the famous red coat he inadvertently accepts the role of Santa for the foreseeable future.

Although the supporting cast is interesting (Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop) makes some appearances) The Santa Clause is mainly held up by Allen’s performance and brilliant comic timing as Calvin. With lessons to be learned (such as how to cook a turkey properly) and a relationship with his son to be sorted out it’s not like he didn’t have enough on his plate already and now he has to deal with becoming Santa Clause!

The running time is an average 90 or so minutes, which seems to work just fine with not a dull moment in sight. And it’s always a treat to see Tim Allen on screen. If you close your eyes you can be instantly taken back to Toy Story. The only thing this film is really missing is Tom Hanks.


The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause

Filmed 8 years after the first instalment (which is rarely a good idea unless the film is Toy Story – Need I remind you all of the long gap between the third and fourth Indy movies and what that brought us?) The Santa Clause 2 takes us back to the story with Calvin having been in the role of Santa comfortably for the last eight years. However, as this is a sequel, situations must happen. And they must be bigger than last time. So now Santa faces an early retirement unless he is able to find a wife to be his Mrs. Clause within 25 days.

To help with this, his elves come up with a cunning plan to create a plastic looking duplication of Santa to keep an eye on the North Pole whilst real Santa goes out into the world in search of love. Little does real Santa know, however, that the fake Santa will soon start treating the North Pole like a sweatshop and is planning to give every child on earth coal for Christmas! OH NO!

Although the trilogy seems to have lost the magic it had in the first instalment, the sequel still gets points for trying. The use of double Tim Allen is a treat and the fact that the same cast all seem to be back is welcoming. Even the same little boy who played Calvin’s son, Charlie, hasn’t been changed. Which is quite surprising seeing as it’s been eight years and the kid wasn’t that great an actor in the first place. But still it’s nice to have some farmiliarity. Judge Reinhold gets a bit less to do this time around but can still be seen every now and then. And a lot of the same elves from the first are back and don’t seem to have aged at all, which is very odd seeing as they were all children eight years previously in the first film. Whether that’s the magic of Christmas or the magic of the make up department remains to be seen…


The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

With all trilogies, there’s always a dull one. Lord of The Rings had The Two TowersBack to The Future had Part 3, and The Santa Clause has The Escape Clause. Although there are hints at an actual villain for once with the inclusion of Jack Frost, not enough is really done to give us much dread. However seeing as this is a family comedy set around christmas perhaps it’s better this way.

There’s still an entertaining enough storyline and again most actors seem to be back with the exception of the odd one or two. Head Elf Bernard, for example, who has been replaced with a new elf, supposedly because he was too old to play the part. It seems however, that the series is getting on quite a bit. With Santa’s son now all grown up and only really cameoing in the film it seems a rather pointless waste of time. The dilemmas are getting more and more boring with each one. For example, this time Santa has to cover up the North Pole in order for his in-laws to visit. And apparently the best way to do this is to turn the North Pole into Canada and explain all the elves as Canadians…

All the while we have Jack Frost lurking around being bitter that he doesn’t have his own holiday and trying to find out the secret to nabbing Santa’s job. Martin Short’s Frost is nothing spectacular and yet it should have been. With a great look about him it was quite a disappointment for him to be so uninteresting.

Still, The Escape Clause will hold up for at least one viewing for you. For children it will probably be easily watched again and again but frankly if you’re going to put on a Santa Clause movie stick with the original first classic one.


Join me over the next few days where I’ll be revealing what’s behind the doors I’m late on (Sorry folks, I’ve been busy but we’ll soon be back up to speed I promise!)

Tis The Season to Watch Movies Day 9

For day 9 of our Christmas Movie Advent Calendar, it’s another twitter suggestion and another first watch for me. Bad Santa starring Billy Bob Thornton as an alcoholic washed out mall Santa/crook who, every year robs the next shopping centre in the dead of night. At 88 minutes it’s one of the shorter films of the selection however that’s rather a blessing. Although it was promised to me on twitter that it would be hilarious and it’s ‘a classic’ I found myself wanting it to be over throughout most of it.

Billy Bob Thornton takes the lead role as Willie in such a half arsed manner and the humour is often crass, crude and unfunny. It’s clear from the beginning that this is going to be one of those films in which the lead will surely learn a lesson about life and love towards the end but my GOD does it take a while for it to happen! Every time you think he’s about to change his ways he just gets worse. Swearing at kids and pissing himself at work. It’s fair to say Willie is the worst on screen Santa ever!

And yet, somehow, in the middle of all this is one kid who follows poor Willie around like a lost puppy. A kid who, throughout the film seems to believe that Willie is in fact jolly old Saint Nick himself and even goes so far as to accept this man into his home without a seconds hesitation. If this is supposed to be funny then I must be dead inside.

Another absolutely unbelievable aspect to this film is that somehow, SOMEHOW we have to believe that a woman like Lauren Graham would ever be attracted to such a vulgar man as Billy Bob Thornton. Saying that however, I have learnt that Thornton was married to none other than Angelina Jolie at some point so it seems anything’s possible. And yet still we don’t have flying skateboards from Back To The Future Part 2

Although it spends the most part stuck in the 1 star position, the ending does lift it a bit. However only a bit. It arrives quite quickly and leaves just as quickly but it’s the most entertaining part of the film. As we finally see Willie change his wicked ways, although only VERY slightly, it’s a nice change. Bernie Mac and John Ritters performances before the big – if you can call it that – finale are really the only thing that keeps this film more interesting than it should be.

However this still should be considered a classic Christmas movie. With all it’s low points and its pointless existence, it’s still a treat to watch once a year I guess. Well maybe once every couple of years. Or once every 5 years… and only ever around Christmas.


Join me tomorrow where I’ll have something extra special for you to celebrate  Day 10 of our Christmas movie advent calendar. ‘Tis the season of giving after all…

Tis The Season to Watch Movies Day 8

Now we’re into week two of advent, and with 17 days left of Christmas movies to go I figure a romantic comedy is in order. Another first ever viewing for me, today’s film is none other than Love Actually. Opening with a few words on love from the master of British romantic comedies himself, Mr Hugh Grant, Love Actually gets off to a good start. That is until Bill Nighy begins singing…

Don’t let that put you off though. Although Bill Nighy’s rendition of ‘Love is All Around’ (which has cunningly been given a christmassy change to it and retitled ‘Christmas Is All Around’) is quite very awful at least he knows about it and spends most of the film on a rampage to try and get such an awful song into the Christmas number 1 slot instead of the usual annual teenage heartthrobs.

The films story is a concoction of many love stories which all piece together in one way or another before the credits roll. With a brilliant all round cast of fantastic British actors and actresses from Martin Freeman and Joanna Page playing a porn movie couple chatting about such mundane things as the weather and politics whilst in the most awkward of positions, to Liam Neeson playing a widowed father, and many more in between. It’s a shame really that Neeson doesn’t spend his time seeking revenge for the people responsible for his wifes death but he still manages to prove yet again that he is one of the greatest dad’s in the world as he tries to help his stepson with his first love.

Hugh Grant plays one of the best on screen Prime Ministers who develops a crush on his foul mouthed assistant leading to hilarious outcomes. And even Rowan Atkinson manages to pop up and annoy Alan Rickman with the longest giftwrapping in the world. The only downside to Atkinson’s involvement is that it’s not enough.

With the countdown to Christmas looming ever closer each story moves along at a wonderfully easy pace and come to beautiful conclusions on Christmas Eve. At just over two hours long it’s a bit long winded for a romantic comedy, however with the changing scenarios and characters it manages to stay fresh throughout. It’s a shame to think that I had to witness Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve over the last couple of years before I finally saw this sort of film done right with Love Actually. Everything about it oozes with happiness and love and will make you feel all warm and fluffy inside whether you want to or not. By the time the credits start rolling you’ll be wanting to rush out and find a special someone as soon as possible.

The cherry on top of this already delicious metaphorical cake of a film is the soundtrack which works wonderfully with the film. Yes, EVEN Bill Nighy’s song will start to grow on you at some point. I’ve no idea how or why, but it will.


Join me tomorrow for day 9 and if you follow me on twitter (@movie_mad) chances are you’re feed will probably be filled with my livetweets as I watch another Christmas Movie.

Tis The Season to Watch Movies Day 7

Now that we’ve officially hit the one week mark I feel I should finally feature a film which involves one of the most classic Christmas stories of all time. Since 1943, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been entertaining audiences every year. And of course with a good story, it’s not long till a film adaptation is made. Thanks to A Christmas Carol being written before films became mainstream and after over a hundred years of cinema now behind us there are plenty of adaptations to choose from. From the Muppets to Jim Carey, the story has been done to death by countless people. But today, to ease us into the first of a few adaptations of the story, I’m going to feature one that I personally hadn’t seen beforehand. Scrooged.

Released in 1988, Scrooged is a twist on the classic tale which updates it to modern day. Or at least, what was considered modern day back in 1988. Now it is starting to look a bit dated. Had it been done today we might have had a cameo by Liam Neeson rather than Lee Majors in the opening scene in which Santa’s toyshop is raided by gunmen. 

The story is still the same, although with a few slight differences. For example we still have the ghosts of Christmasses past, present and future visiting the protagonist, however for Scrooged, the protagonist is no longer Ebernezer Scrooge and has now been replaced with Frank Cross (played by the brilliant Bill Murray), a TV executive who is taught to stop his wicked ways of stealing cabs off grannies and killing old ladies with his scary advertisements for Christmas specials and shown the true meaning of Christmas.

Although it tends to get a bit tedious towards the end, Scrooged still has many good qualities. Murray carries the film wonderfully, using his great comic timing as usual. And we’re blessed with Bobcat Goldthwaite as poor Eliot Loudermilk, a much less confident character than his role as Zed in the Police Academy series (sidenote: if you’ve not seen Police Academy 2 and have yet to witness Bobcat in full swing do so as soon as possible!). But ultimately the film is nothing you won’t have seen before. Especially around this time of the year. Of all the Christmas Carol adaptations it’s certainly not the best – I think I speak for most when I say we ALL know what the best one is – but it’s not the worst either. If anything it’s a lovely comedy for a lazy afternoon in the build up to Christmas and a worthy addition to the list!


Of course the best Christmas Carol adaptation will be making an appearance at some point during the month and I’m sure it won’t take more than three guesses for you to know what it will be. But just in case you’ve not yet seen it I’ll keep it a secret for now.

Join me again tomorrow for Day 8!

Tis The Season to Watch Movies Day 6

As we near the end of the first week of our Christmas Movie advent calendar, I thought we could take a look at just one more Tim Burton film before the presents arrive. Although there’s not much in it to warrant it being a Christmas movie it was suggested to me multiple times and if I’m quite honest I’d not yet seen it and finally had an excuse to take it off the shelf. So our sixth entry for December is none other than Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton’s first ever collaboration with Johnny Depp.

Released three years before Nightmare Before Christmas, and actually directed by Burton as opposed to Nightmare, Edward Scissorhands is a Burtonesque movie from the very beginning. From it’s magical score (by Danny Elfman of course) to Johnny Depp’s unique performance, it’s clear to see why this film has stuck around so long. The storyline is simple yet fun and a nice twist on the Frankenstein format, with Depp’s comedic timing proving very helpful. His facial expressions and the way in which he presents himself as Edward make it hard to compare him to any other characters Depp has played before or since.

As Edward’s story unfolds (with the help of Vincent Price playing his creator) he is soon stumbled upon by Avon lady, Peg and near enough adopted into her family, sparking interest with her neighbours with his many talents. From Hedge cutting, to dog grooming, hairdressing and eventually ice sculpting, Edward becomes the new hit of the town even appearing on a TV talk show. However it’s not till the second half that the story gathers up interest. That’s not to say the first half isn’t interesting. There are of course lots of things happening to keep you interested, but it seems to take a bit longer than usual to finally get started. A minor criticism, but one that must be brought up.

Soon enough, Edward’s love for Peg’s daughter Kim, threatens her relationship with her boyfriend, Jim, and it’s not long till Jim ruins Edward’s reputation after a robbery goes wrong.

By now you’re probably asking where the Christmas aspect of it comes in. Well to be quite honest, it’s a very small section. Probably the smallest reference to Christmas that you’ll see in any of this months films. However there is snow. And a Christmas tree. And an old lady telling a bedtime story next to a fireplace. Again, not the most Christmassy of films you’ll likely see this month but it just touches the surface enough – although only by the skin of it’s teeth – to warrant a place on the advent calendar.

With just nineteen days left to go, the next two and a half weeks will have enough Christmas to keep us going for all of 2013 before we come back to December, so consider Edward Scissorhands a sort of break in between. Still keeping Christmas in the background but not completely ignoring it.


Join me tomorrow for Day 7 and as usual, thoughts and comments are very welcome!

Tis The Season to Watch Movies Day 5

With 20 days left to go before Christmas, today seems to be the best day to officially get some proper Christmas Spirit. No more shall I tease you with such things as Robert Downey Jr, children stuck in wardrobes, and all the rest of it. Because today’s the day that one of the most classic of Christmas movies enters our advent calendar. So without further ado, I shall begin Home Alone.

This Christmas the Macauly Culkin classic turns twenty-two years old and it’s hard to imagine such a film being done in todays world. With the 90s setting of pre-mobile phone technology it could be easily believed that 8 year old Kevin McCallister (Culkin) could get left behind at christmas and cause havoc with the local thieves. Today we would get 5 minutes in before wondering why Kevin hasn’t yet facebooked his mum. Or at least tweeted her. With the advancement in technology it’s reassuring to know that an attempt at a remake would be utterly pointless and therefore safe to assume that, no matter how desperate studios become, a remake won’t ever see the light of day.

The comedy is fantastic throughout. Even after over twenty years worth of rewatches, you will still be finding yourself giggling like a child as memories come flooding back whilst Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) try desperately to outwit young Kevin in his fun-house of traps. Although now I’m older and have seen Joe Pesci’s other work I must admit it’s odd coming back to this and seeing him desperately trying not to swear. For a good while I was imagining a scene in which Pesci’s Harry asks Kevin ‘How exactly am I funny?’ but alas, writer John Hughes decided not to go down that particular route and instead opted for good old slapstick comedy, the greatest asset to a children’s film it seems.

The late great John Candy’s cameo as Gus Polinski is another high point of an already fantastic film however a bit more screen time for the comedy legend would have been nice. But you can’t really complain as you’ll be too busy laughing at his recollection of leaving his child at a funeral parlour.

Home Alone is all you could wish for in a Christmas movie really. A great time for both kids and adults alike and a sure fire way to waste away an afternoon without having to look at the clock wondering when the film will end. And with it’s easily quotable lines and unforgettable scenes it gets better after every viewing!


Tis The Season to Watch Movies Day 4

Seeing as we’re gettting closer and closer to the annual break in of the big man in the red suit I feel a bit more snow is needed. And perhaps some fantasy. So I’ve decided to kill two birds with one stone. Behind door number 4 of our Christmas Movie Avent Calendar we have The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Recommended on behalf of Twitter, Narnia is apparently a Christmas movie due to the fact that there is a cameo by the big man himself. That’s right folks, he’s so big he cameos in movies!

Based on arguably the most famous of CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series of novels, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe seems almost to play out like a young children’s version of The Lord of The Rings. However I’m sure no matter how young you are LOTR would be infinitely more entertaining.

With it’s hefty running time of 2 hours 20 minutes it takes some effort to stay interested throughout. Although LOTR is considerably longer it at least has more storyline. The story we’re given for Narnia is of Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan, four siblings who, during World War II are sent to the countryside to keep safe. However, soon enough, the four children end up fighting a battle of their own in Narnia, a magical fantasy land found in the back of a wardrobe. Filled with such supporting cast delights as, Liam Neeson playing a lion, James McAvoy with hooves, and Ray Winstone and Dawn French playing a married beaver couple, it looks set to be quite a treat. Yet what we’re given is a bit of a bore. With long, uninteresting scenes and children actors who can’t seem to act well enough to warrant being main characters. However it’s clear to see that at least they’re having fun. At least, more fun than the audience.

Although there is an average enough battle scene and a small reference to Reservoir Dogs (Michael Madsen’s voice cameos as a wolf and a fun quote is used which, if you’ve seen Tarantino’s films as much as I have you might just recognise) the film doesn’t have much to stand on. Santa’s cameo seems to be taken from Lord of The Rings‘ Galadriel but it adds a nice touch.

So after all that boredom, why put it in a list of Christmas movies which I’m meant to be recommending you may ask. One simple fact really. It’s great for a post-christmas dinner, end of day nap. Just after everyone’s stuffed their faces with turkey and all the rest, pop this on in the living room and you won’t complain…



Tis The Season to Watch Movies Day 3

This being the first Monday morning of our Christmas movie advent calendar what better way to start off the week than with a bit of action! Behind door number three this morning we have the ultimate Buddy-Cop movie, Lethal Weapon.

You may be wondering how exactly this can be classed as a Christmas movie. With murder, explosions, Mel Gibson’s lions mane of hair and Danny Glover’s constant complaints of being ‘too old for this shit’ it’s quite true to say that it doesn’t have the most Christmassy of feelings. However, just like yesterdays Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the events of Lethal Weapon just happen to coincide with the festive season. Not only do we have ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ welcoming us into the opening credits, but we also have enough characters saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to remind us that Santa’s on his way. If that doesn’t give it credibility as a Christmas movie then I don’t know what does! Plus it gives us another reason to rewatch the classic or, if you haven’t seen it, finally give it a try. Not that a reason is needed to be honest.

Even though it’s full to the brim with clichés – Danny Glover’s Murtagh having just turned fifty and being assigned to recently widowed Riggs (Gibson) who just happens to be a loose canon, stop me if you’ve heard this before, folks – it’s still a treat to watch. With Shane Black’s dialogue it’s not as interesting as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang but you can easily tell it’s got the same man behind Kiss Kiss Bang Bang behind it and you can bet your bottom dollar it’s easily more quotable.

Instead of going down the usual Christmas movie route of everything’s hunky-dory and ‘aww look at the cute little puppy there’ we’re instead given another side to the Christmas season. With two suicide attempts occurring before the opening half hour is complete. And then another not much later on in the film. The differences between Riggs’ lonely life and Murtagh’s happy and fulfilling family life it’s easy to say where the film is heading. Yet it’s not to be approached as your average clichéd Buddy Cop movie. It’s a classic and should be seen as such.

We do have another murder mystery to solve just like we did yesterday with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the storyline isn’t as engaging, however that’s not really why we should watch this. The two main reasons we should enjoy ourselves for the next two hours (or the next hour and fifty minutes if you want to get all technical) are pretty much staring you in the face most of the time. Riggs and Murtagh’s chemistry on screen is a marvellous thing to watch and it’s one of the main reasons I’m sure that we were blessed with three sequels!


Join me tomorrow for day four and as usual, your thoughts and comments are very welcome down below.