The Muppet-A-Thon: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

This is a repost from my Yule-Tide-Marathon which was first posted on 22/12/09. 

 Less than a couple of months ago I headed out to the theatre to catch Robert Zemeckis’ straight up remake of this classic Charles Dickens’ story and I said in my review how banal the story had become.  However, with the use of some simple narration through the characters of Charles Dickens (Gonzo) and his audience [Rizzo the Rat] as well as making the story into somewhat of a musical Jim Henson made ease of making the film less about hitting all of the already well known plot points and more about entertainment and allowing its audience to enjoy the film.

I’ve always been a fan of the muppets and always saddened at how they’ve lost their place in the now pop culture makes me slightly sad.  I guess we’ve replaced them with the other things, like Pixar films or something but it still isn’t the same.  Still to this day I think about Forgetting Sarah Marshall and how Jason Segel used the puppets to make his Dracula Musical and hope he is able to somehow make his (what I can only guess is) deep passion for the muppets style puppetry come back and it would even better if it was the full Dracula musical.  Going back over a decade and watching Jim Henson revisit this classic tale felt so therapeutic for me.  All those problems I mentioned in my A Christmas Carol review have been carefully fixed here by the use of introducing some great musical numbers and having muppet humour through the many characters from Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) and the Ghost of Christmas Present.

So let me not lie to you, yes it is pretty much the same movie as all the other Christmas Carol films and TV specials you’ve seen.  Except this one you can probably get your five-year-old to sit through without complaining.  Jim Henson’s puppetry is just fun to watch on screen and the characters are great.  You can’t help but feel a sense of warmth watching characters like Beeker appear and just fill your heart with Christmas joy trying to get some coin out of Scrooge’s (Michael Caine) hand and seeing him make those funny noises he always makes as he becomes frightened by this miser.

It’s interesting that Scrooge is played by Michael Caine because he seems so odd a choice as probably the least grumpy of the entire Scrooge’s I’ve ever seen.  It felt more like he was working too hard to disguise the fact that he knew he was going to be merry in the end and you could see it in his eyes, unlike other iterations of the character.

In the end this movie is a good iteration of the classic tale but in the end another iteration that we will probably watch only as a starter kit for the children in the house so that they can hear the story and then maybe later in life they’ll search out the classic version from the 30s for their all important film education.

Rating: 7.0/10

Movie Review: A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D (2011)

“I shot Santa Clause in the face. He’s real, and I shot him in the face.”

This series of films is one of the most interesting film franchises that I’ve ever seen happen mainly because I can almost not explain how these films get sequels. They’re the evolution of the Cheech & Chong series, but now on steroids, ecstasy, cocaine and add a shot of whisky to the mix for good measure.

Harold and Maria (Paula Garces) married, we see our two best friends not together anymore. Harold has grown up and gotten a pretty regular grown-up life, while Kumar remains in their old apartment getting high and crying over the loss of his girlfriend. A package appears at Kumar’s door for Harold and this is the instigator for a night of debauchery (as is needed for a film of this type) as Kumar ruins everything for Harold and sends them on a journey for a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.

In 2004 Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was released theatrically. It was the film which revitalized Neil Patrick Harris’ career. The film also introduced us to the dynamic-duo and best friends, Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) who’ve both gone on to do relatively big things in film and TV (which this film has fun calling back to with fun mentions of Penn’s time in employment to the White House and Cho’s role as Sulu in Star Trek (2009)). The film even takes into account Neil Patrick Harris’ up-to-date real life happenings since 2004, including How I Met Your Mother and his coming out as being gay, and manages to somehow circumvent that for the sake of this fictitious version of NPH that has existed in these movies.

This film is a fun ninety minutes where Kumar pushes Harold constantly from scene to scene making his overly kind has to make everything go perfectly attitude goes further and further out the window. This film however, adds the madness of Christmas, 3D, Danny Trejo (and a really criminal looking family), Elias Koteas as a Russian mob boss and Tom Lennon as Harold’s friend who’s daughter Kumar manages to get high and marijuana and cocaine.

The film’s use of 3D is gimmicky. However, it admits to its gimmick and embraces it. It stares at you wondering why this film is in 3D and just shoves more things at you and it’s funny for no real reason other than its own ridiculousness. There’s even a joke of how Trejo’s going to “jizz” on the tree, queue to freeze frame visual of semen coming at us on screen. It’s fun in its own ridiculous way, like the other two films are.

Love or hate it Harold and Kumar managed to defy the traditional studio formula and make three truly entertaining movies – I’m still willing to believe that the second movie was good (even though it wasn’t as good as the first or this one). I hope however that – even though there is a line calling to it – there isn’t any more of these movies, eventually running the series into the ground like most American television shows outstaying their welcome.

Rating: 7.5/10

 

What I Learned About Christmas From Watching Movies

I know a few weeks back I spoke about one of the unsung Christmas movies – Bad Santa – in my Gleaner column (which you can seee here on the facebook page) but since it’s actually Christmas Day I’d like to revisit the idea of Christmas movies.

I know that I failed at my 12 Days of Christmas series, but I hope in this season of forgiveness you can look into your blogging heart and forgive a busy writer.

It’s well known that every year Hollywood has to release a film for the season. So as you would imagine there’re a lot of movies to pick from if you’re looking for something to sit with your family and watch while you try to let that big dinner settle in your stomachs.

The lessons that we learn in all of these films are generally the same. However, if we pay attention to the details there’re a lot of unwritten rules that I’ve found out about Christmas from seeing way too many movies and I’m here to share them with you here. Continue reading

The Yule Tide Marathon – It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

It's A Wonderful Life (4)

George Bailey [James Stewart] has always wanted to leave his home town and travel the world and be somebody, but throughout his life he’s always found an excuse not to go and to stay home and care to some business or another.  One Christmas Eve he and his business partner find themselves $8000 short on their books and in desperate need of money.  George in a moment of fear of incarceration and the evil Mr. Potter [Lionel Barrymore] finally gaining access to everything in the town he wishes for death and that he was never born.  His guardian angel, Clarence [Henry Travers] appears to show George how the world would be if he never was. Continue reading