Quick Takes 2 (Quick Take Harder) – 12/19/13

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Alex:  ‘Twas the Thursday before Christmas and all through the DVR, not a better option was stirring, not even something with Jamie Farr (that was literally the dumbest thing I could come up with). Actually, I find these movies below all better options than anything with Jamie Farr, I was never a big M*A*S*H* fan and I did enjoy each and every one of them in their own special way. Actually, some of them I liked in some other movie’s special way. Actually, I like to say “actually” a lot. And mislead you before clarifying things with said “actually.”

Actually–err, I mean, anyway, I know we’ve got the weekend coming up and this may be your last chance to check out some of these great holiday flicks before the government takes them away for the year. So if you’re looking for any recommendations and have seen all the other movies I’ve liked so far and are actually able to tell what those are, based on my reviews, I give you many kudos AND another set of Quick Takes to make your season bright.

Battle of the Bulbs – If you had come to me in the past as some kind of Future Ghost and told me that Kevin Arnold’s narrator voice and the guy who played Max Headroom would one day face off in a Christmas light decorating contest, I would have said, “Gee thanks, Future Ghost, I can’t think of less relevant information to give me about the future. Nothing about how to avoid wars or plagues or poison monkeys? Just that little factoid, huh? Also, why are you a ghost in this analogy?” But regardless of relevance, this is actually about as well-crafted and put together as one of these movies can be. Even better than a  big budget Hollywood release like Deck the Halls. Sure, it lacks some of that insane magic I like to lampoon on this very blog but still, major props to you, Battle of the Bulbs. And take 3.5 Eggnogs while you’re at it.

The Christmas Consultant – If you had come to me in the past as some kind of Future Ghost and told me that David Hasselhoff was going to one day star in a made-for-TV Christmas movie on deep cable where he plays a guy people hire to decorate and plan their holiday parties and whatnot , I’d say, “Yeah, that probably sounds about right. But look, Future Ghost, I am trying to get some sleep here. Can you just give me the gist of it real quick and let me go back to bed (assuming that FG woke me up to tell me this, which seems logical to me)?” And then Future Ghost would say that in preparation for his performance, the ‘Hoff would watch another movie that hadn’t come out yet, the Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and do his best imitation of Johnny Depp, who will actually be a respected actor in the future. But David Hasselhoff won’t be? I don’t think I want to live in such a shrill, pointless time, Future Ghost! Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening? No, except try to look surprised when it does. And give this movie 3 Eggnogs.

Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas – It’s like an audible version of Finding Christmas but with better known actors and a story with a lot more juice. I guess that’s why they put the “Debbie Macomber” name in front of it and whoever wrote Finding Christmas will just fade into the ether. D-Mac does know how to spin a good yarn and while two of the characters’ romantic repartee is classically annoying, there is a certain sweetness and realness to the Faith Ford-Gil Bellows courtship that is actually quite touching for a second. There aren’t a lot of holes to poke in this one, other than Tom Cavanagh’s character’s strange supply of wheat grass but good nonetheless. 3.5 Eggnogs.

Hat’s Off For Christmas! – Duff hits for the cycle. She had a home run with Christmas Belle, a triple last year with All About Christmas Eve, and a pretty nice, standing double with Hats Off For Christmas (and who really cares about a single). This time, she works in a Christmas store, open all year round, specializing mainly in Christmas-related hats. And they are having financial difficulties? The hell you say! But don’t worry, they bring in the guy from Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade to do essentially the same thing he did in that movie. Not understand their old-fashioned, homespun approach at first, replace all ramps with more profitable stairs, fall in love with the main girl character, eventually manage to save the business while still recovering his Christmas spirit in the process, and then wife up that main girl character, right after an unfortunate misunderstanding drives them away from each other for a few tense moments. 3 Eggnogs

Holiday in Handcuffs – For all their star power (Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Markie Post, June Lockhart), this movie just isn’t as fun as it should be. Oh wait, I see the problem. It’s another ABC Family joint. I guess that’s why there’s a little bit of raunch factor too (handcuffs, uh oh!). Melissa Joan Hart’s lame boyfriend ditches her on Christmas Eve, right before he was supposed to meet the family so she does what any normal, red-blooded girl would do – kidnaps some stranger and takes him home instead, pretending he’s the boyfriend. But you know what they say about fake relationships, right? Damnit, if you don’t, I have completely failed as a writer and a human being here. Holiday in Handcuffs doesn’t fail that badly but I’m still going to give it 2 Eggnogs.

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