Quick Takes – 12/1/14

Naughty and Nice ChristmasShepherdPoster1Very Brady Christmas   grumpy_cat_christmas_a_schristmas_palm_springs_carouselchristmas-under-wraps-candace-cameron-bure

With Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Rebecca Black’s, “Friday”, Cybertron Monday, and Taco Tuesday all happening this past week, I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and write a proper review. But what about an improper review, you ask? Sure, I could handle that. And I have been watching movies too so all the better.

Below is a little something we like to call “Quick Takes.” Brief reviews of some recent movies shown on the Hallmark, Lifetime, and oh yeah, the Up Network, which is a good name for it because it really is on its way up in this Christmas movie smorgasbord bonanza, giving Hallmark and Lifetime a real run for their money. Plus it’s shorter than “Giving Hallmark and Lifetime a Real Run For Their Money Network”.

 

#1) Naughty AND Nice (“and” is not capitalized – and may be an ampersand anyway)

Courtesy of the Up Network! And not to be confused with Naughty Or Nice, which is a different movie that I also liked. My wife didn’t like this one as much though. Thought it was boring and to prove this point, fell subsequently asleep. I couldn’t really blame her because it’s about two radio DJs and speaking as a former radio DJ myself, I could appreciate all the little nuances that people like her, ones not quite as familiar with the ‘biz, just might not get. Of course I am kidding about that last part but I will say the movie got a lot better towards the end, in the sense that it got kind of crazy. Maybe I fell asleep too and it was just my dream and my dream was better but either way, I’m happy. Christmas Queen candidate Haylie Duff is back and was as sweet as ever. Her romantic counterpart, not so much but I think his name was “Pepper” and he had a big mansion and strange manservant for reasons I couldn’t understand. That’s a huge step up from this other character who’s house was just a weird sound stage with absolutely no walls. I’d give it 3 Eggnogs and donate at least 3 walls to that other character.

 

#2) A Very Brady Christmas

Did I mention that Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady) was also in Naughty & Nice? Well, she was, which reminded me that we watched A Very Brady Christmas over the break. Not that it was shown on any of these networks I’ve called out so far nor shown on TV recently period but my wonderful family traditionally screens it every year on Thanksgiving, after dinner and maybe drinks. Because this is the movie that started it all. Like most goodhearted people, I grew up watching The Brady Bunch and years later, while working on a relatively quiet night at a pizza restaurant in 1988 or ’89, I saw this Christmas special on prime time that year. I was pretty young and didn’t know what the hell was happening. Not that A Very Brady Christmas is particularly sophisticated, mind you, but at the time, I just wasn’t yet well-versed in the concept of enjoying bad movies for their badness and baffling choices. That said though, much like all the radio DJ connection in Naughty & Nice, there are definitely nuances here. Like even after seeing it at least 50 times by now, I finally noticed this awesome map painted onto a travel agency window that Mr. Brady visits:

Very Brady Travel Agency

How is that the world? How could someone paint this and figure it was “close enough” to resembling Planet Earth and everyone else associated with the production just go along with it too? Whatever the reason for this and whatever the reason for countless little chestnuts just like it, A Very Brady Christmas will no doubt receive Countless Eggnogs from me,

 

#3) The Christmas Shepherd

I was cooking or doing something else and had this on with no sound. It stars Teri Polo and Teri Polo’s sad face. Cheer up Teri Polo, I think the other guy found your dog. But none of this made me want to turn the sound on at any point so I’m going to give it a new rating I just made up for movies I bail on, watch with the sound off, or make up entirely – The Empty Glass

 

#4) Folgers

Not even a movie but they have been sponsoring most of the Hallmark films this year. Folgers cans (or what coffee cans are these days) being prominently displayed and whatnot. I’m hoping they will sponsor me too. What was their old slogan, “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup?” That doesn’t bode too terribly well for the rest of your day but still, Folgers’ money is as good as anyone’s and I will take whatever they send me.

 

#5) The Nine Lives of Christmas

I realize I already reviewed this sucker but after watching a few others where I really didn’t have any feeling for the main characters falling in love, I figured I owed Nine Lives an apology and maybe even an extra Eggnog for the rating. The male and female leads are relatively better than most, for whatever that’s worth (another Eggnog). But then I realized that the movie did not successfully capitalize on its own name. Sure, “nine lives” is a reference to cats and there are cats in the film but that’s not good enough. The couple should have had nine chances to make it or it should have been like a Groundhog Day kind of thing. Anything to connect to the nine lives concept better than simply, “we have cats”. So because this is such an egregiously missed opportunity, I will officially subtract that extra Nog I wanted to give them for having couple I believed a little more, leaving us…back where we started. Sorry I have wasted your time here.

 

#6) Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

I really miss the show, Parks and Recreation. And in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, Aubrey Plaza recreates her character of April Ludgate as the titular Grumpy Cat and said Grumpy Cat pretty much looks just like Ron Swanson. So why didn’t I enjoy this movie more? And why do talking animals or at least, animals who do things they shouldn’t (play sports, do karate, etc.) always have to foil dim-witted, non-threatening criminals? Going back to my first question though, I guess Grumpy Cat was just a little too smart for its own good. Sometimes I laughed but sometimes it was a laugh of anger. And overall, I could actually imagine myself making this movie and that’s usually not a good thing. I much prefer wondering what the hell the other people making it were thinking. It wonders stuff like that too. Out loud. Which was another problem I had. It was all a little too knowing. A little too, “Look, I’m making a making a movie! You’re watching it right now!! You’re even writing, ‘you’re watching it right now’ right now in your blog.

Grumpy Cat

 

#7) Christmas in Palm Springs

While Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever certainly dabbled in meta, Christmas in Palm Springs might go Full Meta Jacket here. It’s about a lady in advertising hired to come up with an ad campaign for the city of Palm Springs, CA. Something amazing, something we’ve never seen before, and at some point we realize it is indeed this very movie about Christmas in Palm Springs, called “Christmas in Palm Springs,”

Or is it? Yes and no, I’d say, because it’s also about her family. She is separated/separating from her husband, Patrick Muldoon, because he is too much of a lovable dreamer. I could have saved her the trouble and told her all of this from the get-go but she went ahead and had two children with the guy who are fairly old so at this point, you might as well stick with Muldoon. Especially because in these worlds, there usually isn’t a middle ground. It’s either the lovable-but-less-mature-and-financially-successful-dreamer or an uptight jerk with a stick up his ass so long, it could almost extend to the top of that Palm Springs Tramway, which really is a wonderful tourist attraction.

I forgot to mention that Erin Gray is the mayor of Palm Springs and Ian Ziering plays Muldoon’s literary agent and there’s a black guy we’ve seen in a million movies who works at a hotel and has The Shining but it’s not the other black guy from the movie, The Shining, who works at a hotel and has The Shining. Plus he may not actually have The Shining, now that I think about it. Also now that I think about it, I have just made this Quick Take review into 3 paragraphs when none of the other ones have followed that format. It’s like I’m still stuck in the self-referential world of Grumpy Cat so to make things easier on myself, I will just give Christmas in Palm Springs 3 Eggnogs. One for each paragraph and walls broken by the movie.

 

#8) Christmas Under Wraps

Candace Cameron, now Candace Cameron Bure, survived being Kirk Cameron’s little sister, appearing in a very weird, very awkward, Marie Osmond Christmas special, and turning into a teen wolf (though sadly, not as part of that movie franchise) to become the leading candidate for the crown of Christmas Queen, vacated by Dame Daphne Zuniga. We still love you, Zunes, it’s just your legacy has to get passed down to someone and CCB can definitely play the game of thrones. She was believable in this movie, which I guess she oughta be considering she played pretty much the same character in last year’s, “Let It Snow!” That’s okay though. I’m not looking for Gary Oldman-like transformations here, I just want someone I kind of like and care about. I’m also not looking for a movie to totally break the mold either. Christmas Under Wraps follows just about every Christmas convention/trope except for, oddly enough, the most common one, which is someone being dead. And by that, I don’t mean dying in the movie, I mean pre-dead. Already dead when the movie starts. So if it’s important to you that a film have pre-deads, I’m sorry but you may not like this one. But if that’s not such a big deal though, then you might want to check it out. And oh yeah, this movie gets bonus points with me because at some point, one of the characters gets this really strange look on his face. I couldn’t figure out what the look was though. If I were to guess and throw all context out the window, I would suggest that he once built a robot and forgot about it and this look was him remembering that he had build that robot. My hypothesis was never confirmed nor denied but I did laugh about it for a while, feeling good enough about myself and the movie to give it 3.5 Eggnogs. And I’ll even switch those Eggnogs with Folgers’ Crystals to see if anyone can tell the difference.

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