Week In Review – 12/18/15

I have to admit, I am not able to physically watch every single new Christmas movie coming out this year. Mentally, spiritually, and even swimmingly, I can do it no problem but my eyes just can’t be present for every single film aired each weekend over 5 networks. Occasionally, one or four will just fall by the wayside and it’s too late to turn the boat around and rescue them from the ether. The Christmas Note very easily could have been such a casualty but since it involved a mystery, of sorts, and since I take credit for coining the phrase, “Christmystery”, I  felt like it was incumbent on myself to watch at least another one in my lifetime, much the way I did several years ago when I watched all movies about hamburgers. Of course I never coined a phrase for that microgenre. Or figured out if anything else was ever coined, besides a phrase. And maybe a coin. But I guess that’s something to work on in the new year.


The only problem with this particular Christmystery is that my wife solved it out loud before we even started watching. She just read the description and that was that. Still though, I am glad this movie didn’t slip through the cracks because I kind of liked it. For one, it was different. For two, it felt like someone really cared about it. Like this clearly wasn’t just phoned in as so many are. And for three, well, there really isn’t a three but those first couple are pretty important. Besides the Christmystery dynamic, it WAS NOT ABOUT A GUY AND A GIRL FINDING ROMANTIC LOVE. It was about two ladies finding platonic love. Plus about 20 more things. In fact, it would be some low-hanging fruit to say that the Christmas Note had too many notes, like I did last week, but these felt less like notes and more just like threads. Maybe they could have snipped a few of them and made the Christmystery less solvable by DVR description alone but who knows, then it might have overshadowed the theme of Christmas. And like I said, someone legitimately cared here. All the acting was pretty decent too, including Meadow Soprano who was put in the unenviable position of having to shoot quite a few scenes where all she gets to really do is make concerned faces but she totally hung in there. I didn’t even feel like she was making the samed concerned face over and over again either. It seemed like she had a whole suite. I also really appreciated taking a break from watching people pretend not to be in love with each other and ice skate and somehow have their relationships factor into the war between Christmas and corporate oppression. And remind us that there is meaningful love in the world (or at the least the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel) other than the romantic kind. I wish I had something hilarious to say about how crazy something in the movie was. I thought I found one scene, where they went to meet Cousin Kay, and they walked into what seemed like her house except there was a kid standing up on pedastel, on skis and with full ski gear on, totally immobile, then a whole bunch of other kids standing around him and seemingly writing stuff. This had no bearing on the story either, it was just kind of a curious backdrop. But then I went back to watch it again and noticed that it was supposed to be an art class and all these other kids were sketching the dude on skis. Granted that this wouldn’t be how you would handle figure drawing and this place did not look like a classroom but still, for the most part, it makes some level of sense. So there you go, one slightly confusing moment with an immobile kid on skis. And 3.5 Eggogs.





After that little diversion, we got the train back on the tracks, which meant watching Lifetime’s Saturday premiere of Becoming Santa. It was about a girl named Holly who just happened to be Santa Claus’ daughter. She was in a pretty serious relationship with this other dude, Connor, and decided it was finally time to take him home to meet mom and dad. But she hasn’t yet told him who she is and who they are. Uh oh!

Becoming Santa

Since Santa lives in the North Pole, you’d figure she might need to at least let Connor know where they’re headed, geographically, for Christmas but no and it’s never actually actually clear where he thinks they’re going. He sure as hell isn’t going to figure it out on his own, I’ll tell you that. Even after being drugged, waking up in a place that looks a lot like the North Pole (complete with Aurora Borealis), noticing that her dad seems very Santa-ish and that he keeps reindeer in a stable, Connor is still pretty much clueless. Oh yeah and their last name is Claus. Holly finally fills the poor guy in, after he discovers the elves and workshop, but this is only Part 1 of the big news she has to break. Because in a bizarre twist of fate, whoever marries Holly becomes the next Santa Claus. So the job gets passed down from generation to generation but it doesn’t matter if you are even part of the bloodline. Why don’t the Clauses (Meredith Birney and Michael Gross) have a son like they did when they played the parents on Family Ties? And more importantly, don’t you have to know magic to be Santa? I don’t think Connor knows any magic. He does technically have a job as a toy designer BUT he may be the worst toy designer in the entire world. His latest product is a wooden dog on wheels and and he seems totally flummoxed when a focus group filled with modern kids isn’t falling over themselves to play with it. For one, people have already made this toy. For two, it’s really not that interesting to begin with. For three – and this time I have an actual “for three” –  this is a toy for a baby or young toddler, not the 7 year-olds in this playtest. His boss even cancels the company Christmas party on the spot when he sees it all go down. So admitedly, Connor doesn’t have a lot of job prospects at the moment but still, agreeing to be the new Santa is a big committment for anyone to make. Especially when, and I say this once again because it really is so critical, he does not seem to have the magical powers necessary to perform the role. Will he somehow get these powers if he marries Holly? Seemingly no, because Mrs. Claus appears pretty put off when Connor is unable to eat an entire plate of cookies in 20 seconds, which is the first test potential Santas must pass. Speed eating. We also have yet to establish that the current Santa is going to retire or needs to retire at the moment his daughter marries. And then what happens if they get divorced?

Connor is nice and/or dumb enough to keep rolling with all this up until another suitor for Holly’s affections, a guy who looks like Kato Kaelin (and may in fact even be Kato Kaelin for all I know) but is supposedly Jack Frost, convinces him he is just not up for the task. Jack is certainly a dick but he’s not wrong here. Santa Claus needs to be able to deliver presents to the children of the world in one night, which means that he also needs to move at beyond superhuman speed or be at a billion places at once and probably walk through walls because plenty of places don’t have chimneys and even if they did, that has never been a viable way to enter or leave a building. So Connor goes back home and instead of coming up with some awesome new toy idea to get his mojo back, he pitches the same damn wooden dog on wheels to the kids only this time, he forces them to put down their mobile devices and play with it. Now they love it! Problem solved, un-cancel the Christmas party!! And wait a minute, some co-worker has a big plate of donuts sitting on their desk, which Connor proceeds to speed eat the entire stack in a way consistent with how Santa eats cookies. Although if you’ve ever tried to eat multiple full-size donuts, I can tell you there isn’t a 1-to-1 correspondance here. You eat the first one and you’re like, “Yeah, I could easily take down another.” Then you eat your second and it’s still good but somehow not as good as you thought it would be. Then if you go for a third, which I want to be clear about and say I don’t recommend, you’re sick and it’s game over. But since Connor doesn’t immediately vomit, we are meant to believe that he now has the power to be Santa. But why? The movie tells us that it’s just because he got his confidence back after physically forcing children to play with his ill-conceived toy but I maintain that this kind of speed eating and impossible digestion is indeed magic.

So how did he get this magic? Because Holly loves him? At this point in the story though, they are not together. Connor bailed on Holly and left her up at the North Pole, now seriously considering a proposal from Jack Frost. And why does Jack Frost want to be Santa so badly? Why does anybody, when you really think about it? I like giving toys to kids and making them happy as much as the next guy but flying around the world in one night makes me feel like I just ate 100 donuts in a row. I would spend most of December sobbing in the bathroom if I had this gig. And it’s not exactly something you can just quit either. But Holly eventually mans up and says screw it, she is just gonna have to be the new Santa since Connor isn’t interested and Jack Frost is a dick. So you’re thinking this is Girl Power, right? Well, not exactly. It’s been almost 20 years since The Spice Girls came on the scene and the best you ladies can hope for is to be a co-Santa with your fiance, who of course desides to come back and take the reins. Although once again, we still have not established that Holly’s dad is going to retire at any point in the foreseeable future. I guess I should just be glad it’s not me. And much like donuts, I wouldn’t recommend going with more than 3 Eggnogs for this movie but I do recommend pouring as much alcohol into them as you like. Which by the way, I have done some experimenting with recently and can tell you that a dark spice rum and cognac combo is the way to go.

eggnogeggnogeggnog + Dark Rumcognac



Okay, this is a weird one – Beverly Hills Christmas. We watched it on the Up Network and for the life of me, I can’t remember ever setting the DVR to record it. And that thing is filled with Hallmark and Lifetime movies I need to watch but still, since we hadn’t checked in with Up in a while and wanted to see how Beverly Hills might play, we gave it a shot.


You don’t need to have watched a pornographic film before to know that watching one feels not unlike this movie. Without all the sexual content, of course, but just the general look, feel, and most importantly, acting in Beverly Hills Christmas is on par with some pornos out there. Dean Cain is in it and manages to keep his head above water but this was the exception, not the rule. And what the hell was he even doing here? I love how much he likes Christmas but it is okay to say no to one of these things, dude. He does get to play Gabriel, the angel, which I guess is pretty sweet but he has to guide this other recently-deceased lady, Donna Spangler (who I think was a wrestler at some point), and get her to help out her spoiled daughter in ghost form. The weird thing is that while most people can’t see or hear Donna Spangler’s character’s ghost, some people kind of can. Like the dog. And their black housekeeper. I am not kidding. I’m sure they weren’t trying to be racist here, maybe even the opposite by saying that being a black and more importantly non-rich lady, their housekeeper is more in touch with her spiritual side and generally a purer human but still, it was kind of funny to see her looking around when the ghost talked. It’s possible they came up with a better explanation for this but much like white people trying to listen to a ghost, we couldn’t hear it because we also ended up bailing on the movie pretty early on. The porno acting was just too much for me. Or maybe not enough, without all the actual pornography. We might revisit later but until then, it’s an Empty Glass for you, Beverly Hills Christmas.

Empty Glass



Up next was the Republican Debate, which aired on Tuesday night. While not necessarily/at all a Christmas movie, we watched it during an all-important time slot that we normally would have watched Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow so I figured I might as well review it too.

Republican Debate

Or what about this? What if I just rated each candidate, based on the traditional Eggnog Scale? I realize that might be crossing a line with our relationship here but what the hey:

  • Carly Fiorina – She says a few things I agree with from time to time but ultimately, I wonder if she wants to be president because she truly wants to help her country or because it’s just the top rung on her ladder of success. The feeling I get from listening to her is that it is the latter (ladder). Which is kind of funny because as SNL already pointed out, she was fired from her job as a CEO and then failed in her previous run for the senate. So how exactly do you fall down to the office of US President? Plus she tossed out some ridiculous quote the other night – “If you want something talked about, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” Ignoring for a second that this is in no way true nor even a commonly held stereotype, it’s completely lame to play this card when people would scream bloody murder if Jeb Bush said the exact same thing but reversed the genders. Or if any of the other candidates took her to task for saying it. That’s one reason why we need trap doors at these debates. If you get owned in an argument or spew out some totally inflammatory rhetoric, a trap door opens you and down you go. With 0 Eggnogs.


  • Jeb Bush – You know of all the candidates, he is probably the one I would most get along with in real life. Just a likeable dude. Not unlike his brother. But therein lies the rub. Because first off, he’s the younger brother and acts like it, coming off kind of small, lacking confidence and more importantly, gravitas. Secondly, I don’t care if he’s Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and FDR all rolled into one, if we value any kind of relations with the Middle East, there is no way we can elect this man purely on the grounds of his lineage. When his dad was in charge, we went to war over there. When his brother was president, we went to war over there again. If you’re some dude living in any of those countries and you find out we elected another Bush here in the United States, wouldn’t you kind of take it a little personally? I’d give him 2 Eggnogs but according to the Electrical College, is not nearly enough to win the nomination.


  • Marco Rubio – In some ways, he is kind of the opposite of Jeb Bush for me. Incredibly polished and confident and smooth. Yet we could never hang out. There’d just be a lot of awkward silences. That’s okay except sometimes I find myself listening to the actual content of his statements and realize that he is not as smart as he sounds. Or at least, I don’t agree with what he’s saying, despite how good he sounds saying it. He might even be a mandroid, now that I think about it. It’s funny how the ears are always the hardest thing to get right. So I definitely wouldn’t recommend voting for a robot. Or giving robots the right to vote. Those things never work in the movies and if it can’t work in a movie, it certainly isn’t gonna fly in real life. 2 Eggnogs.


  • Ted Cruz – He reminds me, and I’m sure plenty of others, of a televangelist. He’s also a little creepy. And almost looks half-melted but still, I think I might kind of like him. Not necessarily want-him-to-be-president like him but how about vice president? Maybe if I threw in, say, 3 Eggnogs?


  • John Kasich – Is he really running for president? Because when I look at him, I just think – Big 10 college basketball coach. And man, he sure loves Ohio, doesn’t he? Apparently he turned that state into a mythical wonderland. Someone should tell him that if he really won the election, he would have to leave his utopian state of Ohio and move into the White House, which is located in Washington D.C. Someone should also tell him that he’s not going to win. 0 Eggnogs.


  • Dr. Ben Carson –  This is a tricky one because personality-wise, he seems very nice. Like a breath of fresh air compared to some of these other yack-a-doodles. And he’s clearly superintelligent in at least one particular arena. But did this all come at the expense of sanity? I’m not sure. Nor am I sure what would happen if he became president. Or if he even knows. If you know, just try to look surprised when it all goes down. You don’t want to be outed as the person who can accurately predict the future. Everyone will just bug you for the rest of your life. ???Mystery Eggnog???


  • Rand Paul – When I first saw this guy, I thought he was the classic dick characters from these Christmas movies that we love so much. Just seemed kind of angry and bitter and almost like an evil miser who would replace all ramps at the orphanage with much more profitable stairs yet was somehow still supposed to marry the main girl before she met the love of her life. But he’s totally grown on me. He may actually be the most intelligent of all the candidates on either side. By that I mean, I think he has the most detailed knowledge about the most things. He probably has a lot of sophisticated, nerdy hobbies too. And he’s definitely more down-to-Earth than I originally gave him credit for so hats off to you, Rand, if that is your real name, and if I could vote for you for vice president, I would. But like travelling backwards through time and cheating at bingo, it’s just not possible. 3.5 Eggnogs, putting you narrowly in front of both Ted Cruz and Becoming Santa.


  • Trump – It’s funny because Trump actually IS the bad guy from Christmas movies. He’s all about money, the bottom line, stairs, etc. But he also said that if he were elected president, we’d all be saying “Merry Christmas” again. So maybe he’s the bad guy who got visited by 3 ghosts and learned what’s important in life and is now the good guy? Why else would he be doing this? Being president is a terrible job. Way worse than being Santa so for him to put himself through this grinder and spend all his own money on a campaign when he has already achieved massive success, I have to believe he’s in this for altruistic reasons and really does want to make America great again, although I realize that all of those words are very subjective. Plus he says that his first duty as president is to change our national anthem from the boring, old Star-Spangled Banner to We Will Rock You by Queen. Wel,l he doesn’t say that, I say that, but here’s hoping. And here’s 4 Eggnogs plus 1 Republican Nomination.

So there you have it, Trump for President, Rand Paul for Veep, and let’s get those trap doors set up for the next debate.



But first, let’s get that train back on the tracks once more and onto Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow.


Kind of a make-or-break moment for D-Mac, huh? Because while I’ve noted many times how much I like Trading Christmas, all those Mr./Mrs. Miracle films are the worst. Dashing Through the Snow will have to decide once and for all if she’s got the chops. After all that buildup though, I am a little sad to tell you that it’s still too close to call for me. The movie starts off a lot like A Christmas Detour – girl’s trying to fly home for Christmas, all the flights are cancelled, and she ends up sharing a rental car with some strange dude she doesn’t know but is a little annoyed by. The weird thing is that she wants to go from San Francisco to Seattle and I have no idea why all the flights would be canceled and all the rental cars would be rented. Actually that’s not THE weird thing because the movie is about to take an unexpected twist here. It turns out that the FBI is after this lady and have been tracking her for reasons unknown. And man, if the FBI in real life is anything like how they were portrayed in this movie, I hope President Trump cleans house over there as soon as he takes office (after he finishes changing our national anthem, of course). Then we find out that this dude she’s a little annoyed by/attracted to is part of the FBI as well and is pretending to travel with her because….I don’t know. Nor do I know why they send another agent to follow them. Better yet, if they are convinced she is a dangerous criminal, as they seem to be, why don’t they just apprehend her on the spot? Is it a sting operation of some kind? And what the hell did this lady even do in the first place? I’ll tell you where you won’t find any of these answers – the movie. This could be an interesting premise but they fail to explain any of it and they really fail at ever convincing us that maybe our lovable, kooky crafter Ashley really could be the public enemy that the authorities seem totally convinced she is. The main guy, Dash, which I think is really his name, eventually becomes convinced though that she is not a criminal mastermind. How does he become so convinced? Because she seems nice and mentions something about being identity thefted several years ago. So that explains it all! She didn’t do any of the unexplained bad things, it was just someone else using her identity. How did this not get reported though? Shouldn’t the FBI have this information? I truly pray that they would, in real life, but not in this crazy world. It is in fact so crazy that they don’t even adhere to that new 3-Day Rule I was talking about earlier. For them, it’s just 1 day. And it’s serious too. We even see a slow motion flashback of all their beautiful moments that happened over the course of just that day, which didn’t even span a full 24 hours because of things like sleep. After the couple finally hooks up at the end (oops, hope I didn’t spoil it there), Ashley says something like, “You’re all I ever wanted.” Holy smokes, that’s fast!! Oh yeah, and there are these equally crazy, relatively un-set up side characters who pop out of nowhere like a sensitive biker dude giving away puppies and two Canadian teens pulling license plate swapperoos so that one of them can afford to take Bailey on a ski trip. Who the hell is Bailey? It doesn’t matter. And I do appreciate the attempt to breathe some more life into the story here but these diversions probably work a lot better on Debbie Macomber’s laptop than they do on the screen. Like I alluded to at the beginning of this long paragraph, I’m afraid I just don’t know what to make of it all. I guess we enjoyed the experience of watching this movie but thought it could have been better and maybe should have been better and most definitely would have been better if they had just listened to all of my criticism and changed the story accordingly. Of course that would require time travel and I’m not going to address that again. I will give it 2.5 Eggnogs and issue an official warning to Debbie Macomber that this is really it. The next D-Mac joint better be freakin’ epic.




While I’m handing out official warnings, I should tell you, Ion Television, that you are skating on very thin ice here. Over the past few years, we could always count on Ion to throw us a some curve balls. A few wild cards, maybe even a few Dr. Ben Carsons ,if you will. Christmas Belle, Holiday Road Trip, Merry Ex-Mas, Back to Christmas, Christmas Kiss II, to name a few. Coming into this season, I had such high hopes but so far we have been collectively let down with what seem like relatively tame attempts at Hallmark clones. What the hell, Ion? That’s not your brand. Your brand is crazy and sadly enough, you were not reunited with it in Christmas Reunion.

christmas reunion

Once again, the hopes were high. Patrick Muldoon has been a guy we could also always count on and while Denise Richards is new to the party, she kicked things off on the right foot earlier this year with Up Network’s Christmas Switch. I mean, it certainly wasn’t great but at least it was crazy. I couldn’t find any crazy in A Christmas Reunion. It was more like Starship Troopers Reunion anyway, as Jake Busey was also in it along with the aforementioned Richards and Muldoon. Still though, what we got was just a pretty straightforward tale about a lady coming back to her hometown to take over her Aunt’s bakery along with her ex-boyfriend who was also sort of seemingly raised by her Aunt too so it’s almost like they’re related but not enough that them hooking up isn’t okay. Although it wasn’t really okay with me. I didn’t want to see Richards and Muldoon make out. Not because I don’t like Muldoon or appreciate his hardcore devotion to Christmas movies and certainly not because I don’t appreciate Denise Richards saint-like devotion to Charlie Sheen’s kids, it’s just that they are past the point of being physically attractive in a way where I want to see them kiss. In Muldoon’s case, this is because he’s relatively old. Not so much in years but his stylistic attempt to cling to youth ironically makes him seem older than the sum of his parts. With Denise Richards, it’s even worse because she has unfortunately joined the ranks of women who destroy their once beautiful faces with plastic surgery and now just look inhuman. Then to make matters worse, she is so skinny that it just looks unhealthy and sad. Normally I would feel like a jerk focusing so negatively on peoples’ appearances but you already know I am voting for Trump so hence, a terrible person anyway. More impotantly though, in this case, it is their own damn fault and I consider it a public service message. Plastic surgery doesn’t look good. Maybe in the future, we will figure it all out and be able to get our faces carved up in a way that not only makes us more attractive but also looks totally natural. That day has not come yet though. And until it does, I recommend we all stay the hell away from it. The other reason I don’t feel as terrible spending most of this time talking about the physical features of our lead actors is that there really wasn’t much else to say about the movie. At some point, my wife and I checked out and just started eating those Pop Chips again, which are still just as good this week as they were last. If only Ion could have been just as good this year as they were last. I guess they’ve got one more weekend to redeem themselves here but even if they deliver two Merry Exmases, it will be hard to few 2015 as anything other than a letdown for this once up-and-coming network. I’m only giving A Christmas Reunion 1 Eggnog and that’s purely because the cookies they showed at the very beginning looked good.




The Angel of Christmas was another movie from a couple weeks’ back that was going to slip through the cracks and I was comfortable with that but in an effort to be more physically present for movies in a week that included extra diversions like the aforementioned debate, Beverly Hills Christmas, and those side characters in Dashing Through the Snow, I made some extra time to watch this in the bathroom.


Oh yeah, I watch TV in the bathroom. After my political diatribe, I figure I might as well just lay it all on the table here. Full disclosure. I should also disclose that watching TV in the bathroom is pretty awesome. And the movie wasn’t bad either. Much better than I expected, watching the trailer and reading the title. While not officially a Christmystery, it did have a mystery component which I think I’m liking more and more in these films. It’s about a lady trying to figure out the story behind this angel ornament her great grandfather carved years ago. She meets a guy who looks like he’s from a Canadian rock-pop band from the mid-80s and pushes way too hard for a date. Like he makes the lyrics to the song, Baby It’s Cold Outside, seem tame by comparison. I actually felt pretty uncomfortable there for a bit. But eventually the girl gives in and he helps her solve the mystery, as well as restore her love of Christmas. But then he gets too pushy again and I get uncomfortable. I missed the scoop on this angel ornament because I was taking a shower when they explained it all but not being able to hear the words and just judging from their faces, I think the big reveal is that they are actually brother and sister. Just kidding, I read that in the closed captioning. Just kidding again, I am not going to spoil the big reveal/Christmystery here, more than I already have telling you about watching television in the bathroom. But I highly recommend this practice and kind of recommend this movie, to the tune of 3 Eggnogs.



Can you believe we are now officially 1 week away from Christmas? I don’t know how many more of these movies I will be able to fit in, in the bathroom or otherwise, because at some point we shut down and switch over to only watching older stuff – Jingle All the Way, Star Wars Holiday Special, Very Brady Christmas, anything with Captain and/or Tennille – you know, the classics. But it looks like there might be some instant TV classics on the horizon too. Hallmark has something going with Mariah Carey and a movie just called Christmas Land. Then it looks like Lifetime has another ghost story but this time the ghost is a hipster and with Ion, we’ll just have to cross our fingers. Happy Week Of Christmas!




Week In Review – 12/11/15

Did you know there is seriously an eggnog shortage going on this year? I mean it. At least where I live, we have substantially less nog available in stores than ever. Plus I can’t find that eggnog-flavored Coffeemate at all anywhere. Don’t know what that’s all about but it seems to have affected movies the movies I watched over the week, I’m afraid. This last Saturday was Ion’s time to shine and kicked things off a little too cautiously, for my liking, with yet another film about Royals not wanting to be Royals and preferring to marry some regular, ol’ American Joe(anne).

Prince For Christmas

This time though, instead of whisking her away to his magnificent-but-cold castle in some made up country you have never heard of, he comes to her small town you have also never heard of. Just a mysterious stranger whose car breaks down and gets stranded. What I never understood was exactly where he was going when his car broke. He fled his kingdom and went to America, looking for adventure, but the plan never seemed to go any further than that. Did he just feel like taking a roadie throughout our hinterlands was going to clear his head or something? Of course he does meet a lady who was just about to marry that guy who looks like Sam Bradford and even more like the guy who was in the 12 Gifts of Christmas because he was. But he’s a jerk this time. Except he’s not really a jerk. At least, not at first. He starts to get jerkier after the prince shows up but come on, who wouldn’t? And hasn’t? Especially when his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend follows the common pattern of falling absolutely in love with this other dude in 3 days’ time. It’s the new 3-Day Rule. Instead of waiting 3 days to call someone back after a date or rise from the dead after a crucifixion, we now only require 3 days from meeting a person before falling head-over-heels in love. Personally though, I was pretty much in love with my wife after 1 day but just like Jesus could have probably risen after 1 day too, it seems less believable to do it quite that quickly so He and these movies have established the acceptable buffer of time as being 3 days. Anyway, A Prince For Christmas also seemed to have the suddenly very familiar problem of not enough real problems and the unfamiliar problem, where Ion films are concerned, of not being nearly crazy enough. It was even directed by veteran whackadoo Fred Olen Ray and yet there was not one scene where I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Furthermore, the girl wasn’t likeable enough, the Prince wasn’t un-fugly enough, and I think it’s time for women in general to ditch this fantasy of hooking up with a prince. At least in its current form. If you’re interested in a particular region’s history and local government and deeply value the traditions of old as well as preservation of a royal bloodline, then absolutely, marry a prince from said region. Provided of course, you have observed the appropriate 3-day waiting period for loving him. But if this is just about feeling validated by an oversimplified, outdated fairy tale, then I maintain it conflicts with the narrative of modern women, just like this movie conflicted with my desire to give it more than 1 Eggnog.




Wasn’t I just talking about time travel last week? As either coincidence or time-travelling movie-making robots created by the Hallmark Corporation would have it, HM’s latest joint was also about time travel AND they clearly listened to me here because instead of someone going back in time, a journey which I had proven to be impossible in my review of A Gift Wrapped Christmas, this lady goes forward in time, which I believe is indeed quite possible.


In fact, we just did it right now. All of us did. It is presently some period of time later than it was when you first started reading this very sentence.  So there you have it, proof positive. But Just in Time For Christmas involves the main character travelling forward into the future at a much more accelerated rate of speed, instantly appearing a full 3 years later. That seems a little less trickier to pull off but the movie co-stars both Doc Brown and Captain Kirk (!) so if anyone could make that happen, it would be them. Plus the lady herself is now older and her character has been doing stuff during these 3 years (although she has no memory of what she did) so we don’t get into that weirdness where there are multiple timelines or versions of her in the same universe or Marvin Berry playing music for his cousin, Chuck, and seemingly inspiring him even though you didn’t do this in the previous iteration of Time. What we do get is a lady who decided to pick career success over love and then find out how that goes for her by suddenly skipping ahead 3 years. Of course we all could have totally saved her the trip, right? Picking career over love NEVER works out! So surprise surprise, she’s very successful in the future but misses her old boyfriend who is now about to marry a nice gal he works with. Luckily for her, she gets to eventually go back to the present and this time choose love over career, apparently screwing over the nice girl who was going to marry her ex. Later at their wedding, this girl catches the eye of some other dude so we’re to assume that she is gonna be just fine but who knows, maybe she and the boyfriend were supposed to be the ones who got together. And now our main character has to spend the rest of her life wondering if the boyfriend ever thinks about his co-worker who he ended up marrying in an alternate reality. Then the boyfriend has to spend the rest of his life remembering that when he proposed to the love of his life, her first reaction was to turn him down and be kind of a bitch and only because William Shatner intervened with magic did she see the light and decide to marry him. Those would be pretty hard things for me to swallow in either case. I’ll tell you what isn’t hard to swallow though – the new “Crazy Hot” flavor of Popchips. My wife and I watched this movie while lying on the couch eating those things and it was pretty damn perfect. I am so glad I chose love and snacks over my career as a quantum physicist. But at least I get to express my time-related theories while writing these reviews so perhaps the movies have steered us wrong and we really can have it all. I just know I want some more of those Popchips right now. As many as the Schrodinger Wave Equation will allow for me to consume.

schrodinger wave equationPop chips



Here’s a question – how come nobody else has used the title, “The Flight Before Christmas” before? You might say that the answer is that someone actually has and there was an animated film in 2009 that called itself that but after closer inspection, I discovered that said movie was made and primarily released in Finland, a country that is both real yet at the same time, completely not real, much like Schrodinger’s Cat.

Flight Before Christmas

It stars Mayim Bialik, who of course played the titular Blossom and holds a PhD in real life. Her doctorate is in neuroscience but I kind of wish it was instead in not being a total bitch in this movie. Although I guess this is probably more due to the script than with her, as they continue to delve deeper into the dynamic of having the main characters not like each other at first before falling completely in love (in 3 days’ time). Maybe I  am the one who is a robot from the future because I have never understood this. Sure, I get that when you’re telling a story of romance, there needs to be something keeping the lovers apart and sometimes it can be issues between the two of them but this has been taken to extreme, ridiculous non-sensical levels and perhaps none more so than The Flight Before Christmas. Part of the problem is that movies just aren’t long enough to properly sell the concept. I’ve already used the example of Jamie Lannister before, where you think he’s a total sociopathic dick at first but later, he becomes your favorite character. The difference is that Game of Thrones has full seasons (and books) to take you on this journey. Your standard movie’s only got 2 hours but when you subtract commercials, establishing shots, exposition, terrible songs, decorating montages, Folgers coffee, and Stuffies, we’re looking at about 10 minutes, tops, to provide a sufficient arc that spans from juvenile bickering to full-blown love. And besides just bickering with this dude, Blossom is completely self-deprecating too so given the fact that he is like a handsome version of Tom Brady with a seemingly decent girlfriend already, by the also aforementioned Reginald Veljohnson transitive property, there is just no good reason that these two should ever be together.

But wait a minute, Reginald Veljohnson IS ACTUALLY IN THE MOVIE!! What the hell is happening here?!? Can I just type stuff and like magic, it suddenly shows up in one of these films? If someone eats Crazy Hot Popchips in Karen Kingsbury’s, The Bridge, I am going to freak the hell out. I feel like Blossom and the other guy should have freaked out when they saw Reginald Veljohnson but they don’t really. It’s him and the lady who played his wife on Family Matters but her name is nowhere near as cool as “Reginald Veljohnson” so by the Reginald Veljohnson transitive property again, I don’t remember it or care. I guess by that logic though, I wouldn’t rememeber anyone’s name because it’s hard to get cooler than “Veljohnson.” Anyway, this plot is familiar too. Pretty much the same as A Christmas Detour except the relationship is less inappropriate. And there are more bows. Not just more bows in this movie than that one but more bows than all other movies and life combined. Bows on things that don’t even make sense. Like ineligantly placed on the side of cash registers:


And what about this chair? What if somebody wants to sit there?


Bows even get their own close-ups, covering signs. Why not just put the bow on a wall without a sign? Or not give a bow its own close-up at all?


Totally unrelated to bows but Blossom’s mom pulls cookies right out of the oven with frosting on them. I don’t recommend trying this in real life.


So if I were rating this movie based on bow usage and unreal baking practices, I would give it 5-out-of-5 Eggnogs but since that’s crazy talk and it had probably the worst couple I’ve seen in some time, I can only give it 2 Nogs  and that’s purely based on the fact that I got to see and say Reginald Veljohnson a couple more times, which is crazy talk too but less so.




Next up is in fact, Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge.


First off, no one actually does eat Crazy Hot Popchips in this movie so there goes that theory. But I still did kind of freak out anyway. Because there is something else I have to warn you about – this is only Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge Part 1. There will apparently be a Part 2 next year. They pull a Mocking Jay on all of us and it’s better you know that going in than to have it dropped on you like a cartoon anvil out of nowhere.

Second off, who is Karen Kingsbury, you ask? She is a New York Times bestselling author (why is the NY Times the only publication that gets to define bestsellers?) and is “America’s favorite inspirational storyteller” according to her own website. I don’t know how she ranks with someone like the oft-mentioned Debbie Macomber but I will say The Bridge had a different feel from a lot of the other Christmas movies on these channels. Almost like it was on performance-enhancing drugs but not quite. And I guess I mean that as a compliment. At the same time though, it made watching the first 15 minutes of set-up pretty exhausting. Just like when that dude in, Amadeus, tells Mozart that his music had simply too many notes, this movie does as well contain simply too many notes. Even after the story settles down, everything is just too note-y. Like here’s an example – Faith Ford and Ted McGinley own this charming book store, the titular Bridge, and I know they want us to love the store and love these characters and just believe that it is a beautiful place of wonder and joy but that doesn’t mean that McGinley need to put his hands on every person who walks through the door while thrusting cupcakes in their face, knowing everything about them and caring beyond caricature. Then besides notes, there are also just too many lines. And I don’t just mean sets of words spoken by characters but lines that sound too much like lines and not things actual people say. Then I was starting to wonder if this was going to even be a Christmas movie until Thanksgiving hit and BAM! Christmas exploded in decoration form. I know some people like to start a little early but this was ridiculous. And done by multiple groups of people in various locations. What I found the strangest though, was what the hell was keeping the main guy and girl from hooking up for so long. They were clearly having a bigtime romance and I guess just needed black friends to set them straight with comments like, “C’mon, y’all know you’re made for each other, right?” Come to think of it, I believe the main girl did actually have a black friend who told her something kind of like that, yet still, no hookups until Christmas Eve. But then once they do, DOUBLE BAM! Conflict explodes in one of the more ridiculous forms imaginable. Crazier still is how the main guy reacts to this little bump in the road. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eject out of a relationship quite that amazingly. And now I have a whole year to ponder how he is ever going to recover and get back in the girl’s good graces when Part 2 airs. Maybe this is where the Crazy Hot Popchips actually come in? The dude brings over a bag and segways with, “Wow, these really are crazy hot. And speaking of crazy, please ignore everything that I did at the end of Part 1.” I wish I could ignore the gut punch that was learning this was only Part 1 because even amidst a sea of notes, we did enjoy watching it on some level. I feel like as such, it only deserves 3 Eggs and if Part 2 ends up being good, I will add the Nog later.





Ion had a chance to redeem itself a little on Sunday night with How Sarah Got Her Wings, a movie about a girl who dies, goes up to heaven, learns she has not earned a spot on the list to actually get into heaven yet, and gets sent back to Earth help her ex-boyfriend realize his dream or be happy or fall in love.

How Sarah Got Her Wings

Kind of a pretty big slap in the face to Sarah. She seemed like a decent enough person and died rescuing a dog but she’s immediately told she isn’t good enough to pass through the pearly gates but maybe there’s a chance if she can help out an ex. Oh, she has to accomplish this somewhat unclear goal by Christmas Eve or she gets stuck in pergatory forever. This didn’t seem very fair to me but I guess no one ever said death was fair either. Maybe even less fair though is something I’ve probably mentioned plenty of times already, which is that angels and Santa only seem to want to help people in relatively okay situations already find love around the holidays. And like I’ve also said, if these people require such divine and magical intervention to make their relationship happen, maybe they shouldn’t be together in the first place. Because what happens when angels get their wings and Santa returns to the North Pole and the couples start having problems again in January? Maybe these channels address that very issue during their winter and spring programming, I don’t know, but I will give the movie credit for kind of suprising me a little bit with a slight twist somewhere around the middle. I also learned that Heaven has a lot of rules but you can totally make an exception without getting God’s permission and that angels can possess people if they want. What I still don’t know is what an angel actually does when they finish whatever they were supposed to accomplish on Earth and finally get into Heaven. They didn’t address it in the film and I haven’t figured it out using quantum physics either. I’m starting to think it could involve these Popchips I keep talking about though. And certainly doesn’t involve eggnog shortages. Which reminds me, A) I hearby give How Sarah Got Wings 2.5 Eggnogs and B) I really am going to eat those chips again right now.




Week In Review – 12/4/15

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Democracy just doesn’t work. Also, that week of Thanksgiving and even after Thanksgiving, which I guess is like two weeks, is really a busy week/two weeks. Cooking all the food, shopping for gifts, getting a Christmas tree, decorating the inside and outside of our house, football, fooseball and then if that wasn’t enough, Hallmark/Lifetime/Ion/Up didn’t do us any timesaving favors by unleashing a storm of must-watch movies that I must watch. Especially Hallmark. I already talked about their unprecedented Thanksgiving week run and I could make comparisons to stuffing ourselves on these movies like so much food over the holidays but I honestly don’t think there’s time. I’m gonna have to go through these real quick today, which may make my former “Quick Takes” look like “Regular Gonzales.” Of course that statement doesn’t make any sense unless I made some reference to making Speedy Gonzales look like Regular Gonzales and even if I had, might not have made sense anyway.


Merry Matrimony

Matrimony 3

This was actually on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving week. So why didn’t I mention it earlier? And why am I mentioning it now? I don’t remember or know but it’s too late to turn back: Girl was in a Lifetime movie with Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig (for real). Guy reminds me a tiny bit of Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones. Not sure why they hang out with another guy who looks like Corky from Life Goes On. Even more amazing is that there are neither bad nor dead people in this film. I still don’t know how they managed to pull this off. Nor fully understand what the main girl does for a living exactly. She’s okay enough and I’ve always liked the Kingslayer (well, since he met Brienne) but still, this movie is just missing something. Let’s call it – Christmas. The Doors had no bass player, the gypsies have no homes, and this film has no Christmas. Sure, there are events that take place around Christmas but so does Die Hard 1 and to a lesser extent, Die Hard 2. Are those Christmas movies? No and thus, by the transitive Reginald Veljohnson property, Merry Matrimony doesn’t deserve actual eggnogs, per se, but at least some Eggnog Flavoring.

Eggnog Flavor



Once Upon a Holiday

once upon a holiday

Remember the show, My Two Dads? Man, that premise was crazy. This one isn’t quite as crazy though. Remember the movie, Aladdin? Well, Once Upon a Holiday is kind of like that. Main girl is a princess who is seemingly tired of being treated like a princess so she runs off and tries to pretend like she’s a real person instead. Luckily, like all other people from her made up Northeastern European nation, she has no accent. She meets a guy who restores appartments, which is pretty much like building furniture with his bare hands and who used to be a hotshot real estate agent after graduatimg at the top in his real estate class, which isn’t a thing. Despite her ruse, she still kind of acts like a princess and there is literally no chemistry nor even botany between them. But the movie says they love each other yet they are still way too coy about their feelings for no reason I or any person out of middle school can understand. It’s okay to tell the old guy who runs the local magic shop that you like a girl, dude. He’s not going to spill the beans to all the other kids and make fun of you for it. Although later, that magic shop guy makes another guy disappear inside his box of mystery. And I don’t think he ever reappears. But that just wasn’t enough for me somehow. 2 Eggnogs.




12 Gifts of Christmas

12 Gifts of Christmas

Once again, the couple have no previous attachments (eschewing the standard dick boyfriend/girlfriend convention) yet they still can’t just come out and say they like each other quickly enough. Lady is too put together for character. I totally bought her in Snow Bride as a tabloid reporter or even as a TV news anchor of indiscernable ethnicity but as a bumbling creative type, not so much. Guy looks like Sam Bradford or a deer. The problem is that they have no real problems or obstacles standing in their way. And without conflict in a story, I start to think about insignificant things. Even more than usual. Like why Donna Mills has all of these lotions and why they are in this particular shot? Seems like too many.

12 Gifts Lotion


Or what happened to the missing dry erase marker here?

12 Gifts Missing Marker


Or even things that have nothing to do with anything. Like you know how people can throw their voice to make it sound like it’s coming from somewhere else? How do they do that? I wouldn’t even know where to begin. In any case, I suppose I should mention that the movie does attempt to manufacture some conflict but calling that a conflict is an insult to the very notion of conflict, like Sam Bradford’s recurring knee injuries. He’s had at least 3 of them that I can remember and that’s probably one more Eggnog than I could give this film.





A Crown For Christmas


As promised, Winnie Cooper is back. But you know what else is back? This premise. We’ve seen it in A Princess For Christmas, A Royal Christmas, and to a lesser extent, Die Hard 2.  Maybe we’ve just hit the limit of how many Christmas stories there can be. Kind of like how we used to hear about aliens abducting people all the time and performing rectal probes on them but now we never hear about it, even with all kinds of social media and other internet exposure. And since I know aliens totally exist and still come to Earth just as often, I have to assume they have simply reached the limits of what rectal probing can teach them so they don’t do it anymore. I do feel bad about associating such a graphic, unpleasant thing with a movie that was perfectly pleasant and featured likable people. Winnie was sweet and believable, the Prince King felt like a Prince King, his main Butler buttled perfectly and overall, there was nothing really wrong with the execution here. Speaking of such, it featured at least 4 pre-deads BUT instead of just making them dead to make them dead or to make me care about the characters more, their departed actually factored into the story in a more significant way. The King’s daughter had lost her mother and since both of Winnie’s parents were also deceased, this allowed them bond in a way that former Governesses had previously not been able to. The weird thing is that the King had also lost his father, hence him being King, but there was no mention of his mother, who I assume couldn’t be alive anymore. And how come Royals never want to be Royals in these things? At least, the good guy Royals don’t. They never seem to enjoy their royalty, which begs the question of why anybody would actually want a Crown for Christmas? Hopefully they are at least happy with the 3 Eggnogs I give them.




A Christmas Detour


Speaking of royalty, this movie featured last year’s Christmas Queen herself, Candace Cameron Bure. And she’s still got that Queen-like swagger but if I’m being honest here, as I sometimes am, I feel like the movie kind of lets her down. Not only does her character appear a little bit simple-minded by her obsession with marrying a guy who is clearly not right for her but an important fidelity line is crossed for me. Just because you’re engaged to a seemingly shallow, boring guy who cares about money and can’t stand up to his parents and never makes you laugh (again though, this is on you, CCB, not him), and just because you meet a new guy who is seemingly Mr. Right (although he really isn’t at all, he’s a total dick at first), does not mean it’s okay to do any of the things she does with this new guy, especially kiss him under the mistletoe, while you’re still actively planning to wed Mr. Wrong. I’m starting to wonder if mistletoe is even real or just made up for these movies. Yes, I realize that this plant and tradition of kissing has been around much longer than movies but I wouldn’t put it past the Hallmark Corporation to have gone back in time and changed all this. Well, maybe the plant creation part I’d put past them but the tradition, no way. I wonder why they didn’t change other stuff in history though? Or maybe they did and we just don’t know. I used to say that time travel, backwards time travel I mean, was completely impossible because not one person has seemingly done it and proven they’ve done it. And given what I really hope and pray is a pretty lengthy timeline for our species, it seems like somebody would have been/would be able to do it at some point during the future. Although maybe they have done it but others (aka Hallmark), have prevented the truth from getting out by sending back Terminator robots to kill these time travellers before they could spill the beans to the rest of us. And if they could pull that off, they could totally have invented a plant like mistletoe so I retract my earlier statement about that being out of their impressive reach. Still, still, I don’t think any of this excuses Candace Cameron Bure’s character’s behavior and merits more than 3 Eggnogs. Hallmark on the other hand deserves a tip of the cap and the first image that came up in a Google search of “Tip of the Cap” for figuring out time travel, plant creation, and for introducing the world to Rainbow Brite.

For the movie:  eggnogeggnogeggnog

For Hallmark:  HatTipCartoon


A Gift Wrapped Christmas


So here’s something I’ve always wondered: if you truly could go back in time, wouldn’t you just get younger? And not only you but everybody.  And everything. The whole world. You would literally be turning the clock back and since it’s not a relative clock, unless you’re in space or something, we all get younger. But in the movies, they do something else. The person who goes “back” in time really just teleports their current/future self to a previous time but what does that mean to their past self? Could there be two of you at once in that scenario? No way and once again, by the transitive Reginald Veljohnson principle, I maintain that time travel backwards is impossible and retract my earlier statement/retraction as well as my cap-tip to Hallmark for pulling it off. What does all this have to do with this movie, Gift Wrapped For Christmas? Absolutely nothing. In fact, this didn’t even air on Hallmark but the Lifetime Network last Saturday. And you know what? It was great! Best movie we’ve seen so far this season and major kudos to Lifetime for digging themselves out of Turkey Hollow and my recent prejudices towards their shark-jumping ways for delivering something surprisingly believable and solid. It’s another film about a personal shopper but this time, the personal shopper seems legit. There are also some relatively real interactions between people and I can’t say anything bad about it. My wife and I did pause the movie towards the end and start talking about soap operas for a while but that’s no fault of its own. Soaps were kind of good back in the day and I appreciate the fact that we both watched them, especially All My Children. Plus since I never really think about that show, all these memories suddenly came flooding back to me like when we learned that Adam Chandler had a secret twin retarded brother living in the attic of his big house and Erica Cane, tricked into marrying him some how, finally discovered this secret. The whole storyline took at least a few weeks to unfold and probably sounds totally ridiculous when summarized but I can assure you that at the time, it probably also was. But we just didn’t know these things back then. Again, more proof of time travel being impossible. Someone would have come back to warn us by now. Although I guess Hallmark could have sent a Terminator robot back to kill that messenger but I don’t see what that gets them. Us relalizing just how riciculous soaps are doesn’t really affect their brand in any significant way. But they should have probably sent writers or a production company back to make this movie for their network instead of Lifetime’s because again, it instantly beats out everything they’ve realesed thus far. It’s no All My Children but still, 4 Eggnogs.



Okay, I’m really out of time here and so must you be too. I didn’t even get to the Sunday premieres, including the innaugural Ion entry, A Prince For Christmas. I can assure you that I will just as well as I can assure you that in that aforementioned Prince For Christmas movie, some spunky American girl will hook up with a prince for Christmas who is a little too serious at first but eventually gives in to her imperfect Yankee charm and because this is an Ion movie, it will also be batshit crazy somehow. Can’t wait to find out just how much!

Looking back, I guess these reviews haven’t been as speedy as I promised. Wish I could go back in time and edit that comment but like I keep saying, this is impossible. Even on blog posts you haven’t submitted yet and even on ones you have submitted but can edit afterwards.




Week in Review + Happy Thanksgiving – 11/25/15

This last weekend, Hallmark brought two more offerings to the table including the latest installment of their flagship Northpole franchise. Then we had another interesting Up Network joint and even Lifetime has officially entered the mix. And have you heard of the other Hallmark Channel? Movies and Mysteries, it’s called? Well they debuted a new movie called, and I quote, “Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery.” This is still just he calm before the storm too because later this week, Hallmark is about to really drop the hammer. A little more on that later but first, let’s talk some Northpole.


Out is Robert Wagner as Santa, Tiffani Thiessen Mellancamp, and whoever played the kid and man in that last one. Now there’s another guy playing Santa who I am less suspicious of and another early 90s TV star, Lori Loughlin, as the main gal. Then we have Dermot Mulroney/Dylan McDermott as the love interest, which kind of surprised me because this dude is only a few months removed from a relatively successful Summer theatrical release, Insidious 3. Maybe it’s just me but there’s something about him that seems kind of jerky. Not like he’s a terrible person or anything, just not as warm-looking as most male protagonists are in these films. Plus in Insidious 3, he and his kids lived below a vacant apartment and his terrorized daughter said she heard banging upstairs and something came through the ceiling and when Mulroons and the building manager went to check it out, they discovered creepy gelatinous footprints all over the place, which definitely should not be there and the exchange between the two of them went something like this:

Building Manager (at the sight of the footprints): “I don’t know what to tell ya…”

Mulroons: “You can tell me who’s gonna pay for the crack in my ceiling!”

And that’s pretty much all he had to say on the matter. How about calling the police, Mulroons?!? Someone or something broke into this apartment and is terrorizing your daughter! Your family is not safe!!! And why is the building manager just kind of like, “Meh?” about the whole situation too? He’s not going to be able to rent that place with creepy spirits coming in and leaving their gelatinous footprints everywhere. But anyway, this has pretty much nothing to do with Northpole: Open For Christmas. Or does it? Because Mulroons is a single dad, with a young daughter who may be psychic (or is at least precocious) and they are fixing up an old hotel with a lot of vacant rooms and perhaps some spiritual activity going is down in them. I admit this is a bit of a reach but so are several other things in the movie. For one, Santa needs Lori Loughlin to regain her Christmas spirit and get that old hotel, left to her by a deceased Aunt, back up and running again to keep Christmas itself up and running. They kind of explain this concept of the hotel being a “power station”, something which generates the holiday spirit Santa needs but I’m still not sure why Loughlin is so critical to the process. He sends out his favorite elf, Clementine, to go help but there are other elfs already out there so I’m not sure why Clementine is so critical to the process either. Yet with all these elves and a lady who really isn’t even that down on Christmas (drinks her coffee with two, loving hands), the plan still isn’t working so Clementine just does what she should have done in the first place, which is take Loughlin to Northpole, explain that Santa and magic and Christmas spirit is real and for reasons that don’t make sense, she just needs to not sell her deceased Aunt’s Vermont Inn to keep the whole thing going. Ignoring the relative implausibility for a minute, that’s actually a fairly reasonable request. But Loughlin is still a little unsure and somehow, this all also hinges on her budding romance with Mulroons. If that works out, she keeps the Inn and saves Christmas (even though the Inn, while restored, does not have any customers and seems overmatched by the newer resorts in town). If not, she takes some heartless job talking people either in or out of things in London and Christmas is doomed, I guess? Santa needs a much tighter operation, Mulroons should have gotten his family the hell out of that apartment in Insidious 3, Loughlin should have married Jesse from Full House, the river that runs down the middle of Main Street in Northpole should be frozen over with people ice skating on it, and I should have liked this movie a little bit more than I did. It’s definitely got a higher level of quality and charm than most, in some ways, and I’m definitely cool with Lori Loughlin and Bailee Madison. The Vermont Inn thing hits me right where I live, which is White Christmas, but it just somehow never all came together in the way I had hoped or wanted. I’ll say 3 Eggnogs, 1 for each “Chapter” of the Insidious movie franchise and at least 3 Eggnogs more than I would have given any of them:




I mentioned an interesting Up Network joint earlier and I wasn’t just putting words together. There really was such a thing, a movie called Angels in the Snow that premiered on Sunday night.

angels in the snow

That’s Kristy Swanson, who’s starting to assemble a pretty nice resume of these films, and she’s married to the other white dude but things aren’t going particularly well for the family. Kids are mean to each other and mom and dad are about to get a divorce. The dad thinks that getting them all together in this remote, beautiful cabin over Christmas will set things right again and then proceeds to spend most of his time taking business calls, which certainly fulfills the trope quota nicely but seems to defeat the stated purpose of the the trip. Plus the parents are just too cold to each other at this point. It’s clearly over and there isn’t a damn thing anybody can do about it. That’s where the titular Angels in the Snow come in. It’s another family, who show up at their door in the middle of the night after supposedly crashing their car in the woods, seeking refuge from a blizzard which has hit the area hard. I’m all for being a Good Samaritan but Kristy Swanson is clearly running for Jesus here because within seconds, literal seconds, she ushers these strangers in, tells them that all their wet, cold clothes will soon be replaced by her family’s warm clothes and instructs them all to stay in various spare rooms throughout the cabin. Everyone kind of goes along with it just as instantly too. I don’t even think they introduce themselves. It all happens that quickly. Then there is never any talk of what the next steps are going to be. Is the stranded family going to call for a tow truck or report any of this to the police or try to find some other way to get to their destination? We might assume that they will be on their way once the blizzard passes but for all we know, they could be staying with Swanson’s family forever.

And it turns out this other family, the Tuckers, are the best people ever. All really happy and super nice to each other and positive about every single aspect of life with nothing even resembling a rough edge. At first I thought that being around such a bunch of cartoonshly stereotypical goody goodies might help unite Swanson’s family in making fun of them but the movie was equally goody goody. It’s also really non-racist. Both sets of teenage kids instantly take up some degree of a romantic relationship with each other and like I said, the Tuckers could not be better human beings. They even try to help patch up Swanson’s family without overstepping any bounds but it still looks like it’s not gonna happen. Then the movie takes somewhat of a dark turn and we realize that part of the issue between the parents is not just that the dad works too much but another equally-explored trope, which is being unable to get over a fairly recent death. Except this time, it’s not a parent or a spouse but a baby. Swanson and her husband had another child, a 4th one, who sadly was not with us for very long. This is where I draw the line. I can (and frequently do) handle the parent or spouse being dead, so long as they are pre-dead before the movie starts and it doesn’t delve too deeply into the loss itself but a child is too much for me. I would have strongly preferred a lighthearted family-vs-family basketball game instead. Then the dad himself almost dies when a tree falls over on him and even that doesn’t fix his relationship with Kristy Swanson so I’m really thinking that along with the other serious events here, maybe this couple really isn’t going to make it. All I know is that I’m no longer having fun and that, of course, they are somehow going to make it. It’s hard to review because for about the first half, I was feeling pretty good but then things just went downhill. I suppose I should take a page from the Tuckers and put a positive spin on this so I’m going to say 8 Eggnogs (out of a possible 5) but I’m really only doing that to seem as nice as they are and as generous and non-racist as Kristy Swanson’s character is.





Remember when I said Lifetime wisely too my advice with a Thanksgiving-themed movie? Well unfortunately, I should have been more specific because they gave me one with Muppets, based on a previous Jim Henson story and now current nightmare of mine.


It’s definitely not your mother’s Lifetime holiday movie and thus, wasn’t really my cup of tea either. Creepy Muppets, narration by rapper Ludicris, smarmy teenage girl bitch character, evil turkey farmers – these are not the droids I’m looking for. On one hand, I do want to applaud the Lifetime Network for trying something new here but as we all know from the popular buddhist koan, if that one hand claps, it does not make a sound. There were some good lines, I will give them that. And I actually liked Mary Steenburgen as the crazy aunt who lives in the woods and will properly use both hands to applaud for her resurgence in what is probably the 4th quarter of her career. She went years just being someone I had no feelings about whatsoever to suddenly turning into this lovely, charming, funny older lady. But other than that, there were way too many line-y lines, a terrible dad who I didn’t believe at all, a once-mentioned obnoxious teenage girl (why is this a character we want to see/hear?), and of course, the thrice-mentioned Muppets, with that last one being a deal-breaker for me. Not because I’m terrified of Muppets of anything (although I am), it’s just that their presence represents too dramatic of a tonal shift. The movie becomes something else – in this case, maybe even a horror film –  and the holiday theme gets overshadowed. As such, I can’t really, in all good conscience, give it any eggnogs but I do appreciate the vegetarian agenda here so gladly present Turkey Hollow with 1 Tofurkey.




Speaking of cooking, I was able to find the Hallmark Mysteries & Movies channel (somewhat of a mystery itself) and watch Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery, which like Northpole, is actually part of a larger franchise.

Murder she baked

It’s about a lady who bakes and solves crimes and since there have only been two movies so far in the series, I can believe that these 2 or so murders she’s been connected with so far are purely coincidence. If this keeps happening though, I am going to get suspicious that she is the one committing the murders, just like Angela Landsbury’s character did 264 times during Murder She Wrote. But anyway, MSBAPPM is actually pretty good. Liked the main girl and the idea of a mystery is cool BUT it does get a little tricky because just like introducing Muppets into your movie, making the focal point revolve around solving a murder tends to overshadow the theme of Christmas. I guess that’s why no one has coined the term,”Chrismysteries”, yet. It’s like two ingredients that are both good on their own but don’t necessarily mix together that well when you’re baking something or trying to come up with a metaphor about baking something. They do sprinkle in another ingredient that is somewhat novel, which is the notion of a legitimate love triangle. Usually there’s the just the typical rich jerk who cares only about money and ruining Christmas vs. the sweet sensitive man who builds furniture with his bare hands and teaches music to puppy orphans at the local church but this time, both suitors seem like legitimately fine fellows. I’m pretty sure the edge goes to Mike though because he is A) a cop, B) a little more down to Earth than Norman and C) the only one who appears in the movie poster above. Still though, credit for trying. Things are much more interesting when the characters and relationships aren’t so cut and dry. My only complaint is that they look a little too similar. In fact, maybe that’s really Norman on the poster and not Mike. I guess I have some more complaints, like how plum pudding didn’t really have that much to do with the mystery and that there are no plums in plum pudding anyway but these are just minor quibbles because at least I can now tell Dylan McDermott apart from Dermot Mulrooney and ultimately, this is the most interesting movie I’ve seen this year. I don’t always watch Chrismysteries but when I do, I drink dos Eggnogs. Plus another 1.5 after that. So 3.5 Eggnogs in total. Does that make sense?



I also mentioned Hallmark dropping the hammer later this week and that means an unprecedented 5 nights in a row with an original movie premiere, starting on Thanksgiving Eve (11/25) and going through Sunday. Sunday is also when Ion Television joins the party and oh yeah, Lifetime has movies on Saturday and Sunday. I’m sure Up’s got something in the hopper too and I have no idea how I’m going to be able to watch all this but if I’ve learned one thing from these films, it’s that Christmas is no time to be lazy. Business deals, whirlwind romances, and the saving of Christmas itself all happen with great regularity so the least I can do is watch movies. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Dos Equis

The 2014 Noggy Awards

eggnog trophy

A belated Merry Christmas or Happy Barbara Mandrell’s birthday to you, depending on which one you celebrate. Sorry I didn’t wish it sooner but I have been feverishly analyzing and re-analyzing the data from this year’s slate of made-for-TV Christmas movies to present you with the 2nd Annual Noggy Awards Show. So hey, welcome to the 2nd Annual Noggy Awards! What are the 2nd Annual Noggy Awards? Well they’re a lot like the 1st Annual Noggy Awards, which was kind of like the Oscars but without all the lies. Instead, I hand out virtual awards to the best, worst, and best-worst Christmas movies of the season.

So let’s get right down to business. I’ll even kick things off with Best Picture, just to show you what a serious businessman I am, even if that comes entirely at the expense of love and all other qualities we value in life. And if you still don’t believe my businessyness, I will try to find a way to work “Dow Jones” into my explanation of the winner.


– Merry ExMas – WINNER!

– Northpole

– A Perfect Christmas List

– Christmas Kiss II

There’s really not that much mystery here. Even less than who the boss was on the show of the same name, where the employment was pretty spelled out from the get-go. If you’ve been reading these reviews or my mind or just guessed and got it right, you know how much Merry ExMas floated my boat this year. And why not? This movie had it all – older lady incontinence, invisible bee attacks, someone falling off a dog sled, Dow Jones – and that was all pretty much in one scene although I guess I made up the part about Dow Jones. But maybe I didn’t. Because to be honest, I don’t actually know what Dow Jones is. Or are. Is it singular or plural? I just looked it (them?) up online and now I’m even more confused. Read the entire Wikipedia page and seriously couldn’t understand a thing. I guess I’m not really a businessman. Although according to these movies, that makes me a better person. These other nominees were good people too. Several of them could have won in other years. The logo for Northpole claimed it was established in 1820 and I’m certain it would have taken the Noggy then. I’m not as certain as to why they included that little tidbit of information though. Established in 1820. Was the real North Pole actually discovered then? No. But such an oddity is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s great. Kind of like when we saw Star Wars for the first time and right away, the big, scrolling text says it’s “Episode IV”. How could it be Episode IV? It was the first movie. But see, that’s it exactly. Makes you think. Makes you wonder what it means. So Northpole is in some very good company although I should point out that the Star Wars Holiday Special, which came out the same year (1977, not 1820), was one of the worst things ever created, movie or otherwise. And speaking of worst…



– Debbie MacComber’s Mr. Miracle – “WINNER!”

– A Cookie Cutter Christmas

– Angels and Ornaments

– The Miami Connection

Okay, it’s true that the Miami Connection wasn’t a made-for-TV movie this year nor even a Christmas movie but it didn’t have a connection to Miami either so why should little details like that hold it back from being considered for this category? Although here’s something that should prevent The Miami Connection from consideration – it was awesome. Bad, yes, in so many ways but all of them enjoyable and the kinds of things that would make me want to watch it again and again. For this category however, I am talking about the bad kind of bad that isn’t good or even Bad in a Michael Jackson sense. Like I didn’t enjoy it on any level and I definitely won’t tune in when it’s on next year. So considering this criteria, the award really should go to Mr. Miracle here. Specifically him but probably the whole movie too. It just wasn’t good or more importantly, fun. Back-to-back duds, Angels & Ornaments and A Cookie Cutter Christmas made me at least want to watch them until the end. Barely. With Mr. Miracle though, from the very first moment I met the titular Mr. Miracle, all I wanted to do was get Out of Africa.


Craziest Moment

– Invisible bee attack in Merry ExMas – WINNER!

– Sled dog journey in Merry ExMas

– Weird, homoerotic moment in Merry ExMas where Lochlyn Munro seemingly ad-libs a line saying he felt “movement” after Dean Cain gets tough with him

– Jodi Lyn O’Keefe’s “son” starts rattling off titles for country songs while she uses a rowing machine in Merry ExMas.

– Song and dance number in A Perfect Christmas List

– The scene in the offices of Ion Television where they reviewed this year’s slate of TV Christmas movies

In thinking back to my initial viewing of Merry ExMas, I was definitely in a greater state of disbelief during the sled dog journey, saying both internally and aloud that this can’t be happening. Much of it was due to just how jarring the whole thing was. The setting, tone, pace, look, energy level, and everything just felt like such a hard left turn but, BUT, I also knew that the characters were trying to get to a place in the mountains, the mountains were not accessible due to blizzard, and they claimed that sled dogs were a way to get there so on some level, this scene technically made sense. The transition was crazy, for sure, but dots were connected. When I think about the previous scene though, the one where invisible bees attacked, I cannot say the same thing. There was just no real or even imaginary reason for those damn invisible bees to start chasing people off and for that, it must win the Noggy for Craziest Moment. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. Or since! Although I guess that part is less remarkable.


Best Actress

– Candace Cameron in Christmas Under Wraps – WINNER!

– Kimberly Sustad in Nine Lives of Christmas

– Tiffany I-Forgot-Whether-Its-Amber-Or-Thiessen in Northpole

– Haylie Duff in Naughty & Nice

– Lacey Chabert in The Tree That Saved Christmas

Back to Star Wars again, do you remember that scene at the beginning of Return of the Jedi when we first see Luke Skywalker in the form of a hologram, telling Jaba to release Han and Leia? Or die? But this isn’t the same Luke from Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back. Suddenly, he’s like, a total badass. Not just because he was all in black but because of the newfound swagger. He had become a Jedi. That’s kind of how I felt watching Candace Cameron Bure in Christmas Under Wraps. She had been okay before in that Moonlight and Mistletoe movie and pretty good in last year’s Let It Snow but now, in 2014, she has become a Jedi too. Looks better and her performance had an air of truly polished confidence. The other gals in this category were sweet, likable, believable, and even mastered the art of not annoying me but while they were in Cloud City admirably trying to save their crew, CCB remained in Dagoba, learning how to pull X-Wing Fighters out of the swamp using only Christmas spirit.


Best Actor

– Eric Mabius is Signed, Sealed, and Delivered For Christmas – WINNER!

– Dean Cain in Merry ExMas

– Brandon Routh in Nine Lives of Christmas

– Not Rob Morrow

– Barry Watson in Santa Con

Honestly, I wanted to give this Noggy to “Not Rob Morrow”, just because no male actor’s performance this year was as good as his was bad. That’s not necessarily a knock on some of these other leading men, it’s more of a statement on just how bad Mr. Non-Miracle was. I’m sorry to keep piling on here and I realize he’s not necessarily 100% to blame for the interpretation of that character. Maybe he was just following orders. Maybe it’s exactly how Mr. Miracle was written. Maybe the director told him he had to act that way or he was going to jail. Maybe the police were even involved. And who was going to police the police? Certainly not the Coast Guard, I’ll tell you that, but I will also tell you that if I really have to give the award to somebody, as opposed to NOT somebody, I am going to go with one Eric “Call Me” Mabius from Signed, Sealed and Delivered For Christmas. Yes, I realize how completely messed up that is because I didn’t review the movie in this blog or even casually mention to anyone that I watched it but since I don’t see any Coast Guard boats showing up at my house to arrest me right now, I am just going to go with it. Because even though I just met him and this is crazy, Call Me actually pulls off an extremely rare feat for one of these made-for-TV Christmas movies. He carries the film as the male lead. Usually, and I’ve said this before, the role can be somewhat irrelevant (sure Dean Cain, I realize you pitched Merry ExMas but I’m speaking purely from an acting perspective here). If the guy is good, then great, but if not, the movie can still work, because more often than not, the story centers around the lead actress. I guess you could say that Signed, Sealed, Delivered is more of an ensemble piece but he is our rock and the character was a little more original and interesting than we’re used to seeing. So here’s my Noggy. And call him Mabius.


Best Supporting Actor

– Lochlyn Munro in Merry ExMas – WINNER!

– Alan Thicke in Cookie Cutter Christmas

– Dad in Back to Christmas (his name isn’t really important)

Of course we all know just how frequently these movies feature a jerk boyfriend or girlfriend character. This is the person our hero or heroine is somehow dating at the beginning of the film but since they are such a jerk, we are totally cool with our hero/heroine breaking it off with them eventually to get with the other protagonist. And they usually provide other obstacles to keep our main lovers from hooking up. These are forgettable, one-dimensional, heartless a-holes consumed only by money and business success and if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. Not so fast, says Lochlyn Munro this year in Merry ExMas, with a trailblazing performance that really broke the mold! He was wealthy, yes, and cared a lot about his money and just generally winning but what set him apart was this accent/persona that was some kind of insane combination of a Liam Neesen, Richard Nixon, and some Canadian stereotype from a Kids in the Hall skit. There was also a weird level of sincerity to him that I, at the same time, actually believed despite what a cartoonish figure he was. At some point too, I think the actor started ad-libbing and the production people were awesome enough to just roll with it. I’ve already mentioned the scene where he talked about feeling “movement” after a dust-up with Dean Cain and there was another good one where he asked the young daughter character if she liked horror movies, mentioning that Freddie vs. Jason was an excellent film. A film Lochlyn Munro was actually in and I just can’t imagine any of that was in the script but it definitely qualifies as going above and beyond the call of duty and for that, he was a Loch to win this award. Wait a minute, I spelled “lock” wrong there. And I capitalized it. No wait, that actually functions as wordplay because his first name is Lochlyn. Phew, lucky coincidence.


Best Supporting Actress

– Bailee Madison in Northpole – WINNER!

– Jane Seymour in A Royal Christmas

– Jodi Lyn O’Keefe in Merry ExMas

Oddly enough, while the Best Supporting Actress category is somewhat of a joke to the real Oscars, I’ve got no snark for you here. I thought Bailee Madison did a straight up good job. The heart of her movie. She was sweet and innocent and whimsically eccentric enough to make me believe she was a real, live elf from the North Pole or perhaps even Northpole. So much so that I didn’t mind that Tiffany I-Just-Remembered-That-It’s-Only-Thiessen didn’t mind that she was a seemingly teenage girl spending a lot of time alone with her under teenage son. I do want to point out though, that Jane Seymour was her sparkling, classy self and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe choose to leave her weird family in Merry ExMas, on Xmas, to go driving around in a limo and take dog sled rides up a mountain for absolutely no reason at all. Just because she played a lawyer doesn’t mean she had to be present for her client’s signing of a contract. Plus she pretended to be the guy’s sister and from his home country, wherever the hell that was. But while that might have made the contract more legal and the movie more awesome, both she and Janey ran into a buzz saw this year and I’m not talking about invisible bees but the buzz saw named Bailee Madison.


Best Supporting Black Friend

– Lady in Christmas at Cartwright’s who just listened to all of Alicia Witt’s many problems and babysat her daughter – WINNER!

– Guy in Merry ExMas who often had his shirt off and was shown working out for no reason.

– Urkel from The Santa Con.

Not only is it always nice to have a friend, any friend, but a black friend instantly proves the main, white character isn’t a racist, which is something I like to need established right away. It’s a common feature in plenty of movies but I think these made-for-TV Christmas ones take it to a higher level. Maybe potential racism is just a bigger fear since many of the actors aren’t necessarily household names. Like if Julia Roberts is the main character, I already know she’s probably not a racist but if it’s someone lesser known, like Alicia Witt for instance, I may not be so sure. Speaking of which, her black friend was this year’s winner. As much as I want to talk more about Urkel or shirtless dudes working out for now reason, I absolutely have to give it to her in Christmas at Cartwright’s. Just like I say above, all she did was listen kindly to Alicia Witt’s many problems with gentle understanding and was always taking care of the daughter. I think she might have even let them both live at her house or something. And not once did I ever hear her burden AW with any of her own issues. She was just there for pure support. Hey Urkel – did you do that?


Best Crazy Decoration

– Wreath hanging from nothing in Back to Christmas – WINNER!

– Snow blankets in Best Christmas Party Ever

– Garland framing multiple entryways in a single shot in the Christmas Parade, and some of them not even real entryways.

I realize it’s pretty hard to tell what exactly you’re looking at in this picture but that’s kind of the point.


For the record, it is a wreath just hanging from a tree in some park in the movie Back To Christmas. How often does that happen? I love parks, Christmas, and full disclosure, have no less than 8 Christmas wreaths of my very own but it would never occur to me that one could hang a wreath from a tree. I could even almost see nailing it to one in my front yard or something but just tying a string to it and letting it drape down in some public space seems crazy. But it’s the really good kind of crazy and thus, worthy of winning the 2014 (really good kind of) Craziest Decoration Noggy Award. While snow blankets and overly excessive garlands are great, the tree wreath took real creativity and earns bonus points because the camera even panned up to show it, right before cutting to commercial. Just wanted to make sure we noticed. Message received!


Couple With the Least Chance of Survival

– Scott Grimes and Melissa Sagemiller in The Santa Con – “WINNER!”

– Kimberly Sustad and Brandon Routh in the Nine Lives of Christmas

– AnnaLynne MaCord and old dude in The Christmas Parade

What I often do is lay mental odds on just how long I expect the characters who hook up in these movies to actually remain together. Sometimes the foundation of their relationship is specious at best and by the time Martin Luther King Jr. Day rolls around and the happy couple actually get to know each other, I am guessing many of them will be well on their way to Splitsville. Somewhat ironically though, the Noggy for this category goes to a couple who didn’t just hook up this Christmas but had actually been together for a long time. College sweethearts who got married and had a kid before separating around the holidays. So why am I giving them the Noggy for Least Chance of Survival? Well let’s just say that if you didn’t read my review of the Santa Con and can’t see me making the “glug-glug-glug” motion as type this, the Scott Grimes character has a little problem with the sauce. An alcoholic exhibiting classic, extreme alcoholic behavior and still miles from recovery, brought back together with his wife by way of trickery. I mean this thing is being held together by duck tape here and that’s being generous. It’s only a matter of time before dude starts drinking again and things fall apart because while Christmas magic will run out over the course of a year, booze pretty much never does.


Lifetime Achievement Award (The Hot Chocolate Eggnog)

– The Clarinet – WINNER!

First of all, have you ever had a hot chocolate eggnog? You just make hot chocolate with eggnog instead of milk. Believe it or not, it’s pretty good. Don’t know why it’s not a thing. So I am going to name my Noggy Lifetime Achievement Award after it and the very first such metaphorical trophy is going to one of the unsung heroes of Christmas movies – the clarinet. By far the most important musical instrument when it comes to these films’ scores. Almost like another character really. Anytime the movie wants to get a little cheeky, a little mischievous, pretty much give us the musical incarnation of an “Uh oh!”, they just drop a little clarinet in there. Plucking pizzicato strings definitely contribute their part as well but the clarinet is the real hero. Without it, I may not know that the nosy next door neighbor is annoying or the boss doesn’t like Christmas and will undoubtedly force everyone to work over the holidays or that the kids are really just lovable rapscallions. Good luck trying to tell me that with a saxophone. Pretty much the fastest way to make your family-friendly made-for-TV Christmas movie seem like an 80s/90s softcore porno flick. Well maybe not THE fastest way but still pretty fast. So thank you, clarinet, for all your whimsical tootling and keeping our movies clean.


Movies Played Too Much This Season

– Both Guttenberg joints – Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus and Meet the Santas – WINNERS!

– Christmas With Holly

– Farewell, Mr. Kringle

– Both Mrs. Miracle movies

– A Holiday Engagement

My God, Hallmark! How many times did you play the duo of Steve Guttenberg/Crystal Bernard joints – Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus and Meet the Santas? I get it, the Stonecutters are a tall and powerful order but I felt like you played one or both of these suckers just about every day. And they’re now over 10 years old! You weren’t much better, Lifetime. Where was 12 Trees of Christmas? Or last year’s Noggy winner for Best Picture, Kristen’s Christmas Past? I only saw it playing one time, I think. In fact, Lifetime seemed to generally play less Christmas films than they used to.And on top of that, I feel like all of these channels kind of let us down a little after Christmas. I realize that “after Christmas” is after Christmas so they might no longer feel obligated to pump out wall-to-wall yuletide entertainment but Lifetime and Ion pretty much shut down completely, Up tailed off shortly thereafter and Hallmark’s lineup has been fairly uninspired to me thus far. In my perfect world, the week between Christmas and New Year’s is still considered holiday time and since most of these networks don’t have anything better to do, might as well keep the motor running for a little longer, right? Once again, I feel like they all did a little more last year but maybe that was just multiple fever dreams. At the very least, Hallmark, who was still committed to playing these movies for the week, needed to try a little harder.


Best Commercial That We Saw A Lot Of

– Prescription drug called, of all things, Latuda – WINNER!

– Folgers coffee subtly product-placed in several of these movies

– Walmart-related jibber-jabber between Melissa Joan Hart and Anthony Anderson

– Those ladies dancing and singing about Big Lots

Let’s not forget the people who pay our bills – the corporate sponsors. And if you watch a lot of these movies, you see a lot of the same commercials over and over again. Last year, the runaway winner was Stuffies. There were plenty of Stuffy spots this season too but I also noticed more and more prescription drug ads. I love those things. I even like to play a game where I try to guess what the drug is actually for. It’s harder than you might think. Because mostly, we just see footage of people going to the beach, attending fun parties, sharing a tender moment with a loved one and the medication could treat just about any problem. Obesity, depression, Pac Man fever, elbow stink, you name it. But there was one this year called “Latuda.” I believe it’s for bipolar disorder but I really don’t care. It wins on name alone. Latuda. Who the hell thought that was a good name for anything, other than maybe some character from In Living Color? I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate the way the Folgers’ label gets crowbarred right into peoples’ kitchens and of course I don’t know how I’m going to live without witty banter between Melissa Joan Hart and Anthony Anderson schilling for Walmart but every time I thought about giving the award to one of them, I just envisioned Latuda waving her finger in my face defiantly. And I don’t want to mess with Latuda.


Question/Reference I Most Ran Into the Ground

– Who was the boss on Who’s the Boss? – WINNER!

– Who let the dogs out?

– Why don’t angels seem to help people out with more important problems?

– Why was there never a sequel to the extremely successful Top Gun movie?

– How did TVs go from ridiculously thick and heavy to ridiculously thin and light in about 2 seconds? – SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE WINNER!

Obviously, Who’s the Boss was the boss here but it really should have been that last question. Remember how big and heavy TVs used to be? And as big as they were, they still felt way too heavy for their own mass. Every time I’d move and pick up my living room box, I’d wonder what the hell was in that thing. Not only was it crazy heavy but even felt weighted awkwardly, somehow making it seemingly harder to carry with a friend than by myself. Then bam! Suddenly, TVs became razor thin and light as a feather. It’s not even like there was an in-between point or we saw them start to get thinner and lighter or anything. It was like somebody just flipped a magic switch one day. I should have brought this issue up in reviews more. And the Top Gun thing too but whenever I ask people that in real life (which I do a fair amount and this question has been vexing me for a long time now), all I usually get are jokes. But I’m dead serious here! There really should have been a sequel. Even if they couldn’t get any of the original people back. Maybe I’ll bring both of these questions up next year, as it might actually lead me to getting the answers I so desperately need. It certainly worked with the Who’s the Boss (Angela).

And speaking of next year, this leads us to the end of the 2014 Christmas movie season and subsequent Noggy Awards. Hope you enjoyed watching these things as much, or even as little, as I did. Can’t wait to find out what 2015 has in store for us. I noticed that Hallmark and Lifetime are planning to play plenty of non-Christmas original movies all year round but I’m not sure if I have the non-Christmas spirit to watch. Plus I’ve got the whole Dow Jones thing to figure out and that might keep me pretty busy until November. In the meantime though, thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Celebrate Christmas Eve with the return of the Christmas Movie Chart!


It’s back! My spreadsheet for tracking the most commonly used conventions in these made-for-TV Christmas movie miracles that I have been reviewing, now updated with some of the latest and greatest ones from this very year. As you likely know, there are some very conventional conventions too, more so than your average movie or convention or convention about movies. In any case, I found it necessary to start tracking these things and share them with the world. So consider yourself shorn!

Oh, and I’ve added a couple new columns because there are definitely some tropes I missed out on and deserve recognition. Ones such as:

Guy Doesn’t Have to do Current Job – This is something I talked about in the Perfect Christmas List review, and it is often used in conjunction with the “Guy Builds Things” category. Because if you have a male love interest who builds things for a living or is a farmer or has some other lovable, anti-corporate occupation, there is always the concern that he’s also not smart or savvy enough to do anything else. Some movies combat this potential perception by introducing the idea that he actually went to law school or business school and maybe even had success in those fields but chooses his simpler, honest career because of all the reasons we are supposed to love him.

Someone has Xmas Name – Holly, Noelle, Joy, Kris, Nick, to name only a few. Although those might also be all of them. But point is, it is commonplace for people in these movies to have names related to Christmas in some way. I’m not knocking this practice at all or anything. Works for me just fine so long as that person kind of looks like that could be their name. Like if you wanted to have Arnold Schwarzenegger play a character named “Nick”, that would be completely ridiculous and wrong. Or even worse, what if his name was “Howard Langston” like it was in Jingle All the Way? C’mon, there is no way in hell anyone who looks and talks like that is named Howard Langston. And you know, that wasn’t the only  plot point in Jingle All the Way that might have been a little implausible, come to think…

House is too nice – This is something we only started noticing this year and I wouldn’t necessarily call it widespread just yet but we did see some pretty glaring examples in A Cookie Cutter Christmas and Angels and Ornaments, among others. If a character is clearly supposed to be rich and has an amazingly nice house regular people could never afford, so be it, but if it’s a 2nd grade teacher or lady who works in a small musical instrument store, the movie owes us an explanation as to how she can afford vaulted ceilings, indoor brick walls, and an amazing kitchen like the one they might build on a reality show where they build amazing kitchens.

Weird Decorations – Something we did definitely notice last year but seems to have gone to a whole new level now. These movies are all set at Christmastime, obviously, so there are going to be decorations but for some reason, many of these things look different than what you and I put up around the house. Like there’s garland everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Like you will often notice that they hang garland in every door and window frame possible. And if there aren’t enough door and window frames in a shot, they may even just make one up entirely via garland. Be on the lookout for wreaths hanging in random places too. I think I seriously saw one just floating in mid-air once. Oh yeah, and the garland and wreaths are often made out of materials I am not familiar with. Not your standard fake Christmas tree stuff at all, more like a weird, mossy substance that’s not even the right color green and I can’t for the life of me figure out why it would be particularly hard to procure real, regular garland. Debbie MacComber’s Mr. Miracle has some pretty obvious examples of what I’m talking about here. Might even be a microcosm of the entire film really. I’ve seen lights that aren’t Christmas lights too, which is extremely weird for the same reason, as Christmas lights are by far the easiest ones to find. I don’t even know how I’d go about finding Christmas-like lights that aren’t Christmas lights.

One more thing I want to mention that we’ve been including in this category – snow. Of course it’s nice to have snow in a Christmas movie but depending on where/when its filmed and are limited ability to predict the weather, no one can exactly guarantee that legitimate snow is going to make an appearance. And personally, I’m cool with leaving that up to God but sometimes we see fake snow and sometimes it’s really, really bad fake snow. Once again, this seemed somehow more obvious this year. Using cotton or the like is one thing but I saw honest-to-goodness white blankets being used in several movies, including Best Christmas Party Ever. You could even tell the different blankets apart too. There’d be a scene with a blanket in it and then another scene taking place somewhere else and you’d be like, “Hey, there’s that same blanket again.”

I think that’s it for the new categories so please enjoy my latest Christmas Movie Chart, updated last on Friday, which is too bad because I’ve seen a couple more movies, like “Ion’s Back to Christmas” which would score pretty off-the-charts on this chart:


As you can see, Death, Money vs. Christmas, and Jerk Boyfriend or Girlfriend are still the big winners. It does seem like the obvious Canadian accents are down this year, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because the Canucks know I am on to them. You might be thinking that nobody associated with these productions reads this blog and if they did, would not give a damn what I have to say and I think in most cases, you would be correct but not in this one. Because Canadians are a sneaky people whose subterfuge depends entirely on being virtually indistinguishable from their American counterparts. Sneaky but starting to become a little bit complacent, as I pointed out in several reviews. So I think they collectively dialed the accent back a little in 2014, though there were some notable exceptions plus Hallmark seems to have another channel, Hallmark Mysteries and Movies, which featured two new Christmas films, both of which seemed to be exclusively Canadian with little to know attempt to hide that fact. It’s almost as if our neighbors from the North can suppress their nature only so much and desperately needed an outlet (oot-let) to just let it go. The cold never bothered them anyway.

Looking at this chart right now, I am also noticing that there are still some things I need to add. Like for instance “Black Friend”. Oftentimes the white main characters in these movies have a supportive and/or cool black friend to tell things to and maybe get advice from. It’s definitely worth documenting but with Santa supposed to arrive in the next few minutes, I had better get to bed here. Please stay tuned for the 2014 Noggy Awards, coming to this very blog,  where I will include a new, “Best Black Friend” category. It’s gonna be a tough one this year, as we had an appearances from Urkel and a guy in Merry ExMas who was always shirtless and working out for some reason, even thought it had nothing to do with anything. Don’t know how I’m going to pick from those deserving candidates but luckily, I’ve got a few days to eat more and thank about it. Merry Christmas everybody!



Quick Takes 2: The Winter Soldiers – 12/19/14

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‘Twas another Friday before Christmas, and all through the DVR-O, not another better option was stirring, not even something with Charo. That might have been dumber than what I said last year about Jamie Farr and it might not even be true. Because if you have Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special on your DVR, that is probably a better option than any of these movies I am about to talk about and Charo does show up for a minute there. Still, Charo really adds nothing to that magnificent Pee Wee special, other than the realization that Feliz Navidad may be, technically, the most repetitive Christmas song ever written (in an ocean of repetitive Christmas songs). And that Charo may, technically, not be essential to our continued survival as a human race. Like you could take Charo away and I think we’re all right.

That’s a debate best left for a different day though, Flag Day, but for now it’s almost Christmas and I wanted to hit you up with another set of quick takes as we’re coming down to the final stretch here:

1) The Tree That Saved Christmas

First of all, great title. I was already on board with this sucker from the opening credits. Plus, Lacey Chabert is in it and she’s beginning to look a lot like a Christmas Queen this year. It doesn’t hurt that she was also in A Royal Christmas and a few other movies from previous seasons and I actually like her okay. There were some strange, awkward moments and although the Money vs. Christmas paradigm has been explored over and over again, I feel like some of these films are starting to get lazy and just assume we will blindly accept this premise, even if it doesn’t make sense at all. Like the Evil Bank wanted to take Lacey’s parents’ Christmas tree farm away so they could sell the land to Evil Developers to build a resort on but it actually would have really helped the small town they lived in, one hit exceptionally hard by the recent economic depression. Then Lacey fights back by getting her house deemed a historical landmark so it can’t be sold. But then Evil Bank counters with, “Okay, your house is a historical landmark but we are going to physically move it into town where it can be historically landmarky there.” What? You can’t just move a historical landmark. Or a house! But of course, she happened to have The Tree That Saved Christmas and unfortunately for the Evil Bank Guy, he did NOT have The Tree That Ruined Christmas so it’s game, set, match – Chabert. 3 Eggnogs


2.) Christmas at Cartwright’s

You may remember that last year, I spat some venom in the direction of one Alicia Witt. It was nothing personal, I assure you, she just left us with two pretty solid lumps of coal in the forms of A Very Merry Mix-Up and A Snow Globe Christmas. Movies weren’t great and she was unlikable. I’m thinking that puts her at two strikes. And I’m no baseball expert here but I’m pretty sure that one more and she’s out. Well she took another swing with Christmas at Cartwright’s and I don’t think I would call it a complete whiff. More like a long foul ball hit way out of play so that she’s still alive for at least another pitch. This time she plays a single mom, down on her luck, desperately looking for work before Christmas and I almost believe that. Through angel magic, she gets a job as a department store Santa. SHE does. “She” as in, a female. But underneath that suit and big beard and voice that sounds like Homer Simpson when he is pretending to be someone else, no one else picks up on her gender. I have no clue why the angels would want to intervene in quite this specific manner but what the hell, it almost sort of works. And I do give Alicia Witt some credit for trying to break another barrier here. I don’t know if all other actresses would have taken that on. But I also kind of don’t want to know. 2.5 Eggnogs


3.) Nativity!

This is not a normal, made-for-TV Christmas movie. In fact, I believe it was a theatrical release over in the UK but in my country, relegated to repeated showings on the Up Network. We only watched it because we wanted to see Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger and figured we might not understand the sequel without catching the original first. It stars Martin Freeman, who’s pretty generally awesome and there are several other aspects that make this of a higher quality than your average Hallmark fare. That said, is a nominative absolute that gets said a lot these days. Like way more than it used to be and now that I’ve started to notice it more, it’s starting to get on my nerves a little. That said about “that said”, I am going to use it again right now because it does seem to apply really well to the tone of my next statement. Maybe it’s not that we’re using it more now because it’s the trendy thing to do, maybe it just applies more to the way we express ourselves now? That said about that said about “that said”, I will tell you that I didn’t particularly enjoy Nativity! in the sense that it really wasn’t like these other films and thus, left me unfulfilled in this particular context. There was some weird stuff but it wasn’t fun-weird, just different weird. Kind of like the way people over there spell certain words differently like “color” with a “u”. Different and weird but doesn’t really do anything for me. Empty Glass.


4.) Best Christmas Party Ever

There’s another one for you. “Best _____ ever!” We say that a hell of a lot these days. Sometimes people want to punctuate it, literally with punctuation (periods) – “Best. Party. Ever.” I have to admit that this has gotten on my nerves too. More than even “that said” and I’m not totally sure why. There’s the obvious reasons about things becoming over-saturated but I can usually roll with all that. Maybe it’s just the superlative nature of the statement. Everything can’t be the best whatever-it-is ever unless we’re seriously exaggerating or just completely fickle. Like did Best Christmas Party Ever really depict the best Christmas party ever? No. It was more just nice that everything came together and kind of worked out in the end. Was Best Christmas Party Ever the best Christmas movie ever? Hell no. I do give them credit for sort of trying to play with some of the classic tropes (maybe the rich guy’s not so bad, maybe the love interest is just kind of a dick) but then I give them anti-credit for eventually bailing out on it (rich guy really is a dick, love interest is sweet and has hair like strudel). I’m going to give them some Eggnogs too but in this case, only 2.5 Eggnogs. THAT SAID, at least these are the BEST EGGNOGS EVER, which is to say that they are pretty much Eggnogs.


5.) Who’s the Boss

Oh my God, I just figured it out. It was Angela. Angela was the boss. Because she was the person who hired Tony to be her housekeeper (although if you watch the premiere, she actually did this sight unseen, which is pretty amazing considering he was also going to live in her home along with her young son) and paid him to do a specific job for her. I can’t believe this was ever even posed as a question or a matter of any debate. Now as far as who let the dogs out, however, that person is still very much undetermined.


6.) The Most Wonderful Time of Year

This one’s from a few years back (now it might have been called, “Best Time of Year Ever!”) but it happened to be on when I was looking at the TV recently so I watched it again. Good! In fact, it was interesting to see what a Hallmark original made-for-TV movie looked like in 2008. It was kind of better. At least, there was just a slightly different feel and some of the difference involved quality of some kind. Henry Winkler was in this one and I was wondering if it bothers him that he’s played two characters on TV shows with way better names than “Henry Winkler” – Arthur Fonzarelli, aka “Fonzie”, aka “The Fonz” and Barry Zuckercorn from Arrested Development. Although I guess Winkler is kind of a fun/funny thing to say. That guy really has it all. And he was good in this movie too, albeit as more of a supporting role. Maybe because it was a little higher in quality and a generally less whimsical production, I did find myself craving some of that Christmas movie craziness I tend to love so much. About the only thing that came close was a scene where the love interest for Brooke Burns wants to help her get a bike for her son but the bike store is closed so he ends up tracking down the bike store guy and challenges him to a fight in an alley – winner takes bike. The bike store guy is bigger than the love interest and so he accepts these terms, because who doesn’t just want to fight a random guy in an alley on Christmas Eve over a child’s bicycle? But before any of this can really take place, the love interest just nails the guy with a trash can lid, knocking him unconscious. And the whole time, those goofy clarinets are tootling away to indicate light, playful humor going on when really, the store guy could be pretty hurt and the love interest is probably going to jail. 3.5 Eggnogs.


7.) Christmas With the Kranks

Definitely not a made-for-TV movie nor even something theatrically released in other, weird countries. This baby hit the big screen over here in the US of A about 10 years ago but I am including in my Quick Takes Review because I want to point out that many of these larger-scale films are considerably worse than anything you might see on Hallmark or Lifetime or Ion or even Up. And that’s on a bad night. Christmas With the Kranks was terrible. Just terrible. I understood the premise but the actual problem made no sense. A married couple whose daughter has just grown up and won’t be home for the holidays decides they aren’t going spend as much money on Christmas this year and feel like taking a cruise instead. Fine. But none of that means that they can’t celebrate Christmas at all. They can still put up lights, go to holiday parties, whatever as long as they’re not spending a ton of cash but for some stupid reason, Tim Allen decides to write a letter and hand it to everybody he knows, saying that they are skipping Christmas entirely this year and won’t go to parties or do anything festive. Then people get really upset and start harassing him and his Jamie Lee Curtis wife, who acts like she is still being pursued by Michael Myers when neighbors come to the door offering to put their decorations up for them. Then uh oh, it turns out the daughter IS coming home this year, which she tells them at the last minute, and now they have to cancel all cruise plans and scramble to get all their normal, traditional Christmas activities in place and can never tell her that they were planning to do otherwise or……I don’t know. The movie goes way overboard dramatizing all of these events like Home Alone on steroids. It actually think I got ‘roid rage watching it.


8.) The Christmas Parade

It’s probably a sign that I am simply getting old here but I honestly had a difficult time understanding AnnaLynn McCord in this movie. Her delivery and affectations seemed pretty over the top and especially during conversations with her character’s producer, another lady who talked a lot like her, I was completely lost. The guy who played her love interest must have had a hard time too because that dude looked old. Not necessarily old-old but way too senior to be AnnaLynn McCord’s beau, as she only looks about 24 herself, talks like a teenager, and I’m pretty sure some of the clothes she wore were made for a child. Being unabashedly Canadian as well, I can’t imagine he could make heads or tails of much of what she was saying. Thank God he had a copy of the script or they never would have gotten together in the end. That all said (even if I couldn’t understand what was being said), I do appreciate that they tried to make ALM a little bit more of a sympathetic character than I would have expected. And despite what a mismatched couple she and the guy were, their moments of flirtation together looked kind of real. But, that may have been more due to the fact that ALM is in a constant state of flirtation rather than there being any real chemistry. There was even a scene where she was driving, staring straight into the camera, but she was still batting her eyelashes and rolling her tongue over her teeth and doing other weird face-mouth things to indicate sexual interest in what I can only assume was the highway. This all made for a different viewing experience, I’ll give it that, and although we’ve seen some pretty insanely egregious uses of garland this season, I think the Christmas Parade might take the cake. And if there’s cake to be taken for some really bad, self-parody level green screen effects, this movie snatches an entire bakery. And maybe some Eggnogs too. How many? I don’t know, is there a mathematical symbol for cake? I know we have one for pie so you have to assume there’s one for cake too. No? That’s racist. Cake Eggnogs!

Feliz Navidad!

A Perfect Christmas List – 12/16/14


After watching Merry ExMas, I couldn’t wait for Ion Television’s next offering for this year’s holiday potluck. Then I watched A Christmas Mystery, which technically came out before Merry ExMas but I hadn’t seen it yet. Then I turned off A Christmas Mystery because it was totally boring, then I thought I recorded A Christmas Kiss II but saw no sign of it on my DVR, then I looked for another showing and didn’t find anything in the next few days, then I noticed that Ion sure likes re-runs of Blue Bloods, Cold Case, and Flashpoint (maybe because they’re all fun to say?), then I realized I was lucky enough to have caught their Sunday premiere of A Perfect Christmas List and we watched it the other night. After all this effort and jibber jabber, did the movie mark a return to prominence for Ion Television?

Indeed it did. Of course it wasn’t going to top Merry ExMas but few things really could. It’s about a girl named Sara who is the author of a popular children’s book series. Like for pretty young kids. Considerably younger than the kids they actually show her reading to. She’s very close to her grandma, probably because she was Mrs. Cunningham from Happy Days. Unfortunately though, Grandma takes a bad fall down some stairs and injures her leg. Not as bad as being run over by a reindeer (the song, I mean) but still, Granny needs to stay off her feet for a while and might have some blood pressure issues. Sara’s dad tells her this bad news and kind of guilts her into coming home for the holidays. I say “guilts”, even though it’s not a word, because Sara would ordinarily not want to come home for the holidays, because Sara and her mother have what sounds like a stormy relationship. But Sara loves her grandmother. After all, she was the only character on Happy Days who got to call Fonzie by his real first name, and thus, begrudgingly agrees to make the trip

So why do Sara and her mother not get along? Pretty basic reasons. Nothing Sara ever does is good enough, Mother wanted her to follow a different path, and the two are sort of polar opposites, even though they flip personality traits that are supposed to be so opposite. Like for instance, when Sara and her mom make cookies, Sara is measuring everything out perfectly and not just the ingredients either. Like she even uses a tape measure and level to make sure all the cookies are the exact same height whereas Mom just likes to do it all by feel. Pinch of this, handful of that, etc. So Sara is the uptight, anal one, right? Well not necessarily. Because there’s another scene where Mom is trying to get a picture to hang perfectly on the wall. Sara has it’s completely straight but Mom is like no way! To an average person, it may seem straight but to a keen, awesome eye like hers, it requires microscopic adjustments. So maybe Mom is the uptight and anal one? Or it all just depends on whether or not we are talking about cookies or pictures.

The Mom also overhears Grandma talking to her young, love-interest-for-Sara, doctor named Brandon one day and misunderstands the conversation to mean that Granny is dying soon and this may be her last Christmas, when really she’s just talking about moving out of her condo. So we’ve gone from Happy Days to Three’s Company here. Grandma really wants to patch things up between her daughter and granddaughter and now that Mom thinks she’s dying, she’s inclined to be a little more receptive. Sara doesn’t ever catch wind of this misinformation but she’s less of a bitch so that’s her motivation to at least try and play nice with her mother for the time being.

Grandma’s meddling takes the form of this list she made, which is the titular Perfect Christmas List. It’s all stuff she wants Sara and Mom to do together, in hopes that it will repair their fractured relationship, which is an interesting approach given how usually spending more time with one’s parents is exactly how the relationship got fractured in the first place. And it’s all pretty basic stuff on the list too – bake cookies together, go ice-skating, cut down a Christmas tree. But perhaps there is a method to this lack of madness?

Or maybe the madness all comes from how Sara and her mother approach each task? Like for instance, if I was told to cut down a Christmas tree, I would go to a Christmas tree farm where you can cut trees down yourself, cut a tree down myself, and then pay the people who work there. For reasons I don’t understand but certainly appreciate, Sara and her mother take a different route. They see that there is a giant, 20 ft, Christmas tree all decorated in front of one of their local malls and decide that is the one they are going to cut down. Ignoring for a second that it doesn’t make sense that the tree would just be naturally growing there, why do they feel like they need to steal a tree? Especially one that won’t fit in their house? Was this an old family tradition the movie forgot to explain?

Better still is the way they take down this tree. Once again, if it were me, I would probably use some kind of saw. Seems like the natural approach. I guess you always go with an axe too but that might be a little too hardcore for your average non-lumberjack. But also once again, Sara and her mom have something totally different in mind for us. Mom takes a rope and actually manages to lasso the top of the tree. From there she just pulls that sucker down completely, which seems to break it off at the stump pretty clean. Then I believe they do end up using a saw, just to get the top off because like I said, the tree is way too big for their house. So the mall people are just going to show up tomorrow and see their tree, one that would have had to have been growing naturally in front of their establishment for probably about 30 years or so, cut down to a neutered carcass left out for everyone to bear witness to. Right before Christmas. If that’s what you are supposed to do to reconnect with your family or considered part of a perfect Christmas list, count me out. Better to remain frosty with my mom and just hope Granny can skip that one.

This isn’t just an aberration either. Another item on the list is that they need to give money to a local charity but Sara decides that’s totally impersonal and they should instead RAISE the money for charity, by way of dressing like Christmas skanks and busking outside of a local supermarket. How does that give it a warmer, more personal touch though? The charity doesn’t care whose money it is and by the looks of things, Sara and her mom have a lot more cash than the people dropping duckets in their collection plates. Plus they just completely push out some guy playing the sax who was more legitimately in need of charity. Even worse still, they make him part of their act, which inexplicably turns into something that seems to have been inspired by the musical, Stomp. I doubt I’m making much sense myself here so feel free to watch this clip and see what I mean:


I don’t know if it was clear from the video but every time we saw their little collection plate, the money was obviously fake. Like not even close to real money. But why? You’ve got all these people filming the scene, I assume some of them must be carrying wallets with American currency , why not just have everyone loan out some of their own clams and then re-acquire them once the scene is over? But I suppose that makes as much sense as anything in the scene. Probably more.

I did mention that there was, of course, a love interest for Sara. A humble doctor who kind of looks like Wally from Leave It To Beaver. He’s also a handyman, orphan, and big time charitable donator. If they can just throw enough things at you, you will hopefully find at least one of them attractive. And yet another case where the male love interest can’t only be a good guy or a successful guy but has to be able to do something with his hands. He’s got to be able to build something BUT it can’t be because he’s lower-class or just not sharp enough to be financially well off. He could be rich if he wanted to but he’s too real to care about such things. What I really appreciate is that in the case of Brandon, he’s simply just both things. A doctor and a handyman.

The relationship between him and Sara is less interesting. I’m not sure why they even like each other and there isn’t much actual chemistry before she decides he should be her boyfriend but when she asks him to come over on Christmas Eve and then to continue hanging out with her family on Christmas Day and he says he’s unfortunately not available on those dates, Sara takes this as a major dis and confirmation that he’s just not that into her. If a girl you just met asks you over on Christmas and gets mad when you tell her that you have plans, that is what I would consider to be a red flag. If you want pursue this relationship any further, you can expect to spend a lot of it in some kind of trouble.

But of course he’s game for all of this and Sara and her mother do enough wacky things to fulfill Granny’s perfect Christmas list and Granny’s not dying and Happy Days is still the only show I am aware of to have had someone literally jump the shark (I see no connection to that episode and the downfall of the series so I don’t totally understand the genesis of that expression, btw) and there’s a lot of talk about eating bad hot dogs and lemonade. I forgot to mention that part but the gist is that Sara gives Dr. Brandon guff for buying these unhealthy things – hot dogs, lemonade, M&Ms – at the grocery store, only to find out later that he was picking them up for a bunch of orphan kids. And I guess that’s supposed to make it okay? Orphans need healthy food as much as anybody. Oh, and that’s also why the good doctor couldn’t come over on Christmas. He was helping out the orphans. So why didn’t you just say so, Doc? I realize I keep asking questions that probably cannot be answered but this really is the saving grace of A Perfect Christmas List. And Buddhism. Because it’s the questions without answers that clear the mind of conscious thought and bring us closer to nirvana. I don’t know if I quite made it all the way to nirvana but would give this at least…

…3.5 Soundgardens MJS STAGE01 Soundgarden.jpgMJS STAGE01 Soundgarden.jpgMJS STAGE01 Soundgarden.jpgMJS STAGE01 Soundgarden.jpg



The Santa Con – 12/15/14


Have you ever looked at guy and asked yourself, “Is that Urkel?” Like, a version of Urkel all grown up? Happens to me a lot and if you are doing it right now, looking at that picture, I can tell you that this is one of those cases where you are dead right. That IS Urkel, standing right next to Sabrina the Teenage Witch. A Lifetime Christmas movie starring Urkel and STW looking suspiciously at each other with their arms folded? Yes please!

But hold up. Wait a second. You did notice what the name of this film is, right? “The Santa Con?” Because the marketing too is somewhat of a con here. Sabrina is barely in it. Urkel even less so. But this is the picture I see pop up in my DVR menu and doing a Google image search gives me even more of them and very little of the actual main characters. Sex sells, I get it, but come on, Lifetime. You can’t tell us this is a Melissa Joan Hart and Jaleel White joint when really, it’s about two other drips I’ve never heard of.

Or can you? Because even though I got duped into watching this under false pretenses, I ended up liking it. The story itself actually follows a similar path of lying for the greater good. Our real main character is Nick, a lovable con man who gets released from prison and falls right into a job playing Santa Claus at what I think is a mall. You might guess that he used his conning skills to get this job because who the hell hires a guy straight out of prison to be Santa? But no, his sister works there too and just hooked him up somehow. He’d much rather be grifting though and doesn’t take the new job too seriously. This is exemplified when some kid comes to sit on his lap and asks Santa to get his parents back together for Christmas. Even though this wish does not exactly fall under Santa’s jurisdiction, Nick is barely paying attention and nonchalantly agrees to make it all happen.

After being harangued by his sister for promising something not even Dr. Phil could deliver , Nick has a dark night of the soul where he wanders into a church and meets Wendy Williams, who is the pastor there and convinces Nick that the right thing to do here is make this kid’s wish come true. But how?

Through more lies. Nick cons his way into getting a job building an addition onto the kid’s house so he can get closer to the mom and figure out how the hell to get her and her estranged husband get back together. Not to sound like a mom myself here but honesty might have actually been the best policy. If he had just come clean to this lady, Carol, about what her son wished for, he might have at least been able to talk to her about her husband and maybe intervene in some positive way. And if not, at least he gave it the ol’ college try. I think that would have been good enough for Wendy Williams.

Plus, it turns out this marriage might not be worth saving anyway. The husband is a drunk. And I don’t just mean a nice guy who missed a few soccer practice pickups because he was at a bar. I mean someone who has a real problem. A problem that is not going to be solved quickly or even through Christmas magic. Getting drunk is one thing, stumbling in to your son’s piano recital mumbling gibberish in a stolen suit, only to get arrested in front of the whole auditorium is a whole other level of demons.

The movie tries to connect the dots here, saying that it’s all because some jerk who works with Dad stole one of his dynamite ideas for an ad campaign and got a big promotion out of it. This incident alone is what drove him to drinking, which quickly got out of control, causing him to lose his job and descend even deeper into alcoholism. There are several problems with this though. For one, a guy steals your advertising slogan ideas and gets rewarded for them. Bummer. Really sucks but certainly not worth going on an Olympic-level bender for. Especially when they tell us that Dad’s really this brilliant guy with tons of great ideas. There will be other ad campaigns, other slogans, plenty of opportunities to shine again. Also, there is the aforementioned extent of Dad’s drunken behavior. People who are sad or mad about something and turn to the bottle don’t fly off the handle in such epic proportions. This is a sick person who needs real help. And sorry kid, this ain’t gonna get fixed by Christmas, which is only about a week away.

Then there’s another issue and this one is the strangest of them all. Carol says that she and Dad used to drink a ton in college, then their son was born, then Dad managed to quit the booze until just a couple months ago, after that dude stole his ideas. But later, Dad confesses to Nick that the whole reason why this other dude was able to steal those ideas was because they got drunk together and Dad just spilled the whole thing. So Dad was drinking BEFORE the big betrayal. In fact, Dad says he really fell off the wagon something like 14 months ago, which means it has nothing to do with any of these office shenanigans and Dad has been keeping a dirty secret for over a year now in classic, alky style. So here is the big question – why on Earth did the movie choose to include this little tidbit of information? Why couldn’t they just have stuck to the original narrative? I certainly wasn’t buying that one either but by going out of their way to tell us that problem is considerably worse than we originally thought or would have expected from one of these films, what do they gain?

I’ll tell you what they don’t gain. Any faith from me that Nick could or should get these two people back together. I even thought at some point that Carol and Nick were just going to fall in love instead, since Nick is our main man and we are led to believe that he is actually a pretty good guy, even though his default strategy is to lie to people. But while this notion is explored, the movie chooses to go the original route. In part, I suppose, to further demonstrate Nick’s redemption, as he starts to fall for Carol himself but realizes it makes him a better person if he can help get this family back together instead. And he does. In a much weirder fashion than I would have guessed.

So where the hell is Urkel in all this? Well, he plays another ex-con who gets out of prison after Nick and is friends with him so he seemingly moves into Melissa Joan Hart’s house as well and ends up taking over Nick’s job playing Santa at the mall so that Nick can focus full-time on pretending to be a contractor, trying to get that kid’s parents back together. You know what scenes I would really like to have been included in this movie though? The interviews for the job of Santa. They hire one guy fresh out of prison to work with children, who eventually bails on the job but says don’t worry, this friend of mine, also fresh from prison, will just take over for me. And it’s a black guy who looks like Urkel. I mean, I’m sure it didn’t go down just like that but the people in charge of hiring mall Santa had to ask some questions, right? Maybe they just knew it was Urkel and spent the entire time reminiscing fondly about Family Matters. Or they thought they recognized him but couldn’t be sure from where and just took guesses like, “Wait a minute, were you on ‘Who’s the Boss?”, which would then of course devolve into a big conversation about who WAS the boss on that show and how disappointed we all were that the answer to this core question was never revealed, nor even really addressed, in the series finale.

Come to think of it, in addition to wanting to see those scenes (and get a real answer as to who was the boss on Who’s the Boss), I would have also liked to see the ones where Urkel and Melissa Joan Hart get together romantically. The movie hinted that this was going to happen but never delivered. I guess it will have to just be left to our imagination then. Or a spin-off? Whatever it is, I’ll watch it because once again, I do feel like I was the one getting conned here and Lifetime owes us all some Urkel. But also like I’ve already said, I still enjoyed The Santa Con and appreciated the way they just kept flinging crazy ideas and characters at me. One thing I might knock it for is that it didn’t really feel like Christmas at all. I realize I’ve mentioned Santa several times in this review but just like Urkel and Sabrina, this gets quickly shoved into the background and seemingly forgotten about. Plus, sometimes you can just tell the actors either don’t believe it’s really Christmas. I don’t believe Carol and Dad are going to make it long-term, that’s for sure, but all I can do is say the pledge, hope for the best, and give this movie….

3 Alcoholics Anonymous Coins AA LogoAA LogoAA Logo

…and a copy of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band-Aid. The original! dotheyknowitsxmas246



Merry ExMas – 12/9/14


As you well know, we have seen some pretty amazing, bizarre, fantastic, baffling, and insane made-for-TV Christmas movies in our time. Some that made me question the very fabric of reality at times. Christmas With a Capital “C”, All She Wants For Christmas, Karroll’s Christmas, and several others all had moments where I seriously could not believe what was happening on screen. And I’ve seen The Room. With Tommy Wiseau! But I am here to tell you that without a doubt, nothing quite compares to Merry ExMas. Except maybe The Room.

Let me say this again, because I want to make sure I am perfectly clear: Merry ExMas is by far the most unbelievably crazy made-for-TV Christmas movie I have ever seen. And it’s not even close. Other films have their moments, for sure, but Merry ExMas is pretty much one big moment. Last year, I posted links to some of what I thought were the craziest scenes in each thing I reviewed. If I were to do something like that with Merry ExMas, it would just be a link to the entire film. There was even a point towards the end where important things needed to get resolved and the movie might have been starting to run out of crazy juice but like a true champion, just kept throwing haymakers. Refusing to relent to sanity.

Simply reading the description though, none of this would be apparent. Here is what the Ion Television Network’s website has to say:

When misleading photos are published of security company chief Jessie Rogers purportedly caught in a love nest with his rock star client, his humiliated wife, Noëlle, swiftly files for divorce. Unable to convince her of his innocence, Jessie fights in vain to win Noëlle back when a Christmastime blizzard snowbounds the family.

Pretty straightforward, right? You can watch the trailer up there and come away with a similar impression. Christmas movie veteran and another former Superman, Dean Cain, is Jessie Rogers here and Kristy Swanson is Noelle. There are other people you know too – Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Ernie Hudson, Lochlyn Munro whose name may not familiar but you’ll recognize his face, someone related to Chris Farley, etc. By Christmas movie standards, this all sounds fairly innocuous. I guess Dean Cain himself pitched the idea to the production company but he seems like a relatively sensible guy so it’s hard to see how this could all go haywire. Especially when you compare it to something like The Room, which had much more curious origins. A mysterious man from Eastern Europe (won’t say where) suddenly appears with 6 million dollars (won’t say where he got it from) and takes years to self-publish a movie he wrote, directed, starred in, produced, and fired the entire crew several times over the course of production.

So how on Earth could Merry ExMas come anywhere near the level of madness displayed in The Room? I honestly can’t tell you. I have contacted the two production companies whose names appear in the opening credits, looking for answers. Maybe I should write Dean Cain? Before I go any further though, make no mistake – I loved this movie. Like I might seriously give it 5 Eggnogs. And there’s no way in hell I am going to be able to document all the wonderfully insane things or even do their insanity justice by attempting to explain it but the key for me is that it’s not the kind of insane where you don’t know what’s going on. You just won’t know why it’s going on. Like for instance, one scene I guess I can attempt to explain involves a group of people stopping at a bathroom. A couple of them are talking about something related to the plot when suddenly, bees attack. We have no idea where the bees came from or why they are attacking or what led someone to believe that bee attack was a good way to get out of this scene but we understand that the bees have arrived and that everybody needs to get back in the car quickly. In fact, you know what? I am going to come out of video posting retirement and put up a clip of this scene so you can see that I am not the one who’s crazy here.


I also included the preceding shot of Dean Cain wrapping what looks to be a child’s fishing pole, even though there are no characters in this film that you would likely buy this for. Then I left some of the scene that followed the bees so you can get a sense at the blistering pace Merry ExMas can sometimes move at. One second you are down at the beach, using their rest stop bathroom and being attacked by mysterious bees, the next second you are in a weird, almost sepia-toned, blizzard environment, falling off a sled pulled by dogs.

Speaking of slippery slopes, it’s really hard to not post more clips. There are just so many great scenes and great moments. Narrowing them down is almost like an insult to the magnificent totality but how about this. How about I post one more? Just because it was something a little less obvious maybe:


I love how the newscaster stops talking so that Dean Cain and Kristy Swanson can have their convo, then jumps in at the end to back up the Deanster. That is some good reporting right there. Although it probably would have seemed strange to anybody else watching the news who was not in that room. Maybe they just assumed though that someone, somewhere was having a conversation and this guy on TV was just being polite, letting them finish up. I’ll have to keep that in mind myself the next time I see something like this happen. Just another thing I have to thank Merry ExMas for.

Some credit really needs to go to Ion Television too. They delivered several of the biggest hits last season with Holiday Road Trip, All I Want For Christmas, and Christmas Belle. This is the first movie of theirs we’ve watched in 2014 and while they may not match the output of Hallmark or the production value, maybe, of Lifetime, they could very well be the pound-for-pound champs this year. The Up network has been coming strong too but I just can’t imagine anyone’s holding an ace card quite like Merry ExMas. I’ve got another one of Ion’s, A Christmas Mystery, sitting on my DVR and I don’t know why I’m not watching it right now because with their track record, it could be another game-changer. Plus who doesn’t like the idea of a Christmas Mystery? My wife pointed out that while there are so many people dead in these films, there are very few murders (none?). Perhaps Christmas Mystery will finally blaze this trail? In any case, I am excited. Excited for more Ion films and for you to hopefully watch Merry ExMas and be touched by its magic, never thinking of third alternates on the women’s olympic gymnastic team and silly accents the same way again.

I already called my shot with the rating here and in discussing the film further, I only feel stronger in that conviction. I just wish I could paint a funnier picture of it for you but like I keep telling you, there just are no words that could really do the movie justice. Only Eggnogs.

5 of them! eggnogeggnogeggnogeggnogeggnog