Tuesday, December 27, 2016

30 Days of Horrible Christmas Movies... Day Thirty

Catch a Christmas Star (2013) - Hallmark

...And we have come to the end of the road with arguably the best one of these wacky Christmas movies we've seen to date.  Or is it?  Give a man dying of thirst a glass of water, and surely that water will taste as if it is sweat from the brow of Jesus.  Point being that after 30 straight days, this movie could be 'A Plan 9 from Outer Space Christmas' and it would still seem almost magical.  And I'm sure the mudslides I was chasing didn't hurt either.

Chris (Stever Byers) is a widowed father of two adorable kids.  His wife died in a car accident a few years back, and I've noticed in this journey that car accidents seem to be the method of choice for getting rid of significant others, when I think a long terminal illness, like cancer, works better dramatically.  It allows for this dying S.O to give some theatrical last dying words for their mate, which just can't happen in a head on collision.

Anyway, it's thanksgiving and before the game, in front of some really bad green screening, the worlds biggest pop star Nikki (Shannon Elizabeth) is singing the National Anthem.  Chris's 10 year old daughter daughter Sophie (Julia Lalonde) notices how weird everybody got when Nikki showed up on the screen, so Uncle Jason had to spill the beans that back in the day Nikki and her dad were each others first love in high school.

Sophie has a plan.  Grab her little brother Jackson, skip school, take a bus from Jersey to NYC where Nikki is doing a CD signing, mention her dad and love will bloom again!  It's actually a terrible plan, because in reality these poor kids would be abducted and murdered, but it's really quite sweet in execution and gosh darn if it doesn't kind of work.

Chris and Nikki go out on a date, and despite the fact they both went in drastically different directions way back when, they never stopped loving each other.  Everything looks like it just might work out for these two good looking kids who have found each other once again... but alas... maybe not.  Back in high school, Chris just couldn't deal with Nikki's fame, and now, with two kids to protect and paparazzi all over the place, he really can't deal with it.  Love can't survive.  Until it does, thanks to the wisdom of a wisest 10 year old girl ever.

This one was really easy to like if only because of the likability of the cast.  Shannon Elizabeth... true,  maybe not much of a singer... is ageless and still real easy to look at well into her forties.  Steve Byers bought the brokenhearted sad charm and the cute kids were able to successfully straddle the line between between being cute and helpful as opposed to being supremely annoying.  There was this one strange bit where Chris was bribing a security guard to use his uniform so he could get back stage to tell Nikki how much he loves her.  Or murder her.  This guard didn't know what he wanted the uniform for and sold Nikki out for 20 bucks.

The movie's not very Christmassy though.  Yes, Shannon blandly sings quite a few Christmas songs, and there are lots of Christmas backdrops and whatnot, but this was basically a love story that just happens to take place around Christmas.  I mean there wasn't even a 'buying a tree at the lot scene'.  I've also learned that's pretty much the baseline for whether or not you have Christmas movie, or a just movie that takes place around Christmas.

And we are done!  Until maybe next year.  We will see.

Monday, December 26, 2016

30 Days of Horrible Christmas Movies... Day Twenty-Nine

Dear Secret Santa (2013) - Lifetime

Jennifer (Tatyana Ali) is a busy career woman, no time for love, no time for Christmas... bla bla bla, we know the routine.  Jen has gotten word from her bestie Abby (Jordin Sparks) that her old man Ted (Bill Cobbs) has taken a nasty spill, and Jen has to jet up the I-5 from L.A. to Berkeley to check on the old angry dude.

When Jen gets there, other than being ridiculously old, because he's being played by Bill Cobb, the old guy is okay.  Still, Jen decides to stick around to keep an eye on him, maybe sell the family house out from under him and stick him in a nursing home or something.  It's for his own good.  Jen and her dad aren't too terribly close, Jen being more of mama's girl, but the thing her father is still a little bent about is that she missed Jack's funeral three years ago.  Jack (Lamorne Morris) was Jen's next door neighbor and best friend growing up and when tragically he died in a car accident she inexplicably missed the funeral service.  I'm sure she had reasons.

Then the postage free Christmas Cards started appearing in the mailbox from a 'Secret Santa', with the author proclaiming love for Jen.   Note this all started when Jen dropped a lousy penny down a magic well and asked for True Love. Who's doing this?  Is it the sexy cop or the grinning barista?  Well, turns out those two are totally gay for each other so it can't be them.  Maybe it's her high school ex, who at the moment is the only M.D. in ALL of Berkely, who cheated on her twenty years ago.  Jen seriously still holds that against him.  Not him either.  Screw it, Jen decides to just stick her own Christmas card in the mailbox and ask who it is.  It's totally Dead Jack.  While this can't be happening, it is.  And Jen has totally fallen in love with his dead ass.

She has to warn Jack!  But if she does, according to Time Space Continuum author Della Reese, there could be irreparable rips in the time space continuum.  But what's more important?  Preserving the very fabric of reality itself... or True Love?  I think we all know the answer to that simple question.

Two very important things I learned from this movie.  One was when Time Space Continuum author Della Reese was explaining how this could've happened.  Note that the legendary Ms. Reece didn't really have time to learn her lines for this movie and mostly just read a piece of paper off of a podium.  But she said this could be caused by Non-local Quantum Communication.  Say what?  Did Della just make that up?  Nope, it is a thing.  I don't believe it's a thing anywhere near related to anything happening in this movie, but Non-Local Quantum Communication is real.

Also, there was the old-wise Chinese guy in this movie, as if there are any other kind of old Chinese people in movies, and he hit Jen with an alleged ancient Chinese proverb...

 "When the winds of change blows, some build walls, while others build windmills".

Now my next question was, "Is this a real Chinese Proverb?" Research says YES!  Yes it is my friends.  This movie is authentic as F@#K!  Now Jen could've asked "What the hell does that even mean", at least in regard to what she's going through, but if you don't know... then you just don't know.  That's the magic of Chinese proverbs.

Is the movie any good?  On day twenty-nine of this adventure I've realized that this is so not the point with these things.  The real goal is for the movie to fallow the formula and successfully manipulate it's audience into a false sense good feelings, and I think this one gets it done in fine fashion.  It was very Christmassy, other than the fact it took place in California which means there was no snow, which I think is the first one of these I've seen with no snow, which means we have to deduct a vomit from it's ranking.  There were wise old people, even though Bill Cobbs was kind of a dick throughout most of the movie.  The story was semi-unique, at least in what these Hallmark / Lifetime Christmas movies usually rely on, for as many have pointed out this does borrow heavily from The Lake House made in 2007.  And the best part is that there are two fully orchestrated Christmas tunes.  One sung by our star, who I didn't know actually tried to have a pop career at some point, and of course Jordin Sparks to close the show.  Her fake husband even pulled an acoustic guitar which would've automatically brought back in that no-snow redacted vomit, but thank goodness he didn't actually play it.

But as it turns out 'Dear Secret Santa' was very vomit worthy, for those who like these kinds of movies and maybe even somewhat watchable for those who don't.  Non-Local Quantum Communication.  Didn't expect to learn about that theory in a Lifetime movie.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

30 Days of Horrible Christmas Movies... Day Twenty-Eight

Baby's First Christmas (2012) - Hallmark

I feel... empowered.  I feel as if there is nothing that I can't do when I set my mind to it, and I can thank these Christmas movies for giving me this confidence.  True, there's been tears and pain and I believe a 30% loss of vision, but whatever man... I can't be stopped now.

Alrighty then... Jenna (Rachel Wilson) is a Kanye listening, green loving, proletariat supporting lib-tard.  Kyle (Caspar Van Dien) is a country music digging, boot straps pulling, proletariat oppressing republi-turd.  They're both lawyers, they hate each other on many levels, but alas they are always thrust together because Jenna's brother Jim and Kyle's sister Trisha are married to each other.

Such as this Christmas for instance where Jenna and Kyle are forced to rent a car together to go to NYC to witness the birth of their nephew, to go along with their adorable seven year old niece Karen (Ella Ballentine).  Now there are issues the likes of which you would not believe.  Just know that Jim and Trisha are at the hospital working through a tough labor while Jenna and Kyle, with little Karen in tow, are going to be running around New York City trying to set all kinds of things right.  Think 'Adventures in Babysitting' as a reference point.

Strange thing though... Kyle and Jenna, despite their philosophical differences, start to fall for each other. Strange thing though... Something bad happens which tears them apart.  Strange though... somehow love finds a way, because it always does.  In Hallmark Land at least.

Now this movie here throws an awful lot at the viewer in that there are a crapload of resolutions that have to take place if we are to be satisfied.

1) Jenna and Kyle have to find love
2) The problematic Pregnancy has to work out
3) The house foreclosure has to be stopped
4) Kyle has to fix his severe issues with his estranged father
5) Jim, who has been laid off, has to find a decent paying job
6) Lamme, the old lady's dog, has to be found
7) Kyle must learn that his way of life is wrong
8) The foreclosure dude, Mr. Kotter, must find a heart.

That's an awful lot of resolution in 80 minutes, but it totally happens!  Yay!  That old lady?  Totally a billionaire, gives Jim a six-figure gig.  The foreclosure nonsense?  Completely the fault of Kyle's law firm... He now knows being lawyer who wants to get stupid paid is bad.  The dad?  I mean he sounded just awful and completely beyond redemption so I was kind of with Kyle on this one, but nope... it's all good now.  When you buy your 45 year old son a toy train 35 years late... it's never too late!

You want wise old people and cute kids?  We got 'em here in spades.  I mean everybody in this movie was wise and said smart stuff... except Kyle of course because his way of life is WRONG.  And yet again we blessed, or cursed with somebody singing Jingle Bells at the end of this.  Either Caspar can't sing or he was acting like he can't sing.  Either way, it was awful.  I mean adorable.

All that being said, I do believe if you like these kinds of movies, this one seemed to check off all the right boxes and I think you'll like this one as well.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

30 Days of Horrible Christmas Movies... Day Twenty-Seven

A Husband for Christmas (2016) - Ion TV

This one was rough people and we love Vivica Fox.  I thought 'A Boyfriend for Christmas' was tough sledding with it's insidious message, but it had nothing on 'A Husband for Christmas'.  Which I guess makes sense since a husband is of a higher stature than a boyfriend I guess.

Brooke (Vivca Fox) is a graphic designer for some company that is about to go through a merger and she's fearing for her job.  Her fears only heighten when she meets Roger the Charming (Ricco Ross), the British graphic designer for the other firm.   But surprise, surprise, not only does Brooke's boss (Eric Roberts) let her keep her job, but he also gives her a huge promotion as head of the department.  Here's the thing though... Bossman wants Roger to stay in the country to work for him and instead of going through the normal, regularly accepted avenues of immigration, he wants Brooke to marry Roger, which is like super illegal and a worn out technique even when Andie McDowell and Gerard DePardieu tried to pull it off, but that's what he wants.  And Brooke's huge promotion kind of rides on her doing this.

So these two agree to this craziness, they don't get along, then they do and love will flourish.  Some hater at the office  calls the INS and their love is danger.  There's all kinds of other stuff going on in this movie such as Brooke's sister engaged to Brooke's ex boyfriend who she's not completely over.  Then there's Roger's very nice British girlfriend who he was going to propose to at some point, but will no doubt get unceremoniously dumped before this movie is over.  And Brooke has a best friend who will also get dumped by her boyfriend before this movie is over, which will limit her self-worth to zero.

Eventually everything will work out swell with Brooke saving Roger at the airport right before INS was about to deport him, with everybody at the airport, including the INS and TSA agents, all singing a rousing edition of Jingle Bells.  I can't make this stuff up.

Again here we go with the story of some woman with a fake boyfriend, which for whatever reason is an incredibly popular trope for these Christmas movies.  And here we go again with the tale of another woman who seems successful, but really isn't because she has no man.  I only know this because pretty much every body in the movie says as much.  Brooke's best friend, her mom, her sister, her boss... and the dialog attached to these conversations was pretty horrific.  Then we have to deal with the utterly ridiculous concept of a major corporation ignoring common corporate visa's and making their employees marry immigrants so they can work here, but whatever, we'll go with it.

At least there was plenty of Chrismassy stuff, wise old people giving sage advice, the prerequisite Christmas Tree shopping scene, lots of Christmas songs and of course the closing Jingle Bells number, but I'm not sure even people who watch these kinds of movies would like this movie.

Friday, December 23, 2016

30 Days of Horrible Christmas Movies... Day Twenty-Six

The Night They Saved Christmas (1984) - ABC

Let's travel back to a simpler time before Hallmark hijacked the TV Christmas movie, where oil companies were the devil and a woman's long flowing locks never moved out of place, no matter hard the wind was blowing.

Michael (Paul Le Mat) is a hard working geologist detonating dynamite in the arctic looking for oil for his dickish boss Mr. Murdock (Mason Adams).  Unfortunately there's no oil to be found, Michael is sad and Murdock is super angry.  Worst still, Michael is odds with super beautiful wife Claudia (Jaclyn Smith) who has grown weary of dragging their three kids around the globe in the search of the black gold, and the youngest one, C.B., is seriously unstable.  I mean this kid punched another kid for saying there's no Santa Claus.  Who does that?  Later in the evening C.B. will stomp out the the room and wish his mother dead for even hinting that Santa might not be a real person.  C.B. is the worst.

Eventually the family gets a visit from the elf Ed (Paul Williams) who warns that all that dynamite is about to destroy North Pole City and Santa Claus, and he even takes Claudia and the three kids on a trip to the city, which Claudia agrees to, which kind of makes her the worst mom ever.

Eventually Claudia believes in Santa (Art Carney) and the looming danger, but now she has to convince her husband and his boss.  They don't believe her.  In fact they choose to believe the story that an oil competitor kidnapped the family, drugged them and implanted those Santa memories in their brains  This might be a wackier story than there's a Santa Claus.

Santa has to be warned that explosions will continue, two of the kids get lost in the snow, Claudia has to find them, chances are they are all going to die of hypothermia, North Pole City and Christmas are doomed and to be quite honest, nobody except the terrible C.B. really cares because oil is super important.  And C.B. wished his mom dead earlier so we don't really believe him either.

Obviously this is more of a traditional tale since nobody was trying to get a man, find a man or didn't know they needed a man... at Christmas.  Nope, this was simply about trying to save Christmas by believing in the magic of Santa and avoid Evil Oil.  And I had no idea how mad evil oil executives were before watching this movie.  Okay, not totally true... Exxon... B.P.. but still.  So Michael's wife and kids are lost in the arctic, chances are they are going to die and Murdock has given Mike until the end of the day to find them... then back to work!   And Mike seems okay with those terms.  And kidnapping families and implanting false memories must be common practice in the oil industry because they all seemed cool with that too.

The filmmakers even created a whole batch of new Santa Tech to explain how he does what he does, that we are not going to get into, but it was kind of interesting.  I also learned that of all the toys Santa has given kids through the centuries, he's never given one a toy gun.  In today's America, this Santa would be labeled a lib-tard.

As you can see this particular TV Christmas movie was not very vomit worthy, despite the presence of a couple of wise old people and some cute kids, and it's kind of watchable, especially if you have a bunch kids hanging around.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

30 Horrible Days of Christmas Movies... Day Twenty-Five

The  Nine Lives of Christmas (2014) - The Hallmark Channel

Okay, if this is a Christmas movie, then so are Die Hard, Good Fellas and Gremlins.  You know what?  I might very well watch those in the next three days and just arbitrarily stick the word 'Christmas' at the end of the title, since apparently that's all that's needed to qualify.

Zachary (Brandon Routh) is a mad hunky fireman who poses for fireman calendars, dates super models and doesn't believe in long term love because his parents are divorced.

Marilee (Kimberly Sustad) is an abnormally tall veterinarian student who totally believes in true love but being as busy as she is, trying to get out of school, time just doesn't allow for such tomfoolery.

Then one day Zachary rescues the cat Ambrose, and this cat has attached itself to the commit-a-phobe, but as it turns out Ambrose isn't so bad.  Would you believe that Marilee is paying her way through school by working at a pet store?  Now circumstance kind of thrusts these two together, and while it looks to us and everybody around them that they should be in some kind of relationship, because they are both tall and stuff, Zach is still not down with commitment and Marilee is far too busy.

Circumstance intervenes even further as Marilee finds herself evicted and jobless, the job part Zach feels a little responsible for, and needs a place to stay.  So happens Zach restores houses and is working on one at the moment, so he allows Marilee and her cat to move in with him and his cat.  At this point these two do everything together.  They shop together, eat together, exercise together, work on the house together... but they aren't together.  Even though everybody thinks they should be together.  But Zach isn't down with commitment and Marilee is too busy.  I get it already.

Until... of course... they aren't together.   Now they see what everybody sees, and that is that tall beautiful people completely belong together forever and always.

What can we say... not a lot of Christmas in this one.  There were decorations in the background in a few scenes, our non-couple did shop for a Christmas Tree,  I saw a Salvation Army Santa and some carolers, but except for the Christmas Tree scene, that other stuff was off in the periphery.  No cute kids to focus on, no wise old people dispensing knowledge unless you want to call Gregory Harrison a wise old person which I'm pretty sure he would balk at, and the musical score was decidedly non-christmassy.  Which reminds me that Marilee did have a discussion with Zach on why 'Christmassy' is a word.

Nope, what we have here is a pretty straight forward romance.  Not even a RomCom.  And I guess as a Romance this works.  For people who like that kind of thing.  Despite the fact that Brandon Routh is severely limited as an actor.  Look, I watch DC's Legends of Tomorrow every week and I love the guy in that, but then it plays to his strength as actor, which is one of detached bewilderment.  But here as the strapping, pick-up driving, home repairing, fireman?  Not really in my man's wheelhouse.  Early on his character had this model girlfriend he had to breakup with, and in the end he's standing on top of a firetruck declaring unending love Marilee... and both scenes were played with same exact tone of detached disinterest.  But hey, he's tall and good-looking, which I'm thinking is the main thing this role required from it's male lead.

Again, not very Christmassy... totally a word... but oddly enough, still made me throw up in my mouth quite a few times during its running time.  Tomorrow we very well may do that Holiday Classic... A Die-Hard Christmas.  Why not?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

30 Days of Horrible Christmas Movies... Day Twenty-Four

A Boyfriend for Christmas (2004) - The Hallmark Channel

My son tells me 'Why do 30 days?  25 days makes more sense'.  And he's right, especially since I'm on Day 24 and tomorrow would be end of this treacherous journey, but that's not what I did, so we tirelessly soldier on.  If did do 25 instead of 30 days, I probably would've been a little more selective and chances are 'A Boyfriend for Christmas' wouldn't have made the short list, but here we are.

Young Holly is walking in the mall, and her girlfriends are dominating the conversation about the boyfriends they are about to get, but Holly let's them know she don't need no gatdamn man!  Holly was totally lying about that because when Santa (Charles Durning) asked her what she wanted under the tree, with little hesitation, she told him a boyfriend.  Now the only reason 12 year old Holly was talking to Santa was because she was helping this cute boy who couldn't get his little sister to talk to Santa... and we don't blame that little girl.  Charles Durning made for one of the creepiest Santa's we've ever seen.  Anyway, that Christmas morning when Holly wakes up she has a gift from Santa, a tiny snow globe with the inscription that basically says she'll get a decent boyfriend in twenty years.  That's some bull.  And Holly thinks so too.

20 years later Holly (Kelli Williams) is some kind of social worker trying to unite a family, but their pro-bono lawyer doesn't show up and now this sad family cannot be united until after the holidays.  Holly is so pissed at this dude she doesn't know!

This Lawyer is Ryan (Patrick Muldoon) and the reason he was late was because he was negotiating some low income housing for poor people.  He's a good dude.  He also makes a few phone calls and gets that family back together.  But Holly doesn't know this and she's still so pissed!  In fact when Ryan spied the hottie at the Christmas Tree lot, he was about to make that bold move until he heard her use his name on her cell about how pissed she is at this dude.  This complicates things because Creepy Santa is back on the scene, all up in people's biz, trying to get these two together and fulfill that bogus promise he made before his twenty year window is up.

Santa can see these two belong together, or something, so he sends Ryan over to her house as her Christmas boyfriend.  Mainly because Holly has been hating on Santa TO THIS VERY DAY for not sending her that boyfriend she wanted 20 years ago.  She told him this.  Great!  They can be together, but Ryan decides not to tell Holly his real name because of the previously overheard phone call.  And Holly is surprisingly cool with this perfect stranger showing up at her house, so much so that she even introduces him to her family as her boyfriend.  Now at any time in the next week or so that these two are kicking it, he could've easily told Holly his real name, because she pretty much knows everything else about him, from his job to his inseam... but of course not, because that makes sense.

Of course eventually she finds out and love is lost.  But fortunately Creepy Santa is back on the scene to get the love back on track!  I gotta tell you, this Santa seems way more interested in getting Holly laid than delivering toys to poor children.

I spent a little more time than usual discussing this one because, from first frame to last, I found this movie mind-blowing.  This is a movie that seemed to have the ultimate message, that if you are a woman without a man then you have almost no value.  And this movie wraps this insidious message in a package that is very well done.  I kid you not, 'A Boyfriend for Christmas' is funny, it's well acted, it's well shot... yes, it's basic narrative rests on something ridiculously stupid, that being not telling the woman you love your real name... but even that bit of rampant stupidity was handled about as well as rampant stupidity can be handled.  Like if I actually watched RomComs, there's a chance I might've really enjoyed this one.

Ah but then there's always the main theme to deal with.  You see all the women in this movie are happy except for two.  These two being the man-less spinster Holly, and that lady we mentioned earlier, the homeless woman who lost her kids probably because she didn't have a man to take care of her properly.   And all of these happy women with men seem to have one goal in life, along with Santa, that being getting Holly a man to call her own because Holly clearly isn't happy. Until Ryan comes along and completes her incomplete sad circle of life.  Yay.  And the late great Charles Durning seriously made for one leering, prowling, drunk-eyed Santa.

Despite the questionable messaging embedded in this film, it is still a very vomit worthy Hallmark Christmas movie.  Well worn plot, very predictable, had a few cute kids, had some wise old people including Martin Mull as well as Charles Durning's creepy Santa, and lots of canned Christmas music.  It's just the underlying message that keeps this one from attaining the heights of the usual disgust we have for these movies.