Monthly Archives: December 2012

Snowmageddon — ’nuff said

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. I also hope you aren’t over it quite yet. After all, I did promise another holiday flick….I just didn’t say what kind. mwah ha ha. The title really says it all, and there’s little else to explain as an intro here: Snowmageddon. 

In a nutshell, Snowmageddon is a disaster-laden holiday flick about the wee, tiny town of Normal, Alaska that is the unfortunate victim of a snow globe. And not just any snow globe, kiddies. Nope. This one, though beautifully crafted and not made in China, is very much made of EVIL.

I just feel really bad for the peoples of Normal, AK. It’s Christmas, and all fifteen of the town’s residents are really going all out for the holiday. The town square (that might actually just be all of the town) is decorated and pretty. Seasonal lights are everywhere.

The Miller family are doing their part. John Miller is going about the town collecting gifts for needy families. His wife, Beth, is a helicopter pilot. She will drop off the gifts the next day. Even their kids are involved. It’s nice when the kids do charity work too. Start them early, I say.

With all this jollity and good spirit, no one is surprised when a mystery box appears on the Miller family doorstep. Since they don’t know which family is supposed to get the box, they decide to open it and if the ominous doomed and dark Christmas score didn’t forewarn you enough, then the dog going berserk should have clued you in.

Let me describe the Snow Globe of Doom for you. It’s a snow globe. It’s base is made of wood. Inside the globe part is a teeny replica of the town and the mountains behind it. The base has all these visible gears and buttons on it. I don’t get the point of these because the thing is totally self-aware. Most unfortunate of all is that it does not play any little tune. There’s no creepy “Silent Night” jingling out of the device. The biggest thing about the SGoD is that whatever occurs inside the globe, occurs in the town. .

For example, our first foray into decorative disasters has a series of rumblings and bubbles that come up from the ground inside the globe. At that same time, the ground shakes in the town square and flaming gas erupts from the ground. Flaming gas isn’t the best choice of words here, but you get my meaning.

Later, dark clouds form around the mountains in the globe and a big, nasty storm attacks the area. Another important detail is that the clock in the globe has synched up with the clock on the town hall. This would be kind of cool if it wasn’t for the fact that the town hall clock hasn’t worked in years and Fred the local shop-owner gutted the clock a while back.

Snowmageddon is a lot of fun to watch for the endless series of disasters. There’s a little something for everyone. There are ice missiles shot from the clouds, giant tree-like spikes that shoot upwards from the ground, explosions, convenient people-trapping ravines, avalanches, etc. My favorite is when a man is killed by the town Christmas tree.  And of course, after almost each of these disasters, a fire starts somewhere.

But while the movie doesn’t let up on crazy challenges, it pays that price by giving us rather boring characters who have to deal with all the hoopla. On top of that, no one ever seems to be wearing a hat even when they are on top of a snowy mountain! What is that about? It’s Alaska! Bundle up, people!

John and Beth Miller are kind of boring characters. They stay calm in all situations, they never seem too upset by their town being under attack from all forms of nature, and they might be superhuman. Beth easily survives a helicopter crash. All she’s got is a cut on her nose. John can drive a snowcat just about anywhere and then leap across giant iceberg divides.

The Miller children fall into familiar stereotypes. Daughter, Jennifer, comes across as the  boy-crazy teenager. She begs Beth to take her on the delivery flight because Beth will be dropping off a famous snowboarder so he and his friend can hit the groovy slopes. All Jennifer does during pretty much the entire movie is whine and cry. Poor girl. She will so need therapy when this is done. Her younger brother, Rudy, is the typical innocent youth that figures out what’s causing the problem. He’s wiser than his years and feels the need to right the wrong caused by the SGoD.

Another thing—and this is a biggie—is that the purpose behind the SGoD or the person who ominously delivered it to the Miller house is never really explored. Having a character explain why it’s in their town as “maybe it was meant to come here” is not a good enough answer.

I guess Normal, AK happens to be the unlucky town for this SGoD to enact it’s wrath. Maybe Normal is such a fan of the holidays that the SGoD can’t stand it. Maybe it hates Christmas. No idea! And we never find out!  Instead the filmmakers bring on a Lord of the Rings scenario with John Miller making the arduous trek up the local mountain (*cough* Mt. Doom) to drop the ring SGoD into the fiery pits of the suddenly active volcano. I guess if it worked for Frodo…

Now for that snow globe. One would think that since it’s made of evil, it might put up some kind of fight to avoid destruction. Perhaps it will suddenly get hot to the touch or speed up disasters. No!! Not a thing. It’s just an evil snow globe. It doesn’t even speak or anything. John, however, has his own choice words. “Merry Christmas you son of a bitch,” quoth he, as the globe is pitched into the fires of Mt. Molehill. Lovely writing, isn’t it?

Thoughts

Snowmageddon was very predictable yet highly entertaining. I’d say it’s way better than IceQuake. Waaay better. I like how there’s fifteen people in town and they all know each other. I like how the town is about the size of a parking lot.  The acting was fairly decent, and there were some familiar faces in the movie. Battlestar Galactica alum, Michael Hogan, played Fred. Laura Harris of Dead Like Me fame was Beth Miller, helicopter pilot extraordinaire.

While most of the effects were computer-generated, they were done in conjunction with actual real effects, and the combo worked well for a movie whose budget (I will assume) does not compare to that of Avatar.

My biggest beef with the film is that it’s about a freaking snow globe that causes disasters and destruction for a little town. Who came up with that idea? Does someone hate or fear snow globes? I have no idea. I hate that the movie never explains that fully. It’s frustrating.

Oh well, if I’ve learned anything from the crazy goings-on in Snowmageddon, it’s this: invest in snowcats. The one in this movie was pretty sturdy and despite it’s 10 mph super speeds, it held its own through most of the disasters it encountered.

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And that’s it, my little snow bunnies. No more holiday flicks until 2013.  Now let’s focus on next year. I think we will need more dragons.

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Holiday Movie Roundup

Happy Christmas Eve!

As I’ve noted in a couple earlier posts, I’ve been actively watching whatever cheesy flicks the good people at Hallmark, Lifetime, and ABC Family have made available. Like the nerd that I am sometimes, I’ve been keeping a log of what I’ve seen. I know I’ve described some of these, so I’ll gloss over those and get to the good ones. Also, I’ve thrown some classics in as well. The chances are pretty good that some of these will be airing in the next 24. Happy hunting!

1. Christmas Song:  This was a romantic comedy I caught on Hallmark back in November. I think I’ve gone over this one already, but I’ll recap. Two private schools have recently merged to form one. Now there are two music teachers and two competing programs. The principal tells the two teachers that whoever wins the upcoming local music contest gets to keep their job. She lets that bomb drop right before Christmas too which is just rude. So while the two teachers (with student assistance) compete, they also sort of fall in love. My eyes rolled a lot while watching this. The students were so stereotyped. The popular mean girl, the shy good girl, the popular jock, the nerdy guy, etc…   Natasha Henstridge and Gabe Hogan (who I know as the pen-trache UPS guy from Wonderfalls)

2. A Season for Miracles: This was also a Hallmark movie. This one made me cry a little. A down on her luck lady hides in a small town while trying to maintain custody of her niece and nephew. The small town embraces them and it’s a new start for everyone. Carla Gugino and Laura Dern star in this.

3. Crazy for Christmas:   This was pretty crappy. A single mom (with the world’s cutest kid) works as a chauffeur on Christmas Eve. She’s tasked with driving an eccentric millionaire (billionaire?) around town all day. I’m going to spoil this one for you because I need you to know how stupid and crazy this one was. Last chance to avert your eyes for a spoiler… Turns out the crazy, rich man is chauffeur lady’s long-lost father. Yeah…  (Lifetime Network)

4. Annie Claus is Coming to Town: I’ve gone over this one before too. Santa’s daughter goes to Los Angeles to find herself before deciding to carry on the family business. She finds employment and love in a local toy store (big surprise) and makes a few friends along the way. It was silly but entertaining. (Hallmark)

5. Debbie Macomber’s Call Me Mrs. Miracle: I think this movie is a sequel or companion piece to the one I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.  In this one, Mrs. Miracle works at the toy counter in a department store. Business isn’t the best, and the owner’s son has chosen stock the toy department with old-fashioned items rather than the super popular robot toy that everyone else has. I guess it’s like selling a deck of cards when everyone else is selling X-boxes. Anyways, Mrs. Miracle steps in to matchmake (that’s her primary function), sell the shit out old-fashioned toys, save the store, and save Christmas in general. I actually enjoyed this one and would totally watch it again.  (Hallmark)

6. A Holiday Heist: I’ve left this as the last of the made-for-TV movies because this was absolutely terrible. It made Christmas Song seem normal. A group of college students spend their Christmas break working in a school’s fine art gallery. They are a hodge-podge of character types so at times it’s sort of a B-movie Breakfast Club set. When the students decide to have Christmas dinner at the gallery (food and drink near the art?????) they get locked in. As it happens, the dumbest, most incompetent, stupid burglars break in to steal some art. Lacey Chabert stars as one of the students. It’s terrible. (ION)

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And now for some classic movies I’ve recently watched.

1. Bundle of Joy:   (1956) This movie stars Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Reynolds is an employee of a department store who finds an abandoned baby. Though she denies being the child’s mother, everyone else (family services, her employer, etc) assume she is. The movie is a musical, but it really feels like the musical numbers were just vehicles for the studio to showcase Fisher. He’s got most of the songs, and he’s looking directly into the camera for many of them. I couldn’t finish watching this one.

2. All Mine to Give: (1957) I caught this one yesterday. At first, I thought it was going to be a heartwarming pioneer family movie, but no. Not. At. All. Instead I was crazy depressed after watching it. This movie is about a pioneer family in Wisconsin. Both parents die, and the oldest boy (who can’t be older than 12 or 13) works to find homes for his five siblings in time for Christmas. It was bleak and depressing and very sad. Worst of all, I think it’s based on a true story. *sniffle*

3.  The Man Who Came to Dinner:  (1942) I love this movie and that’s why I’ve saved it for last. I haven’t seen it in a few years, but every time I watch it, I’m delighted by the insanely good writing and Monty Woolley’s performance.  Based on a stage production of the same name, this cinematic gem is the story of a famous radio personality named Sheridan Whiteside who is invited to dinner at a home in a small Ohio town. He slips on the icy front steps and becomes a most unwelcome houseguest of the Stanley family. Starring Billie Burke, Bette Davis, Jimmy Durante and the amazing Monty Woolley as Whiteside, this is a definite favorite. I caught this yesterday too.

Anyways, that’s all for today. I’ll be back later this week for a review of the worst Christmas disaster movie ever and hopefully something else too. Happy Christmas!

Don’t Panic

I’m back, and in celebration of the possible end o’ the world, I thought I would do another one of my annoying lists to mark the occasion.  But first, let’s look at December 21 (or 22nd depending on where you get your info). It’s also the Winter Solstice. Kim Harrison’s groovy Hollows books have characters that celebrate it. Lots of real folks do too. I plan to decorate my tiny gingerbread village if the planet is still intact ,and we still have a breathable atmosphere. Plans are good.

So anyways, apparently per the ancient Mayan calendar, tomorrow is the last. day. ever. It had to end sometime, I suppose. Or maybe it won’t. I always wondered if maybe it’s just the last day ever for Mayans. Who knows? Certainly not I.

Enough rambling musings. On with the list of best end o’ the world movies and/or scenes!!!! [Insert crazy Kermit dance here]

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy    I may have celebrated a love fest for this movie before. I can’t remember. Anyways, the Vogon Destructor Fleet moves in and in a span of seconds, BOOM goes the planet. And that’s just the beginning. Has anyone checked to see if the dolphins are still around?

2. Sunshine  Only about 45 seconds of this movie take place on Earth. The rest is up on space where a crew of scientists and astronauts are on a mission to recharge a dying sun. The world-ender in this one is that the sun is almost extinguished (I guess you would call it that) and the earth has become a rather chilly place to live. It’s a pretty intense movie, but I like them that way. Danny Boyle directed this one, and it’s pretty cool.

3. Twelve Monkeys  This Terry Gilliam-directed flick is one folks either love or hate. Basically, Bruce Willis is sent into the past from his post-apocalyptic future to collect information and possible evidence regarding a virus that all but ended human life on the planet. The movie is a little trippy but it wouldn’t be a Gilliam film otherwise.

4. The original ending of Army of DarknessStuck in mediaeval times, Ash drinks the potion and is supposed to wake up in his own time. Instead, he oversleeps and wakes to find a destroyed world. It would be a depressing ending if it wasn’t so funny.

5. Children of Men   In the not too distant future… People have not been able to successfully procreate for some time now, and the human race is aging and dying out. Another intense movie. It was really good.

And last, but not least…

7. It’s a tie between two episodes of Doctor Who. Yes, I know it’s not a movie, but it’s relevant. The first episode is appropriately titled “The End of the World.” The Ninth Doctor takes companion Rose Tyler five billion years into the future. From the safety of an orbiting space station, they play to watch the sun’s expansion wipe out an abandoned Earth. I However, this being Doctor Who, nothing goes as planned.  The other episode is called “Doomsday.” In this one, the Daleks and Cybermen are on the attack. it’s up to Rose and the Tenth Doctor to prevent world extermination. It’s probably my favorite DW episode, and it’s also one that makes me cry–oh how I cried the first time I saw it. 

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There are so many other movies or TV episodes I could list. I’ve left off 28 Days Later, for example. There’s also The Pink Panther Strikes Again in which a crazy Chief Inspector Dreyfuss invents a death ray and threatens to destroy England unless someone kills Clousseau. I could also have mentioned Independence Day but I really didn’t want to, so that’s all you are getting.

Anyways, tomorrow will be here in a few short hours. I assume we’ll be here a number of hours, days, weeks, months, years, eons afterwards too. But you never can tell…

Fa-la-la-la-laaaa-la-la-la-meh

Ah the holidays…Some folks love this time of year—other’s not so much. I’m middle of the road. I love the lights, and the music (with the exception of “Little Drummer Boy” and “Wonderful Christmastime”), and the baking and the smell of fresh-cut trees, etc. And whereas I love all that stuff and more, I despise the fact that everyone forgets how to drive suddenly and how bad traffic gets around this time of year, or how manners seem to be a thing of the past. I hate the commercialism of things. Give me a Charlie Brown tree, please. All it needs is love!

I’ve explained in an earlier post that one of my guilty pleasures is the viewing of cheesy holiday movies on Hallmark, ABC Family, or Lifetime. Like with Christmas, I have a love/hate relationship with these too.  The movie I’ve chosen to review this week is not the best, but it’s very far from the worst of what I’ve seen thus far.

Now, if you want crazy cheesy, see Annie Clause is Coming to Town in which Santa’s daughter goes to Los Angeles on a sort of Rumsringa or The Christmas Secret in which Richard Thomas (aka John Boy Walton) finds himself in the North Pole and is sort of held captive by Beau Bridges who looks less like Santa and more like Jerry Garcia. In that movie, John Boy is a nation’s leading expert on flying squirrels and treks to the North Pole in hopes to find evidence of flying reindeer. I remember I made a lot of “moose and squirrel” references while watching this one. And while I wish I had reviewed this movie for you, I didn’t have my computer or any pen/paper handy and could only just laugh at the movie whilst watching. Snarl!!!

Okay, so those are what I didn’t get to review for you. What you are getting instead is a full dose of saccharine goodness with the aftertaste of disappointment. The movie is: Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle. 

This made-for-television flick is based on a book which I have not read. I have no idea how faithful the adaptation was to the book if at all. Anyways, this Christmas delight is basically the tale of two lonely souls who haul their emotional baggage around like Jacob Marley does his afterlife chains. Their baggage hauling is interrupted by magical matchmaker (and sometimes housekeeper) Mrs. Miracle played by Doris Roberts from Everybody Loves Raymond fame. Let me elaborate a little more.

James Van Der Beek plays Seth Webster. Seth is a widower who has two adorable, unruly little boys. We don’t know much or actually anything about the mom. All her pictures are gone. Seth doesn’t talk about her, and he’s kind of manic about no one else bringing her up either. My initial thoughts were these: Did he kill her? My god, he killed her. Or maybe she killed herself. Or maybe she left the family and somehow got killed. Or left the family and then killed herself. Left the family, was about to off herself when Beek did the work for her. Hmmm….I’ll keep investigating. or I’ll just watch the movie.

Anyways, Seth has a problem that the Banks’ did in Mary Poppins. He seems unable to keep a nanny in his employ for very long. The kids seem to make it their mission to run the unfortunate ladies off. Katie Nana after Katie Nana quits without notice time and time again.

Our other lonely baggage hauler goes by the name of Reba Maxwell (played by Erin Karpluk) She is busy, busy, busy running the Way To Go Travel Agency. She’s so busy that she almost misses lunch with her mother. Mom spends the entire lunch asking Reba to have Christmas with the family and her sister who we learn wronged Reba back in the day.  The mother is upset by this, but keeps pushing Reba on it. I don’t like pushy people, so I’m kind of annoyed at her mom. Apparently this tactic isn’t working in your favor. Rethink your approach, lady.

So anyways, let me connect these two lonely souls. Seth’s kids go to school (as kids do) and are taking part in the Christmas play. The boys’ teacher is friends with Reba. It turns out that Reba has a background in theatre, and it just so happens that the school’s theatre director has done herself an injury at the last rehearsal. Reba has been asked to fill in. Everyone connecting the dots? Good. Moving on.

So, Seth is once again nanny-less. He’s trying to make a business call, cook dinner, and sort of discipline the boys all at the same time. It’s not working. Note: The boys fought over milk of all things and spilled it everywhere. Who fights over milk? Seriously.  Right, so Seth sends the boys to play outside (that’ll teach them not to fight!) while he cleans up. Enter Mrs. Miracle (who calls herself Mrs. “Merckle”). She’s ambling up the driveway when the boys see her. They hide and when she’s close enough, they fling snowballs at her—which she totally catches! This is how we know she’s got their number.

So yeah. Mrs. Miracle tells Seth she’s from “the agency” and he totally lets her into his home to watch his children. No call to the agency or anything to check on that. Whatever. She’s brought edible food with her. She’s perfect for this job, really.

From this point on, it’s just a matter of getting these lonely peoples to meet. Mrs. Miracle magically maneuvers a shopping cart to divert Seth’s attention to the travel agency. She also at one point has Reba chase an ornament all over the rehearsal hall. I have no idea what the point was there, but mission accomplished.

When Seth and Reba do meet for the first time, it is cute. He walks into rehearsal, trips and knocks over a table of decorations. Smooth. Whatever. It’s only a matter of time before he’s semi-stalking Reba at her workplace, and then they go on a date or two. Mrs. Miracle also gets sneaky with the special dinners for two she leaves them or the sudden plans to take the boys out leaving our leads to have time to themselves. She even gets Seth to volunteer to help at rehearsals. She’s hell-bent on getting these two together! And by Christmas!

If you don’t know the drill already, the point of these holiday romance movies is to get our characters to meet, fall in love, and sort of be in a committed relationship by Christmas. It doesn’t matter if it’s month or one day before December 25th. That’s the rule of this type of movie. So since that’s noticed, may I say that by date three or four (probably that week) our leads are more or less in that locked in phase. There’s just one problem.

Neither is willing to discuss the horrible emotional baggage each brings along everywhere. At first I was okay with this since they hardly know each other, but as the movie went on, it just seemed futile. Seth has some dark cloud of doom over his wife’s passing. [Yes, it turns our she just died. No dramatic soap opera thing, and no murderous husband or anything. I totally forgot that this was a Hallmark movie—not Lifetime. Silly me!] Meanwhile, Reba won’t get past the whole “my sister done me wrong” issue she’s got going on.

It takes literally almost the entire movie to get these two characters to fess up and get over their issues. I’m so glad they were able to get that out-of-the-way. Meanwhile, the rest of us who watched them dance around their problems got kind of bored, left the room to make some coffee, emptied the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, and then returned with a fresh mug of hot coffee to see if any progress had been made.

I have to say that while I appreciate some semi-realistic family drama situations, the constancy of the ones in Mrs. Miracle totally killed the mood. Mrs. Miracle probably should have worked on that if she knew that any mention of Seth’s wife or Reba’s sister would halt any feel-good fuzzies the movie was tossing my way.

Even those cute kids with their cute Christmas pageant costumes (Mrs. M. makes the boys swords to go with their angel robes. Hee hee) couldn’t save this movie from it’s depressing slumps. I know it could be worse. The whole thing could have just been a feel-good-a-thon. Instead, it felt like there was a nice dark cloud hovering over the entire movie.

Anyways, that’s why I chose this one. It was sappy in places, cute in places, and then just depressing. To her credit, Doris Roberts was great in this. Even when she pulls another Mary Poppins on the boys when its time to go, she had me almost (ALMOST) tearing up a little bit. She looked very cut up about leaving and even shed a few tears as she said goodbye to the boys

She definitely wasn’t this emotional in Call Me Mrs. Miracle in which she saves a department store from closing, helps matchmake a couple, and fix a broken family (all by Christmas!). That movie, I have to say, is the superior of the two.

So…not the best example to use, but it’s the one I had. I don’t make the movies, kids. I just watch them.

Note: I hope to have at least one more cheesy holiday-themed review for you this month and then I think I’ll end the year with an ever-festive doomsday weather flick. Again, if you have any suggestions, please send them my way. Just no more Mrs. Miracle flicks please. I’ve had my fill.