Monthly Archives: December 2013
Dear makers of cheesy holiday films:
I’ve watched a lot of your made-for-tv films this season. Something has been bothering me. It’s not the acting or the totally predictable plotlines. It’s not the constant reuse of plot devices such as “small town saves itself from ruin” or “troubled family comes together” or even “rivals fall in love.” Nope. This is the issue that’s been getting under my skin of late:
Green grass on the ground! Green leaves in the trees! Leaves in the trees at all, actually!
I know these films are probably shot during the summer months, but come on! This is not Edward Scissorhands! I felt the need to bring this to your attention after watching the cheerful and very corny All She Wants for Christmas. I won’t go into the plot other than to say it uses the “small town comes together” story route.
The film takes place in Forest City, USA. We are never told the actual state but there are references made to Pigeon Forge, TN and to Athens, GA, so I’m going to assume somewhere in the South. No one has a southern accent, though. Being from the South myself, I appreciate it when folks just don’t try to mimic one. I’m sure my colleagues in the North and from across the pond have the same appreciation about portrayals of their dialects as well.
Anyways, the setting is between late November and Christmas day. The grass in this movie is really green. The trees are full and leafy. BUT…people are wearing coats and hats and the like. I know it’s a little warmer in these here parts, but if I look out my window I can see that the grass is brown and all of our deciduous trees are fairly naked.
At one point in the movie, the lead female character actually mentions that it just doesn’t even snow there anymore. By the end of the movie, it’s snowing on that nice June-looking set. It looks so wrong. Did your fellow filmmakers insert that line about no snow as a way to point out the elephant in the room? I wonder…
Anyways, that’s my new beef with these films. Usually the springtime surroundings aren’t quite so noticeable, but in All She Wants…it’s just there. That’s my rant to you for today. Future-going, maybe you should film in a different month or least try to shoot away from pretty parks and trees.
Your devoted viewer, Andrea.
PS: Happy Winter Solstice!
I went to the movies last night to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I must say that I greatly enjoyed this installment more than I did its predecessor, An Unexpected Journey. I’m not sure if it’s because we were knee-deep in plotline or because my favorite character, Smaug, was finally around (wonderfully voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Regardless, I had a great time watching this film. The spiders were a problem. I hate them and an only take comfort in the fact that at least I didn’t see the movie in 3D where the spiders would have been too close for comfort.
My main beef with the film was that every time Orlando Bloom was on the screen, I would be pulled out of the movie spell. Have you ever seen The First Wives Club? There’s a scene when Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn are all having drinks after the funeral of a mutual friend. Midler keeps staring at Hawn and finally asks her how much plastic surgery she’s actually had. I felt that way with Bloom in the movie. I kept mentally picking apart everything that didn’t look right with him as Legolas.
I know it’s been 10 years since The Return of the King. However, it looks like they used come computer technology to either de-age him, or redo his face somehow. His face seems much more filled out that normal. And his eyes…. Legolas had some kind of crazy, cloudy eyes going on. These were clearly not the same types of lenses they used in Lord of the Rings. In the LotR films, his eyes are way darker. Or maybe his pupils are just way dilated. In this movie, he had like crazy Underworld vampire eyes going on. It took so much away, that I couldn’t pay much attention to any of his scenes. Pity…
While we are on the subject of Legolas, why was he in the movie in the first place? WHY did Peter Jackson pull a George Lucas and start tinkering with the story? Adding the elf storyline (and original character of Tauriel–who was pretty cool, btw) felt like a disservice to the original text. Whatever. I’ve voiced my opinion. I still enjoyed the movie.
On a side note that is completely and wholly unrelated:
Bulletproof Monk is on the television right now. It’s not that great of a movie. This was Chow Yun-fat’s follow-up to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Seann William Scott was in the middle of his American Pie bro movie era. He might still be in that era. I’m not sure. I like him and feel he could do more. We’ll see. What makes Bulletproof Monk a noticeable movie to me is that it features a character with the delightful name of Mister Funktastic. The character is some East End street thug who remains shirtless so all can admire his chest tattoo which says…..wait for it…. “MisterFunktastic.” He’s a pointless character, yet the name is so ridiculous that I always stop to watch this movie just to catch his few scenes.
Among the plethora of holiday movies there is a vast collection of animated specials. These, like the movies, range in quality from most festive (i.e. A Charlie Brown Christmas) to most horrible. I think I’ve found the worst of the bunch to date. May I please warn you against 1996’s animated special, The Story of Santa Claus.
Featuring the voices of Ed Asner, Betty White, and Tim Curry, this feature tells the origin story of how a poor but generous toymaker became everyone’s favorite gift-giver. I’m sure the writers had an innocent and sweet story all planned out. I’m totally positive that was their intention! But as I was made myself watch this program, I couldn’t help but use my Grinchy skills to remove all the joy and pick everything apart. Allow me to explain:
When Santa and the Mrs. accidentally arrive at the North Pole (there was a storm) they save the life of a precocious elf boy. In doing so Santa is granted his fondest wish. He wishes to be able to deliver a toy to each child on Earth every Christmas. Because the elves are magically bound to granting this wish, they put themselves into a position of indentured servitude to the Clauses. This results in the following:
- The adult elves don’t help out. So Santa enlists help from the children to gather materials and actually build the workshop and later the toys. This introduces unpaid child labor and deforestation (oh and animal labor) to the North Pole.
- The elf children (aside from the 2 main kids) might be on something. They all have big, beady black eyes.
- Does Santa ever build any toys or pitch in on his workshop? He um…designs it. Might as well give the man a Hardees cup so he can stand around and supervise. Because that’s all I see him do. The elves do the rest of the work.
- Santa spent his youth growing up in an orphanage. It’s one of his stops on Christmas Eve which is really quite sweet. I don’t think this is an orphanage you’d want any children to stay in. Who puts an orphanage out on a lonely island? It looks more like a prison. Kind of bleak for a children’s special.
And maybe I’m just being over picky, but I could not stop finding problems with the special. There’s a little kid in Santa’s town (pre-North Pole) who has a head wound. He looks like he could use a meal and some medical attention. He looks this way the whole special. This is never addressed.
I just didn’t like it. If I’m watching a holiday special (especially an animated one) I want to watch something fun. It’s for the kids! Let’s just watch Rudolph or better yet, The Snowman.