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!
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.
Halloween’s body isn’t even cold yet, but that hasn’t stopped the retailers and networks from reminding you that December 25 is practically upon us. In fact, why not start celebrating now? Poor Mr. Turkey. He never gets his moment to shine.
I had half hoped that last year’s cheesy holiday movie addiction was a temporary thing. I thought my short-lived summer holiday movie relapse was perhaps a wee setback. Nope. All it took was a Hallmark Channel announcement of marathon movies to get my inner elf leaping and fa-la-la-ing away. I won’t decorate until after the turkey is in my belly and the crazy people go shopping. I won’t put Christmas with the Rat Pack into heavy music rotation until December. But movies?
Movie are fair game, and I’m going to watch them all!!! Mwa-hahahahahahaha….. I’ve already made a significant dent. Here’s a few to watch and/or avoid. Or you can be like me and just watch them all.
Once Upon a Christmas: Kathy Ireland shows off her KMart collection whilst playing Santa’s “nice” daughter Kristin. Kristin goes to the mortal world to save one family from being on the naughty list. In doing so, she falls in love, saves said family and also saves Christmas from being ruined by her naughty sister, Rudolpha. This was followed-up by Twice Upon a Christmas which unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch as I had to run errands. I’ll be sure to catch it again. From what I gleaned from the first few minutes, Kristin has lost her memory. Suspense!!!! [Honestly, Once was a ridiculous waste of my time. If you want silly, go for this movie. Otherwise, avoid.]
All I Want for Christmas: Gail O’Grady (why isn’t she in more things??) plays a widowed mother whose well-meaning son enters and wins a toy contest for Chistmas. What does he tell the contest sponsors he wants this year? Answer: a husband for his mom. Yeah. While all the bigwigs and tv folks play The Bachelor with Ms. O’Grady, love turns out to be closer to home. Maybe even next door. [Predictable? Of course! Sappy? Si. Kind of sweet and worth watching at least once? Go for it.]
Snow Bride: This movie premiered this past Saturday night. A tabloid reporter chases down the story of a possible engagement for some politician’s son and through a series of mistaken identities and spontaneous traditional family/town events, oh you know the drill…. [The whole “snow bride” part of the story was a stretch and really silly. However, despite the cheese, I kept watching. I had to see it through. Yes the sap flowed, but Patricia Richardson from Home Improvement was in this as well as the most wonderful Tom Lenk (sporting a rather perplexing yet fetching stache). The heartwarming and humor far outweighed the cheese and sap. Therefore, this one goes on the approved to view list.]
More to come folks….more to come. Consider yourselves warned.
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?
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.
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.