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Baby, it’s warm outside

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!

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Seasonal Mirth

Summer is here and I’m in a funk. Instead of hanging out at the local movie theater to see the latest and greatest (and I do plan to do that. I did see the new Star Trek movie, and I highly endorse it)…and instead of grilling all manner of meat and veg whilst enjoying a cold beer or two…

Confession time. I’ve been doing something else. I’ve been secretly watching cheesy Christmas movies again. It’s not even that time of year!! I’m so embarrassed. 

Last week I watched A Christmas Kiss in which a girl and a guy in a falling elevator (it rights itself, don’t worry) kiss and then while she later recognizes him, he does not reciprocate. This is mainly due to the fact that her makeup artist roommate had painted her face all up prior to the drama. Mystery elevator man turns out to be a wealthy philanthropist (aren’t they all?) who is planning the annual charity event for his family’s um…charity. Our girl is an interior decorator who works for an evil harpy who happens to be dating mystery elevator man. Is he with the right woman? Will the charity event be as Christmasy as it can be? [Side note: This movie was sooooo cheesy and sugary. Acting was pretty crummy in places and the story was predictable. I watched every second.]

The other movie I recently watched was Christmas in Boston starring Marla Sokoloff who you might remember from Full House but most likely from The Practice. Sokoloff plays a newspaper reporter who is covering a local toy expo. The thing is…her long time pen pal whom she’s never met is also at the expo. They decide to finally meet up. The other thing is…both Sokoloff and her pen pal have exchanged pictures not of themselves but of their respective besties. What does one do in a TV movie? One asks loyal friend to pretend to be him/her and meet the other person. Confused yet? I was just a little. But it’s really cute and festive in all its seasonal mirth. Yes, I saw that I used that phrase and you know what? I’m keeping it. Seasonal mirth, I’ll say it again.

And so what if I watched the end of a movie (never caught the title) where two orphan children were given some Christmas happiness and found a new home and family? So what if I cried a little bit?  It’s all good!

I actually have a couple more holiday-themed movies lined up to watch whenever I find a couple of hours to kill. I think Hulu might have Charlie Brown and Rudolph all year. I can watch those too!!! I’m a little bit worried. I might need help.

Tis the Season (Already?!)

We are barely into November. Barely. Single digits. I haven’t even put away my Halloween decorations yet. But that doesn’t matter. According to television and all retail businesses, it’s Christmas or whatever one chooses to celebrate this time of year. I’m going to incorporate the Solstice this year, I think.

That Thanksgiving thing must be like a practice run for the holidays or something. That’s my new theory.  It can’t even get its own proper Hallmark Channel movie. The one that aired this past Sunday night was called Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade. With that title, you would think “it’s a Thanksgiving movie! Finally!” Not so fast! The promo image used for this television special shows our heroine smiling lovingly at a man in a Santa suit. Christmas strikes again!!

If holidays were represented by the characters and situations of the film…oh for example, Office Space, I think Thanksgiving would be like Milton. I’m not saying Christmas is Bill Lumbergh or anything. I love the holidays. I’m just saying that Christmas Lumbergh seems to be ever to gradually, shifting Milton Thanksgiving out-of-the-way. Just a thought.

I also have a confession for you. One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to watch as many cheesy, sappy Hallmark and ABC Family movies as I can. I’m not proud of it, but it’s so much fun to predict the predictable plots and to sometimes tear up at a heartwarming scene. It does happen.

It happened this Sunday.  Again, it’s barely November, and I have sat through two Hallmark movies already. The first one was really good. It was A Season for Miracles starring Carla Gugino and David Conrad. Carla plays a down on her luck lady who is caring for her druggie sister’s two kids. She’s sort of on the run from child services who want to take the kids into foster care. Carla’s character wants to keep the family together and hides out in one of those television movie small towns where there’s only one cop and everyone knows everyone. I so want to live in one of those towns. Everyone seems to live in giant houses, no one requires payment for anything, and everyone’s so nice. I might have cried a little at the end.

The other movie I watched was called Christmas Song. This was the other end of the spectrum for holiday movies. This one was not so much about the spirit of goodness and helping one another than it was about singing some songs and getting the two competing music teachers to fall in love. Natasha Henstridge and Gabe Hogan star as the teachers who come from two private schools that recently merged. Guess what? There’s only room for one music program, and the crummy principal informs them that whomever has the winning team for the holiday singing competition, gets to keep their job. I feel like that’s a horrible way to decide who get to keep their employment. This movie was fun to watch mainly on the grounds that it was so predictable. I watched this one with my mother, and we had a great time theorizing which way the plot might go.

So yeah. I’ve already got two holiday movies under my belt. It’s like an infection, this holiday spirit. I really try to not involve myself too much until after Turkey Day. My tree, for example, won’t go up until December 1. But in the meantime, I’ve got a fir-scented votive candle already burning.

Ugh!!!! I can’t believe I’m ready for cookie baking and angel tree shopping and the music! I was in a Kohls earlier, and they already had the festive tunes on high rotation.

I’m going to do my best to keep the festiveness running in the background for now. I’ll just consider the two movies I’ve already seen as appetizers to the big main course that’s inevitably on its way to a television near all of us. I’ll be more than ready by then, and plan to toss a few reviews this way.

Next week, I’ll delve into my thoughts on the George Lucas Star Wars issue. I’ve had to let that stew a bit in order to fully discuss it. That’s mainly because I was practically in tears for about an hour after I heard the news. But that’s for next week.

Until next time, my little elves!

Someone Call the Fashion Police

Sometimes a girl just needs to relax. She needs to paint her toenails, eat some chocolate, and turn the thinking side of her brain down a couple notches. Yours truly finds that a good non-thinker chick flick usually does the trick. The chick-flick usually involves your average girl next door in her journey to finding herself and Mr. Right. There are the requisite best friends, Mr. Wrong, and (and this is the most important part) extended montages involving shopping, makeup/hair styling, dancing, and/or trying on clothes.

Now, not all chick flicks are bubblegum and high-heeled shoes. Some fall towards the weepy category. Others star Meg Ryan. There are exceptions, of course, and I do have a few selections from the genre on my shelf. But lately the chick flick has felt more and more formulaic.  But hey! I said I was turning down the thinking side of my noggin. And you should too, because if you don’t, a small but mean headache will occur. You’ve been warned. This week’s movie is: Crimes of Fashion.

Crimes of Fashion was one of those Family Channel (Fox Family Channel? ABC Family?) movies. I’ll tell you what. That channel cranks out movie after movie of mediocre plots and yet I find myself watching them all the time. Christmas is a terrible time to tune in as they must churn out about ten new movies a year just for that one season. It’s like they have a little movie sweatshop in operation.

Okay, back to Crimes of Fashion.  The premise of this gem is that a girl named Brooke (Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco) attends the prestigious Fashion University (I do not make this up) and learns that she’s inherited a mafia family after the death of her long-lost grandfather. Yep….that’s it. I half wonder if someone thought up the title first and then came up with the plot.

Brooke doesn’t look like your average fashion school chick. While most of the students are walking around in crazy outfits,Brooke wears sweats and looks like she might have worn them the day before as well. Brooke’s fashion sense is promising, but she lacks the confidence that we all know is there somewhere.

Megan Fox’s character, Candace, is your run of the mill mega-bitch. She dates the popular guy, and takes every chance to one-up or insult Brooke. She wears her own designs every day. There really isn’t much work for Fox to do in this movie other than sneer and look evil.

Anyways, while on her way to Wedding Dress class, Brooke meets some older man who explains that he worked for her grandfather (of whom she didn’t know existed). She’s understandably upset, and a little freaked out when the old guy (named George) tells her that her grandfather wanted her to go in to the family business. *snort*

George explains that her grandfather wanted to take the business straight, but that he wasn’t able to finish the job. This is where Brooke comes in. Yeah….ok. As crazy as it sounds, Brooke takes him up on the offer. She still goes to class, but she also goes to the mob boss HQ (which I guess is hers?) and meets the boys.

George takes Brooke through a series of confidence training in showing who is in charge and such. Brooke, in turn, gives makeovers to the mob boys. There’s even a fun shopping/makeover montage. Yay!!!

But wait, there’s more! Since the death of Brooke’s grandpappy, the FBI has been on the lookout. They aren’t sure who will take over the business, and there’s also a rival family in town who is looking to take over.

A young FBI agent (named Jack) is assigned to keep an eye on Brooke since she’s the newest player in the criminal underworld. This means that Jack has to enroll at FU (hahahaha). Hilarity ensues since Jack is the worst fed ever. He’s very much like Barney Fife. In one scene he’s holding a giant magnifying glass and is struggling to thread a needle. It’s hopeless.

There are some funny things here at Fashion U. In one class, the professor is explaining pinning material and she’s doing this with like 100 pins in her mouth. She’s about at articulate as Charlie Brown’s teacher. Jack stumbles into class and he and Brooke hit it off right away. They supposed to be fitting partners, but Brooke’s crush (who wears a different colored page-boy hat every day–I call him Pretty Boy Fashion Star) calls her his honeysuckle and asks her to partner up. I think he does it cause she’s smart and not because he likes her. He’s very vapid. There’s one thing about the ABC Family movies—the characters are very one-dimensional, and so you don’t have to use too many brain cells with these. Nice.

My favorite thing is that the whole Fashion University acts like it’s a regular university. There’s a mascot who runs around looking like a spool of thread with a needle in it. He’s in almost every scene at the school.  There’s also an annual Sewing Rally in which students showcase their designs and compete in the Tri-State Sew-Off. Seriously, that’s what it says on the banner. Professors are dressed like refs and one lady says “you call that a pleat?!!” Tee hee.

So word gets out that Brooke might have family connections, and it’s insane. Candace tries to get her expelled (and fails), the press follow Brooke everywhere, and the professors are all flustered. One professor who was criticizing Brooke’s sweatsuit ensemble stumbles all over himself for fear of getting whacked. It kind of reminded me of a scene from The Freshman only  not.

Anyhoo, so there are lots of goings ons in this other than Brooke being a mob boss. Brooke and Jack get very sweet as one would predict since he’s the only other guy in the movie besides Pretty Boy Fashion Star. Evil Candace might be using someone else’s designs as her own. The dean of FU might be embezzling funds. Sal, the other mob boss in town might be after Brooke’s territory. And the future of Fashion University might be in peril!!!! So what does a newly made mafia queen do to save her school? She puts on a fashion show, of course!

It’s fashion night!  Brooke is showcasing her designs. Very nice, but at the same time, wouldn’t it be nice to let the other students pitch in and submit their designs too? No? Okay.  The show is gangster themed. How appropriate! Actually, some of the ladies’ suits are really nice. I’d wear them. I don’t know where I’d wear them, but I would totally do so should such an occasion present itself.

And finally, after all the loose ends are tied up, our movie abruptly ends. Not the scene I described above, but it might as well have been. There are like several scenes after that and then a rush cut to the credits. No fade out, no pull back from the shot, no nothing. Just the lights turned back on and everyone is asked to leave the theater. What’s that about?

So, as I’ve demonstrated, Crimes of Fashion is top-notch on the no-brainer scale of chick flicks (and movies in general). The plot is predictable, the characters are easy to figure out, and the good guys always come out on top. It was a fun movie, actually.  As per usual with any chick flick, the movie can get a little bit heartwarming. Somewhere deep, deep down below where the Balrog sleeps, I might have shed a tear. Whatever. I now have cute, pink toenails and a tummy full of chocolate. I also feel the urge to go shopping. Hmm….