I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Release: November 13, 1998 homeforchristmas

Wow! For my second trip down the holiday memory lane, I sat down for I’ll Be Home For Christmas. This flick was made at the peak of the popularity of Home Improvement. The show that launched the career of young Jonathan Taylor Thomas; the star of this little Christmas bag of sleazy-feel-good.

I sat down with an open mind, and got up after with the same: a gaping hole where my brian used to be.

This flick hit theaters when I was but a little lad of 10. I really idolized JTT because he was a kid who was famous. And could only make good films like WIld America. I was such a stupid child.

Directed by Arlene Sanford, who also unleashed A Very Brady Sequel onto humanity as well as a slew of TV episodes; I’ll Be Home For Christmas also stars the lovely, pre-Timberlake Jessica Biel and Gary Cole.

The film starts off with with Jake (Thomas) a young crafty college student with all the right answers, asking his lady-friend (Biel) to join him on a trip down south (not a double-entendre) only to be shot down because she wants to spend time with her family in New-York. Coincidentally, this is where young Jake is from too.

Always avoiding a trip home since his father (cole) remarried, Jake changes his tune when daddy offers his beloved 1957 Porche as a bribe to get Jake to come home for Christmas dinner. The catch? He has to be home by 6pm sharp!

Unfortunately for Jake, he runs into trouble with former “clients” when one of his schemes goes awry. He’s then got to get home, save his relationship and win a car all the while wearing a Santa costume and no money to boot. He’s gotta do all that and learn the true meaning of Christmas.

Heart warming? Nope.

Like many things from my childhood, this should have stayed buried in the back of my closet until they found me in the desert somewhere down south with a Santa costume and a bottle of Jack!

What Worked For This Film:

– The pacing. This film chugs right along like the little engine that could. I never really felt like this film was too long in length.

– The dialog and humour. This is actually what I miss most about comedies from the 90’s. Nothing was too over the top. Yes, the acting sucked. But I could sit back and actually believe this scenario.

What Didn’t Work For This Film:

– The Acting. There’s a reason The Hallmark Channel now airs this.

– The lack of a true B-plot. Yes Jake’s main want is the car and his need is to learn about the true meaning of Christmas and accepting his father’s new wife, but they could have played more into Biel’s character’s doubt in Jake as a boyfriend. She was just too flat of a character to have been given so much camera time.

– The moral. Yeah Jake finally realizes that he should be going home during the holiday break to see his family and not to win a car. But It really does feel like he just clicked into that mentality once he finally did make it to New York. The whole trip there he didn’t really look like he was evolving at all.

The Lowdown:

I said it before and I’ll repeat it for good measure: There’s a reason this plays on The Hallmark Channel now. This movie is kinda boring. I believe it was intended to attract a younger audience than the general “family film” but in it’s delivery I can’t really find a suitable audience for this film to enjoy. Maybe spider monkeys. They’ll watch anything with JTT in it.

So when searching through your vast holiday film collection to curl up next to the fire while watching; you can just skip right on over it to another Christmas film starring a Home Improvement alumni: Christmas With The Kranks! … Or maybe not.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas gets THE TOILET.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Release: December 11, 1992 christmascarol

I have made the commitment to look back at past Christmases and my childhood to revisit some fun holiday films. I plan on reviewing a different holiday flick every week until the jolly fat-man comes barreling down our chimneys.

Seeing as Jason Segel just brought back my favorite ragtag gang of felt to the world; I feel it fitting that the first film to be watched is The Muppet Christmas Carol!

This was the first Muppets film after the death of their creator Jim Hensen in 1990 with his son Brian taking the helm of the ship.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The story follows Ebenezer Scrooge, (Michael Caine) a man who’s about all work and no play or heart. On the eve of Christmas he gets a visit from his deceased partners Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler & Waldorf) who foretell of three ghosts that will visit Scrooge in the night to show him the error of his ways and his possible future. All the while, we get treated to narration and commentary by The Great Gonzo and Rizzo The Rat.

To say that this was a “nostalgiagasm” would be an understatement.

WHAT WORKED:

– Michael Caine. The guy always brings his A-Game. The scenes where we’d have close ups on his face make me believe he’s a Timelord like Doctor Who or Sean Connery. Caine hasn’t aged too badly.

His delivery and acting weren’t too exaggerated like some actors around The Muppets. That’s right I’m talking to you David Arquette.

– The Great Gonzo and Rizzo The Rat. Adding two visual narrators was a great idea on the part of Brian Hensen (director) and Jerry Juhl (writer). They broke the story up well and added much to the comedy aspects of “Muppet-vision” of A Christmas Carol.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The Songs. Yes, as always The Muppets had some good music and well short musical sequences but nothing stood out for me. There are many Muppets songs I can still recall from my childhood, but none from this film. In fact I watched this last night and can’t remember the songs now.

– The lack of my boy Fozzie The Bear. Not enough of him. Unacceptable.

This was a great flick. The nostalgia factor of it alone would make it worth watching again. But the story, acting and overall awesomeness will be the payoff for plopping this into the DVD player during the Christmas season! Because The Muppet Christmas Carole is Verified Awesome.

The Descendants

descendantsThe Descendants is a comedy-drama from Fox Search Light, and is also based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. It stars the ever-fantastic (except Batman & Robin) George Clooney. The Descendants is directed by Alexander Payne who has previously brought us About Schmidt and Sideways.

Once again I’m going to stress that I always separate my feelings on a film from the novel that it is adapted from.

The film follows Matt King (our boy Clooney) as he copes with his dying, comatose wife and troubled family. To top it all off he is also dealing with the sale of his family’s trust of a large piece of Hawaiian land. Over the course of the flick Matt discovers details about his wife’s infidelity.

What Worked For This Film:

– The soundtrack! The descendants boasts musical score from entirely Hawaiian musicians. It’s soft or stressing at all the right moments but doesn’t dictate the films emotion.

– Clooney. This film is just another reason why I think he’s still in the top 10 best leading men. He right for the role of Dad. I could totally see this guy cleaning a pool and making a craptastic lunch.

– The kids. I have to give them props. Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller and Nick Krause keep up in the thespian department with Clooney.

– The writing. Payne, Jim Rash (Yeah, Dean Pelton) and Nat Faxon really opened up a world we all could live in for good and for bad.

What Didn’t Work For This Film:

– I’m seriously still looking.

The Descendants is AWESOME.

DVD Review: UFC Ultimate Knockouts 9

ufc-ultimate-knockouts-9DVD Reviewed by Steven Wilson

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, its time to start looking at the latest releases that can appeal to the MMA fan on your list, and the first of such releases is the latest in the UFC Ultimate Knockouts DVD & Blu Ray series, this installment being Volume 9, hitting shelves on November 8th.

Much like the other releases in this series, the DVD checks in with a 93 minute run time and features the latest in high profile knockouts from UFC battles that took place over the past year.

As the tag line on the DVD`s back cover says, nothing puts an exclamation mark on a fight like a great knockout, especially when your least expecting it. This was the case in Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfot fight from UFC 126, It was the crane kick to the head heard around the world which would later spawn Lyoto Machida`s similar finish on Randy Couture at UFC 129. To say the least I have always been a big fan of the knockout, and honestly regardless of the type of UFC fan you are who doesnt like a good knockout every once in a while?

The release features action from 30+ fights that ended in a Knockout or Technical Knockout. Some fights are show in full, while others are joined in progress shortly before the “big bang” so to speak. These bouts include the afformentioned Anderson Silva/Vitor Belfort fight, as well as the Lyoto Machida/Randy Couture fight, also featured are the heavyweight title bout between Brock Lesnar & Cain Velazquez from UFC 121, the very short Matt Hughes BJ Penn UFC 123 fight, Dan Hardy vs Carlos Condit from UFC 120, Chuck Liddel vs Rich Franklin from UFC 115, and Shogun Rua vs Jon Bones Jones from UFC 128

Extras are slim on this release, limited to only a Total TKO’s featurette. However considering the DVD’s main subject there is little more you can expect out of a 1 disc release such as this one. That being said, UFC producers still try and go all out with another one of their awesomely produced highlights packages.

For the big fans of the KO out there, this series continues to provide exactly what your looking for. It may not be content heavy release, but could always be good for a quick afternoon watch with your fellow UFC fans, and for the UFC fan on your holiday shopping list, its an affordable gift that should be much appreciated.

UFC Ultimate Knockouts 9 will be released on DVD and Blu Ray November 8th via Anchor Bay Entertainment. You can order your copy via quality online retailers such as Amazon for as little as 21.98$ for the DVD version

The Rum Diary

Rum DiariesThe Rum Diary is the latest film starring everyone’s favorite gay pirate: Johnny Depp. Depp plays Paul Kemp, a novelist trying to make some cash as a freelance journalist for a failing paper in Puerto Rico.  It was written and directed by Bruce Robinson, who’s last directing venture was Jennifer Eight with Andy Garcia in 1992. The screen play is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson.

As I do with all flicks based on books, I’m going to ignore the fidelity it has to Thompson’s Novel. (Which is badass so you should read it anyways.)

The movie starts with a scene of  a hangover morning in what I swear could have been a reality Show on Depp’s life. It’s exactly how I’d be if I were Depp. F–ked up in a random hotel room craving eggs with blood vessels busted in my eyes.

This flick follows the misadventures of Paul Kemp while in Puerto Rico. It really feels as if this script was written while Robinson was really high on five different psychedelic drugs. Theres constant change in direction. Unlike Napoleon Dynamite, there is reason for the conflict but shares the same lack for true resolve.

What worked for this film:
– The dialog between Depp and paper photog, Sala (Michael Rispoli). I could have watched a three-hour film with just a mid shot on these two talking.
– Kemp’s love interest: Chenault. Need we say more?

What didn’t work for this film:
– Giovanni Ribisi. Moburg as a character was too eclectic and animated for what I felt to be a “realistic” film.
– The drug trip scene with the CGI. Really guys?
– The lack of resolve during the film.
– The camera work. I don’t know. For me a film should have a constant style. This just kept changing. Not to mention a very “up-chuck” inducing walking beach scene.
– The erratic mess of direction. Was this a buddy-stoner/drunk film? Because I know another movie where 2 idiots have a small baby blue car that goes missing. And that one had more boobs!

This film gets the toilet!

Paranormal Activity 3

PA3It’s always smart to be weary of any horror film’s second sequel. With all the Saws and whatnot. However, Paranormal Activity 3 stands up pretty well, even on it’s own.

This time around it’s Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost at the directing helm of this flick. These guys directed the documentary Catfish They take the “surveillance camera” tactic to it’s OG roots with VHS and home-brew rigs.  This is another prequel to the 2007 film that started it all. Taking us all the way back to when Kristi and Katie are but little gals in 1988.

What worked in this film:

Little Kristi! (Jessica Tyler Brown) This kid has some acting CHOPS! I’m not too sure how old she is. That means IMDB and Wikipedia don’t have anything on her yet. But she can’t be more than 7 in this and she just blows the rest of the cast away. With the noted exception of Toby.

The continued lack of music. I know you’re saying “Duh, this is a hand-held docu-style horror film!” But it’s what kept me on the edge of my seat. I have a pretty large posterior so it a feat in itself.

The fact that the characters in the film never get concrete idea about what is going on leaves the viewer feeling their panic.

What didn’t work for this film:

The mom Julie. (Lauren Bittner) I know I’m just pulling at straws but She really got blown out of the water by a ginger-child-of-the-corn.

It really takes a while before this film gets going. I’d say the first 30 minutes feel much longer than they really need too. I had the time to finish my Ice Cap and contemplate getting a second. But just as those thoughts start, so does the movie’s true suspense and freaky I’m-not-going-to-stand-near-almost-open-doors-again-ness.

I wasn’t a fan of the first two films in the series, but I’m totally digging on this one and might have a hard time sleeping tonight.

Paranormal Activity gets a 4 out of 5 from me.

PS: Paramount is once again using social media to help promote the flick. For PA3, they’re using twitter with @TweetYourScream.

UFC Ultimate Knockouts 8 DVD Review

Reviewed at MainEventRadio.com (Tony Stabile)

There are three ways to end a fight in the Octagon of the UFC; judges’ decision, submission or the most exciting of the three: KNOCKOUT! “They leave no doubt, by way of Knockout!” is what Mike Goldberg utters during the intro, and that is exactly what these men do in UFC’s latest DVD/Bluray release:

This release only features one disc.  However it features over 80 minutes of insane knockouts from all the best in the UFC. This DVD starts off strong with what was probably one of the more surprising knockouts in the history of the UFC in the fight between UFC knockout legend “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell and Shogun Rua in Montreal at UFC 97. It goes on to feature names like Drew McFedries, Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir, Frank Trigg, Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar.

The Bonus features are somewhat light but acceptable for a small highlight release like this one. It features Promos for other releases from the UFC and “Total TKO’s.” This is where the production shines. “Total TKO’s” is a six minute highlight reel of some of the best TKO’s in the history of the UFC, nicely spliced together with quick match highlights and tough music to blend it together.

For the casual fan it’s a great way to spend an evening reliving some of the UFC’s best knockout finishes! For 20$, this is a must to any MMA DVD/Bluray collector. It continues the hard-hitting action from itspredecessors.

UFC’s Ultimate Knockouts 8 is available now on DVD and Blu Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment for more information or to pick up your own copy check out www.ufc.com or Anchor Bay’s Web page for the release viawww.anchorbayentertainment.com