[12 Days of Christmas] On the Twelfth Day… My Thank You

Hey everyone. I thought I would start this last day of Christmas to give you my thanks for this past year. I started writing this blog in January but I started planning on Christmas Day. I just wanted to thank you for reading, thank you for enjoying, and thank you for passing the word along. I want to thank you for reading that first post, for watching scary movies all October, and for counting down the 12 Days of Christmas. Thanks again!

 

Today, I just want to leave you with a thought. What is your Christmas movie of choice? Everyone seems to have a fave film that gets recycled every year. Mine, of course, is Christmas Vacation.

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My girlfriend always watches Home Alone.

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My sister-in-law is A Christmas Story.

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So what is yours? Let me know down below. Merry Christmas! Here’s to 2015!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Eleventh Day… Christmas Vacation (1989)

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Director: Jeremiah Chechik

Cast: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Randy Quaid

Screenplay: John Hughes

97 mins. Rated PG-13.

 

So when people ask me what the ultimate Halloween movie is, I tell them it is Halloween. When they ask me what the ultimate Christmas movie, I tell them it is Christmas Vacation, the third film in the Vacation franchise from twenty-five years back.

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It stars Chevy Chase (TV’s Community, Caddyshack) as Clark Griswold, the bumbling no-brained father of two and husband to gorgeous Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo, TV’s Entourage, American History X). Clark just wants one thing: to host the ultimate Christmas weekend for his extended family. He wants the hap-hap-happiest Christmas. Too bad he keeps running into problems, from a tree too big to an unwanted guest in the form of cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid, Brokeback Mountain, The Ice Harvest), from an overcooked turkey to a good ol’ fashioned kidnapping, Clark is in for one long holiday.

It all starts with a proven formula from comedy genius John Hughes (Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Hughes has been behind some of the best comedies of the 1980s. He spearheaded the original short story that started the film series. Hughes has a powerhouse screenplay here that differs in tone drastically from the previous installments. Toss in Chevy Chase, who just knows his character so well, and there is nothing that can stop this film. From the moment Clark appears onscreen, he makes the assertion that it doesn’t matter whether the tree he has picked is too big for his backyard as son Rusty claims, because it isn’t going in the backyard, it’s going in the living room, immediately addressing his inability to see things realistically.

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Christmas Vacation is what the holidays are about, whether we like them or not. It is sendup to what we do for those we love and what we have to go through to survive. I love this film and I suggest it to anyone looking to close out the holiday the right way.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Tenth Day… How to Celebrate Festivus!

[12 Days of Christmas Festivus!] On the Tenth Day… How to Celebrate Festivus!

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Hey everyone, Happy Festivus!
For those of you that aren’t aware of Festivus, it is the Costanza version of Christmas (celebrated and observed on the 23rd of December) from the television series Seinfeld.

 

The Aluminum Pole

Instead of a Christmas Tree, set up an Aluminum Pole. We find tinsel distracting.

 

Festivus Dinner

For Festivus dinner, red food is preferred, like Beefarino (or Beefaroni from Chef Boyardee). Follow up with Tuna on Toast, Pretzels, and don’t forget Black & White Cookies for dessert (Look to the cookie).

 

The Feats of Strength

The Feats of Strength are an important festivity. Usually, the previous winner chooses a new target. It should be someone who hasn’t done it recently. If there is a discrepancy (multiple winners from different families or no winner present), the head of the house chooses an opponent. Until you pin me [insert opponent], Festivus is not over!

 

The Airing of Grievances

When you gather the family around the table, the head of the house or previous feats of strength winner gets to tell the family all the ways in which they have disappointed him or her over the past year.

 

Don’t forget “Festivus Miracles”

This is an event reserved for anyone not the head of household or feats of strength winner. You will know what a festivus miracle is when you see it. Trust me!

 

Don’t forget the Hennigans!

H-E-Double N-I…!

 

The Human Fund

Gifts for Festivus include gifts made as donations to The Human Fund.

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Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Ninth Day… [Take 5] Christmas Episodes!

Hey everyone, today we are looking at 5 Christmas Episodes and whether they are worth your half-hour! Let’s begin!

Take 5 Christmas Episodes

Family Guy “A Very Special Family Guy Freakin’ Christmas”

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It is Christmastime in Quahog and Lois (Alex Borstein, TV’s MadTV, A Million Ways to Die in the West) is dedicated to getting her family the perfect Christmas. It doesn’t go over well when Peter (Seth MacFarlane, TV’s Robot Chicken, Ted) drops off the family’s gifts at the donation for in-need families, Stewie takes his roll as Baby Jesus in the Nativity scene too far, and Brian burns the turkey. Lois has to come to terms with an imperfect Christmas for the Griffin family.

I like this special. The call-outs to other stranger Christmas specials are quite interesting, as seen with Kiss Saves Santa. I also happen to think a lot like Lois here. I want the perfect Christmas for my family and it never actually happens the way I want. It is a cute little detour for the Griffins, made before the series cancellation and long before the onset raunchiness began.

Community “Comparative Religion”

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As Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown, TV’s Pound Puppies, (500) Days of Summer) tries to keep the peace and the holidays in check, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale, TV’s The Soup, A Merry Friggin’ Christmas) decides that Christmas is the right time to fight the school bully.

As far as Christmas episodes go, this one is more forgettable. A fine episode, to be sure, but not a regular yearly tradition. Wait until Season 2’s special.

Arrested Development “In God We Trust”

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It is time for the yearly Christmas “Living Classics Pageant” in which famous artworks are reenacted for the public. George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor, TV’s Transparent, The Hangover) always plays God and Buster (Tony Hale, TV’s Veep, Stranger Than Fiction) always plays Adam in The Creation of Adam, but with George Sr. in jail, the family needs to front the money to get him out for the day, but is he just trying to escape?

This is a classic episode for fans of Arrested Development. For all others, this episode has too many intersecting plotlines from previous episodes.

Spongebob Squarepants “Christmas Who?”

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Spongebob hasn’t heard of Christmas. Until Now. Now he wants it more than even, but unfortunately Squidward has become a certifiable Grinch. What is Spongebob going to do?

I love this episode. Not only does it have a catchy song to accompany it, but it has a nice lesson about what’s important to others. Watch this one!

The Office “Christmas Party”

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When Michael Scott (Steve Carell, Crazy Stupid Love, Foxcatcher) decides to break the rules to Secret Santa, he has to fix the situation by breaking the rules again: by breaking corporate’s policy of no alcohol at the Christmas party.

Another great episode! We have all has that boss, and we have all had that Christmas party, and we have all received that gift.

Take-Aways:

The real winners here are Spongebob Squarepants and The Office, not to mention Family Guy. The other two episodes are great for fans only. What’s your favorite Christmas episode? Let me know!

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Eighth Day… Home Alone (1990)

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Director: Chris Columbus

Cast: Macauley Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara

Screenplay: John Hughes

103 mins. Rated PG.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Song “Somewhere in My Memory”
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Score

 

Growing up, I was not a major fan of Home Alone. I can’t really say why, but perhaps I feel like the film was oversaturated and existed in such a wide capacity that it was just too much. Every year with this film, and I often confused the events of the first film with those of the second which was very jarring.

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At the behest of my mother, who adores the film, I took a look back on it a few years back. My feelings were very different that time around.

Kevin McAllister (Macauley Culkin, Richie Rich, Sex and Breakfast) doesn’t connect with his family. In fact, he wishes he never had a family. When he awakens one morning to discover that his family is gone, he is overjoyed that his wish came true. Kevin’s family has gone to France without him, but now he is home alone while two criminals named Harry (Joe Pesci, GoodFellas, The Good Shepherd) and Marv (Daniel Stern, TV’s Manhattan, City Slickers), known as the Wet Bandits, try to break into his home. It is up to Kevin to protect his home and himself while his mother (Catherine O’Hara, The Nightmare Before Christmas, A.C.O.D.) attempts to get back home to spend Christmas with her son.

I like this movie much more as an adult. There is something about returning to the imagination like a situation like this actually happening. I didn’t have the growing up experience where I wanted to get rid of my family. I enjoyed Macauley Culkin’s ability to carry this movie and the great supporting work from Pesci and Stern certainly help. John Hughes (Vacation, The Breakfast Club) knows how to write a screenplay, and this is one drastically different from his 1980’s teen comedy work. Then there’s Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), who isn’t so much a good director as he is a capable one. He does fine work here assisted by a powerful and unsettling score from John Williams.

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Looking back, Home Alone was a fun time to watch a movie. It has the insane premise which amazingly works quite well, it isn’t derailed by a less-than-amazing Chris Columbus or the bumbling thieves or even the quite rude family members. Still a fun time; still a Christmas miracle.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Seventh Day… Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

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Director: Larry Roemer

Cast: Billie Mae Richards, Burl Ives, Paul Soles

Screenplay: Romeo Muller

47 mins. Rated TV-G.

 

Really there isn’t much bad I can bestow on Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. So all I can do is be as scathing as possible. Let’s begin…

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Just like the song, Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards, The Care Bears Movie) had a very shiny nose, and it has caused him a lot of problems. Santa won’t let him join up with his reindeer to deliver gifts. His father forces him to cover it up. All of the other reindeer laugh and call him names; in fact, they won’t let him join in the reindeer games. It isn’t until he meets the elf Hermey (Paul Soles, The Incredible Hulk, The Score). Hermey wants to be a dentist, so the two set out to reach their dreams.

As I said before, I like a lot of this film. So I am just going to tell you what I don’t like.

I don’t like “Silver and Gold.”

I don’t like The Island of Misfit Toys.

I don’t like Hermey. I find him to be a misfit and a nitwit.

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Literally, I like the rest of this film. Seriously.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Sixth Day… Santa Claws (2014)

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Director: Glenn Miller

Cast: Ezra James Colbert, Nicola Lambo, John P. Fowler

Screenplay: Anna Rasmussen

86 mins. Rated TV-PG.

 

Santa Claus is seen in a lot of unique ways in film, but this one seems to me like the most terrible. This Santa Claus (John P. Fowler) is allergic to cats and (his words, not mine) The Jews.

Tommy (Ezra James Colbert, The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water) and his mother Julia (Nicola Lambo, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt?) do not celebrate Christmas. Julia had, as a child, been horribly traumatized by Santa Claus and therefore doesn’t celebrate the holiday. She has, in fact, turned into the Grinch. But the family’s talking kittens Patches, Mittens, and Hairball (truly inspired names) have accidently and horribly injured St. Nick and now must finish his deliveries in time for Christmas Day or Santa will forever lose his magic.

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First of all, what’s the deal with the mother? Is she actually going to tell her child that he cannot have a Christmas tree? Her “traumatic” event isn’t even traumatic. I could understand if your Mogwai turned into a bunch of Gremlins on Christmas Eve and terrorized your town. I probably wouldn’t celebrate the holidays then, but to do so because she got scared of Santa years earlier? C’mon! The acting doesn’t help either.

Then there’s Tommy. Somebody ground this spoiled little shit. Seriously.

Did I touch on anti-Semite Santa? Oh yeah, he’s allergic to The Jews. What part of the Jewish human causes Santa to sneeze. Sounds like a little bit of racism and hate-smashing to me.

Let’s not forget the fact that the cats in this film occasionally have moving mouths when they talk, while other times it comes across as some sort of telepathic link. It comes off as really annoying.

This movie looks stupid, its characters and performances are really terrible, its message is buried beneath less-than-subpar antics in which most of the characters come off as super-creepy.

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Can I just end this? It sucked. Skip this holiday anti-classic!

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Fifth Day… Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)

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Director: Jun Falkenstein, Alex Mann, Bradley Raymond, Toby Shelton, Bill Speers

Cast: Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Tress MacNeille, Corey Burton, Diane Michelle, Russi Taylor, Jeff Bennett, Alan Young, Shaun Fleming, Jim Cummings, Frank Welker, Bill Farmer, Kelsey Grammer

Screenplay: Charlie Cohen, Scott Gorden, Tom Nance, Carter Crocker, Richard Cray, Temple Mathews, Thomas Hart, Eddie Guzelian, Alex Mann

66 mins. Not Rated.

 

Well, today we are going to look at Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, a collection of three holiday-themed tales narrated by the wonderful Kelsey Grammer (TV’s Cheers, The Expendables 3). We will look at each separately.

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In “Donald Duck Stuck on Christmas,” the three young ducklings, Huey, Duey, and Louie wish Christmas could be all year. Their wish becomes true in a “Groundhog Day”-style tale about two much of a good thing. This tale is the second best of the three.

In “A Very Goofy Christmas,” Goofy tries to teach his son Max about Santa Claus, but after a disappointing Christmas Eve, Max doesn’t believe anymore, and in trying to convince his son, Goofy loses faith as well. Who can save them? This is the lesser of the stories.

In “Mickey and Minnie’s The Gift of the Magi,” Mickey really wants to get a great gift for Minnie, but can’t afford it, so he trades his harmonica for the money and discovers the true importance in gift-giving.

I really liked the first story, but I found the far-too-many duck characters to be rather an annoyance. Goofy’s tale became rather tragic and had a tone very dissimilar to its fellow stories. As for the finale, it was easily the best capper to this triad of family fun.

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All in all, the animation is rather sketchy, or unsketchy (I’m not sure how sketchiness matches up on the animation scale). What I mean to say is, not great animation. The voice work (minus the aforementioned quacks) is good enough, and Kelsey Grammer’s enchanted narration holds the whole thing together, mostly. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas is a nice little holiday excursion, but not something I feel I need to see in order to properly celebrate during the season. It is pretty okay, and I can see young children liking it, but it doesn’t have that staying power.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[12 Days of Christmas] On the Fourth Day… The Santa Clause (1994)

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Director: John Pasquin

Cast: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Eric Lloyd, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, Peter Boyle

Screenplay: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick

97 mins. Rated PG for a few crude moments.

 

Killing Santa is kind of morbid. Very few can get through an event like that and still be likable. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen, TV’s Home Improvement, Toy Story 3) tries his best to overcome that nasty hurdle. That is, until he discovers The Santa Clause, a decree that if Santa is killed, one must take up the red coat and beard and continue the job. While this news excites Scott’s son Charlie (Eric Lloyd, Batman & Robin, Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2), it certainly frightens Scott as well as his ex-wife Laura (Wendy Crewson, Air Force One, Antiviral) and her new husband Neil (Judge Reinhold, Beverly Hills Cop, Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts), who both believe that Scott is losing his grip on reality in order to make his son believe in Santa. As Scott continues his transformation into St. Nick in time for the next Christmas Eve, he must come to grips with this new reality and try to salvage his life as Scott Calvin with his life as Kris Kringle.

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The Santa Clause is very much a nice piece of cheese. I end up watching it every year around this time because it’s just a lot of fun. Tim Allen has a lot of fun with this role, keeping it all light-hearted even though the film itself could come off rather morbid. The supporting characters in Crewson and Reinhold ride the line of asshole vs. caring human nicely. Eric Lloyd doesn’t provide much, but his career proves that enough.

The screenplay is rather fun, though the film has definitely aged. It looks aged, but it still is a treat to watch. This Disney film is quite imaginative while also being slightly more grounded than it needed to be. Most of all, The Santa Clause is a movie about responsibility. It’s about taking up your baggage and understanding that the person you need to be may not be the person you wanted to be.

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Worth a couple laughs indeed.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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