Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

This isn’t going to be one of the fun reviews, with lots of screen caps and funny captions that people can put on pintrest. I’m going to take this thing to task, but not in a fun way. I didn’t even want to do it, but I came across something I wrote in a piece of fiction a few years back.
“If you have a talent, you’re responsible for how, or if you use it. Letting it go to waste is as bad as misusing it.” And I have a talent for explaining why things are bad. As far as I can tell, I’ve never been able to convince someone that a movie is good, but I can convince them something is shit! Not an enviable position, perhaps, but I’ve got a talent and I’m going to try to use it for good this time.

I’ve decided we’ve got to talk about this, we have to have a conversation about this thing because it’s evil and wrong and if I don’t warn people, I might feel responsible later. Let me be frank about this, so that we don’t misunderstand things. This is not a fun little cartoon, it is harmful, it is DANGEROUS! You should not watch this damn thing, no one should watch this thing. This is less a review and more of a warning, because watching this could drive someone to suicide. I’m going to discuss this in personal terms, since that last sentence seem hyperbolic, so I’ll explain….

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Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978/ Children’s Television Workshop/ Dir. Jon Stone)

Friends, Interneters, Countrymen? Look, lend me your eyes okay? I come not to bury Big Bird, but to praise him. The good men do, may sometimes live after then, while what little evils the commited may be interred with their bones. So let it be with Big Bird. Many hath told you Henson was ambitious? If it were so, it was a magnificent joy; and Henson hath answer’d it. You all did love him once,–not without cause: what cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him? O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason!–Bear with me; my heart is in the coffin there with Henson, and I must pause till it come back to me.

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The Christmas Orange (2002/ Bardel Entertainment/ Dir. Ian Freedman)

So here we have something so obscure that I may be the only person who actually bought the DVD. Not only am I the only owner of the DVD in America, I bought it 10 years after the product came out. And I only bought it for a few dollars, on a whim because I’d never heard of it and reviewing things that say “Christmas” on them is a thing I do. So I decided to give it a try. Given the product was only $6, given that it was a one shot for Canadian TV, and given that it was 10 years after it was first broadcast, I wasn’t expecting to find a huge amount about the cartoon. It’s based on a book, that’s what I found out. It’s not a bad product, we’ll get that out of the way for starters. I’m not sure how good it is though. Let’s examine The Christmas Orange…

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The Fat Albert Christmas Special (1977/ Filmation/ Dir.Hal Sutherland)

Doing holiday specials is a tough gig. Quite often, they’re produced as a fast buck idea. Something to throw at the screen during December, and if possible, break up the McDonald’s Commercials a little. Most the specials I have seen, and I’ve seen WAY more than I should, fit into this category. Particularly existing properties, like the Smurfs or He-Man, fit this mold.

You know what? We’re not going to mention another holiday special for the rest of this review. I’m going to show my hand early and just say it. This is good. I don’t want to taint that by comparing it to something less good. If it’s really good, it should be able to stand up on its own without putting something else down. And I think this is good, and I think it goes beyond a cynical cash grab, and I think it might really be worth your while.

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The Snowman (1982/ TVC London/ Dir. Dianne Jackson)

This is a cartoon for which I have no nostalgia. I only saw it for the first time last year and was so exhausted that I fell asleep during part of it. If I can offer an untainted perspective on any holiday movie, this HAS to be it. I only bought it because it has a tremendous reputation. The fact that it came on a DVD with The Nuttiest Nutcracker had nothing to do with it. I still haven’t watched that second feature, mainly because I watched the trailer. But we’re talking about something that I’ve been told by English and Canadians is the height of their VEWPRF season. So I bought it and watched it, and now I shall write my review of that movie. How did I think it help up? You’ll have to wait and see…

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The Smurfs Christmas Special (1982/ Hanna-Barbera/ Dir. Gerald Baldwin)

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. My first holiday special review in two years… it was supposed to be a momentous occasion. It should have been filled with joy, and laughter, not this. I said some time ago that I was sort of done with reviews that only amounted to complaints. I mean… look, The Avengers happened and we’re liking things because we like them again, not because we hate them and want to imagine we’re superior to them. I want you to know, I started this with the purest of intentions. Sadly The Smurfs Christmas Special did not hold up.

There is no way to properly summarize this, no way to discuss it on its merits, or play on the themes. Mostly, because I have no idea what happened. The best I can hope for is a synopsis, going down the line point by point. Maybe, together, we can reach an understanding. Just remember the mantra “I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks!”

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Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales (1979 Warner Bros. / DePatie-Freleng Enterprises Dir. Friz Freleng & Chuck Jones)

Ah sweet, sweet freedom. I don’t have to do anymore commercials if I don’t want to! Shall we talk about harmless but enjoyable cartoon entertainment for a moment? Let’s talk about what is really the last gasps of the Looney Tunes, the time of the mid-80s when all the guys who had worked on cartoons their whole lives were dying off and studios were shutting down animated production left and right. During those days, just before the nostalgia wave that hit in the 90s, it was hard to produce new Looney Tunes. This was one of the compromises. Partially made by Friz Freleng’s company and partly made by the powerhouse that was Chuck Jones, this holiday special is one of the last times that the old team would produce and entirely new show instead of just making bumpers for compilation movies. Even if it were bad, which it isn’t, it would still have Chuck and Friz and Mel working on it. Actually though, I find it sort of charming, if not anyone’s best work.

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Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1 January, 1995 Carnival Films Dir. Edward Bennett)

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David Suchet has been playing the Belgium Detective Hercule Poirot for about a million years on England’s ITV, which is different from the BBC in several ways that are important to them, but not to us. Mostly, they have commercials. In the 1995-96 series of episodes, they stopped doing hour-long episodes and just stuck to feature length (for TV) movies. This is the first of those movies and hey, it’s a Christmas episode! That’s so convenient, you’d think I grabbed this episode out of a stack just to review it! This is based on the 1938 novel of the same name and as far as I remember the book, it follows pretty faithfully. I haven’t read it in years and years, so I could be mistaken. I’ve looked it up and some sources claim a few characters are deleted from the book, but that tends to happen when one must condense a book for the screen anyway. I’ll mention glaring issues as I notice them.

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Last year, I almost wrote this review. Several things got in the way and I crapped out. However, this year I did actually write the review, so all is well.

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The Jack Benny Program (1960 CBS dir. James V. Kern)

There is something to be said about a man who could remake the same episode a dozen times and have it called “tradition” rather than “pointless repetition.” What it mostly says is that the guy was some kind of genius. So here is the lowdown on the traditional Jack Benny shopping episode: Jack has trouble deciding on a gift for Don Wilson and proceeds to drive the clerk (played by Mel Blanc) out of his skull with his alterations to that gift. Normally he buys an expensive present and changes his mind about this aspect or that aspect and then goes a head and decides to get the cheap gift by the end of the episode. Is that what happens here? No idea, to be honest I still haven’t watched it. Let’s lay down a fiver right now though. If Jack buys a gift, changes his mind several times and drives Mel Blanc insane, you owe me five bucks. Six if it’s a gift for Don Wilson. If it’s any conciliation, this probably won’t hurt much. I might be a little painful, but most likely it’ll just come off as dated.

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The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974 Rankin/Bass Productions Dir. Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr.)

Oh goodie, Rankin & Bass! Because that’s always worked out well for us in the past, huh kids? You remember Rudolph? You remember ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas? Yeah, maybe now you know why I hesitate. The thing is, I remember this one being particularly painful, mainly because it’s the ultimate Rankin/Bass Christmas Story. One where Santa, tired of requests for Red Ryder’s Peacemaker, decides to quit. I know, you’re so shocked by this I can hear you gasping now. I mean, what are the odds, right? I mean he only cancels the trip just about every special he shows up in. Now, in some ways, this is a sequel to Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, which I haven’t reviewed. You ever notice that most the time when I review a sequel I haven’t reviewed the original? I’ve noticed that if I don’t review the original first, it doesn’t get reviewed. Probably in the fullness of time, I’ll get around to it.

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