4 posts categorized "Christmas"

January 07, 2021

HAPPIEST SEASON

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Happiest_seasonAwesome. Move over “Home For The Holidays” (Jodie Foster’s 1995 holiday favorite); there’s finally a better family holiday movie for audiences to rally around.

Director/co-writer Clea Duvall creates an hilarious holiday comedy with modern sensibilities relating to sea-changes in American culture. The LGBTQ movement gets proper recognition through the lens of lesbian couple Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis), whose relationship reaches a crisis of familial truth-telling over Christmas. The movie brims with and undercurrent of humanity. Oh but for benevolence, that long ignored value in American culture. 

Happiest season

Harper’s gay-closet status comes up for inspection when she invites Abby to her high-powered family’s Christmas reunion. Dad (Victor Garber) is a local politician with a wife named Tipper (Mary Steenburgen); you can guess how judgmental mom and dad are about who, how, and why their daughter Harper is dating.

Happiest-season

Chewy plot twists come at regular intervals via inspired characters delightfully fleshed out by the likes of the always awesome Dan Levy, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and actor/co-writer Mary Holland. There isn’t a scrap of fat in this exquisitely paced holiday comedy that plays to Kristen Stewart’s strengths as an icon of sexual freedom. The times are changing faster than ever. It might already be time for Clea Duvall and Mary Holland to start work on a “Happiest Season” follow-up for Christmases yet to come.         

Rated PG-13. 102 mins.

5 StarsModern Cole

Cozy Cole

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November 25, 2009

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.ColeSmithey.comThis ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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ColeSmithey.comRichard Donner's enjoyable "Christmas Carol"-update "Scrooged" (1988) popped with endearing comic pizzazz by way of Bill Murray's adorably cruel television network biggie who gets rehabilitated by ghosts.

There's so much magic between the likes of Carol Kane, Karen Allen, and David Johansen that it's easy to fall in love with the movie.

Sadly, there isn't much to fall in love with in Robert Zemeckis's visually overpowering motion-capture-animation fiesta with its trademark cardboard-looking "human" appearance to the animated characters.

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Jim Carrey inhabits a Dickens-era version of Ebenezer Scrooge, the wicked banker that gets spirited away by the ghosts of Christmases "Past," "Present" and "Future."

The same animation techniques that made Zameckis's 2004 movie "Polar Express" a disaster, shrouds the actors here in a similarly thick sheen of immutable alien cardboard.

Gary Oldman is spry as Scrooge's assistant Bob Cratchit, while Colin Firth's performance as Scrooge's nephew is muffled beneath the animation.

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The film stays reasonably true to Dickens's book but clashes with itself in outrageous chase sequences that overwhelm Dickens's much more human-scaled thematic message.

The 3-D aspect of the animation goes largely unnoticed amid all of the graphic bombast on screen.

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There's just something about this particular style of animation that, while impressive at first glance, acts as an impenetrable wall between the audience and the story.

It's a bubble where empathy and emotion don't register. Go watch "Scrooged" instead.

Rated PG. 95 mins.

2 Stars

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November 09, 2007

FRED CLAUS

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

 

ColeSmithey.comBetter than it has a right to be, this holiday confection takes a coasting sleigh ride in Vince Vaughn’s humbled charisma as Santa’s goof-up older brother.

Fred Claus’s days as a thieving Chicago repo man end when he calls his jolly brother to bail him out of jail.

In return for his freedom, Fred agrees to move to the North Pole and help our Santa (beautifully underplayed by Paul Giamatti) in the busy days leading up to Christmas.

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Santa has his own economic pressures with a business efficiency wolf threatening to take over his toy-building town.

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Director David Dobkin ("Wedding Crashers") stays the course on the straight-line story before settling Santa’s night of gift giving on an appropriately somber note indicative of our troubled times.

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Sure it’s all about the performances of Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti, and there isn’t a trace of the cynicism of "Bad Santa" or the dippy romance of "Elf," but that’s the point.

Rated PG. 104 mins.

3 Stars

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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