Category Archives: movie review
reviews of movies
It’s THE LAST Star Wars: The Last Jedi review. Did I love it, hate it, indifferent, or in between? Here’s our chance to find out – as well as what three other people think about The Last Jedi and more!
(FYI, my segment starts around the 36 minute mark)
LIFETIME has done it: they are the winner of the First Annual CreativeJamie.com Worst Made for TV Christmas Movie Award. Congratulations! YOU EARNED IT.
A Very Merry Toy Store is actually about three toy stores – not one, but three! And, I suppose they’re merry… I mean, none of them are especially merry, so this should set the tone for what sort of movie this is.
So, what’s the plot? It’s a SUPER LAZY retelling of You’ve Got Mail (though not really Shop Around the Corner). We’ve got two businesses going head to head, but in an effort to give the audience a flatter villain and to decrease the tension between Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart, there’s a THIRD toy store run by a greedy businessman BECAUSE OF COURSE THERE IS.
If you’re wondering what happens between Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart, well, cue a Simpsons reference:
There’s all sorts of other things going on. Mario Cantone improvises some funny stuff, Brian Dennehy can barely bother to stand up AND I DON’T BLAME HIM. The dialogue, the photography, the editing, the terrible green screen, the bizarre sled race that stole its pacing from The Phantom Menace, that awful comp shot…
This movie is so bad it’s good. It’s one of those, but more in a “nobody gives a shiz” sort of way rather than a “nobody knows what they’re doing.” I can’t wait to watch it again!
I know I watched Love You Like Christmas. I KNOW IT! My mom was here that day, me and my wife kept saying, “Why is this movie called Love You Like Christmas? Also, “Love You Like Christmas” is not a thing.” I know I saw it, I know it happened and I even found the notes I conveniently saved for myself. But any memory of the actual movie? POOF. I’m going to dig up some trailers to refresh my memory on what I guess was so bland and uninteresting that I deleted it from my brain to make space for Switched for Christmas.
JAMIE watches the trailer, suppressed memories come flooding back
Oh right, Love You Like Christmas is the Doc Hollywood knockoff.
The plot, the protagonist and the mechanic
This movie is a “12 Days of Christmas” sort of bad – in the sense that there are at least twelve things wrong with it. The protagonist doesn’t have an arc because she doesn’t have to change much. She’s a likable workaholic who seems neither unhappy or stressed by her job, so there’s nowhere to go. And speaking of nowhere to go, I know the broken down car is just a plot device to keep her in town until the romance thread takes hold, but it is so badly constructed that you’ll begin to wonder if this guy in coveralls is an actual mechanic. SPOILER ALERT: the person that wrote this movie doesn’t know how cars work.
“Hello, stranger. Will YOU be my mom?”
I know someone always has to have a dead parent in these Hallmark Christmas movies, but this kid is creeping me out – I know she has a mom sized hole in her life, but she’s obsessed. I’m pretty sure that if Bonnie Somerville doesn’t marry Brennan Elliott, this kid is going to make herself a Bonnie Somerville mannequin (out of Bonnie Somerville) and talk to it, dress it up, hide it in the fruit cellar…
You see where I’m going with this.
“I make restaurant authentic Pakistani restaurant.”
Every time a scene is set in the dinner (which the Somerville’s character suggests switches to a Christmas theme, perhaps the most obvious suggestion in the history of time), I can’t help but think of Babhu. It’s probably just a coincidence, but it reminds me so much of that episode of Seinfeld.
Here are a few more things I hate about this movie in rapid fire:
- “I’m a prescriptive man who belittles your accomplishments.” Great character, movie. Just. GREAT.
- Really, you’re playing the cell phone card?
- Christmas Valley doesn’t seem to be a place where they make salad dressing. Oh wait, that’s Hidden Valley – my mistake. Objection withdrawn.
- Another single dad – there are SO MANY SINGLE DADS in these movies. Danica McKellar found one in My Christmas Dream (a movie that SPOILER ALERT: has nothing to do with dreams)
- Another thing these movies love is what I’ve come to call city shaming – this woman from Manhattan has never experienced a real Christmas. Except that she works on Madison Avenue! That’s Christmas central! Just for good measure, they should have her work in the Saks building with a view of the tree in Rockefeller Center.
- And he’s losing his business. What a shock. Someone is ALWAYS losing their business in these movies and the protagonist swoops in and saves the day. ALWAYS.
Anyway, I don’t recommend Love You Like Christmas – it’s boring, which is the worst kind of bad a movie can be.
How Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri uses character arcs to tell an effective story (Quick Reviews)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri uses character arcs to tell an effective story in a way I haven’t seen in a while. I enthusiastically recommend you check this movie out!
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I saw Murder on the Orient Express with five people. Three of us would admit to at least fighting to keep our eyes open if not completely falling asleep. Not exactly a wringing endorsement!
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A star-studded event from the Hallmark Channel in the guise of The Christmas Train is essentially Murder on the Orient Express, but with more romance and petty theft instead of MURDER. Who stole the pen? And the sunglasses? And who wants Father of the Bride (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) to bang her ex (Dermot Mulroney) and why? All these questions will be answered (says in non-committal voice, “In a satisfying way…”), but then, if you’ve seen Murder on the Orient Express, you already know the answer.
You have to wonder how this movie came to exist. Although really, simple logic suggests that all you have to do is look at what’s playing at your local theater and what a coincidence! There is a new version of Murder on the Orient Express playing right now! Where do the folks at the Hallmark Channel come up with their ideas?
But the plot thickens. It turns out, The Christmas Train is a novel that the Hallmark Channel must have purchased the rights to and then adapted into a film. What a sorry state of affairs.
Now that we got that out-of-the-way, is The Christmas Train any good? Well, it’s just kind of par for the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie course. In an unusual move, you can see that most of the budget went to the cast and the sets/locations, but definitely not to digital effects. (There are some really ugly shots of the train stuck in the snow.) I get the impression that they wanted to keep up the illusion so that Dermot Mulroney, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Danny Glover and Joan Cusack wouldn’t leave the set thinking the movie was a cheap piece of crap they shouldn’t promote. It’s not till you actually watch the movie that the seams start to show.
Speaking of high-priced talent (again, on the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie scale) Dermot Mulroney, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Danny Glover and Joan Cusack aren’t exactly phoning it in, and Mulroney and Kimberly Williams-Paisley have a lot more to do, so… what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t watch this movie just because you’re a fan of these actors. This isn’t exactly a performance piece.
When it comes down to it, The Christmas Train is an adaptation of a novel that is really just a Christmas fan-fiction version of Murder on the Orient Express. What else is there to say?
Oh, I don’t especially recommend it, but it will neither ruin nor improve your life.
The cast doesn’t have much to work with, but man, the performances are usually the saving grace in these Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, but not this time. There’s the aforementioned Danica McKellar and Christine Lee, who brings terrible dialogue to life, and Deidre Hall, all who are doing their best, but David Haydn-Jones and Colleen Winton are DOG SHIT. No one ever said being in a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie was easy.
There’s a saying in Hollywood: never work with animals or children. Enter Cooper: the worst character ever. The dad and grandmother are poorly written, but Cooper makes me want to get a vasectomy. It’s like watching a campaign to sterilize the HUMAN RACE.
Then there’s the writing. We already know that originally is not allowed in Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, so all that’s left is character design. All the characters (except Christina) aren’t great, but man, Kurt, Nana and Cooper are an awful trifecta, but Victoria varies in degrees of suckatude. Why, you may ask? The lazy writing, the bizarre delivery, and of course, the director who said after one take, “We got it. Moving on.”
Then there’s the Christmas display the movie’s plot revolves around: it’s TERRIFYING! The children and their incessant waving, the ballerina, the snowman, the Santa, the train conductor! So scary!!! It’s like something out of The Shining.
The question isn’t whether or not My Christmas Dream is a good or bad movie, but is it so bad that it comes back around and becomes good again. Hmm…
In my opinion, no, it is not so bad it’s good. There aren’t enough wacky elements to support the idea that this movie’s awfulness turns into fun. My Christmas Dream is for hardcore Christmas movie completists only.
What follows is a lesson in tone. Delicious cheese is what awaits you if you watch Christmas in Evergreen with Ashley Williams.
Is it cheesy? Sure. That’s par for the Hallmark Channel, but the movie frames itself that way with the opening voice over and plot points. From the second it starts, it’s clear that this movie is not trying to engage you in a serious/dramatic way, but with an almost fantasy like atmosphere. This opening sets expectations to a realistic level.
Of course, that’s not to say that the movie is not without problems.
Ashley Williams character remarks, “I’ve got an idea,” far too often. It’s lazy writing; so many times the plot has a simple resolution staring all of the characters in the face, but only Ashley Williams has an idea that will save the day!
There’s no surprises nor any new ground covered in Christmas in Evergreen. Shake the globe, make a wish and watch the plot conveniences unfold. Williams is charming, but this movie is just another inoffensive content filler on the Hallmark Channel.
A competently executed Christmas themed retake on Peggy Sue Got Married called A Family for Christmas has almost everything you need for a good movie.
But, you know, it’s the same old problems for the Hallmark Channel: rehashed old plot points (from better movies) and dialogue that bounces between mediocre and awful.
The predictable nature of A Family for Christmas is its undoing. There’s no way to tell this story in a compelling way. The dog helps (A LOT), but it’s just not enough. It’s not completely unwatchable, but there are far better Christmas movies than A Family for Christmas.
In the tradition of Moonlight and Mistletoe comes Christmas Festival of Ice (man, that title just rolls right off the tongue). It’s yet another Christmas movie where they have to raise money to save the thing. This time, “the thing” is just one feature of a Christmas Festival: an ice sculpting contest. (You know, traditional Christmas ice sculpting! The Christmas tradition that has swept the nation… in places that aren’t always hot or ravaged by climate change.) Anyway, it’s going to be one of those.
So what’s the plot? New law school graduate Emma (Taylor Cole) goes to work at her mom’s law office (the impeccably dressed Wendy Crewson of The Santa Clause series and Air Force One) and discovers that the annual ice sculpting contest has been cancelled (although the Christmas Festival is still happening). Emma isn’t having that, so she goes on a crusade to raise the $20,000 it’ll cost to put on the ice sculpting festival.
Let’s put the breaks on. We can extrapolate that a graduate of law school is at least twenty-four years old. Emma says she’s been sculpting in the contest with her dad since she was little, so let’s say that she’s participated for the last twenty years on some level or another. Without adjusting for inflation, we can then assume that this little town has spent $400,000 on ice sculpting contests over the decades.
Wow. If that much money was spent per year in the one horse town I grew up in on anything other than high school football, there’d be blood in the streets. I just can’t fathom it. And how much does the rest of the Christmas festival cost? And try to look in the background at the other booths – they are indecipherable.
Also, no one seems to give a shit. If people really care about a thing or a business sees an opportunity, raising $20,000 shouldn’t be that tough. Finding twenty companies to give a grand each in the general area (which doesn’t seem economically depressed) shouldn’t be that hard. You get a donation, you let them put up a “Presented By” banner at the festival and done deal. This isn’t that complicated…
Except that again, no one gives a shit and Emma raises less than half of the money by the deadline only to be saved at the last minute by an anonymous donor. It would have been a lot more reasonable to have her save the entire festival and not just one facet of it, but I guess that ruins the anonymous donor reveal at the end of the flick, which is a long way to go for a concept that doesn’t exist until the last quarter of the movie.
And I haven’t even mentioned the camera work and editing – it’s not good. Most of the time, it’s fine, but every once in a while, there’ll be something ugly, poorly timed and just downright bad. They also had a hard time filming the ice sculptures… sometimes it worked, but most of the time, you can’t tell what they’re supposed to be due to lighting, focus, camera placement, etc.
I will spare you the tale of Emma’s love interest. Damon Runyan (Star Trek Discovery) was punished for his sins, let’s say that.
Which brings me to the movie’s total lack of interest in ice sculptures. The more important they become to the plot, the less you see of them. It’s baffling. Even the prize winning masterpiece at the end… I couldn’t tell you what it was.
I have no idea. And “ice sculpture” is in the title of the movie.
No one working on Christmas Festival of Ice gave a shit and you won’t either. It’s predictable, boring and often nonsensical. Taylor Cole is charming, but that’s not enough to save this one.