Jodie Sweeten stars in Finding Santa, where she has to find [plot device] to save the [plot device] and the only one who can save us is Ben…. (Played by Eric Winter… I did NOT make that up.) Oh, but Ben doesn’t seem to like Christmas!
So not only is the plot hilariously predictable, it’s also kind of insane. I understand that when you’re getting close to Christmas, booking an experienced Santa Claus is difficult, but the idea that the only person who can fill the big fat red suit is a 35-year-old skinny writer who’s Dad runs a Santa school doesn’t make a lot of sense.
And then we get into this old chestnut:
Yeah, the only thing more tired than “will they or won’t they” is the ol’ Pride and Prejudice rip off. When the lead in a Hallmark movie has instant conflict with a member of the opposite sex, you immediately know exactly how the movie is going to end. This creates a terrible predicament for the film makers because only one question is left to answer:
Will they get to the inevitable kiss in an interesting way?
All such hope is MISBEGOTTEN.
That’s this movie’s problem – the plot is ridiculous, you know how it’s going to end, but to watch the characters fight to delay the inevitable is beyond frustrating. That’s what makes a movie like Finding Santa so annoying – the frustration factor. When no one has a reasonable argument to create or sustain conflict, it makes the viewing experience beyond annoying.
And that’s what Finding Santa is – a frustrating experience from beginning to end. Jodie Sweeten and Eric Winter are charming enough, but the screenplay is soooooo lazy. You can only have the same argument so many times before it becomes nails on a chalkboard. If one were to take a shot every time Ben says, “I have to get back to Boston,” they’d be drunk halfway through the movie and dead by the time it was over.
So should you add Finding Santa to your DVR? Probably not. It’s not the masochist free for all that is A December Bride, but it’s close.
First D.J.: Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today.
Second D.J.: It’s coooold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?
First D.J.: Not hardly. And you know, you can expect hazardous travel later today with that, you know, that, uh, that blizzard thing.
Second D.J.: That blizzard – thing. That blizzard – thing. Oh, well, here’s the report! The National Weather Service is calling for a “big blizzard thing!”
First D.J.: Yessss, they are. But you know, there’s another reason why today is especially exciting.
Second D.J.: Especially cold!
First D.J.: Especially cold, okay, but the big question on everybody’s lips…
Second D.J.: – On their chapped lips…
First D.J.: – On their chapped lips, right: Do ya think Phil is gonna come out and see his shadow?
Second D.J.: Punxsutawney Phil!
First D.J.: Thats right, woodchuck-chuckers – it’s
Both: GROUNDHOG DAY!
I mean A Christmas Wedding Date. A totally original movie that is in no way a Groundhog Day ripoff.
Everyone here at CreativeJamie.com was saddened to learn that Harold Ramis had passed away after a battle with a rare illness. We loved watching him on the screen (Ghostbusters, Stripes), but his directorial accomplishments (Groundhog Day, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Caddyshack) were just as notable. Whether in front of or behind the camera, Harold Ramis always gave us something to smile about. The world is surely poorer for this loss.
Before we get into this mess, when did the ABC Family channel (formerly… The Family Channel? I can’t remember…) decide that it’s target demo was going to be women 12 and up? It’s nearly all chick stuff, all the time, and it’s far from family appropriate. I’ve seen ads for the following shows during various Harry Potter Weekends. (Note: that’s about every other weekend.)
Greek – a show about college fraternities and the trouble they get into; very family friendly!
Pretty Little Liars – pretty sure their Halloween episode was about the stars of the show accidentally murdering someone
Desperately Seeking Santa – More like Desperately Seeking Satan… Eh? Eh? Right?
Before I get into this, I just want to make it clear to you that Groundhog Day is one of my favorite comedies of all time and Bill Murray is a great hero of mine, so you’ll get little objectivity from me.
Groundhog Day is the 1993 classic comedy about a weather man stuck on the titular day of the same year, doomed to repeat it over and over again for no reason and with no hope of escape.
You can’t help but laugh at this trailer – on the one hand, there’s some funny stuff there. On the other hand, it’s got that really silly trailer voice over style and script that makes you cringe: lines like, “But he’s about to find out…” and “But now, he’s discovering…” Also, the shot with Phil punching Ned in the face is not the take that appears in the movie, but whatever. The character actors are great, Bill Murray and Chris Elliot are hilarious, and Andie MacDowell is at her most tolerable. Harold Ramis directs, and does a damn fine job, too – I love his visual style and timing.
The most interesting thing you can say about Groundhog day is that the original screenplay contained elements that would have ruined the film, and making the movie ruined Harold Ramis and Bill Murray’s friendship for over a decade. Apparently, the screenplay opened in the middle of the narrative, Rita and Phil were both going through the loop together, an ex-girlfriend at channel six put a voodoo curse on Phil which initiates the time loop… Those were bad ideas.
All that aside, it’s fair to say that the movie raises questions that it doesn’t even attempt to answer, such as, “Why is Phil repeating the same day over and over?” or “What will it take to get the loop to end?” or “How long is Phil stuck in the loop?” or “What is causing the loop in the first place?” Answering any of these questions would have probably turned the movie into an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the thing that makes Groundhog day such a great movie is that you never wonder about any of these questions for a second while you’re watching the movie because it’s done so well. The movie is a character piece, about how and why Phil changes and deals with situations as he grows into a better, more mature person. Groundhog day isn’t just one of the great offbeat comedies of the nineties, it’s one of the best films of all time. I have seen this movie an uncounted number of times – it never gets old, and I can’t imagine ever getting tired of it. Long live Groundhog day!
My Rating: 5 out of 5
I can’t stop there… here are a few of my favorite bits from Groundhog Day, completely out of context:
- PHIL: Be the hat!
- The scene where Phil tells Rita everything about everybody in the diner.
- PHIL: Well, my father was a piano mover, so…
- The suicide montage. What other movie has a suicide montage?
- PHIL: Rita! || NANCY: Nancy. || PHIL: Whatever.
- PHIL: Don’t play with me, pork chop! What day is this?
- PHIL: Don’t drive angry!
- PHIL: Intelligent, supportive, funny… Me, me, me… || RITA: He’s romantic and courageous. || PHIL: Me also.
- PHIL: I don’t know where you’re headed, but can you call in sick?
- The Jeopardy! scene.
- PHIL: Morons, your bus is leaving.
- Breaking the alarm clock montage.
- PHIL: Too early for flapjacks?
- When people dance to the first two songs at the party. What the hell are they doing?
- LARRY: He might be OK… [truck explodes] Well no, probably not now.
- All of the Ned scenes. PHIL: So, did you turn pro with that whole belly button thing, or…?
- PHIL: He’s got to be stopped. And I have to stop him.
- And this. Just watch this.