Author: soulfire

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

Director:

John R. Cherry III

Writers:

Ed Turner

B. Kline

Starring:

Jim Varney

Douglas Seale

Oliver Clark

Noelle Parker

Blurb:

Ernest helps Santa Claus as he searches for his successor.

Review:

Ernest movies are…unique. Jim Varney was a treasure and his characters are off the wall. It’s a slapstick comedy with Varney dressing up as a few different people. There are a few funny moments, and I’d say most of the movie has aged fine. Ernest comes off as a good man, borderline lovable idiot, but he’s not stupid. He just thinks outside of the box.

I’m not much of a fan of these movies. I don’t have a problem with them. All that means is that I have no nostalgia attached to this one and I don’t have strong feelings one way or another about Ernest Saves Christmas. It was fine. Not something I have to add to my yearly rotation, but it was nice to watch something new.

3/5

I’ve already written reviews and thoughts for most, if not all, of my usual Christmas movies, so this December might be lighter than usual with reviews. I will try to watch new movies, though. It’s one of my favorite parts of the season.

A Castle for Christmas (2021)

A Castle for Christmas (2021)

Netflix

Director:

Mary Lambert

Writers:

Ally Carter

Kim Beyer-Johnson

Starring:

Brooke Shields

Cary Elwes

Blurb:

To escape a scandal, a bestselling author journeys to Scotland, where she falls in love with a castle – and faces off with the grumpy duke who owns it.

Review:

I was surprised how much I enjoyed A Castle for Christmas. I love these types of movies but so often you can tell the budget was nonexistent. Scenes get cut, makeup is horrible, the dialog is awkward, and set decorations are minimal. A Castle for Christmas probably had a higher budget than other Christmas romance movies, but I’m sure it wasn’t huge, and most went to the stars. Still, they used their budget wisely and it showed.

It’s hard to do a romance with an “older” couple. It can come often as overly sentimental and all about companionship. People of all ages fuck. Chemistry adds a LOT to a romance movie and Shields and Elwes had it.

A Castle for Christmas also had the addition of wish fulfillment. Shields was a successful author with a loving daughter, she befriended an entire village, and she bought a castle. Then she winds up with freaking Westley. You could not get much better than that. Christmas romance needs that in the story. While the world is burning around you and the holidays are stressing you out seeing someone on-screen live the life you’d like while also having to overcome “small” hurdles is its own kind of therapy.

Netflix has been delivering these holiday romance movies for a few years now and I hope they continue. I need them. I look forward to them. My only complaint is I want MORE.

4/5

The Holiday (2006)

The Holiday (2006)

Director:

Nancy Myers

Writer:

Nancy Meyers

Starring:

Cameron Diaz

Jude Law

Kate Winslet

Jack Black

Eli Wallach

Blurb:

Two women troubled with guy-problems swap homes in each other’s countries, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love.

Review:

I’m ashamed to say that this movie was recommended on my blog several years ago and I’m only now getting around to it. If I’ve got any defense it’s that anytime I saw it available to stream it was not during Christmas and I have a strict rule about watching Christmas movies before Thanksgiving(US). Finally, I’ve gotten around to it, though.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is a Debbie Macomber one called Trading Christmas. So I’m a fan of this trope. What I loved about The Holiday and this trope is that finding love isn’t necessarily the goal. Kate Winslet’s entire story arc was about finding herself and her romance with Jack Black was just a footnote. I love romance, but I enjoyed this story the most.

Cameron Diaz and Jude Law’s story was mainly about sex and attraction until Diaz discovered that Law had children. All of a sudden she saw him in a new light and while a long-term relationship was always there hovering I think the addition of seeing him care for his children pushed him farther into that category.

Ending wise, I again preferred Kate Winslet’s ending. There was so much possibility and promise there, while Cameron Diaz and Jude Law there was still the question of how they could manage a long-distance relationship. There really wasn’t a satisfying ending that could come from that so I can understand why it wasn’t expounded on. Diaz would either have to leave her company or he would need to uproot his children taking them away from everyone they know and love. I guess the kids are getting uprooted. It could be worse.

I’m not sure if I’ll add The Holiday into my yearly Christmas movie rotation, but it’s definitely a movie I would watch again and again.

4/5

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

Director:

Les Mayfield

Writers:

George Seaton

John Hughes

Starring:

Richard Attenborough

Elizabeth Perkins

Dylan McDermott

Mara Wilson

Blurb:

A lawyer and a little girl must prove that a man claiming to be Santa Claus is the real thing.

Review:

Christmas movies fall outside of my Great Movie Re-Watch list. I was hoping that I would make it all the way through the 90s before Decemeber, sadly that did not happen. Oh well. It will be there to pick up later.

The first Christmas movie of the year was the 90s version of Miracle on 34th Street. I’ve seen it at least once, but I didn’t remember anything about it. I grew up watching the old one so this version had a lot of nostalgia to beat. It did not. I thought that Mara Wilson did a great job, I just wasn’t a fan of the changes made to the story. It didn’t help that my children were running around like crazed animals in their excitement for the beginning of the season. I did miss some of what was going on, so take my thoughts with a heaping dose of salt.

I didn’t see much romance going on between the couple and the fact that the movie ends with them getting married felt out of nowhere. I know he’d had a ring, but I didn’t realize they were there in their relationship. Again, it’s possible that I missed something. Because of that I’m not going to give the movie an actual ranking, but I don’t see myself choosing to watch this one over the classic version.

The Harder They Fall (2021)

The Harder They Fall (2021)

Netflix Original

Director:

Jeymes Samuel

Writers:

Jeymes Samuel

Boaz Yakin

Starring:

Jonathan Majors

Idris Elba

Zazie Beetz

RJ Cyler

Edi Gathegi

Danielle Deadwyler

Regina King

LaKeith Stanfield

Delroy Lindo

Blurb:

When an outlaw discovers his enemy is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western.

Review:

I’ve been looking forward to The Harder They Fall since I saw the trailer. It mostly delivered on my expectations, however, it dragged in some bits and slowed the pacing down. I would have liked it if the romance had been more hinted at instead of explored. I don’t particularly care about romance in a western because the genre is already filled with so much. The romance of the lone gunslinger coming in and saving the town. In this case, though, the gunslinger had a small group of friends, which still worked in my opinion. However, they didn’t save the town. I was surprised at that route and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Was the town too corrupt? It didn’t seem that way, so I’m not sure why that decision was made.

There were several tropes that were inverted and I liked that a lot. I also LOVED how they depicted the white town. It was hilarious. I was kind of bummed that the second friend ended up dying. You already knew the young one was going to, he was too cocky to live in that kind of world. I also did not like the reveal at the end, which was not needed at all. Bad guys in westerns don’t need motivation other than being bad.

I liked the ending (I love Regina King’s character) and I’m hoping that there’s a sequel that works on fixing the things I disliked. This is the kind of western I enjoy, one that’s not super artsy, though, The Harder They Fall did have its moments.

3.5/5