Category Archives: comedy

Movember: The Story of Growing Your Moustache Through Film

The business of growing a moustache is an international affair during the month November. Why? Because people around the world are raising awareness to battle prostate and testicular cancer in men. That’s right, we’re campaigning the Tom Selleck way and loving every hairy second of it! The Movember Foundation (which you can visit here) is also putting up a stand against the high numbers of suicide among our XY-partners, stating a  frightening rate one man per minute worldwide.

As a lady, I can only grow so much of a moustache, but that does not mean participation is a no-go! Instead, I choose to honour this great month in the only other way I know how to – through tireless film talk. So, let’s trace the adventures of one moustache in a land of many other moustaches, from incubation to graduation, kick-starting the party with a classic motion picture, one that has stood the test of time – “Spaceballs”.

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Mel Brooks is showcasing the initial stages of a stash through this newbie-friendly arrangement. It’s the barely there look, which is perfect for anyone starting a fresh batch of face fuzz. There may not be much of it at all, but whatever’s managed to manifest is proudly there. It may seem daunting to glance for progress every two hours, but remember – no Gimli has started with a Selleck.

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I know it may seem like quite the leap here, but transitioning from President Skroob to “Napoleon Dynamite”‘s Kip is more about building coverage and filling up the empty spaces, rather than generating actual thickness. This takes patience, we’re still constructing a Taylor Swift, so we shouldn’t be rushing into a Nicki Minaj. Be happy, you’re making a serious commitment to the mission now and we’re all rooting for success.

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Give it another week or two and your bristle companion will be looking meaner, stronger, fuller, more Jack Black-ier than ever before! We’re ready for expansion, we’re no longer trying to break through the moustache game, we’re slowly gaining speed, zooming past its levels like a wrestler body slamming his opponents on a rink of hairy fire. The empty patches that Kip sported are nothing but history.

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See how those ends are flicking down, trying to make a daring escape into the chin area? This is the point where you can freely purchase a gun in the state of Texas, no questions asked. Also, I think I’m joking, but I’m not entirely sure, so please don’t quote me to US authorities. Josh Brolin is nailing the classic lip jewellery in “No Country for Old Men”, keeping perfect foundation, curve and body.

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Notice how the violence in film posters increases in direct proportion to the facial hair volume? Danny Trejo’s mouth handle in “Machete” has surpassed Llewelyn Moss’s notable number, creeping further into the uncharted territory of southern regions. According to scientific research, this particular design is classified as “Vigilante Mop” under the “Crime Avenger” category.

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There’s no return when you’ve committed to Colin Farrell’s distance, which spans vertically and more than halfway into sworn beard realms. Now, beards are forbidden according to The Movember Foundation’s web page, so this is borderline rebellious behaviour. Did that stop Luke? Did it stop Obi-Wan? No, of course not. Be proud of your progress, you’ve got all the elements for a proud cocaine lord stew and they’re brewing together.

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This is the end result of your downward venture, beautifully demonstrated in detail by assassin Jules Winnfield in cult classic “Pulp Fiction”. Warning: not all face shapes can handle the handle, so handle yourself right when handling this issue. One may think they’ve reached a moustache’s full potential at this point, but don’t let a lack of imagination stunt the progression.

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Emperor Ming lives on a rogue planet called Mongo, where advanced face caterpillars are only reserved for tyrannical overlords with Nike logos for eyebrows. Ad well as body, we have now conquered the length variable of our moustache equation, elevating the entire creation to space villain heights. Where could we possible go from here? Surely the sides don’t just continue into a long spaghetti-style braid, right?

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CORRECT! According to laws of nature that I made up half an hour ago, the moustache takes a defying move and springs up into a fine curl once it reaches certain breaking points. As Dustin Hoffman proves in “Hook”, this design can be both classy, comedic, merciless and for best effect – pulled into a tandem with a matching seventeen century wig.

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Moving forward – literally – we’re now concerned with structuring a good 3D impact to your lip crown. The bristle length is clearly increased and a professional twist is required to reach Daniel Day Lewis’s memorable appearance in “Gangs of New York”. You look in the mirror and remember the days when Nacho Libre was your proudest achievement, as you comb down those luscious waterfalls.

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It’s practically impossible to create a suggested evolution of the human moustache without including Tom Selleck with an honourable spot. After all, the man is famous for his enviable mouth locks,  situated neatly between two gorgeous dimples and on top of a voice box ready to narrate action movie trailers. Remember when I said Nicki Minaj was a long way to do? We’ve just reached her.

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The only person who can beat Tom Selleck without resorting to any trickery of the curl, squiggle, vertical drop or parting variety, is Ned Flanders himself. A firmly religious man, who loves a good, trimmed stash as much as he does Jesus Christ. This majestic wall of hair doubles up as a face coat in winter and soup storage for fall.

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We’re almost at the final stages of the growing your lip jewellery. We’ve slowly built the foundation in “Napoleon Dynamite” and “No Country for Old Men”, we’ve poured in the concrete in “Gangs of New York”, and now, crowning one cult classic’s nod-wrothy accomplishment – we have “The Big Lebowski”. Sam Elliott has a specimen of worthy proportion, which will leave any observer in jealous awe.

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Your finished product (obviously we’re expecting this result by the end of Movember) should look something like a Dr. Seuss character, especially a woodland spirit, who wishes to preserve a magical wilderness. The Lorax combines length, body, hang and even stylish layers, while being appropriately voiced by Danny DeVito – a man of admirable moustache skills.

But of course everybody’s genetic pool has slightly different fishes swimming around the hair growth centre, so keep that in mind while comparing your progress with other stash buddies. Movember might equate to Kip at best for some lucky fellows, while others could reach a full Llewelyn Moss without a breaking a sweat doing it. You’re all beautiful, and you’re all raising awareness for a great cause, which is the most important part of all.

So, go out there, gentlemen and show the world just how beautiful your face bling can be, and to all my lovely ladies – take up another challenge from the Movember Foundation web page and fundraise for the future of our other gender.

Much love and a happy November to all!

 

 

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Halloween Fest: 7 Binge-Worthy Netflix Series

The wait is almost over. Mere hours separate us from a night of witches, ghosts, obscure film references and generally sexual black cats.

One of my all-time classic traditions on Halloween day is to spend an afternoon in the warm embrace of seasonal whiskey and sweet treats. Being a much needed mental preparation for the inevitable army of sugar-starving children, it must always, under all circumstances be carried out correctly! So, in order to honour the spirit (I’m sure there’s a pun in there somewhere) of this custom, today’s article will revolve around some spooky series you can binge watch right now on our loyal Netflix companion. Here we go:

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I mean, do we need further explanation than the title itself? Five of the six existing seasons are currently available for immediate streaming including “Asylum”, “Freak Show” and “Hotel”, as well as personal favourites “Covent” and “Murder House”. Pick the theme of your party or fright fest session from this plethora of conveniently diverse scenarios and you’ve got yourself a killer party… Get it? Because killer… I’ll get my things now…

Pro: It’s a promise of long-lasting creeps and an addiction.

Con: There will always be one horror hater on the scene.

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That’s correct, ladies and gentlemen – “Goosebumps”, our favourite nineties television series, has returned full force. A lot of middle-parted hair and bulky technology make for great laughs and a tonne of reminiscing. Remember the days when Ryan Gosling was just a suburban teen whose future got predicted by a magical Polaroid? I’ll omit the episode name. Google it over a shot of Jim Beam Apple Spice whiskey and sit back for a bumpy ride of fright and giggles.

Pro: Short episodes, perfect for spicing up a party between other games.

Con: So nineties, it actually hurts.

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If you have managed to miss the “Stranger Things” buzz – now is the ideal time to catch up and share our mass obsession! Science, mystery, friendship, love and loss all come together in the amazing mix that is the childhood of a group of suburban children. Refresh your memory on Dungeons and Dragons, sit through a hefty dose of inhumane mutant experiments and jump to the Upside-Down monsters, all in the embrace of chocolate spiders and jelly snakes… And waffles.

Pro: Engaging, relevant and well-written.

Con: Cliffhangers be cliffhangers.

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The rollercoaster of throwbacks continues, I wouldn’t dare to disappoint, and “Charmed” won’t either. The show premiered back in 1998 and ran up until 2006, so parts of it are still quite relatable, albeit an abundance of awkwardly cropped shirts and tank tops. We’ve gone through ghosts and science gigs, so let’s shove some witches back into the mix (and their super cool attic, too).

Pro: Five seasons of witch drama.

Con: Zero street cred in 2016.

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There’s a wagon approaching and just as your tickets says – we’re heading to zombie central. This witty, modern take on a low-key undead outbreak is so entertaining in its long-term plot line that it is sure to keep you connected for hours on end, but also remains to keep a snappy originality to every episode. Personally, I would recommend a nice drinking game as company, lots of red velvet cake and even more strawberry syrup for effect.

Pro: It’s often comedic as well as dramatic.

Con: Falling in love with the cast to a point of mild obsession.

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The latest successor of Hitchcock’s “Psycho” empire is this psychological (duh), steady-paced drama starring Vera Farmiga (aka lady from “The Conjuring”, you’re welcome) and Freddie Highmore (aka dude from… “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”?). Anyway! This a more relaxed Halloween type of treat, burning the fires of horror nice and slow, with lesser focus on jumpy shock factors.

Pro: Steady and intriguing.

Con: If you’re looking for jump scares – look away.

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I just couldn’t do a Halloween list and forget to include the spin-off series of cult classic slasher “Scream”, could I? No way! Also, look at that alliteration game – so strong! Is it a good series? No way. Will it do the job? … Kind of? Yeah? It has great cliffhangers and little twists towards Ghostface’s identity, which make for a great topic of argument at parties. However, don’t expect a groundbreaking addiction.

Pro: Fun who-done-it element for groups of friends.

Con: Film remains unbeaten. Period.

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Well, here we are at the bottom of my list! I hope you enjoyed this little article of recommendations. For argument’s sake, I would just like to point out that the UK availability of Netflix shows has been taken under consideration. Does your country have different series to binge? Do you think I’ve missed a pretty big title? Share them with me and we can all have a spooky discussion!

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Film Reviews: “Joy” (2016)

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“Joy” has been a very long-awaited drama by David O. Russell and his usual ensemble of screen favourites, which I am sure you’ve heard of by now. It’s been gracing every underground station and double-decker bus, after all! Jennifer Lawrence has taken on the eponymous role, Robert De Niro plays her whimsical father, and Bradley Cooper is a savvy, television salesman. What an intricate, delicately-woven story writers Russell and Annie Mumolo have given creation to! Although I can tell you right now, the film deserves a prime spot on your January must-do list, let me explain why that is.

Joy Mangano is a divorced mother of two, who lives in a house with ex-husband Tony, mother Terri and gran Mimi. Their domestic abode is a chaotic mixture of financial strains, zero sleep, cheesy television operas and a daunting lack of any perspective for the future. Life is a boring, customer service work and a messy, broken home. Her father Rudy circulates dating adverts and services, coming in and out of his daughter’s life. Thinking it must be destiny, he begins a serious relationship with wealthy widow Trudy. One day Joy and her family find themselves on Trudy’s yacht, where after a wine spilling accident, Joy is left with cut-up hands. This gives her the ingenious idea of a revolutionary mop, which doesn’t need to be touched to be washed. It becomes clear that Joy has had brilliant invention ideas in the past, primarily as a child, which however, would get shut down by unsupportive parents. This time she isn’t letting go of her talent. Instead, she is more than determined to use it. Joy crafts her first Miracle Mop with help from best friend Jackie. Trudy is slowly persuaded to invest money in the product, thus giving Joy a business of her own. Step-sister Peggy is outlined as the most unsupportive and selfish being in their midst, constantly envious of any success Joy might accomplish. What the airport-worker-turned-inventor doesn’t know is that she is falling on a path of disappointments. Trudy gets her a shady contractor in California, Peggy and Rudy coil together behind closed doors, a second mortgage on the house is on the way and other people are out to steal Joy’s clever idea. Tony, being a close advisor to Joy, pushes her a slot with Neil Walker – an executive at QVC. After a small trip-up, Joy decides the bets way to sell her mop is appear on television herself. The sales begin piling, numbers keep rising. The Miracle Mop becomes a triumph. However, the world is closing in and Joy is in the centre. Most people she has trusted seem to have ulterior motives, and there’s a bigger battle waiting to be fought. Will the Miracle Mop be the answer to Joy’s prayers? Will she save her family from homelessness and bankruptcy, or are too many people trying to destroy her way to success?

Firstly, let me start off by saying this tandem is not a newly-found one. Last time we saw David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, they were sitting at the 85th Academy Awards. “Silver Linings Playbook” was a cinematic victory among audiences and critics alike. “Joy” pulls on some of the same strings – damaged families, broken people, subjectivity to a seemingly hopeless protagonist, who receives a chance to become their best self. In that aspect, the production is once again successful in its predecessor’s strongest points. That’s one of the reasons we’re hearing heaps of Oscar nods this year, “Joy” happens to be a safe guess for most.

Jennifer Lawrence is gentle in her madness, gracious in her blinding disappointment and fearless in the matters of her business. She is a well-developed character, who sees a lot of change and transforms along with it. Although she isn’t a glamorous, flamboyant and gorgeous figure, we still cheer the rugged housewife on. She makes the working class easily relatable, which is one of Lawrence’s greatest strengths. There is a quality in her acting, which combines the girl next door and the female warrior, intertwining their best and worst features together. In that way, she is unvanquished in “Joy”.

Virginia Madsen plays mother Terri, whose fear of bracing life after divorce is more than evident. She barely leaves her bedside and involves a great amount of time in a soap opera show so outrageously exaggerated, it manages to seep into Joy’s dreams. Madsen crafts a pitiful look at an older, single woman, who suffers in finding happiness. She manages to create an easily dislikable woman and parent, who steps up to redemption in the very last second.

That’s exactly the opposite of what I can say about Robert De Niro’s Rudy. He starts off being in the focus of better parenting. He has moved on with life, being humorous and enjoyable in light of his own, failing romantic chaos. However, as our story progresses, we peel away the layers of caring father, and reach an oblivious and reluctant man, who makes a show of love that isn’t there. We learn to feel disgusted with him and instead, realise how important Terri really is.

If this were a Shakespearian play, Peggy and Trudy would be the vile witches, while Tony and Jackie’d fill the shoes of queen guards. Although all four roles are secondary, that does not reduce their influence in the story. We connect to the sides they represent a lot better with the strength of their characters.

Over all, “Joy” is a film, which portrays struggle to regain lost hope and the possibilities life holds for those willing to enter the battle. David O. Russell tells this true story with a diverse glimpse at filmmaking and a first class script. Jennifer Lawrence is truly bathing in positive recognition for it, which is well deserved. A great January watch and perhaps even a DVD collection entry. As far as dramas are concerned, “Joy” pushes its way through to the finish line.

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Christmas Film Reviews: “It’s A Wonderful Life”

Here we are, folks, at the very end of my December countdown. It’s Christmas morning, I have my trusty coffee and a slice of Alaskan bombe. Although the streets outside are devout of snow, today feels festive enough solely in spirit. True, I wouldn’t have minded a nice pile or two to dive in, but London persistently refuses to make a habit of that. Anyway, I’ll jump straight into my film recommendation for the big night.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” is perhaps the most well-known Christmas production of all time. Undoubtedly, a classic which has withstood the tests of time and the tidal wave of quality competition thrown its way. Released back in the cold winter of 1946, this film acted as a much needed reminder of life’s beauty. Ugly pictures of war and death had been showering newspapers and television programmes for too long. Hollywood’s first step towards reflecting this recovery came in motion pictures. “A Beautiful Life” was the only movie ever completed under director Frank Capra’s independent studio – Liberty Films. His desire to break free of the Golden Age’s repressive, Capitalist exploits, gave the project five Academy Award nominations and with a reason.

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Enter George Bailey – Bedford Falls’s most altruistic and kind-hearted resident. His only dream is to see the world, explore everything life has to offer outside the boundaries of New York. Every time a door seems to open and give him a glimpse of those desires, someone runs by slam it shut. Instead of leaving for South America before college, George stays behind to run the family business after his father’s sudden death. The boy manages to save up for tuition fees once more, but ends up giving the money away so that younger brother Harry could receive an education instead. He protects and helps Bedford Falls’s people agains the overhanging tyranny of loan shark – Henry Potter, whose cruel intentions benefit no one, but his egocentric self. However, things are looking up when George marries the love of his life – Mary, a girl he’s known since childhood. They create a family and nestle down in an old house. Years go by and children start spurting, four to be exact, their affordable housing business seems to be thriving better than ever, life is looking up. In the peak of his happiness, a disaster comes to tear the joy apart. George is painfully used to being ripped off in one way or another, he rolls with the punches and tries to keep walking. However, that night is particularly daunting, leaving him in a desperate and suicidal track. George decides to jump off a near-by bridge and end the hurt for ever. Little does he know, Clarence the angel is watching over him that night. An angel who will make a single wish come true – let George see the world as it would have been if the man had never been born. A picture of decay and misery unfolds, playing out every worst scenario the town could have imagined. George learns just how important his kindness was to everyone around and releases the tunnel vision of success for the bigger picture of humanity. Upon realising life is an amazing gift, which should never be wasted on cruelty and disregard, he begins being Clarence for a chance to go back. Once more hug from his children, one more kiss from his wife, a chance to apologise and re-estimate his values, that’s George’s biggest Christmas desire. Moreover, surprises come stacking when the man returns home, and the puzzle pieces finally fit together, because life is truly an amazing treasure.

Take this as a promise from me – this film will melt your heart. The phrase “they don’t make them like they used to” is in full effect here, proving that old pictures have a quality about them that a blockbuster just cannot replace. Its script, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett is romantic, funny, happy, exhilarating and painfully honest about pain and struggles. The dialogue flows like a river, turbulent with snappy George’s humour and rhetoric, yet calm with its authenticity. It manages to touch big themes will small sentences. “What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary,” George said on his first date with future wife Mary. Infinitely beautiful their lines are to listen and see, about that there is not a single doubt inside my mind.

James Stewart is a name that should be a part of your film repository. An actor, father, war hero and generally kind human being, Stewart could not have been a better fit for the role of George Bailey had he consciously tried to be. He is absolutely extraordinary, quiet, but understood, funny, yet truthful and serious. Nothing more could I have asked from his character or portrayal, because Stewart masters both to perfection. His blue eyes stare at you through the black and white picture, digging holes inside your soul only to bury a seed of subtle positivity and joy.

Henry Travers is in the role of Clarence, who we only get to see for half the movie. In that time, however, he manages to become irreplaceable as a plot point and influence, creating an unshakable staple of the timeless tale. The angel who wants to get his wings and gives a small-town man a second chance at life, is the sidekick every person needs. Another supporting role goes to Donna Reed, who encapsulated George’s intelligent, funny and supporting wife Mary. The two’s connection shakes the ground with forceful tremors, leaving its audience wishing they had a romance of such proportions. From that first date, to their embrace over the phone and calm marriage that followed, a picture of an ideal is painted. Although critics gave Capra a hard time about his characters’ unrealistic idealism, they later re-visited that opinion, which was inevitable. It’s a chemistry and a love story, which surpass superficial expectations.

The theme of suicide is explored in one of the film’s culminations, which leaves spectators on the edge of their seat. George is someone we have created a relationship with and having to see him pushed to the limits of disappointment hits us just as hard. Capra does not simply gloss past the issue, dwelling into it through Clarence and George’s conversations. That’s partially what makes the recovery so powerful. We’ve seen the lows, we’ve hit rock bottom, so having a kick start back into happiness in its purest form feels exhilarating.

If you hadn’t figure it out by now, “It’s A Wonderful Life” could very well be one of my favourite films, period. It holds quality, which we rarely get to see in mass cinema nowadays, its cast is more than perfect for the complex set of characters we explore, and the rollercoaster of emotions leaves us gasping with overwhelming joy. There is nothing more that I could wish for in a perfect Christmas film. This is everything and more.

Now, have yourselves a very merry Christmas!

Thank you for following my blog this past year and hopefully I can continue to entertain you throughout the next one!

Stay amazing!

Megs X

Christmas Film Reviews: “Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

Long and furry fingers grace two horrid, bony arms,

in their middle is a tummy full of smelly, trash bin charms, 

when night fall comes, he watches all that sleep,

for evil plots are conjured in this green and spoiled creep.


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Jim Carrey is in the role of Grinch, Dr. Seuss’s beloved Christmas villain. Excuse my astonishingly bad rhymes there, but I thought the best way to start off a children’s character is by couplet-ing my way in. The film was directed by industry titan Ron Howard, who holds movies such as “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) & “The Da Vinci Code” (2006) under his belt. Now that we know both cast and mastermind are skilfully chosen, let’s venture into the plot itself.

Whoville lays tucked in the snowy mountains of a snowflake. Its people are polite and helpful, living together in their small town community. Towering above them, in the depths of a hill, is the Grinch’s dusty abode. He watches them throughout his days, as Christmas approaches, and makes evil plans to steal away the joy. That is until a little Cindy Lou Who, one kind and thoughtful child, remembers the lonely creature and decides to present him with a gift of friendship. She nominates the Grinch for a prestigious award, making him socialise with past family and friends in Whoville, rather than hide. We become acquainted with a past, which triggers sympathy and sadness, but can ego-centric mayor Augustus and his girlfriend Martha May turn their attitudes around? Can they right the wrongs of a childhood long-concealed? The Grinch isn’t willing to wait for an answer even a second longer, setting a plan to sweep Whoville’s houses of their precious offerings at once. It’s Cindy Lou’s last chance to change his mind and heart. It’s the final plea to make him see a light within the darkness.

Well, here comes our show-stealer – Grinch himself, who absolutely nails the eponymous archetype with flying colours. Although Cindy Lou (Taylor Momsen) sticks close behind, it’s Jim Carrey’s slapstick movements and brilliant grump portrayal that take the prize home. Mannerisms are an important attribute to any good comedy and Carry is famous for his physical capabilities, so being able to transfer them onto the Grinch gives the Dr. Seuss creation an entirely new dimension. Don’t get me wrong, the storyline had been explored in a television series many a-year before that. However, live action gave both kids and adults a fresh look at things.

Taylor Momsen was fluid and clever – carrying the phantasmagoric Whovian costume as naturally as her own outfit. No teeth, ears or braids felt out of place, props to the six-year-old girl, who carried them like a champion. Although Taylor has changed direction with a singing career in rock music, the role will remain a part of her professional affiliations for ever. She was the sweet child who saved a hopeless Grinch and turned hatred into love.

As far as production design is concerned, it’s refreshing to see a physical set up, opposed to a green-screened computer animation. We see the convenience of manufactured graphics entirely too much nowadays, so a large part of “The Grinch”‘s charm comes from its adorable set. To kids, this wouldn’t make much of a difference, but trust me, grown-ups of the world, that fuzzy Christmas feeling will flow a lot easier after watching a throw back like this. Ron Howard’s vision of the production definitely surpassed any expectations Dr. Seuss fans could have conjured. The live action rendition of “The Cat in the Hat” (2004) proved to be another challenge, which, however, failed to please audiences and was generally received badly by both viewerships and critics.

In summary, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is an amazing, heart-warming tale of grand imagination and comedic threads. Ron Howard’s spin of the all-time book classic has now become a classic in its own right. Jim Carrey’s green creature is an image I grew up with and never want to part, Taylor Momsen’s Cindy Lou gives children an image of kindness to strive to. All of these ingredients combine perfectly in a Christmas dessert worthy of a film night home.

Stay awesome!

Megs X

 

Christmas Film Reviews: “Elf”

You didn’t think I’d get through the entire countdown and forget about Will Ferrell‘s syrupy spaghetti, did you? I mean, holy nutcrackers, what kind of blogger do you take me for? This A-lister went on the Jimmy Fallon show last week to excitedly announce his position as upgraded St. Nicholas, which surely tickles us all. From this point forward, Yule is expected to be equal parts exciting, hilarious and mildly inappropriate, so tuck in! It’s forming to be quite a ride.

“Elf” was released back in 2003, starring said comedy titan, plus the likes of James Caan, Peter Dinklage and Zooey Deschanel. At the helm of this ship stands Jon Favreau, who might ring jingly bells from the “Iron Man” franchise. However, during its relatively short life, the flick has managed to reach and surpass competitive heights in the Christmas film category.

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We start at the beginning of things. Buddy is a newborn baby, who accidentally hitches a one-way ride from the nursery to the North Pole in Santa’s slay. Facing no alternative option, Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), the head helper, raises him as one of their own with care and love, no matter how awkwardly tall Buddy keeps on growing. One day, the truth manages to escape. Buddy’s biological parent is a publishing magnate called Walter – a humbug, and a human one at that! A trip to New York City ensues, aimed to spread festive spirit through the force of family values. Buddy makes friends with younger brother Michael (Daniel Tay), kind of scores a job at Gimbles and falls head over heels for Jovie, a co-worker with a lovely voice. Although Walter is greedy, selfish and work-obsessed, perhaps Buddy will manage to get past his chilly exterior. Who said even the hardest of hearts couldn’t be melted with some Christmas joy? After all, the best way to spread cheer is sing it aloud for all to hear.

Not much of an introduction can be given to Will Ferrell. He has been in the television and film industry for over two decades, spanning between SNL glory and silver screen success. Audiences tend to recognise a comedic talent when they see one, which explains how he was spotted as early as 1997. Buddy is portrayed with such childlike naïvety and tireless positivity that no stone remains unturned on the feel trip of his family reunion. Ferrell has mastered an iconic blank expression, which is open to conveying every emotion a kid surrounded by infinite wonder would have. His performance, as usual, is tummy-turningly done, case and point being the gum chewing scene upon his NYC arrival. Pure gold.

Zooey Deschanel contributed to the visual ensemble, yet also landed a helping hand to the audio devision of this production. Her voice is the first sound that draws Buddy to a friendship. She’s the anchor, which keeps him from losing grip with optimism. The two quickly find chemistry together, even if it is not a sexual one, which throws a sprinkle of romance in “Elf”. Deschanel’s natural ability to impart sardonicism and do it with a charming smile really takes to the dark humour spectators, myself included.

I’ll keep this review a comparatively short one. After all, there’s only one more day until Christmas! You’d rather be re-pinning photographs of cakes and turkeys rather than reading analytical film articles, and you know what, I don’t blame you one bit. Christmas is a time to sit back and take a look at life’s bigger picture. Sit back and relax with a good movie!

Stay awesome!

Megs x

 

Christmas Film Reviews: “Miracle on 34th Street”

With the realisation I might just get shot for this, I’d like to say I haven’t much favour for “Miracle on 34th Street”. It’s not normally a Christmas tick on my list, but since that opinion remains unpopular, I am reviewing it today, forcing an attempt to stay objective. Despite that, I cannot promise against a healthy dose of bias, which is hopefully not too harsh towards the picture. It stars legendary actor Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle, a.k.a. secret Santa; Mara Wilson, Elizabeth Perkins and Dylan McDermott. So far, every ingredient for a successful blizzard are present.

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Susan Walker does not believe in Santa Clause! She is a clever, well-spoken girl and the daughter of special events director Dorey Walker, who insists on teaching truthfulness over fiction. They live in a spacious flat by the city’s centre, neighbouring handsome lawyer Bryan, who is also Dorey’s boyfriend. When Kris Kringle, an old man with a fluffy, white beard comes into their lives with a promise of fantastical proportions, nobody truly believes him. However, Dorey is in need of help and simply can’t resist the opportunity to hire him. Soon enough everyone finds themselves in the midst of a dilemma. Kris Kringle lets the rivalry between him and an ex-mall Santa get a little too aggressive, Dorey is confused about her feelings for Bryan, who seems to want more than she can offer. Little Susie is left in between the merging sides of fact and legend and she doesn’t know who to believe anymore. Hopefully a Christmas miracle can swing by, magically making everything fit into place, but can 34th street make it through?

Now, here is my issue – “Miracle on 34th Street” feels more like a court film, which happens to feature Santa Clause, than it does the other way around. It’s a film about divorce, cynicism, hopelessness and… the judicial system of the United States? The plot’s supposed culmination, which is structured around Bryan’s defence for Kringle, is riddled with holes and, to my sensibilities, utter ridiculousness. If children believe the old man is truly Santa, then by God, it must be so! The dollar trick played during Judge Harper’s final sentencing tugs so hard on the obscurity of its logic, that it barely holds the resolution together. All of this is brought on, because Santa went to jail, and trust me – not in a cute, slapstick way.

Although the picture’s last five minutes tie loose ends and make everyone get an idilic, happy ever after, that does not make up for almost two hours of downfall. To my belief, it barely holds onto the brink of a spectator’s attention only by half a hair’s width.

Besides these points, I have to say the dialogue flowed smoothly and the craftsmanship of George Seaton shun through in that aspect. This rendition is a remake of 1947’s film of the same name. So, if we have to get analytical here, perhaps the storyline Seaton envisioned would have worked better for its original release time. The era was different, entertainment was meant for grown-ups rather than children. Therefore, giving it a second life in the nineties, when television and cinema had evolved to be any man’s game, should have endured larger changes.

Performances were delivered skilfully by the main cast. Mara Wilson is somewhat of a Macaulay Culkin case, having made her name a household item back in the day. Right now, she’s off into oblivion, although making theatrical appearances here and there. Dylan McDermott has become a regular on the small screen, with a very admirable lead role in the famous “American Horror Story”.

Although I’m all for changing it up every day of the countdown, I’m not sure how much this film can move its audience. Unlike the cheerfulness of “Arthur Christmas” or the desperation in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “Miracle on 34th Street” manages to miss all the marks for me. It holds close to no impact, despite being dotted with touching moments. Something went wrong, but you could still enjoy it. Give the film a shot and commend bellow what you think on the subject!

Stay awesome! Only one more week until Christmas!

Megs x

Christmas Film Reviews: “Home Alone”

This entry hardly needs an introduction. The “Home Alone” franchise made its start twenty five years ago and has become one of the most prolific Christmas traditions. Child star Macaulay Culkin graces its original instalment as young Kevin McCallister – an eight-year-old grump who has trouble dealing with an overcrowded family. Chris Collumbus, a known name in the world of production, made a step in directing this project and has harvested worldwide reputation from it. The very first festive video cassette I owned happened to be “Home Alone” and it brings me great nostalgia to say – here’s the long-overdue review.

The McCallisters are going on vacation to Paris and everything is set – luggage, cousins, aunties and pizza. A staggering fifteen people wonder about the Illinois home the day before Christmas eve, buzzing like bees for their big adventure. Among them is young Kevin, who seems to always get the raw end of the deal. Upon being punished for causing chaos, he wishes his family would simply disappear.That desire is fulfilled when the boy gets left behind next morning in the rush to a late airport drive. Life suddenly becomes a party for the kid, who has waited for an opportunity like this years in time. However, a pair of local robbers also have plans for Kevin’s home and they’d travel great lengths in fulfilling them. When nightfall comes, they make a move, not expecting the child to fight back in a determined attempt to defend his castle. From then on, it is a fast-track rollercoaster through laughter and excitement as both sides try to even the score. Will Kevin get his family back in time for Christmas day? Will he regret having pushed them away in the first place? One thing’s for sure, the Wet Bandits will receive everything they deserve that holiday, burns and bruises included.

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Macaulay Culkin’s star made a breakthrough with the “Home Alone” empire, launching the child’s career into A-list heights. It has since died down, but not before making his face a household image. Culkin’s performance has been appraised by spectators and critics for a reason. We see the innocence and naïvety of every child seep through, complimented by grand fantasies and painful realisations. A character and performance we can truly identify with, presented on a platter of catchy Christmas tunes and flickering faery lights.

Catherine O’Hara is a panicky, fidget-prone Kate McCallister, whose most memorable scene breaks the fourth wall of cinema. “We forgot Kevin!”, she shouts on her flight to Paris, having realised the unimaginable, yet hilarious gaff. That line has become so iconic, it has sprouted a boy band and a fandom.

Chances are I wouldn’t need to sell this film, because most of you have already fallen in love with it. However, it would’t hurt to try. There’s laughter, there’s tears, there’s the heartbreakingly sweet story of Old Man Marley and the adorable Gus Polinski’s polka group. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are the Wet Bandit duo, a thieving pair of dimwits, who get made into complete fools by young Kevin. Both actors are exceptionally believable, portraying finely grated stupidity and undying ambition for their task.

All in all, “Home Alone” has almost everything you’d need in a perfect Christmas film, albeit having missed Santa Clause himself. It’s a heart-warming reminder of our families’ importance in the homeliest celebration of them all.

Naturally, I recommend a cheese pizza with this gem, and maybe a cup of chocolate milk for the soul.

Stay awesome! Four days to go.

Megs x

Christmas Film Reviews: “The Santa Clause”

I remember renting the video cassette for “The Santa Clause” when I was only eight years old. It had already been established as a classic by people far beyond my knowledge and age, which fuelled the flames of childish wonder sky-high. Although its success rendered two sequels, they fell behind on both revenue and satisfaction grounds. Tim Allen, who plays the jolly Saint Nicolas himself, should have called it a day after the first instalment, reserving a note of victory upon exit. Director Michael Lembeck seemed just as invested, continuing the series twelve years after the original’s release. Good effort, guys, but nothing beats film number one and here is the reason why.

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Plotted around the story of Scott Calvin (Allen) – a divorced toy salesman, who is struggling to connect with only son Charlie, trouble comes when an unexpected guest falls off his roof on Christmas night. An empty-seated sleigh awaits on top of Calvin’s house, led by a full package of reindeer sniffling the crispy cold air. Unknowingly, Scott and Charlie are about to discover just how real Christmas magic is a the revelation will change their lives for good. After a colourful visit to the North Pole and Santa’s workshop, they return back home confused and bewildered by the almost unreal adventure. As Calvin begins to morph into his new position of festive guardian, he receives a beard that defies trimming and  a tummy able to devours cookies like a mighty paper shredder. Carol, Charlie’s mother, refuses to believe this process is the real spirit of Christmas and does everything within her power to fight for their son’s custody. But in the thick of family season, it’s up to Scott Calvin and his right hand elf Bernard to show her and the world otherwise.

Per nineties ritual, the soundtrack to this picture is one of its most important ingredients. Composed by Michael Convertino, it conveys the triumphant highs of jollity and the thin lows of stumbling mishaps to perfection. For a true representation of the rollercoaster tonality, listen to “Let’s Go”, which is number one on the album. If that doesn’t get you in the mood for a warmly tucked blanked in front of the television set, then all hope shall be abandoned.

The elves, most of which appear as children, but are aged at an impressive number of centuries, help restore the balance of cheer just as much. Bernard’s dry stares and flat humour are sure to get you giggling over his stone cold facial expressions and nonchalant supernatural terminology. There is nothing more priceless than a grumpy, yet loving old soul trapped in the body of a prepubescent boy.

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Tim Allen himself stays true to the comedic timbre of his Scott Calvin, complaining about lactose intolerance to a sleeping child and  trying to jog the Santa weigh off on a miniature treadmill. Despite these sunny-side-up undertones, the spectator is still majorly faced with the issue of divorce and abandonment. Struggling to prove the truth, Calvin slowly loses grip on the last fragments of family he has. Allen emphasises on this in equal measures, levelling hopelessness with undying optimism. However, this wouldn’t be a Christmas film without a miraculous bounce back, so a group of special-op elves fly to the rescue.

Let’s not forget the entire sequence of events is triggered by the accidental death of Santa Clause. Not a lot of movies are brave enough to pull a freak plot point such as this banger here, but Lembeck twists it notably well. Instead of lingering on the morbidity of it all, we find ourselves urging it on. If the spirit of Christmas himself fell down from my roof, I imagine I’d be calling an ambulance instead of thinking up possibilities.

Through medical appointments, court dates, custody battles and a police arrest, “The Santa Clause” manages to emerge as festive as the next film of its kind. It shows that the power of Christmas can bring the hardest of hearts to peace and the grimmest of situations to light. It finishes strong and exhilarating, feeding the desire to call your mum and dad, or step up and even visit them. Maybe it’ll be worth sleeping in your old single bed under a Jason Sudeikis poster, you never know.

May your Christmas be merry through thick and thin, because it’s the time of year where everyone’s a little nicer and a tad more generous. Be kind and be happy, and bring the same to everyone around.

Now pour yourself a cup of eggnog.

Stay awesome!

Megs x

 

Christmas Film Reviews: “The Muppet Christmas Carol”

As a self-proclaimed muppet, it would have constituted as a sin not to review this film in my twelve-day countdown. Having grown up on “Sesame Street” and its colourful, fuzzy characters, this rendition of the Charles Dickens classic really strikes the deep-rooted home feels. Michael Caine is our grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge, huffing and puffing at any jolliness the streets of London have to offer. Two narrators give us a real account of how Christmas night would change its meaning for ever – Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat. All of this gooey goodness is directed by experienced puppeteer Brian Henson and adapted by franchise veteran Jerry Juhl.

Unlike “Scrooged”, which I reviewed back on Sunday, “A Muppet Christmas Carol” does not attempt to modernise the timeline. We find ourselves in nineteenth century England, thrown in a blizzard of shoppers, children and tired commuters. Everyone’s rushing home to the burning fireplace, where a glimpse of magic awaits them for a single eve of blissful holiday. Ebenezer dismisses their merrymaking as unnecessary frivolities, but when perished business partner Marley makes an unexpected visit from the dead, this old fart is forced to listen. Three spirits will come, voices of reason and compassion, to show Scrooge why kindness and love need prevail over his cruelty. From then on, a classic Dickens tale unravels through the past, present and future. We embark on a thill-filled ride across two households and an old school, to look for Ebenezer’s last traces of humanity.

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Kermit the Frog plays trustee bookkeeper Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy is his loyal wife. Their family suffers enough by the hand of Scrooge and his minimal pay, but as destiny has it worse would come. Tiny Tim, the Cratchits’ little boy suffers from illness and shan’t make it much longer. This is one of the turning points both character and audience-wise, as the theme of hopelessness and loss are explored. Even though the muppets are a comedic bunch, Henson successfully emphasises those grim motifs without taking away from the children’s experience.

Michael Caine is a reputable actor, whose portfolio extends far and wide with timeless pieces such as Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, Cuarón’s “Children of Men” and Barber’s “Harry Brown”. He has been characters we’ve loved, loathed, feared and admired. This versatility is welcome in a colourful man such as Scrooge, whose transition between the past and future is a bumpy road of emotional change. Caine excels in the challenge of fitting those shoes by creating a version of Ebenezer that stands out from the rest. In a classic sense, he will always be one of the few faces Dickens is associated with in this tale.

This happens to be the only film in my countdown which features puppeteering, so for that reason I definitely recommend adding it to your Christmas list. It brings a touch of diversity in an otherwise same-y collection of festive entertainment, plus, the kids enjoy a break from animation. Well, folks, I’d recommend scooting comfortably on the sofa with a plate of cookies and milk, wrapping up in a warm blanket and enjoying the ride.

Stay awesome! Only ten days ’till Christmas to go!

Megs x