Hachi: A Dog’s Tale


It’s time to look at a film based on a true story from a long time ago. I’m sure you’ve heard the tale of Hachi/Hachiko from back in the day. Well, this is a modern re-imagining of it. With films based on true stories you already know the ending so it’s all about the execution. Is the film still able to sell you on the characters when you know how their stories conclude or will you be left wanting for more. I’d say the film seems like a pretty good adaption of the event. The characters are nice enough and the film doesn’t try to get too over dramatic.

The film starts off with Parker’s grandson talking about his hero. He picks Parker’s dog Hachi as his hero. We then cut to a flashback where we learn about this. Once upon a time, Parker was leaving his train when he saw a lost puppy all alone. He picked up the dog and took him home. He couldn’t find the owner for the puppy even after posting flyers everywhere so he ended up keeping him. The dog’s name appeared to be Hachi based on the symbol on his collar so that became his name. Parker’s wife Cate was not a fan of the dog for a while but eventually relented. The two of them shared a good time until the end of Parker’s days. Hachi never forgot him and ultimately a statue was built in Hachi’s honor.

It’s a pretty good emotional film. I’m glad Hachi ultimately had a good run and the film didn’t go for a tragic twist like him dying of anything other than natural causes. The film portrays Hachi as a very intelligent dog who really knew what was going on and even memorized Parker’s trains. He was a nice dog who always brightened up everyone’s day. Hachi was also resourceful with how he would find ways out of the house and paths to Parker. Even the family moving out of the neighborhood wasn’t enough to stop him.

Meanwhile Parker did a pretty good job of looking after Hachi. While he did his best not to get attached he always treated Hachi very well. If anything he would have spoiled him further if not for Cate slowing things down initially. My only real complaint is Hachi having to stay outdoors the whole time. I’ve never agreed with having the dog outside. The dog should always be in the apartment/house at all times free to do what he wants. A dog should be given complete freedom to have fun. A dog house is really excluding the dog from the full experience the film shows that Hachi was always sad to be out there.

Cate was the worst character for a majority of the film, but fortunately she got better by the end. Deciding not to look after Hachi even by the end was pretty sketchy though. Hachi needed at least one of the owners to stay with him even if they never developed a bond the way he did with Parker. It just makes sense that they wouldn’t be super close since we never got to see her play with him. Cate was definitely a much tougher owner than the rest of the family.

Then you’ve got the daughter Andy and her husband Michael. They do their best to look after Hachi a bit too, but give up way too fast. They definitely should have kept Hachi with them instead of letting him freeze out in the cold for so long. Things worked out well for Hachi but it was still quite the gamble. They had to depend on the fact that it was a nice community for Hachi to have a good time. One of the best characters in the film was definitely the hot dog vendor Jasjeet. Jasjeet provided for Hachi in the end and liked the dog from the start. He was always glad to have some company and it did both characters good.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film like this where every character is fundamentally nice. It’s not the kind of movie that really needs an antagonist because real life doesn’t always have a villain like that. It’s hard to picture a community being so nice and welcoming to Hachi nowadays though. These were just different times and it’s nice to see how peaceful and wholesome the adventure was. The film isn’t particularly long so it’s over with pretty quick.

Overall, Hachi is a solid film. It’s definitely on the emotional side especially since you know how it’s going to end. It’s easier for a person to be alone than for an animal because they don’t really understand why they are now alone. It’s as if the person just vanished out of the blue. They won’t be able to meet up again until Heaven and that’s even assuming that the owner was Christian. If you’re up for a story like this then Hachi is as good an adaption as any. It’s not really my kind of film but you should more or less know what you’re getting into right away unless you’re unfamiliar with the legend. If you don’t know how it ends then I suppose the film will be more unexpected which could work out well.

Miracle on 34th Street (1994) Review


It’s time to look at another adaption of Miracle on 34th Street. It’s definitely a pretty well known story to have so many adaptions and it’s a story that doesn’t grow old so it’s always cool watching it again. This film does a good job of telling the story. There really isn’t a lot different from the others if you ask me, but it’s all executed well as expected. I dare say that it may even beat the original this time around. There are no real weaknesses here although Santa is a little more emotional than I’d expect.

The movie starts off with Kris (AKA, possibly the real Santa) noticing that the Santa who would be in the big parade is drunk. He’s pretty outraged about this and scolds the guy before going on his merry way. Dorey shows up and fires the guy before heading over to Kris and making him the new Santa. It all goes very well for a while with Kris helping the store’s reputation and making everyone happier. The villains don’t like this though so the rival store hires two thugs to bring the drunk Santa back and frame Kris. Kris will have to think quickly in order to turn things around or he may spend a long time in jail.

One change here I suppose is that corporate is more of an active villain. The CEO actually gets complete villain music accompanying him and his two lackeys are basically the villains from Home Alone. They’re not the brightest characters around and tend to make a mess of things, but they keep on trying. They actually do get some success in the end with their framing plan so I have to give them some props here.

I have to take props away from Kris though. He gets easily tricked and provoked by the villains pretty quickly as he takes his cane out and whirls it around like a weapon. It’s not very hard for the villains to make it look like he’s making an attack and the drunk follows him around outside to seal the deal. Didn’t anyone see this guy harassing an elderly citizen? It’s a shame that nobody on that block had the courage to defend him or to at least back up his story of being provoked. The thing is though, Santa shouldn’t have resorted to violence so quickly anyway. He needs to be the bigger man in this situation and in the end he just didn’t pull it off.

As for the other characters, we’ve got a good cast. Susan is better than the average kid character in most films. She is skeptical of Santa existing which is good because he is fake. I’m actually with Dorey here on not teaching her kid that Santa is real because it’s good to keep them honest from the start. Even if you let the kid choose for herself if she wants to believe in Santa or not, you shouldn’t be trying to convince her of something that’s not true. Dorey could let her be into more kid stuff, but she didn’t seem unreasonable and I dare say that Susan turned out pretty well from what we saw.

As a result I’m less on Bryan’s side here. He is really trying to push the Santa angle despite it not being what Dorey wants. He really shouldn’t be surprised when she turns down his proposal which also was a little bit out of the blue. He seems like a nice guy for sure, but given how long he’s been with Dorey he really shouldn’t have been quite as surprised as he was at her answer. It seemed to be pretty in character for her.

Then we have Dorey who is a pretty solid character. She is absolutely a facts person who has no time for Santa or things like that. She’s also handled the annual parade for so long that she doesn’t really care about it anymore. I suppose if I was doing the same parade year after year I probably wouldn’t care about watching it and would just take a nap too.

One of the best parts of any film with a court scene is the actual court scene and this movie was no different. It was a lot of fun to see Kris enter the stage and to have everyone making a ton of comments. Kris did almost ruin the whole thing again and proved himself to be a tough character to root for, but everyone else was ready to do the majority of the legwork. It’s a fun set of scenes and managed to stay entertaining all the way though.

Miracle on 34th Street has good pacing and is just a lot of fun. It’s a solid film to see on Christmas especially, but would hold up well at any time. The writing is sound and the character cast is good. Kris is weaker than in the previous adaption, but it countered by having a better kid and I do like how the villains were handled as well. It’s fine to have them get a little extra animated considering how much money is at stake. It’s reasonable for the villains to be trying anything they can.

Overall, What more needs to be said? This is a very fun film you can watch with the whole family and debate on if Santa is real in this film or not. The movie is fairly ambiguous on it and you could make the case that some things don’t make sense if he doesn’t have supernatural abilities. Personally I think that this version of Kris just was a bit insane. At the very least he seemed to take things literally a whole lot and didn’t notice when people were making fun of him or putting him in a bad spot. Being the real deal doesn’t mean he had to be smarter, but it would have helped his case. If he is a bit crazy then it’s fine for everyone to be tricking him the whole time.

Overall 7/10

The Nine Lives of Christmas Review


Hallmark has returned once more and delivers one of the strongest Christmas films I’ve seen from them. This one has a plot that’s a little more unique next to the others and it was a fun way to wrap things up for Christmas. This one even has a bigger focus on the animals with the Cat playing a big role here. I’d like to see the Dogs take center stage, but cats are cool too of course.

The film starts off by introducing us to Zachary. He’s a firefighter who does a lot of good in the community. As a result everyone just loves the guy and he isn’t really a big fan of the attention. He’s together with a model at the moment, but doesn’t believe in long-term relationships. This in itself raises some questions, but at the moment his life is still pretty complete. That’s when he meets a cat named Ambrose who belonged to someone who recently died. The cat has grown attached to him so now they share a house. The problem is that Zachary’s girlfriend doesn’t like cats and he will now have to choose between them.

Meanwhile you have Marilee who is studying to be a vet. She is very close and is working on Finals in her last year. She has decided not to get into a relationship until she is graduated which is quite admirable. Unfortunately her sister and her husband do not want to wait that long and keep trying to pair her up with someone. Marilee quickly fibs that she and Zachary are going out and must now find a way to grab him before the big party. Can she pull it off?

The film has quite a lot of story. Even the two paragraphs of plot I put there isn’t quite the whole thing, but it’s hard to say much more without going into spoilers. If we’re being real here there isn’t a lot to spoil just due to the nature of what kind of film it is, but you should still discover as much of it for yourself as you can. In a way the plot is the flip side of a lot of the others. This time it’s the guy who already has someone but is about to get his head turned when the new girl on the block shows up.

From the start of the film Zachary is portrayed as a pretty nice guy. He’s a little on the humble side and prefers not to be the center of attention, but he’ll put up with it if it’s for a good cause like taking photos for the calendar. I don’t think he needed to be all that embarrassed about someone giving him a hug though considering he saved her life. That would probably just be a very happy moment for him since it’s a moment where he can see first hand the good that he’s done over the years.

Crunch time for Zachary’s character is with the cat though. It goes without saying that if he picked a person over a cat he was going to really sink as a character. Animals come first and usually the person who tells you to choose one or the other is the one who should lose out there. He was a bit slow on the uptake when looking for the cat though. I think Zachary should have suspected foul play from the start but he surprisingly didn’t even seem to consider it. Good thing Marilee was around.

Meanwhile you have Marilee who is a little more awkward than the other leads. She definitely tends to mess up a bit when talking to Zachary but is always ready with her pet skills. I think she had better reason to jump to conclusions than a lot of the other Hallmark leads and I think Zachary should have handled that situation better. Marilee stays professional throughout though and just seems like a nice enough person. Painting the whole wall definitely seems like it would have taken a great deal of effort.

I was glad her co-worker stood up for her later on when someone tried to find out her info. Marilee’s boss was definitely pretty weak willed so at least the store has someone who can be helpful. The whole situation at the pet store still feels like a big betrayal considering how well known Marilee was for being a great worker. It’s briefly mentioned that the owner is afraid, but I really don’t see why he would be. I suppose we needed the situation to happen, but it could have been done in more of a realistic way. Marilee’s sister was also a fun character. She was always very supportive. While she may have been a little pushy with getting Marilee together with someone, at least she was doing it for the right reasons. Marilee just needed to point out that having fun while alone is easy.

One thing that makes this film especially strong is how good the supporting cast is. I believe there were more of these characters around compared to usual and they gave sound advice throughout. Zachary certainly got to hear a lot of wise advice from the other firefighters and Marilee had her own support crew as well. These characters may joke around from time to time, but ultimately they are here to help and do a good job of it. Marilee’s friend helps her create a profile and takes her mind off of her current issues for example and I already talked about the others. A good supporting cast helps to propel the main characters to greater heights and that’s what happens here.

Overall, The Nine Lives of Christmas is definitely a nice film to check out. It’s a fun film as expected and there are no real weaknesses here. Adding in the cats was definitely a good idea since it’s always fun to have them around. Without the cats the film would lose a lot of what makes it unique in the first place. Films usually want to have some kind of hook to make it different from the rest and the cats were definitely a good way to do that. No worries, the film doesn’t feel like you’re watching nine movies back to back. The pacing is solid and the story is engaging from start to finish so I recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

2019 Christmas game wrap-up!

All right guys another Christmas has come and gone. It was my largest haul yet I believe as I got 22 games this year. This is exactly why I love to wait until games are 2-5 bucks instead of grabbing em while they’re 60. While some games are worth snagging right away you can do without most of them til they’re cheaper. Gamestop also had their best deal yet this year with that buy 1 get 1 free deal. It’s just unheard of to do something like that so I was impressed! I have taken a picture with all the games I got, but I’ll also list them here since it can be hard to read them.

Need For Speed ProStreet
Brave
Topspin 4
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Little Big Planet 2
Angry Birds Trilogy
NFL Tour
Ghostbusters
Midnight Club Los angeles
Blur
Terminator Salvation
Wario Land Shake It
Yoshi’s Woolly World
Pikmin 3
Madden 19
DuskDiver
Beyblade Metal Masters
Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness
Diddy Kong Racing DS
Mairo and Luigi Partners in Time
Dragon Ball Z Attack of the Saiyans

Beating all of these should definitely take a long time but I look forward to taking a crack at it. Additionally here are some of the snacks I ended up going for. You can see how I tried to decorate my cookies a bit with the spoon and the emblems. I must admit that it all came out pretty good. Also, using the Chocolate spoon for the Ice Cream is brilliant because that’s one less utensil you’ll have to clean up in the end.

Merry Christmas folks!

Christmas at the Plaza Review


It’s time for the third Hallmark film. This time we’ve got a big hotel to play with in terms of the decorations so it looks really nice by the end. The Hotel already looked good on its own so that doesn’t really come as a surprise anyway. It’s another good movie and while it does borrow a lot of elements from the others, that’s true for most of these titles. It’s all about how you use the elements and this one does a pretty good job I’d say.

The movie starts off with Jessica heading to the hotel as a historian here to do a piece. She finds out that this actually entails finding a theme for the hotel’s big Christmas anniversary. That’s not really her area of expertise as she prefers history to celebration but then she meets the guy in charge of the lights, Nick. Nick is all about Christmas and he loves putting on a good shot. He’s going to help her find her Christmas spirit and make this big showcase a success. The toughest part is going to be finding the missing ornament. See, every year the hotel always had a different tree topper for the Hotel except for one year where it seems to have been empty. The owner Amanda will not accept a blank spot in her presentation so Jessica is going to have to move planets to find this. Can she do it?

First off, I have to say that Amanda is definitely a little more unreasonable than the other Hallmark owners I’ve seen. She refuses to listen to a single thing that Jessica says. Now I know that she is hyped for the big celebration and there’s nothing wrong with that, but if Jessica does have an actual issue you’d think that Amanda would want to hear about it. Then you can also factor in the fact that Jessica almost did leave the project and Amanda really would have been in quite a bit of trouble there. I suppose she just likes to live dangerously.
Reginald is one of the main characters here, but he can be a bit on the annoying side at times. He has a past that really comes into play as the film goes on so you can give him some sympathy points. That being said, he could have been a little more helpful. Even if he didn’t want to actively help Jessica he could have at least given her a direct answer on what he knew and that would have saved them all a whole lot of time searching and everything. It’s one of those things that should have been simple, but he complicated the issue.

Nick’s a pretty good main guy. I was glad that he was very assertive compared to a lot of the others and also didn’t even entertain his ex’s proposition to show up once more. In this case he handled the situation perfectly even if Jessica did take things the wrong way. Nick was firm without being rude and didn’t let any of this psyche himself out of the job. He was professional at all times. Meanwhile Jessica is one of the weaker heroines. She jumps to conclusions pretty quick with Nick near the end of the film which didn’t seem all that reasonable. Additionally I feel like she was a bit rude to Nick at the start for no reason. Once he pointed out that he did have a sign up warning people not to get too close, Jessica seemed to take it personally. She was the one who bumped into him so I don’t see why she was so defensive. She even refused his help right away even though Amanda is the one who told him to help. Things worked out, but it was in spite of Jessica as opposed to being because of her at some points.

While she may not be as good as some of the others, it should still be noted that the character cast is still good. You don’t have to be perfect to be a great character after all and these two were able to hold their story up pretty well. We got our classic family Christmas party as well and this time we even got the “current boyfriend” character. I feel like it’s been a while since we got this guy to show up so that was nostalgic. He’s about as obvious as you would expect. The guy always loves talking about his job and barely seems to care about what Jessica does.
He’s quick to tell her to give up her job to work with him on his project which shows how dismissive he is. The guy was more eager to get his next drink than to hear what she was going to say. All of the warning bells were there from the start and the party was probably one of the last straws. That was a time where he openly said her job didn’t sound as important and he sent her off on her own. The cab driver helped to salvage the situation at least. It does mean that this romance is a complete rebound even compared to some of the others though so that part doesn’t work quite as well. Even if your current relationship didn’t work out, you’d think that it would take a few weeks or months until you move on to the next guy. If you can do it in the span of a day then the feelings may not be as serious as you think.

Overall, Christmas at The Plaza is a fun film. It’s a pleasant Christmas movie as you would expect. There’s a lot to look at with all of the Christmas lights and having one of the characters actually be an professional decorator was a good move so the film could really go all out. We get some nice Christmas movies as well and this one will have a lot of replay value as you’d expect. It’s true that after a while all of the Hallmark films start to feel the same, but I’ve never thought that was a bad thing. It’s like having a favorite movie and then you see everyone remaking it every year. It may be the same story, but it’s just as strong as it ever was. If you haven’t watched this one yet then it’s time to change that. The period from Christmas to New Year’s is still super festive outside and it’s never too late to check this one out.

Overall 7/10

My Christmas Dream Review


Time for the next Hallmark title! This one definitely puts the lead in the toughest dilemma yet because you need a lot of creativity to get out of this one. I don’t consider myself a very artistic person for the masses. I’ll make things that look great to me which is really what I tend to focus on, but if I have to make something to impress someone else then it’s gonna be tricky. I take the same approach to things like cooking as well. I make things that I would love to eat but making things for someone else to find delicious is trickier. I figure if they don’t like it that means more for me….

The movie takes place at a McDougal’s store. They are celebrating their 50th anniversary and the store always has a unique Christmas display each year. As it’s their biggest one yet there is a lot of pressure to make a really good one. Unfortunately, the store had to let go of their main painter a few days before the display because he was missing deadlines and also ruined Christina’s outfit right before her meeting with the big wigs. Christina took this assignment for granted herself, but now Victoria has implied that if she does a good job of it then a promotion is at hand. Not just any promotion, but a promotion to Paris! Christina has always wanted to go there so now she is prepared to do whatever it takes to make this display a success!

One of the big impact moments here is when Christina allows Kurt to be fired in the opening scene. It’s sort of like a Peter Parker moment from his origin only this time I don’t necessary believe Christina handled the situation that badly. Sure, she could have spent a little more time discussing the situation, but her logic was pretty sound. The boss is the one who should be making the call about his subordinate particularly as she had never even met him before. The guy missed the deadline and while he gave his excuse about a second job (Which is a little sketchy because everyone guilt trips Christina throughout the whole movie, but it’s not like he’s out of jobs right?) you do ultimately need to pull through. If the organization is counting on you to get something done and on their 50th anniversary meeting as well, you’ve got to get it done. This would have been even worse if the owner Victoria had been the one to walk in there. She absolutely would have gotten rid of him in a snap.

Kurt’s a good guy otherwise. He mostly stops guilt tripping Christina after the opening scenes. The guy’s a little timider than some of the other guys though as he doesn’t really ask Christina out directly and instead uses his son as a shield the whole time. I don’t blame him for being a bit dismissive the first time they meet since he had literally just been fired, but after she helps his kid out he’s nice enough. The party they went too was also pretty neat. I’m sure I would have passed on the karaoke but it was a good way to get her mind off the deadlines.

The kid’s a little on the annoying side though. He escapes from home just to go to the mall and complain to Santa without thinking about how much it would make everyone worry. He gives Christina a hard time throughout the movie as well but she really handles the whole situation super well. The film treats Christina taking 30 minutes to an hour off from work as the end of the world, but that just means the rest of her staff are terrible at their jobs. I don’t care if she’s the best staffer in the store, they can’t rely on her to the point where she can’t leave for a few minutes.

Her second in command was very unreasonable to this effect. While she ultimately didn’t rat her out to Victoria, I don’t think there was anything to rat out. The whole point of being a second in command is that you have a lot of work to do so if you can’t handle it then it’s not the position for you. I couldn’t believe it whenever she would appear and start sulking. It seemed a little unreasonable to me personally. Meanwhile Victoria was mostly good although the one part I took issue with was her decision to use last year’s display over the one Christina presented. While I understand that you wouldn’t want to use a low quality one, you can’t just re-use the last design. For one thing, people would remember it since it just happened. If you’re going to use an old one then it has to be one from way back in the day. It also felt like she gave up a little too easily considering that she’s such a big business guru. What would have made more sense was to have a meeting with another employee and then promoting him or her if they came up with something.

You will feel bad for her in the end though. She’s about to have some good character development and has great Christmas plans only for Christina to walk in with a revelation. It’s a super happy ending for Christina but not a great one for Victoria. The ending is a little on the cheesy side this time since Christina really gets to have her cake and eat it too. It takes away from her decision a bit because it feels like both options could have worked. I am glad that the friend didn’t get the position though.

What I was expecting to be an option from the start is Christina inviting Kurt to come to Paris with her. He would bring his kid and could start his art business fresh there. It would have been a pretty ambitious ending and of course he might not want to leave at the drop of a hat like that, but I think it would have just made a lot more sense. Ah well. Christina is a solid lead although I think she probably should have started planning for the end of the year display a lot sooner. Considering that she was pretty obsessed with work at the start, I was surprised that she didn’t have it ready.

Overall, this is another really solid film to watch. As always the landscapes chosen here look really good. We also get some nice Christmas music which is always fun to listen to. The soundtrack is just on point and helps give the film a festive feel from the start. The writing is great as always so there’s nothing really negative here. Films like this are just a lot of fun to watch and they’ll leave you feeling happy as well. It’s perfect to watch around Christmas, but naturally I can recommend it at any point in the year. A good movie is a good movie no matter what day it is.

Overall 7/10

Coming Home For Christmas Review


It’s time to look at a classic Hallmark Christmas film. I’ve actually seen quite a few of these as of late so expect for a mini marathon of reviews. First up is Coming Home For Christmas and it hits all of the right notes like most Hallmark films do. This one is a little weaker relative to their usual ones though due to the addition of a love triangle which really wasn’t all that necessary. Still, you can expect a wholesome experience as always.

The movie starts with Lizzie’s friend getting her a gig as the house manager for a rich family. She is eager to get to work, but unfortunately the lady of the house does not like her. This is an old lady named Pippa who is currently at odds with Robert, the executor of the estate who plans on selling the place. While they may be mother and son, they disagree on getting rid of the house. Lizzie has to find a way to get these two to open up to each other while also making this the best Christmas they’ve ever had. She has always loved a good Christmas party and hopes to get these characters to appreciate this as well. Meanwhile Robert has a brother named Kip who likes Lizzie so she will have to decide what’s more important, romance or her job.

It goes without saying but going out with your boss or even another co-worker is typically a bad idea. There’s a lot that can go wrong and there’s no real way it can help your job performance. Lizzie also isn’t all that interested in Kip from the start. If you’ve ever seen any romance film you know who she was going to choose. Interestingly though, the film doesn’t paint Kip in as bad a light as they usually do for the fall guy. The traditional formula for these films is that the girl is already with someone, but it turns out that he isn’t too invested in the relationship so then she rebounds with the first guy she meets.

In this case Lizzie wasn’t with someone at the moment so there are 2 new guys with one of course having to lose out. Kip is introduced as a bit of a flirt who can’t deal with a serious relationship so that means he is doomed here. He does try to say that this time will be different and while I’m not inclined to believe him, the film doesn’t send clear signals on this. I suppose it’s up to your interpretation, but either way Lizzie wasn’t interested so that was that.

This means that this film had a little more romance than the others although to an extent they all have a lot of romance with Hallmark. The film’s at its best when it’s not worrying about the tension here and instead focuses on how Lizzie makes a good party. With enough resources and time you can do a lot of creative things and these films will give you some good ideas.

The characters are also solid. Lizzie’s got a good attitude when working on the job and doesn’t let all of the antagonistic characters keep her down. She keeps trying to win over Pippa with her ideas until she eventually succeeds. She also doesn’t jump to conclusions the way that Robert does. There’s always one character who makes the leap but she stayed strong here. Lizzie really did her best to make Christmas special for everyone, but I think one important thing about her character is that she is a professional. Whether or not she became their friend you can’t deny that she did an amazing job setting up the party. The house looked a lot better than it had originally.

As for Robert, he’s a decent character. He takes a while to come around but for the most part he was still pretty cordial. He didn’t get upset every time he happened to show up and Lizzie was taking a break. He was reasonable there since he knew she was doing a good job and that’s how a boss should be. I do think he could have done a better job explaining to Pippa and the others why they had to sell the house though. Due to how the plot twists go and why they need to sell, I don’t see how everyone was so aggressive towards him. Surely at least Kip and the sister should have understood.

As for Kip, he wasn’t as good as Robert mainly because he was trying to be with Lizzie from the start. She brought up the valid point that effectively she works for Kip since he’s a part of the family so that dynamic was never going to work. Kip really should have given up at that point. Meanwhile Pippa is definitely not the nicest character, but she’s not too exaggerated or anything. She may not be all that kind to Lizzie, but she’s not slamming doors in her face or anything like that. She also does go along with the lead’s idea when she acknowledges that it is sound.

As mentioned earlier, this film is just solid all the way around. The writing is good and I enjoy the scenery we get in the various shots. The characters are all written well and the movie’s pacing is on point. There’s time for a lot to happen, but it never drags on. Romance movies really aren’t my thing, but the Hallmark Christmas films consistently deliver so maybe this is the winning formula. The ending surprisingly isn’t quite as happy as most of the others when you think about it. Of course Lizzie and Robert get a happy ending, but Lizzie’s sister and some minor characters we didn’t know the name of had to lose a bit. The sister should be okay since I think the agent keeps money no matter what but the other guys were ready for a new experience. Naturally Kip lost out as well. Still, the positive parts of the ending outweigh the sadder parts as no character should be particularly crushed with how this turned out.

Overall, Coming Home For Christmas is a solid film. It does remind you that you gotta be careful not to let business get in the way of enjoying Christmas and spending time with everyone. Without Lizzie at the ready Robert probably would have completely lost touch with everyone in the end. The setup is more old school with everyone arriving for several days at a large mansion to do all these traditions, but you can certainly do the same in a smaller set-up as well. The only thing this film was missing was more Christmas food as we didn’t get to see the cast eating all that much.

Overall 7/10

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer Review


It’s time to look at a very well known Christmas film from back in the day. The title already lets you know that this is either going to be a meme worthy film or it’s going to be terribly mean spirited. It’s the former and the film is a complete success. The movie just rolls with this crazy premise and it’s one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a long while. The characters are all portrayed perfectly and the only negative with the film is that it ends so early. I could have kept going with this movie for at least another half hour or so.

The movie starts by introducing us to the cast. Grandma’s run a successful store for a very long time. Unfortunately she is so nice that the town tends to take advantage of her by going in and doing shopping, but then remembering that they “forgot” to bring some money so they have to take it on credit. Cousin Mel has had enough of this and tells Grandma to charge these people. Grandma will do no such thing, but Mel knows that soon they will all be bankrupt. She needs to find a way to get some money for her family. That’s when Austin shows up. He’s an ultra rich guy who has bought all of the stores in the city with Grandma’s being the only one left. If Mel can find a way to bump off the grandparents or get them to sign a deal to sell the place she will be able to make herself rich…and pay for the family to live well enough. It’s mission time!

Wait a sec…what about the title right? Well, Grandma gets run over by a reindeer early on in the film and vanishes. She is presumed dead by most, but Jake believes that she is still out there somewhere and he aims to find her. The scene of her getting run over is definitely surreal as Grandpa sees this happen, but actually gets really happy about it. He’s borderline ecstatic which is surprising since later on they act like the two are still on good terms. The rest of the family doesn’t see this and they prevent Jake from going outside for a while because they are so sure she is okay. By the time they go outside she is gone.

The film is very ambitious with this as we get a 9-12 month timeskip where Grandma is gone the whole time. That’s actually pretty dark for the characters if you’re thinking about it. I certainly felt bad for good ole Grandma. There’s a twist about where she is although you would probably be able to put two and two together in this case. Grandma’s a good character, but maybe a bit overly idealistic. You can’t realistically give things away for free too often because people will take advantage of you. Especially those who are your “friends” if they realize that they can get benefits for being nice. It’s a dangerous game she was playing.

Jake’s parents are good for the most part, but they have one scene where they look bad early on. Grandma needs to bring some cookies over to the nearest shelter/soup kitchen and nobody offers to go with her. Keep in mind that it’s super late and dangerous outside which the parents are sure to tell her about, but then they still don’t go with her. Why even half heartedly ask her to stay if you aren’t going to help? It was definitely pretty odd with Jake being the only dependable guy around.

Jake was actually a standout character. Usually I’m not a big fan of the kids, but I have to give him some major props because at least he was actually trying to do something the whole time. He repeatedly ran for the door to help Grandma even if the adults stopped him. Then he never gave up the search for a whole year as he tried to locate to Grandma and even skated into the villain’s headquarters multiple times to stop the corrupt dealings in there. There’s nothing else I could have asked him to do and so that means he perfectly handled the situation. I don’t expect I’ll see another kid quite as competent as Jake in a long time. Most characters could learn a thing or two from him.

One of those characters would be Grandpa because he just looks terrible throughout. First off he wouldn’t help Grandma and then he crumbles under pressure when Mel shows up. At first he had some potential there as he randomly started to sing, but then he let the age catch up to him and got delirious enough to sign the papers. At that point I had to shake my head because he was making every kind of mistake that he possibly could. I expected better from this guy. While Slime was a villain, at least she was really good at her job. I liked her confidence and she even managed to negotiate a pretty good commission for herself.

Mel is one of the biggest characters here though and she is an exceptional villain. She makes a lot of good points and while she invalidates them all by resorting to kidnapping at least you can understand where she is coming from. Her motives are anything but pure even if I made it sound that way in the summary. She just wants to be rich and will do anything in order to achieve that dream. Mel is resourceful and determined, two traits that are important for any character to have. She was also willing to talk in court when most villains would have played dumb there. She doesn’t do anything half heartedly and you can respect that.

Finally we have Austin who is probably the most reasonable billionaire I’ve ever seen. Most of these guys are treated as corrupt villains who will do anything to get the store. That’s not Austin’s way. He’s willing to dress up as an elf in order to broker a deal and makes sure to do everything legally. He even gives the heroes the benefit of the doubt when they ask him to wait. I was surprised at how well his character was handled. I’m also glad that the film didn’t go out of its way to give him a mean ending either because he didnm’t deserve one. The guy was just a really good business owner and this points to how good the writing in this film was. The guy was just realistic and downright likable. He reminded me of the lawyer who also appeared in the film later on. That guy was pretty good too as he reminded the jury that they had to be impartial and only consider the facts. It’s not like he wanted to slam Santa or anything like that, the guy was just doing his job and doing it well at that.

The animation here is really smooth. The characters all look good and everything is very bright and detailed. There’s a lot of fluid movement here and the characters are very expressive. It’s just a very great feature all around. Then you’ve got the soundtrack which may not be the most inspired, but it has some good tunes. The song of Mel and Slime talking about how they were going to get rich was solid and the Grandpa’s song may not have been the best, but I loved the segway into it. It was also a scene that showed how cunning Mel was as she played along in order to get what she wanted.

It goes without saying that the film is pretty good at comedy as well. Pretty much all of the jokes land and it was one of the funnier specials that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s because the movie uses the quick wit style of humor that I always enjoy more than the long build up to a joke style that others use. A quick remark or a fast comeback just goes a long way. Mix that in with the film’s top notch writing and you’ve definitely got yourself a winner.

Overall, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is a great film. You really need to see this one for Christmas because it’s just a lot of fun. Nothing about the film feels like it was cheaply made. You’d think that it was slapped together but the film has a lot of heart in it. I dare say that the only weak part of the film is the song that it was named after. That song isn’t particularly catchy but since we got the film as a result of it I’ll cut it some slack. This is the kind of movie where I’d be nervous for a remake or sequel because it’s incredibly unlikely that it could top this one.

Overall 8/10

Twas the Night Before Christmas Review


It’s time to look at a fairly old Christmas special from back in the day. The saying is pretty popular, but I imagine a lot of people haven’t actually seen this special. It’s a fun little adventure that may be over in the blink of an eye but still gives you an entertaining adventure. Santa doesn’t look great here though as he is pretty easily tricked and that’s dangerous for someone who has the power to travel the whole world in an instant. Hopefully this experience will teach him a thing or two.

So the plot of the film is that Santa doesn’t appear to be coming to the local town for Christmas this year. The reason for that is because he got a letter from the town saying that they didn’t want him around. It turns out that Albert and a bunch of the other kids sent the message and since they signed it as being from the whole town Santa decided not to show up this time. The grown ups are definitely dismayed at this because they count on Santa to get all of the presents. The Mayor and the rest of the council aren’t sure what to do, but Joshua has an idea. He’ll build a clock that has the sound of everyone singing and it’ll get Santa to come back. It sounds like a good plan, but the kids can’t let this happen. Will Joshua be able to make the clock in time or will some kind of “accident” occur which ends up stopping him?

Albert is really the antagonist here even if he isn’t evil. He’s really just a kid who doesn’t believe in Santa although his sending a letter to the guy was pretty extreme. He was smart enough to deliver it to Santa though and throughout the special we see that he is pretty smart so it worked out pretty well for him. He’s a decent villain, but as a character he is definitely annoying. These kids not believing in Santa isn’t an issue but by sending a letter they are sort of admitting that he is real aren’t they? Regardless the plan worked.

Father Mouse does his best to reign Albert in, but it’s tough since the kid loves talking with really large words to throw the guy off the trail. Father Mouse isn’t ultimately able to do a lot, but he does try to spread the good morals around and show Albert that you’re supposed to be a nice person around Christmas. I mean, it’d be great if you were nice throughout the year, but 1 day is better than none right? The real standout character here is the Mayor. I like how he takes control whenever he is on screen. He may not be very forgiving as he benches Joshua right away after a single failure with the clock. In theory he should have at least given him until Christmas to fix it. What’s the worst that can happen? If the clock doesn’t work then they are no worse off than if they didn’t use it. Still, the Mayor doesn’t second guess himself and that is very important for any ruler.

As for Joshua, he means well. His clock building skills are pretty good. While I think he should have tried to do more to get the clock working, he realistically put about as much effort as you can expect. If you’re banned from going to the clock tower then there’s not much more you can do. I doubt he would want to go to jail for a clock…that wouldn’t even be impressive among the fellow inmates. A character who didn’t try hard is Santa Claus. Holding a grudge against an entire town over a single letter is pretty petty. At the very least he should have gone into town to find out if that’s how they really felt about him. Maybe go incognito as a villager and ask around. I understand that he is pressed for time, but the special made him look pretty gullible. This is also low key the worst Santa design I’ve ever seen, but that’s less important.

As far as the animation goes, I’d say that the movie has aged pretty well. The character designs are on point and I like the backgrounds. A good amount of effort was put in here. I’m not really sure about the music. The Christmas songs are always fun to hear though even if this isn’t the best one. It at least gives the movie some festive cheer so on a technical level this film is good. I also thought the plot was pretty good even if the film didn’t take the concept as far as it could have. With only around 30 minutes to work with the special had to move at a very fast pace the whole time.

Overall, Twas the Night Before Christmas is a good special. It’s a fun Christmas story that will keep you engaged. The writing is solid and the characters do a good job of not being extreme versions of themselves. You can feel how sad the town is at the prospect of Santa not showing up and there is no point in the special where you’ll get bored. I don’t really think this special will be remembered in the same way as something like Rudolph, but it’s one that I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending to anyone who wants a good Christmas story. If you haven’t seen this one yet then you should change that. It’s just a pleasant special.

Overall 7/10

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians Review


It’s time for a pretty surreal film. Right from the title you probably could have guessed that though. Santa’s conquering the Martians?? Now, don’t get your hopes up for a Star Wars type film where Santa goes in guns blazing as he takes out dozens of aliens. This sadly isn’t that kind of film. It would have been pretty amazing if he was going around blasting everyone so you can imagine my disappointment when it didn’t happen. It’s still a pretty entertaining film at times, but also boring at others. That may sound contradictory but basically some scenes age really well because of how cheesy they are. The scenes that aren’t over the top just tend to be pretty boring. Some of the main characters are also kids who can’t really hold their own story.

The film starts off by showing us the planet Mars. The parents aren’t happy because now all the kids do is watch Earth TV. Interestingly they aren’t happy about this because the kids are always getting distracted and decide that they need to bring in Santa to give them some more freedom. I don’t see how the solution really helps to be honest. I’d understand if you wanted to turn off the TV, but wouldn’t bringing in Santa just make it worse? He’ll introduce them to the spirit of Christmas and will get them to embrace their individuality but that goes against the planet’s system. If anything you’d think that the people would be more against that. I suppose I shouldn’t examine the plot too much….but it was still an interesting start.

The two kids the martians happen to run into are Billy and Betty. Kimar figures they can help him find the real Santa Claus since the Earth is filled with tons of fake ones. The kids know that he is in the North Pole and assist with finding him. The martians aren’t of one mind with this though. While Kimar and Dropo like the kids, Voldar wants to destroy them and stay with the old ways. Fortunately the kids have Santa to help them out…but is he really that helpful?

The kids are pretty cheesy and oblivious to everything. As a result they really aren’t my kind of characters. They just tend to slow down the film and get in the way of everything all the time. I was just waiting for them to get with the program. As for Santa, he’s definitely a little more “down to earth” than most. In his first scene he’s smoking a cigar which may have been a common thing to do back in the day, but it’s rare to see Santa doing that. It’s a bad influence for the kids so you wouldn’t really expect him to do that. I’d also have liked to see him act with a bit more urgency on Mars.

There’s nothing bad to say about Kimar. He’s trying to do what’s best for Mars and even if it involves crossing planets he is ready. I suppose he can be a bit oblivious to Voldar the whole time, but that’s about it. He’s just a good leader. I certainly preferred him to Dropo who doesn’t work well as a comic relief character. It goes back to how part of this film’s humor worked while other parts do not. I think the parts that were intentionally trying to be funny ended up falling flat while the film in general had a nice campy atmosphere even if it may not have been intended.

To expand on this, just look at the martians. Their costumes are so terrible that it’s a little funny to look at them. It’s like a Star Trek design from the original show, but with poor effects. The Star Trek aliens have aged really well, these have not. Then you have the fact that the government actually knows about Santa to the point where TV gets him on an interview. So that acknowledges that there is a guy who travels the whole world in a day and gets everyone presents. How is that possible? It’s not so something doesn’t add up here. My guess is that the government helps him deliver all of the gifts. It’s also nice to have aliens visiting Earth and not going around trying to murder everyone for a change. These guys just want to have a nice Christmas.

As for the villain Voldar…I guess he checks off the right boxes. The guy is really over the top and his goal doesn’t really amount to much more than he doesn’t want to have Santa on board. He’s fine with the current system. If put to a vote I would have imagined that most people on the planet would feel better, but the sage agreed with Kimar which probably had a lot of sway. Going back to the plot for a sec, I still feel like there were so many more ways to help the kids than to bring Santa. Why not think up some activities for them or let them do what they want? The main reason why they would have been stuck is because they wanted to stay traditional but bringing in Santa goes against that either way so then it becomes a non issue.

Overall, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is a reasonably good film. I definitely wouldn’t call it a very good one or anything just because it can get dull. The absurd premise is really what will need to hook you. If it doesn’t then you’re basically out of luck. It’s the kind of plot that I tend to enjoy so the film works for me, but I will acknowledge that they could have done a whole lot more with the premise. Santa did “conquer” the martians with his idealogy but I would have liked a physical takeover. An easy way to do it would have been to have most of the planet agree with Voldar as I mentioned and Santa has to break his way through the city. It would have been a very different film of course, but definitely one that I could get behind.

Overall 6/10