Friday, December 23, 2011

My 5 Christmas Movies/Specials

With the holidays here, naturally, these posts are going to be popping up. A lot of people have a few of the same opinions, but that's not going to stop me. My posts will range from sentimental and nostalgic, to comedies, to action movies (try not to guess those)

5) The Year Without A Santa Clause (1974)
This was one of the first Christmas specials I remember seeing as a kid. I always remember it being very funny, and having a really great story. It still holds up really well today, with great voice-acting headlined by Mickey Rooney, and classic songs from my favorite characters The Miser Brothers. The worst thing about this film is it was featured in "Batman & Robin," in the worst possible way.

4) How The Grinch Stole Christmas (animated-1966)
Another classic, the best parts of this special that I can single out are it's animation and music. Since this was made by Chuck Jones, I sometimes feel like this could fit in seamlessly with his Warner Bros. cartoons. The only exception is a longer run-time and the moral at the end. Through, and through this is a "pen and paper" animated classic, and only a few cartoonists of that era could have translated Dr. Seuss this well.

3) Batman Returns
Among all of Burton's "Batman" (that includes "Batman Forever"[producer]) this is easily my favorite. Does it consistently capture the spirit of the season during it's runtime? No.
Is it the farthest thing from a traditional Christmas movie? It's up there.
Is it a great film? Yes.
"Batman Returns"is a great film because of it's mix of production design and performances. The best live-action Gotham I've seen, outside of Christopher Nolan's movies, is showcased throughout this movie, and it, of course, sets the tone for the entire film. As for the performances, there's still a great chance we will never see a better Catwoman than Michele Pfeiffer, (we'll know for sure this summer) and The Penguin is probably my favorite Danny DeVito performance.

2) Die Hard
First of all, if anyone (most likely women) disagrees with "Die Hard" being a Christmas movie listen to the last week or so of ESPN's "Mike Lupika Show." There's a great debate on the whole thing. Other than that, it's just a top-notch action movie/thriller and there's nothing more I can say about it.

1) The Nightmare Before Christmas
It was really almost anyone's game at this point. Between this, "Elf," and "Bad Santa," I had to make a decision. So, I went with the easiest decision. I love this movie for everything that it is, and because it's one of the few things I have in common with my sister. It has some of the best original songs, stellar performances by the cast (Chris Sanders, Danny Elfman, and Catherine O'Hara), and one of the best original premises for a film (based on a poem from Tim Burton). This film also takes first place because of its impact on stop-motion animation, an art that is still influencing films today.

Honorable Mentions
The Santa Clause (Second one is good, and the third one is terrible)
Love Actually (Part of the ESPN debate, made me more aware of the film)
A Christmas Story (Will finally see this movie in the next two days, when's that marathon?)
A Christmas Carol (I've only seen animated versions, so I disqualified it from the running for now-Although my favorite is the Zemeckis/Carrey one)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The League and Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The FX Network is known for their slogan "FX has the movies." Well, if FX just ran their original shows I'd be happy enough because tonight was great.

Always Sunny's episode "Thunder Gun Express" was all about the gang trying to make the showtime of a new movie called Thunder-Gun. Unfortunately they are caught in a traffic jam and must go their separate ways to get there. Dennis gets left with the car, Charlie and Dee take advantage of Charlie's knowledge of the sewers, Mac attempts use a motorcycle, and Frank steals a tour boat full of tourists.
Each segment is full of great moments, but I'd have to say my favorites were Frank telling tourists about some of the adventures he and the gang have been on (all from past episodes), Charlie's use of "Thunder Gun" as a verb, and the realization that Dennis is absolutely a sick man. I just have to expand on that for another minute. Dennis does have limits (no one under 18), but that's it. He is still clearly a rapist in nearly every sense of the word, except, strangely, the word itself. It's just seems a little too far for comedy sometimes. In the end, the gang, naturally gets screwed. What's surprising is how, and I didn't really catch it until I re-watched the episode. If you're looking for an episode that parodies 24, without actually parodying it, watch "Thunder Gun Express." 8/10

Now, I don't watch The League a lot, but I should. When it's on, I'll keep it on, and I have a firm enough grasp on the characters, definitely better than my grasp of football (outside of The Jets). In this episode, "The Out of Towner," the league decides to attend a cocktail party hosted by Andre, to welcome back one of their friends Chuck, Will Forte, who has recently decided to lead a life of sobriety. Before the day of the party Jenny and Kevin decide to spend the night in to get baked, Ruxin pulls his hamstring, and Taco faces eviction. All of these stories mesh perfectly, and cause a lot of laughs in the process. My favorite moments include Ruxin stealing Andre's prescription pad to get stoned, and then acting as Taco's lawyer to handle his oncoming eviction. The only problem with the episode was I had to watch it twice because there was a lot of details I seemed to have missed the first time around. I think that's due to not watching this show a lot, but I won't be making that mistake again. 9/10

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and The League are on FX at 10:00 and 10:30, respectively, on the east coast.