in recent years



31 days of festive-ass flicks, day 22: santa claus conquers the martians

Day 22 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks [CALENDAR] was the atrocious Santa Claus Conquers the Martians which we watched only one day late! It was on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and spoofed on Cinematic Titanic. It’s terrible. [Spoilers!]

The thing about this movie is… It wasn’t really bad enough to laugh at? I’ve seen most of the MST3K episode and it’s pretty good, but I wanted to just watch the straight-up movie and it was just. so. bad. Like, almost unbearably so. Like, I was just begging for it to end and it WOULDN’T. It was EXCRUCIATING. But not because it was bad enough to be mockable — well, it is, but not in a fun way? — but because it’s sooooooooooo booooooooooooooooring.

I don’t even have anything interesting to say. I tried. OH I TRIED SO HARD. But you’re just going to have to deal with my notes, okay. DEAL WITH IT.

– Why does Winky the elf have a hard line to the Martian people and their appearance?
– They have exact Earth food on Mars? You can come up with jelly bean food pills, but they still eat chocolate cake and asparagus?
– They go to KINDERGARTEN on Mars too?!

And then things start to get weird because I kind of half fell asleep but I kept writing and then waking up and trying to figure it out and. Yeah. Transcribed exactly as written for your enjoyment.

– ohmgus robos
– santa’s so idiot
– a martianmellow (IDK what this means, but I LIKE IT.)
– voldarm is angry, cranky, interlectuals terrorist
– no one ever laughed in mars before santas
– santa claus come back to mars – HO HO HO HO HO HO
– toys and laughter makes stupid
– technoautomation claus (I like this one too.)
– joys through toys on mars (Sleepy me is on to something…)
– assaulting voldar the dourche

I… I guess I was real tired. REAL TIRED.

Anyway, the only thing that I really enjoyed about watching this aside from forcing my girlfriend to watch it with me (She doesn’t really have the love for terrible movies that I do, which is HER LOSS, MAN.) was the sudden appearance of a polar bear when the human children are attempting to escape from the Martians while they’re at the North Pole.

I mean. That’s just a guy in a suit! That’s a guy in a suit that’s not even TRYING to be a good polar bear. He’s just LUMBERING AROUND with an enormous bear head and white footie pajamas. And it gets even worse when he’s “trying” to “attack” the kids in the cave they’re hiding in. He just sort of smashes the head around against the cave opening and then sighs and lumbers away again. It’s not like I’m expecting a real polar bear to roll up and maul these kidnapped children for my amusement, I’d just hope we’d all strive for something better than a theme park mascot from… The Weak as Shit Kingdom.

THEN. The kids leave the cave and they’re like, WHICH WAY IS NORTH WE MUST WARN SANTA. And they see lights in the distance and are like THERE IS SANTA’S WORKSHOP. And then TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES OF AGONIZING LONG TAKES HAPPEN and finally they realize that no, it’s a “threatening” robot.

THAT ROBOT IS MADE OUT OF TOILET PAPER ROLLS AND CARDBOARD BOXES. My girlfriend’s mom made her sister into a haunted house for Halloween one year using only socks and a diaper box and that shit looked more legit than this robot. And then it slowly, slooowly, SLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYY makes its way toward them in a not at all threatening manner. I could outrun this robot with two broken legs and bags of cement tied to my hands and feet.

The combination of the polar bear and the robot sent me into that hysterical ugly laughter where your head and face hurt for like an hour afterward because you couldn’t get it under control before it damaged your internal organs from head to toe. Just. A POLAR BEAAAAAAAR.

Anyway, clearly this movie was really terrible and painful to watch, but I am so grateful to have the memory of that polar bear in my brain now. FRANKLY, I was kind of offended that the people who put this giant turd together didn’t work harder. Like, you really can’t come up with things more inventive/weird than what we have on Earth? Asparagus? Kindergarten? SEPTOBER? Get out of here you lazy bastards. AND SANTA DOESN’T EVEN CONQUER ANYTHING.

I just looked like this poor girl child through the entire thing:

31 days of festive-ass flicks, day 21: elf

Day 21 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks [CALENDAR] was Elf which I’ve already talked about some here. I actually watched this one the day I was supposed to! (Don’t worry, it won’t last.) [Spoilers!]

I love Elf. I really do. Every time I go to watch it, I think, “This will be the time it breaks and I’ll just like it” but instead I love it. I love it more and more and more each time.

It has the right mix of nostalgia and modernness to feel really, really current, but also have the sweetness of it not come off as cloying or fake. It’s got all the right feelings about family and love and the meaning of the holidays. It’s got an outstanding cast. I mean, seriously. Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel (in one of the few non-manic pixie dream girl roles of her career), Peter Dinklage, Amy Sedaris, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, Mary Steenburgen, and James Caan. ALL IN THE SAME MOVIE. And they’re all so good and perfectly cast and clearly John Favreau knew what he was doing. It could’ve stood at least another character of color, but Faizon Love is GREAT and present at least.

This movie relies totally on Will Ferrel selling Buddy as a character and thankfully, he does. I feel like, if Jim Carrey had played the Grinch closer to what Ferrell does in this, that movie would be a whole lot better than it is. Buddy is funny and energetic and obnoxious and tender and sweet and innocent and naive and oblivious and wonderful. Buddy can’t understand the world around him because he expects it to be good. I mean, Buddy’s first hard lesson is that his dad is on the naughty list! Buddy doesn’t understand malice. Which is awkwardly communicated in the scene with Peter Dinklage that is so awful-awkward-painful that I have to cover my eyes.

And it’s not just coming from elf culture either because the dialogue and actions of other elves clearly indicate that their world behaves similarly to the human one. Buddy is a special case, fitting into neither elf nor human worlds, but finding a way to straddle the two and bring joy to people.

Perfect Moments:
– “That’s shocking.” when he sees how low the spirit of Christmas is. Ferrell’s delivery there is SO ON POINT. It kills me.
– “Thanks, Mr. Narwhal!”

– “It’s nice to meet another human with my affinity for elf culture.”
– The amaaaaaaazing decorations he puts up for Santa so that his friend can be greeted properly.

– Sitting outside the shower and mumbling along until he can’t resist and has to sing louder.
– Making breakfast for everyone and destroying the entertainment center to make a rocking horse.
– Eating cotton balls in the doctor’s office.
– Christmas tree viewing.

– Ice-skating kisses. “You missed!” And how confused he is by it and she is so sweet and sassy.
– “Buddy the elf, what’s your favorite color?”
– “Watch out for the yellow ones, they don’t stop!”
– Every beautiful pan of holiday New York accompanied by the MOST PERFECT, PERFECT holiday soundtrack.

I love that Buddy’s story becomes a book. And I love that he’s reading it to kids at the end. I love that Walter won’t sing until his kid calls him out on it. I love Santa. I LOVE the Central Park Rangers and that ominous shot of them looking for Santa.

I love that they go home to the North Pole and make the cutest, happiest little human-elf family. Can you even imagine how happy Papa Elf is?!

Suffice it to say, Elf is going to stay one of my Christmas favorites for a long, long time.

31 days of festive-ass flicks, day 20: meet me in st. louis

Day 20 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks [CALENDAR] was Meet Me in St. Louis and I managed to watch it only a day late. GO ME I AM THE BEST. [Spoilers!]

I didn’t expect to like this one at all. Judy Garland movies always make me SO SAD and it’s a musical and there are lots of ladies looking for husbands. The entirety of my pre-planning notes for this one was, “ONLY WATCHING THIS FOR THE DAMN SONG” because “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is my very favorite Christmas song and I figured I ought to give the movie that spawned it a shot. But I ended up really kind of loving it.

There was way, way too much singing. Which is just, you know, something that happens when you watch a musical, but I even liked some of the songs that weren’t “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”! AND THE CHOREOGRAPHY STUFF WAS KIND OF OKAY! And I even liked the romancery stuff.

I loved Judy Garland a lot and I thought she was really sweet and beautiful and sassy, but not as sassy as her AMAZING sister Lucille Bremer. I LOVED ROSE/LUCILLE BREMER. Like, no joke. How did this woman not work more? I don’t understand? Sassy, beautiful, redhead with comedic timing and she only has like ten credits? Was the world not ready? I love you, Lucille Bremer, you should’ve been crazy famous.

I’m not going to talk about the sisterly scene of BDSM. I mean, who knew they could depict 1903 so progressively.

I loved that Tootie was just a BIG OL’ WEIRDO of a child, planning funerals for her dolls and riding on the ice truck and freaking out and smashing snowpeople because she can’t bear to leave St. Louis for New York.

Which, let’s establish that these are the worst fake snowpeople in history. I don’t think the set dressers at MGM had ever seen snow before. PROTIP: snow does not look like drywall spackle.

LET’S TALK ABOUT HALLOWEEN OKAY. Why were children in 1903 so MEAN. Going door to door throwing flour in people’s faces and stealing stuff and BURNING SHIT IN THE STREET.

Like, WHAT?! And all encouraged and dressed by their parents and neighbors. Go on, honey, GO OUT AND TORTURE EVERYONE AND STEAL STUFF AND CAUSE PROPERTY DAMAGE. What even? Those horrible, beastly children.

BUT, I loved Tootie getting injured and then lying and then Judy Garland going over and just SLAPPING her neighbor boyfriend like an absolutely out-of-control raging crazy person. YOU BEAT UP MY SISTER. SLAP SLAP SLAP. And then when she realizes she’s wrong he’s like, HEH IT’S OKAY. “No worse than football practice but it’s better with a girl.” And then KISSES HER. Like this is all a totally normal thing to have happen. WHAT IS GOING ON IN ST. LOUIS?!

I love Grandpa and I love the babely brother taking Rose to the dance. And I love Grandpa taking Judy Garland to the dance because Rose was like, “You have to go, I can’t handle twenty men alone!”

I loved Katie the Maid and Momma and the other sister who didn’t talk much and the brother and hot John Truitt and the really babely lady who shows up at the Christmas party and is like, OH ROSE THIS BRO LOVES YOU SO MUCH, I’M NOT HERE TO BE IN THE WAY! Because what a classy as hell broad.

I liked this movie so much that I barely took a half a page of notes. And most of those are from the party when everyone is dancing and singing because I could not get over how weird it would be to do that. Like, yo, living before television and radio and stuff was WEIRD and terrible. And I wouldn’t have been dancing in my living room and singing songs with my little sister and hiding hats in breadboxes. I would have been sitting in my room reading, praying for a technological revolution.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was perfect-beautiful-flawless-amazing-angelic. Judy Garland is a beautiful perfect queen angel from heaven. I was so moved, I too wanted to protest having to move to New York.

Look at me, loving old-timey movies and shit.

In conclusion, here’s my favorite version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”:

31 days of festive-ass flicks, day 19: gremlins

Day 19. 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks. [CALENDAR] Gremlins. Only two days late. [Spoilers, probs.]

I have seen Gremlins six or seven thousand times. My sister had a Gizmo growing up. (A doll, sadly. OH HOW I WISH MOGWAI WERE REAL.) I know this movie inside and out. But then I watched it this time. And it was like I had never seen it before or something. IT WAS REAL WEIRD.

I think this is one of those VERY 80s movies that sort of shaped the idea of what the 1980s looked like. Corey Feldman and Phoebe Cates and Zach Galligan and VW Beetles that won’t start and super racist stuff surrounding Asian cultures and the Jerry Goldsmith score and all small towns being the Universal backlot and puffy nylon jackets. It just feels really 80s in a good, nostalgic way like Goonies. Well, the racism doesn’t feel good.

I am having a hard time articulating anything interesting here, so I’m going to do that annoying thing where there are a bunch of notes in a list:
– Dads in movies that are inventors/entrepeneurs are always depicted as failures (see: Beauty and the Beast)

– How is no one TOTALLY freaking out that they have some new species in their home and it, like, sings and acts humanoid?!

– No one is asking enough questions in this movie. NO ONE.
– The bad mogwai are dicks even when they’re cute.

– The gremlin pods are the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
– Had to spend ten minutes thinking about nachos just to recover from the trauma of the pods.
– Mom’s a badass.
– Stripe is a dick.
– The police are the only marginally useful people in this entire movie. COHERENT. The only people to ask questions about these weird things that basically didn’t exist before YESTERDAY.
– The Town Bitch’s fast ride up the stairs and flight through the window is the stuff my childhood memories are made of.
– So many dumb gremlin vignettes.
– “… and that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.”
– Gizmo’s disgust/embarrassment/fear/horror. EVERY TIME GIZMO REACTS I DIE.
– Gizmo in the Barbiemobile 4ever.

– And then after all of that destruction and terror, Gizmo survives and STILL gets taken away from his new friend. WHY IS THIS MOVIE SO MEAN?

I don’t have anything else coherent to say, honestly. I love that this is a holiday movie. Like, people sit down and watch It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story and GREMLINS. That’s great, that’s so great. And it’s very wintery and yule-y and wonderful. It’s just also really weird and disgusting. And good. BUT MOSTLY SO WEIRD AND DISGUSTING.

31 days of festive-ass flicks, day 18: the preacher’s wife

Up to bat on day 18 of 31 Days of Festive-Ass Flicks was The Preacher’s Wife [CALENDAR] which continued my three-days-late schedule of long-lasting failure that I still have not recovered from. From which I may never, ever recover. [Spoilers!]

Okay, so I took really extensive notes on this one for no discernible reason and I cannot figure out what even half of them mean. So, like, I LIKED THIS MOVIE A LOT. Which I didn’t expect AT ALL. Because… I’m an atheist! This was not going to give me good religious god-y feelings! And I’m not a Denzel person! And I hate long scenes of singing in movies. And I’m not big on Whitney’s acting career. And basically EVERYTHING was pointing to me not being into this movie. EXCEPT HOW I TOTALLY WAS. And I loved it! And I clapped and squealed. And I got really choked up and cried.

The first great thing that occurred when I was watching this was that the preview that played beforehand was for Beaches. And it had one of those really late 80s/early 90s voiceovers about tenderness and friendship and stuff. And it was the best.

The next great thing was that the choir in this sad church sang SO HARD for Jesus that they blew up the boiler. That was delightful.

Then there was this:

Because angels coming into the modern age need a handbook that covers modern things.

Then there was this amazing child who was playing a sheep in the nativity play:

Which. They clearly pulled in close on her in kind of a mocking way. Because she’s got these big glasses and her smile kind of creeps up her face and she’s wearing a bath mat. And I thought it was kind of mean, but I ended up thinking she was kind of awesome. Fuck the mocking of the moviemakers, this kid had sass.

And there was a lot of Denzel being awesome. Which I didn’t expect? When I think of Denzel, I think of serious Oscar guy Denzel and that’s kind of boring. And in this he was AWESOME. He was joyous and funny and, like, basically trolling the preacher at every turn. With a big heart! And wonder at a world that everyone around him takes for granted. And a very obvious, non-hidden attraction to the preacher’s wife. Which she DESERVES.

I really came out of this movie with a total appreciation and love for this kind of Denzel. More laughing, gleeful Denzel. Less Training Day.

The BEST part of the movie, BY FAR, is Whitney and Preacher’s small child Jeremiah and his best friend Hakim. Hakim lives with his grandmother and is going to be placed into foster care and Jeremiah is legit DEVASTATED. When Hakim is being picked up by the liaison/social worker, Jeremiah runs to his dresser and opens it up and gives Hakim his entire stash of Hershey’s chocolate and says, “They might starve you” all worried and scared. AND OMG I LEGITIMATELY CHOKED UP and was, like, wailing, “DON’T YOU TAKE HAKIM AWAY FROM HIS FRIEND. YOU TAKE HIM IN WHITNEY AND THE PREACHER. YOU GIVE HIM A HOME.” I was LOSING IT. And then this kid is like, “Who will I tell my secrets to?” all sad and resigned and I had to pause it because I couldn’t see the screen through my tears.

So yadda yadda the movie goes on and people are forever changed by Denzel and his incredible attitude and willingness to help those that are willing to take it and it is very warm and hooray for angels etc. And then they are getting ready for the nativity and Preacher is like, “Are you ready? Because there is going to be someone very important listening to you in the audience.” And Jeremiah is like, “Yeah, we cool.” And then Hakim walks in and Jeremiah FLIPS HIS SHIT. And literally yells HAAAAAAAAAAAKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM and jumps off the chair he is standing on to run over and hug his BEST FRIEND IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.


Then they walk out of the room together and Jeremiah is like, “I HAVE A SECRET TO TELL YOU” and it’s about how Denzel fixed the kid’s ambulance with his angel juju and gave it a siren it didn’t have before on accident OOPS.

It’s just the best. FRIENDSHIP IS THE BEST. If you do not agree that friendship is the best thing to watch in movies and television and stuff, get out of here. You are wrong. Friendship is everything. EXCUSE U IF U DISAGREE U R INCORRECT.

Here are some of my notes. They are largely nonsensical:
– saddest preacher of all time
– musical sermon punctuation
– yo they close the youth center for one day and this innocent kid gets in trouble [I have more about this in a later post, actually!]
– nothing moves a preacher’s struggle like a broken-ass church
– that judge is the worst judge

– magical wiener of glory
– making god angry by making himself a husband in pictures
– way too much singing SHUT UP

It has some weird posters:

In conclusion, IMDB users hate this movie (5.2/10), Rotten Tomatoes says people are not fond of it (5.9/10), but me and Siskel and Ebert are into it.