ParaNorman (2012)

Nice throwback-style poster.

Nice throwback-style poster.

Directed by: Sam Fell and Chris Butler (haven’t seen any of their other movies, though I am interested in Fell’s Flushed Away)

Written by: Chris Butler wrote screenplay based upon Arianne Sutner and Stephen Stone’s story

Starring: the vocal talents of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman and others.

What it’s about: a young boy who can speak to the dead needs to save the townspeople from the spirit of a recently awakened witch

Movie Mash Up: The Sixth SenseThe GooniesScooby-Doo

What I liked: It is not often that I will actually hail the message of a film, but in this case the anti-bullying stance and accepting everyone for who they are is one that needs to be championed.  The film is absolutely gorgeous, and I hope to see more stop-motion animation movies in the future.  Now that 3D printers have been invented, it certainly streamlines the process.  The movie is dark, but fun.  The vocal cast is great throughout, and there are numerous little fun scenes throughout which showed off the sense of humour of the filmmakers.

What I disliked: Nothing in general, though I wasn’t really a fan of the big gay reveal at the end.  It really didn’t add anything to the character, and people trumpeting it as the “first openly gay character in a children’s animated movie”, well, there were absolutely no indications of him being gay until he said that he was.  It wasn’t a plot point, it was used as a cheap shock joke.  True, before that he was just another character in the movie, treated the same as everyone else which is in line with the film’s message.  I just felt it wasn’t necessary for the character or the movie at all.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is a fun movie for people of all ages, though I would avoid showing it to younger children.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Animated Feature Oscar Rankings: 1. Wreck-It Ralph 2. ParaNorman 3. Brave

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Bad Santa (2003)

Thurman Merman.  Thurman fucking Merman.  Jesus Christ.

Here’s another older review of mine for one of my favourite movies of all time.  I’m not talking just Christmas movies here.  I could watch this movie any day of the year.  I originally gave it a 4, and while it isn’t a perfect movie, it has grown on me greatly.  Strangely enough, this was the first time I watched the Director’s Cut, and I have to say that I like the Badder Santa Unrated Version better.

I’ll say this for Terry Zwigoff, the director of Bad Santa: you can’t make two more different films than this one and Ghost World. This one doesn’t pull any damn punches. If you’re a lover of Christmas, stay the hell away from this one. There are no sacred cows un-victimized in Bad Santa.

Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) is a department store Santa Claus. Except he’s the worst fucking Santa I’ve ever seen. Coming to work reeking of booze, smoking, swearing in front of the children. His elf helper, Marcus (Tony Cox), is exasperated pretty much all the time. See Marcus needs Willie to be as nondescript as possible, because every Christmas they loot the joint where Willie played Santa on Christmas Eve. They’ve been doing this for quite some time, and every year Willie gets worse and worse. He can still get the job done, it’s just all the baggage he brings to the gig.

John Ritter – in his last role – plays the store manager, Bob Chipeska, who is looking for any reason he can find to get rid of Willie. Bob’s head of security, Gin (Bernie Mac), is looking into the situation very carefully. There’s also a weird, weird fat boy (Brett Kelly) that does his best to befriend Willie, despite all the cussing and drunken carousing Willie does.  Then there’s my favourite, Sue (Lauren Graham acting as far from a “Gilmore Girl” as imaginable), who is a Santa-groupie basically. She’s dirrrrty when it comes to Santas, oh my yes. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are, if you’re wearing a Santa suit, she’ll give ya some.

Willie is probably one of the most unsympathetic characters ever conceived on celluloid. It’s a testament to Thornton’s acting ability and inherent charm that you actually do give a damn about what’s going to happen to him. Or it’s funny watching a person self-destruct in such a spectacular fashion.

Like I said, it doesn’t pull any damn punches, with most of Thornton’s swearing and verbal abuse taking place right in front of children. I haven’t seen the regular version of Bad Santa, because I’ll always take the unrated version of a movie over its more than likely, tamer counterpart. It’s a pretty fucking funny movie, good for any time of the year, except Christmas.

Top notch funny here folks. Thornton’s awesome in a different way than you could ever imagine. Tony Cox is excellent as his helper elf, pushed to the limit by Thornton’s self-destructive sensibilities. MMmmm Lauren Graham, if there are truly Santa groupies out there, I might have to switch careers for a month or so during the year.

5 / 5

Classic Santa

Ted (2012)

Directed by: Seth MacFarlane (you might know him better as the creator of “Family Guy” and voice of many of the characters on the show I haven’t watched in probably a decade)

Written by: MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin (better known on Twitter as TheSulk and a “Family Guy” writer), and Wellesley Wild (also a “Family Guy” writer)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, MacFarlane (as the voice of the titular bear), Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Jessica Barth, Matt Walsh, Ralph Garman, Alex Borstein, narrated by Patrick Stewart and featuring numerous cameos.

What it’s about: an adult male attempts to balance the relationships of his long term girlfriend and his childhood teddy bear that came to life

B-Movie Alternate Title: The Teddy Bear that Came Alive!

Movie Mash Up: any number of “bromance” R-rated comedies with “Teddy Ruxpin” I guess

What I liked: I dig R-rated comedies that refuse to pull verbal punches for the sake of a larger box office due to being able to play to more demographics.  I mean, that is what an R-rated movie should be about, and Ted is a prime example of what they should be.  I’m not a big Wahlberg fan, but he played his role quite well.  Same with MacFarlane, but I’m still not going to watch “Family Guy”.  I love Mila Kunis in everything, and I enjoyed many of the smaller roles as well as the fun cameos.  It’s a fun and interesting story, too, nothing really run of the mill here, and how the whole “the teddy bear is alive” thing is handled was decent.

What I disliked: Sometimes it felt like the entire movie was trying too hard, if that makes any sense.  It was entertaining and all, but it verged into Bad Santa territory without really having earned it, again, if that makes any sense.  I liked it, but I felt a bit dirty for liking it.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, if they like R-rated comedies, it’s entertaining and fun.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

Look, I don’t care what anyone says about this movie.  It is a rollicking good time, and actually had me laughing out loud at parts, which is not a regular occurrence when watching movies, TV shows.  Although, show me a wicked cat falling down video, and tears come from my eyes.  Anyways, back when I worked at Blockbuster, customers complained that Steve Carell’s character was annoying, and all I wanted to do was throttle them and say “YES THAT WAS THE POINT YOU SPOONFED IDIOT!”  Several months later my store was closed, and a few months after that the entire company was out of business.  WHO’S WRONG NOW ASSHATS.

Anyways, the dreamy Paul Rudd stars as Tim Conrad, a stockbroker or something who finally gets his big break at work.  However, to fully get in with the bosses at work, he has to bring an “idiot” to a dinner that his boss (Bruce Greenwood) hosts every month.  Tim’s girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), is against the idea, and so begins a somewhat sitcom-like premise of mis-communication and misunderstandings and lies and such.  Tim runs into – literally – Barry (Carell) and basically finds his idiot, who unwittingly sets about screwing up Tim’s life for the next two days.

There’s a lot to be said about the heart that Carell puts into his performance, and a lot of that thanks should also go to director Jay Roach.  Oh and of course Rudd, because yeah, he is an asshole character, but c’mon it’s Rudd!  There’s a lot of funny characters and scenes throughout the movie, and if you can’t let go and enjoy yourself to this movie, I don’t know what to tell you.  You’re missing out on some good funny.  Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords is in it!  COME ON.

3.5 / 5