Friday, December 14, 2018

The Holiday Calendar (2018)

Number Rolled: 41
Movie Name/Year: The Holiday Calendar (2018)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama, Romance
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: TV-PG
Production Companies: Netflix
Producer: David Anselmo, Vince Balzano, Eric Jarboe, Amy Krell, Brad Krevoy, Amanda Phillips Atkins, Jimmy Townsend
Director: Bradley Walsh
Writer: Carrie Freedle, Amyn Kaderali
Actors: Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, Ron Cephas Jones, Genelle Williams, Ali Hassan, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, Laura de Carteret, Kevin Hanchard, Romaine Waite, Jaeda Owens, Nicola Correia-Damude, Harris Shore, Verlyn Plowman, Derry Robinson

Blurb from Netflix: A talented photographer stuck in a dead-end job inherits an antique Advent calendar that may be predicting the future -- and pointing her toward love.

Selina’s Point of View:
Now THIS was the kind of holiday magic I was signing up for with this month of Christmas films.

I really enjoyed The Holiday Calendar. It was a good movie. It was even better when compared to the kind of dreck we’ve seen so far in December. It was a breath of fresh air and I completely appreciated it.

I will admit that it was relatively predictable, but it also felt honest and natural. Sure, the magical aspect was fantasy – but the reactions of the characters were much more real than I’ve seen in a lot of films lately. The ending didn’t even destroy that for me, which is another surprising thing.

Kat Graham (How it Ends, The Vampire Diaries, Honey 2) was the shining light in The Holiday Calendar. I don’t believe any other actor could have pulled off her part with the kind of genuine personality she did. Without her, it just wouldn’t have been the same movie at all. It would have felt a lot more generic.

Ron Cephas Jones (Dog Days, This is Us, Luke Cage), however, was right behind her in his part as Gramps. He made me want him as my grandpa.

As Christmas films go, even on just a general rom-com scale, I’d mark this one high. I’ll probably even revisit it in the future.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have to say, this movie really won me over. It’s definitely going on my ‘cute holiday movies’ list.

While the film didn’t stray too far from recipe, and generally had the predictability factor going on; I found that I just didn’t mind. The Holiday Calendar put a new spin on the magic that’s inherent to the season and the sense of wonder that goes hand in hand with it.

Once again, we have a movie here that felt warm and familiar rather than inducing eye-rolling tedium.

I found myself really engaging with the story – relating to the characters and the subtle (and not so) workings of fate in their lives. Everyone needs a good karmic kick in the pants on occasion. The key is whether or not we can recognize them and interpret them correctly.

I don’t want to wax philosophical any further on that topic, though, so I don’t accidentally spoil anything.

All told, this movie was fun and full of feels – but not so much that mascara alerts would be required. I might actually give this one another watch through relatively soon.

Speech Available: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles Available: French, English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 40%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 31%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 5.8/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)

Number Rolled: 53
Movie Name/Year: Christmas Wedding Planner (2017)
Tagline: Love is the greatest gift of all.
Genre: Romance
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Brain Power Studio, HQ Marquee #3 Productions
Producer: Stan Hum, Patrick McBrearty, Beth Stevenson
Director: Justin G. Dyck
Writer: Keith Cooper, Rebecca Lamarche
Actors: Jocelyn Hudon, Stephen Huszar, Kelly Rutherford, Rebecca Dalton, Eric Hicks, Joey Fatone, Melinda Shankar, Gabrielle Graham, Samantha Helt, Ted Atherton, Celeste Desjardins, Joseph Cannata, Meghan Heffern, Melanie St-Pierre, Taylor David, Severn Thompson, Brian Scott Carleton, Michael Romano, Milan Carmona, Hattie Kragten

Blurb from Netflix: A wedding planner’s world is turned upside down when a handsome private investigator is hired to disrupt one of her biggest jobs.

Selina’s Point of View:
At first, I was rolling my eyes at Christmas Wedding Planner. Then, I was pleasantly surprised. By the end of it, though, I was rolling my eyes all over again.

When I came across this film on Netflix I figured it wouldn’t be much different than The Wedding Planner (2001). I thought the biggest difference would revolve around the time of year the story took place. As the movie started, I was even more certain that’s what I was in for, but I was wrong.

The meet-cute at the beginning was so incredibly typical that I could almost guess the exact words that were about to be said. And there was an annoying voice-over narration that was just outdated and ridiculous. I get that exposition can be necessary… but a lot of what this movie gave me wasn’t.

As Christmas Wedding Planner went on, I began to actually care about the main characters. Some of the supporting characters were too annoying to ever give a fuck about, but the main characters were endearing.

Unfortunately, the amusement I felt was killed by the ending. If the film ended just about seven minutes earlier, it would have been a much better final product.

As for the acting, it wasn’t awful. I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with Kelly Rutherford (Dynasty, Night of the Wild, Gossip Girl), and Stephen Huszar (Magical Christmas Ornaments, Hometown Holiday, Letterkenny) was believable. As for Jocelyn Hudon (Ice, 21 Thunder, The Christmas Cure), she came off as a bit of a discount Felicity Jones (Inferno, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Theory of Everything), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I’m comfortable recommending this movie as something to watch while curled up on the couch… but not if you’re looking for too much substance.

Speech Available: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles Available: French, English, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 11%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.3/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Princess Switch (2018)

Number Rolled: 84
Movie Name/Year: The Princess Switch (2018)
Tagline: None
Genre: Romance
Length: 101 minutes
Rating: TV-PG
Production Companies: Netflix
Producer: Razvan Badea, Vince Balzano, Robin Bernheim, Cristian Bostanescu, Miruna Gheorghiu, Eric Jarboe, Amy Krell, Brad Krevoy, Christopher Landry, Carolyn McLeod, Linda L. Miller, Amanda Phillips Atkins, Jimmy Townsend, Franklin A. Vallette
Director: Mike Rohl
Writer: Robin Bernheim, Megan Metzger
Actors: Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, Nick Sagar, Alexa Adeosun, Suanne Braun, Mark Fleischmann, Sara Stewart, Pavel Douglas, Amy Griffiths, Robin Soans, Ashley Emerson, Calliope Jane Taylor, Jo Cameron Brown, Clara Ciobanu

Blurb from Netflix: When a down-to-earth Chicago baker and a soon-to-be princess discover they look like twins, they hatch a Christmastime plan to trade places.

Selina’s Point of View:
I can absolutely see this film becoming a guilty pleasure for me. That said, it’s not good.

Precisely the reason it would be a ‘guilty’ pleasure is because I know there aren’t many redeeming factors in The Princess Switch.

It showcases a regurgitated and unoriginal plot with very little to distinguish it from all its predecessors. The scenes that did set it apart included some expectation subversion at the end. Unfortunately, that specific brand of diverting from expectations lessened the conflict and quality of the film.

The Princess Switch was also kind of cringey.

Despite all that, I enjoyed it.

The acting elevated it more than you’d expect. It was endearing.

Don’t expect this movie to be a game changer. Don’t expect it to challenge you. As long as you go into it knowing that it’s pure fluff with minimal substance – and that you’d be better off watching The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) or It Takes Two (1995) – then it makes for decent background noise.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have to say; this movie was quite adorable.

That being said, I have to warn you that anyone watching this expecting anything to diverge from the recipe and trope standards for this sort of movie will likely be vastly disappointed. It’s not the first telling of this story, or even the most original spin on it. In fact, I really felt like I’d seen most of the story before – even just in the movies we’ve recently watched and reviewed this month.

I have to take that with a small grain of salt, considering we’re watching quite a few movies in the holiday theme for December. There’s going to be some overlap and I don’t want to let that slant my view on any of the films.

What this does allow for, however, is a good gauge to enjoyability. If everything within the framework of the movie has been ‘done before,’ and the production as a whole is still a good experience; then I’d have to say that it was successful.

This movie is certainly that. I fell in love with it, much like you see a cute fuzzy animal that you just want to cuddle. It evoked warm feelings and the familiarity was more like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes rather than enduring something onerously redundant.

The tale is also decidedly family friendly! If you’re looking for something cute to enjoy on a cold night with a warm drink – this one’s worth a shot.

Speech Available: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles Available: French, English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 53%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – 5.7/10
IMDB Score – 6.0/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

Movie Trailer: