Friday, December 13, 2019

'Tis the Season - Klaus (2019)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Klaus (2019)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: The SPA Studios, Aniventure, Atresmedia Cine, Netflix, Altitude Films, TriPictures
Director: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martínez López
Writer: Zach Lewis, Jim Mahoney, Sergio Pablos
Actors: Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzman, Joan Cusack, J.K. Simmons, Norm MacDonald, Will Sasso, Sergio Pablos, Mila Brener, Neda Margrethe Labba

Blurb from IMDb: A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg's new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions.

Selina’s Point of View:
This is it. This is the one.

Always, almost without fail, the same question comes up in December. People ask me, “what’s your favorite holiday movie?” Now, people have been asking me this since I was kid. It has nothing to do with the blog. Everyone I’m close to just knows how much I love movies.

Every year, without fail, I don’t have an answer.

I know everyone likes A Christmas Story (1983), but I actually kind of despise it. Objectively it’s a good movie, but for my tastes? No thanks. There are all the classics – like A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Miracle on 34th Street (1947/1994), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), etc. – but as much as I like them, I couldn’t really ever choose one as a favorite. They were all just movies I watched if they happened to be on. They weren’t movies I sought out.

Honestly? I felt kind of weird not having a favorite.

I don’t have to worry about that know. Klaus is my favorite Christmas film. This is the movie I’m going to put on every year when December starts.

Klaus gives an interesting look at the origin of Santa Claus, and it covers all the morality lessons behind the season without feeling preachy. It shows a dark and dangerous world that becomes lighter because of some good deeds. It even goes into how ANY good deed can lead to goodness, even if it didn’t originally come off as selfless.

I have absolutely no complaints about this film. I look forward to a long tradition of watching it on Christmas morning.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’ve been waiting with much anticipation for Klaus. The trailer looked great and, honestly, the only reason it didn’t make it onto my Top 20 for this month was that I simply had too many movies to choose from and only 20 slots to fill.

As an added bonus, my daughter piled in on the couch to watch this one with me. Talk about a holiday win-win.

The movie didn’t disappoint. Klaus’ story is original and tells the Santa origin story with a new spin. Not only does it give us the beginnings of the big guy in red, but also the tradition of writing him letters filled with Christmas wishes.

The story was witty and well-told so that viewers of all ages would likely enjoy it quite a bit.

I was also quite surprised and pleased to find that this animated feature broke new ground in the genre in its production. Writer and director Sergio Pablos (Despicable Me, Smallfoot, Rio) had the film animated in the traditional hand-drawn style. However, to update the style a bit he added lighting and textures using CGI. This was the first film to be created in that manner.

Did I mention that this is Pablos’ directorial debut? He has quite a few animating credits to his name for well-known movies, as well as writing credits, but this is his first full-length direction. I’d say that this is a stellar first offering, and I can’t wait to see what he might put together next.

I would definitely recommend this movie for family holiday viewing, and will likely be watching it again at my daughter’s request before this season’s over. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 98%
Metascore – 63/100
Metacritic User Score – 9.3/10
IMDB Score – 8.3/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

'Tis the Season - Married by Christmas (2016)

Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: Married by Christmas (2016) a.k.a. The Engagement Clause
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 87 minutes
Rating:  TV-PG
Production/Distribution: Fancy Pants Films, MarVista Entertainment, UPtv
Director: Letia Clouston Miller
Writers: Alison Spuck McNeeley, Casie Tabanou
Actors: April Bowlby, Jes Macallan, Lee Garlington, Adam Senn, Coby Ryan McLaughlin, James Eckhouse, Lauren Pritchard, Ryan Caltagirone, Meera Rohit Kumbhani

Blurb from Rottentomatoes: An executive may lose her job at the family company if she doesn't fulfill an old clause in a will, which requires that she get married.

Cat’s Point of View:
Ah, Hallmark and Lifetime channel movies… they really are like the boxes of assorted chocolates that don’t give you a list on the inside of the lid. You never know if you’re going to get something smooth and chewy or all together nutty. Personally, I dread the strange fruit-flavored crème fillings. Those are the worst. I digress…

The good news is that Married by Christmas wasn’t awful or even strange. It was generally decent, and I actually liked it. That being said, I wouldn’t put this on a list of favorites by any stretch, but when the credits rolled I didn’t feel that I’d just wasted 87 minutes.

The film was well cast and the dialogue flowed smoothly. Awkward moments were intentional rather than accidental. It was a bit on the predictable side, but then again most of the recipe made-for-TV movies are. The important part was that I found satisfaction that I was correct in my predictions, rather than annoyance. 

If you’re in the mood for a contemporary rom-com with holiday flare, this wouldn’t be a bad pick. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 33%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score –  None
IMDB Score – 5.6/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 9, 2019

'Tis the Season - A Very Nutty Christmas (2018)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: A Very Nutty Christmas (2018)
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: TV-PG
Production/Distribution: Hartbreak Films, Synthetic Cinema International, Synthetic Releasing, Lifetime Television, Screen Media Ventures
Director: Colin Theys
Writer: Keith Giglio, Juliet Giglio
Actors: Melissa Joan Hart, Barry Watson, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Rizwan Manji, Conchata Ferrell, Ryan Caltagirone, Joanna Howard, Katie McCarty, John Mondin, Mike Sharits, Richard Riehle

Blurb from IMDb: Kate, a workaholic baker, has given up on Christmas, especially this year, when her boyfriend dumps her and she's got to fill an order of 12,000 cookies before Christmas. However, the gift of a magic nutcracker who turns into a real man makes the once cynical Kate understand the magic and beauty of Christmas--and of love.

Selina’s Point of View:
Worst Christmas movie ever.

I’m sorry, but it was. I hated it. It was painful to watch. The acting was all incredibly forced. They tried to be very Elf (2003), but fully Hallmark, and it just didn’t work. The charm that they were trying to portray came off as so far past campy that it was just crap.

I really can’t get behind this movie. It was not good.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.3/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1/5

Movie Trailer: