Friday, December 30, 2022

Top 20 Movies to Look Out For In January (2023)

 According to Cat

20 - Rock Dog 3: Battle the Beat (1/24)

Production/Distribution: Lionsgate, HB Wink Animation, Huayi Brothers Media, Splash Entertainment, Timeless Films
Director: Anthony Bell
Writer: Rob Muir
Actors: Graham Hamilton, Ashleigh Ball, Andrew Francis, Kathleen Barr, Eddie Izzard, Bethany Brown, Nicole Oliver, Doron Bell, Jason Simpson, Donny Lucas, Cathy Weseluck, Richard Newman, Michael Adamthwaite, James Higuchi, Sabrina Pitre, Brian Dobson, Brian Drummond, Andrea Libman
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Music, Animation
Rated: PG
Length: 1h 30min
IMDb Blurb: When the young performers on a music contest show admit they have never heard of Angus Scattergood, Bodi is compelled to join the show to restore the Rock Legend's good name.
Happy New Year, everyone!
This month’s slate of new release movies has turned out to be slightly underwhelming. This Top 20 is really a mixed bag of films I’m actually really excited about – and the best of the rest because there just wasn’t that much to choose from.
Rock Dog 3 fits into the latter category. Honestly, I don’t know why this particular franchise needed another sequel or a full-fledged trilogy. Here we are, though. It looks cute and the core characters still seem to be involved. There are a lot of R-rated movies on this list so Rock Dog 3 also offers some more family-friendly fun.
This 3rd installment is releasing straight to DVD and digital on-demand.
19 - Maybe I Do (1/27)

Production/Distribution: Endeavor Content, Vincent Newman Entertainment, Vertical Entertainment
Director: Michael Jacobs
Writer: Michael Jacobs
Actors: Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Setty Brosevelt, Susan Sarandon, William H. Macy, Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Gina Jun, Kirk Kelly, Natalie Ortega
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 35min
IMDb Blurb: Michelle (Roberts) and Allen (Bracey) are in a relationship. They decide to invite their parents to finally meet about marriage. Turns out, the parents already know one another well, which leads to some differing opinions about marriage.
Maybe I Do lands late enough in January that it’s really in the window of time that fits into pre-Valentine’s festivities. What better time to release a star-studded rom-com?
The cast here is really what stood out to me – and then I had a few giggles along the way while watching the trailer. I have a feeling that there will be a chunk of cringe associated with Maybe I Do as well, given the context of the plot. That’s one of the main reasons it’s placed this low.
I also tend to avoid stories where the dramatic elements involve cheating – especially when it’s treated in a blasé manner. The trailer didn’t make the best impression with me in that regard. It’s just not my cup of tea. I feel like I could trudge through that, for the most part, if the comedy and the rest of the story have a good enough payoff. I’m willing to give it a chance, at least.
Maybe I Do will have a limited theater release. Digital rental and streaming details are unavailable at this time.
18 - The Seven Faces of Jane (1/13)

Production/Distribution: Superconductor, Gravitas Ventures
Directors: Julian Acosta, Xan Cassavetes, Gia Coppola, Ryan Heffington, Boma Iluma, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong, Alex Takacs
Writers: Julian Acosta, Xan Cassavetes, Ben Del Vecchio, Ryan Heffington, Tran Ho, Boma Iluma, Nick Iwataki, Gillian Jacobs, Antonio Macia, Alex Takacs, Kaydee Volpi
Actors: Gillian Jacobs, Joel McHale, Sybil Azur, David Balcorta, Sergio Calderón, Angelina Capozzoli, Lupe Carranza, Kamori Clark-McGeoy, Daniela Hernandez, Kevin L. Johnson Jr., Leticia LaBelle, Paris Nicole, Chido Nwokocha, Emanuela Postacchini, Joni Reiss, Anthony Skordi, Soledad St. Hilaire, Breeda Wool
Genre: Drama
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 32min
IMDb Blurb: Its protagonist is Jane (Jacobs), who finds herself tumbling through a gauntlet of surreal, beautiful and heartbreaking adventures. After dropping off her daughter at a summer camp for the first time, and encouraging her reticent child to engage in new experiences, Jane finds herself heeding her own advice.
The Seven Faces of Jane’s trailer was intriguing. It reminded me a bit of Look Both Ways (2022), which we reviewed back in August of this past year. This production, however, strikes me more like it could be closer to an anthology – given the number of directors and writers attributed to the film. That wasn’t entirely clear in the trailer, however.
Even if it isn’t an anthology, the concept is interesting. This is also the debut feature-length film where Ken Jeong (Occupation: Rainfall, Extinct, Murderville) has a directorial credit. I’m curious how that will turn out, and whether his comedic voice will shine through to elevate the drama.
Single genre drama just isn’t what I’ve been craving lately, and thus its placement.
The Seven Faces of Jane is set to have a limited release theatrical run and will also be available right away through digital rental services.
17 – Last Resort (1/6)

Production/Distribution: Eloïse Films, Saban Films
Director: Jean-Marc Minéo
Writer: Jean-Marc Minéo
Actors: Alex Santi, Angelina Ismalone, Armin Parvin, Clayton Norcross, Jon Foo, Julaluck Ismalone
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 47min
IMDb Blurb: Tells the story of a former special forces soldier who becomes a one-man army when his wife and daughter are taken hostage during a bank robbery.
Last Resort seems to be a solid action offering. Fans of the genre should look forward to some cool fight choreography and a story that seems to hit all the right notes to meet expectations. I can’t say that it’s offering anything shiny and new, but there’s nothing wrong with a movie you can just turn your brain off to enjoy now and again.
Some bad guys have decided to take the wrong hostages during the bank heist and just wait ‘til the dad mops the floor with the bad guys on his way in to save the day. It’s a pretty straight-forward recipe.  
Last Resort is releasing to digital and on-demand services on 1/10, after it has had a few days of theatrical release under its belt.
16 - Firenado (1/3)

Production/Distribution: Dark Abyss Productions, Uncork'd Entertainment
Directors: Rhys Frake-Waterfield, Scott Jeffrey
Writer: Tom Jolliffe
Actors: Sian Altman, Nicola Wright, Daniel Godfrey, Leah McInnes, Toby Wynn-Davies, Gordon Joseph Millar, Stuart Falconer
Genre: Action, Disaster, Crime
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 18min
Rotten Tomatoes Blurb: The film, one to rival Geostorm and The Day After Tomorrow, tells of four scientists that uncover a ground-breaking technology capable of controlling weather. On the first use of the device, it malfunctions and creates a Fire Tornado. As the Firenado leaves a wake of destruction, the group assist in evacuating nearby residents but stumble upon into an organized crime home invasion. Stuck between a rock and a hard place; the group struggle to survive the two threats.
Okay, so if you’ve tuned in to our monthly trailer streams here at Trust the Dice, you will likely have heard us discussing Uncork’d Entertainment as a bit of a little-production-company-that-could sort of situation. The productions they release aren’t always at blockbuster caliber but they really get a good one out every once in a while. You likely won’t see any of these up for Oscar consideration, but you stand a good chance to be entertained.
Firenado quite possibly could be one of those rare diamonds in the rough. The production value shown in the trailer seemed pretty good, all things considered. I’m curious as to how the fiery tornado, the weather experiment, and the heist elements come together. I’m really rooting for this one – though I wouldn’t go as far as the film comparisons that the blurb on RottenTomatoes had. Hey, Firenado could surprise us all. Who knows.  
Firenado is releasing to digital on-demand.
15 - Snow Falls (1/17)

Production/Distribution: Colton Tran Films, Skowl Films, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Director: Colton Tran
Writers: Luke Genton, Colton Tran, Laura M. Young
Actors: Jonathan Bennett, Patrick Fabian, Victoria Moroles, Anna Grace Barlow, Colton Tran, Johnny Berchtold, James Gaisford
Genre: Horror
Rated: R
Length: 1h 37min
IMDb Blurb: After a winter storm strands five friends in a remote cabin with no power and little food, disorientation slowly claims their sanity as each of them succumbs to a fear that the snow itself may be contaminated or somehow evil.
I confess. I have a soft spot for movies that take an old recipe and twist it up with a new element. The premise of Snow Falls might feel really familiar because it’s been done before – in a broad sense, at least. The trailer was giving me serious Cabin Fever (2002) vibes. The twist, however, is that this situation is dealing with isolation due to mysterious power outage and heavy snow.
This one feels a little on-the-nose for what broad swaths of the country have been going through this winter with the Arctic blast that came through and buried parts of the northern states in deadly blizzard conditions. For those that might feel triggered due to real-life harrowing snowy conditions – please consider this your warning on this film.
The allure and mystery for me regarding Snow Falls centers on the big question – are these young people just going stir crazy and being psychologically affected in some sort of mass hysteria sort of way because of being stranded in those conditions, or is something else going on? The precise midnight power outage and crazy cell phone interference shown in the trailer, coupled with the concept of ‘what if the snow has a contagion’ intrigue me. I want to know what’s really going on, so you can bet I’ll be watching this one as soon as it becomes feasible.
Snow Falls is releasing direct to digital on-demand services.
14 - Jethica (1/13)

Production/Distribution: Spartan Media Acquisitions, Pretty Ideas
Director: Pete Ohs
Writers: Andy Faulkner, Callie Hernandez, Will Madden, Pete Ohs, Ashley Denise Robinson
Actors: Callie Hernandez, Ashley Denise Robinson, Andy Faulkner, Will Madden, Stephanie Hunt, Alan Palomo, Ross Yingst, Nican Robinson
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 12min
IMDb Blurb: When Jessica's stalker surprises her in New Mexico, she must seek help from beyond the grave to get rid of him for good.
Having a stalker is a terrifying situation. I had a cyber-stalker once, and it was a horrible experience – and that was back in a time before social media was a thing. I can only imagine what that sort of thing would be like now. In-person stalkers are even scarier.
Now imagine that your stalker passes and then continues to harangue you from beyond the grave. You can’t exactly put a restraining order on a ghost – in a literal sense, at least.
I appreciate that Jethica is approaching this concept with a dark comedy spin. I was entertained by the trailer and I want to get the answers to how this all started – and what happened to the stalker to send him to the afterlife.  
Jethica will have a limited theater release before landing on the Fandor platform on 2/14. After that, it is slated to have an exclusive run on Screambox. The exact dates for that were not immediately available.
13 – Fear (1/27)

Production/Distribution: Hidden Empire Film Group, Hidden Empire Releasing
Director: Deon Taylor
Writers: John Ferry, Deon Taylor
Actors: Joseph Sikora, Ruby Modine, Andrew Bachelor, Iddo Goldberg, Annie Ilonzeh, Tyler Abron, T.I., Terrence Jenkins, Jessica Allain, Evan Shafran
Genre: Horror
Rated: R
Length: 1h 40min
Rotten Tomatoes Blurb: A year into living through a worldwide pandemic, a group of friends gather in the remote Tahoe Mountains, to stay at the "Historic Strawberry Lodge". What was supposed to be a much needed getaway and celebratory weekend, quickly turns into a waking nightmare. As the truth about the historic lodge slowly unravels in front of them, this group of friends will be pushed to the brink of survival.
This Fear shouldn’t be confused with the 1996 movie of the same name which featured a young Marky Mark as its antagonist. I had a trip down memory lane when I saw this movie title, let me tell you. (Not because of the cast, either. One of my favorite songs came from that soundtrack.) I digress…
Focusing on this particular Fear movie, this feels like a pretty straight-forward horror offering. The cast is respectable, and there’s just enough mystery involved with the trailer to leave you with a few questions worth watching for the answers.
Aside from that, it feels like it’s generally paint-by-numbers for horror fans. When you gather in the woods and reveal your darkest fears in a horror movie, you just know that pretty much everyone in that situation is going to die horribly.
I think most of us can relate to the basic underlying premise that brings the group of friends together, though. After slogging through this pandemic, connecting with friends in person has been harder to come by – especially at the beginning of everything. Our collective consciousness has had to deal with fears stemming from the global viral situation. I get why they might want to just have a purge of all of that sort of stuff before trying to have a fun getaway at a historic lodge.
Of course, that’s when all the haunted house stuff sweeps in to knock everything sideways. Whoops. I’m intrigued to find out the story behind the lodge and what is lurking beneath the surface of Fear.
Fear is releasing to a limited theatrical run. Details for on-demand or streaming are not available at this time.
12 - When You Finish Saving the World (1/20)

Production/Distribution: CAA Media Finance, Fruit Tree, A24
Director: Jesse Eisenberg
Writer: Jesse Eisenberg
Actors: Julianne Moore, Finn Wolfhard, Billy Bryk, Alisha Boe, Jack Justice, Jay O. Sanders, Eleonore Hendricks, Catherine Haun, Annacheska Brown, Sara Anne, Laura-Love Tode, Mimi Fletcher, Jordyn Aurora Aquino, Monica Sanchez, DezBaa', Kenneth McGlothin, Jeanette Aguilar Harris
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rated: R
Length: 1h 28min
IMDb Blurb: Evelyn and her oblivious son Ziggy seek out replacements for each other as Evelyn desperately tries to parent an unassuming teenager at her shelter, while Ziggy fumbles through his pursuit of a brilliant young woman at school.
When You Finish Saving the World’s trailer resonated with me more than I’d like to admit. My mom and I are a lot alike and that was the source of much head-butting when I was younger. Awkward family dynamics in dramas tend to make me squirm, but the comedy woven into this story seems to push past that for me. I actually find myself wanting to watch this one.
Of course, part of that is due to the spectacular cast. I love Julianne Moore (Bel Canto, The Woman in the Window, Dear Evan Hansen) and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio) and feel they were great choices for these roles.
As a little tidbit of trivia, When You Finish Saving the World is an adaptation from the Audible Original of the same name. Wolfhard is the only actor reprising his role in the big-screen version. Both the Audible and the screenplay for the film were penned by Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Vivarium, Resistance). This will also be his directorial debut. I’m interested to see his vision for this story.
When You Finish Saving the World will have a limited theatrical release. Information regarding video-on-demand and streaming is unavailable at this time.

11 - The Offering (1/13)

Production/Distribution: Millennium Media, DECAL
Director: Oliver Park
Writers: Hank Hoffman, Jonathan Yunger
Actors: Paul Kaye, Nick Blood, Allan Corduner, Emily Wiseman, Jonathan Yunger, Velizar Binev, Nathan Cooper, Anton Trendafilov, Daniel Ben Zenou, Jodie Jacobs, Boyan Anev, Sofia Weldon, Yonko Dimitrov
Genre: Horror
Rated: R
Length: 1h 33min
IMDb Blurb: A family struggling with loss finds themselves at the mercy of an ancient demon trying to destroy them from the inside.
The trailer for The Offering was very effective with its ominous tone and really gave me vibes from the Mortuary Assistant (2022) video game. Of course the two are technically unrelated. Be that as it may, there are some thematic similarities with aesthetics and the whole demon-possessed corpse situation.
I concur with Selina’s assertion when we watched the trailer on-stream that it’s really interesting and a fresh new twist that this story is being told from a Jewish perspective. Generally possession movies lean towards general Christianity or Catholicism. This different spin helps elevate this particular movie’s watchability when the general theme has been covered so many times before.
The Offering is set to hit theaters for a limited release. Digital on-demand and streaming details are unavailable at this time.

10 - New Gods: Yang Jian (1/20)

Production/Distribution: Bilibili, Light Chaser Animation Studios, Zhejiang Dongyang Xiaoyuzhou Movie & Media, GKIDS
Director: Ji Zhao
Writer: Muchuan
Actors: David Chen, Alex Hom, Jason Ko, Liam Kyle, Christine Lin, Nicholas Andrew Louie, Risa Mei, Max Moreno, Luke Naphat, Kamran Nikhad, David Shatraw, Stephanie Sheh, Parry Shen, James Sie, Angela Tran, Kai Wang, Jeff Wong, Jimmie Yamaguchi
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Animation
Rated: Unrated
Length: 2h 7min
IMDb Blurb: Fifteen hundred years after the war of gods, the heaven declined. Yang Jian, the God of Erlang, made a living by working as a catcher. One day, Yang Jian was ordered to hunt down a young man, his own nephew.
New Gods: Yang Jian promises to be an action-packed adventure through Chinese folklore. It also helps that the visuals are absolutely stunning. I have enjoyed other films in this style and from this production company. I expect this one will also be a great experience.
New Gods: Yang Jian will be available in both subtitles and dubbed versions for English speakers. (I didn’t have a chance to research how many languages it will be available in, if any others.)
This latest installment in the New Gods series will have a limited theatrical run. Streaming and digital on-demand details are unavailable at this time.
9 - The Old Way (1/6)

Production/Distribution: Intercut Capitall, Saturn Films, Tri-Fold Pictures, EchoWolf Productions, Capstone Studios, Saban Films
Director: Brett Donowho
Writer: Carl W. Lucas
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Clint Howard, Abraham Benrubi, Adam Lazarre-White, Dean Armstrong, Kerry Knuppe, Nick Searcy, Noah Le Gros, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Shiloh Fernandez
Genre: Action, Western
Rated: R
Length: 1h 35min
IMDb Blurb: An old gunslinger and his daughter must face the consequences of his past, when the son of a man he murdered years ago arrives to take his revenge.
The reason I’m actually really excited to see The Old Way is very simple. This has Nicolas Cage (The Croods: A New Age, Pig, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent) in a traditional western.
All of the elements of a typical western genre film are present. There will be horse riding, gun battles, a quaint town with a local saloon, law men with shiny badges, and gorgeous landscape vistas. Then add Cage into the mix. I don’t even know how to process this correctly. I’m giddy.
The Old Way falls under the ‘shut up and take my money’ category for sure. This film will have a limited theater release and will be available for on-demand rental beginning 1/13.
8 - Plane (1/13)

Production/Distribution: Di Bonaventura Pictures, G-BASE, Lionsgate, MadRiver Pictures, Olive Hill Media, Pimienta, Riverstone Pictures
Director: Jean-François Richet
Writers: Charles Cumming, J.P. Davis
Actors: Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Claro de los Reyes, Daniella Pineda, Evan Dane Taylor, Joey Slotnick, Paul Ben-Victor, Remi Adeleke, Tony Goldwyn, Yoson An, Lilly Krug, Tara Westwood, Kelly Gale, Oliver Trevena, Amber Rivera, Ariel Felix, Quinn McPherson, Jeff Francisco, Jessica Nam, Modesto Lacen, Rose Eshay, Ricky Robles Cruz, Haleigh Hekking, Angel Fabián Rivera, Heather Seiffert, Kate Bisset
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: R
Length: 1h 47min
IMDb Blurb: A pilot finds himself caught in a war zone after he's forced to land his commercial aircraft during a terrible storm.
I don’t feel like there are going to be any surprises with Plane. It’s going to be a turn your brain off and enjoy some action type of movie. The trailer gave me vibes along the lines of a mashup of Con Air (1997) and Rambo (2008).
Grab your popcorn and settle in while Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, Hunter Killer, Greenland) and Mike Colter (Luke Cage, Black and Blue, Evil) team up to kick some ass and save some people.
Plane is set for a wide theatrical release. Digital rental and streaming information is unclear at this time.
7 - Infinity Pool (1/27)

Production/Distribution: Film Forge, Hero Squared, 4 Film, Celluloid Dreams, Croatian Film Association, Elevation Pictures, Eurimages, Neon, Topic Studios, Téléfilm Canada
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Writer: Brandon Cronenberg
Actors: Alexander Skarsgård, Amanda Brugel, Amar Bukvic, Caroline Boulton, Cleopatra Coleman, Jeff Ricketts, John Ralston, Mia Goth, Roderick Hill, Thomas Kretschmann
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery, Thriller, Horror
Rated: R
Length: 1h 57min
IMDb BlurbJames and Em Foster are enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation in the fictional island of La Tolqa, when a fatal accident exposes the resort's perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence and surreal horrors.
What do you get for the wealthy person that has everything? A body double they can watch receiving punishment like a whipping boy of old, of course. Things are far deeper and more twisted than that in Infinity Pool. It’s Brandon Cronenberg (Broken Tulips, Antiviral, Possessor) at the helm, after all. He seems to be leaning into the strange and body horror that his father’s films are well known for. The first cut of Infinity Pool was so out there that it initially received an NC-17 rating and had to be re-edited to bring it down to R. Just let that thought marinate for a moment.
Infinity Pool is going to be one wild ride that horror fans are going to want to be on.
Of course, then you have the phenomenal cast involved. Alexander Skarsgård (Mute, Big Little Lies, The Northman) and Mia Goth (Everest, Emma., X) caught my attention here.
Infinity Pool is set for a theatrical release and details of subsequent digital on-demand or streaming are unavailable at this time. There is a small loophole to that, however. This year’s Sundance Film Festival is going to be a hybrid event with in-person and online participation available. Infinity Pool is one of the festival entrants and will be available online on-demand via the festival for a short window starting 1/24 through the end of the festival’s run.
6 - Missing (1/20)

Production/Distribution: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Stage 6 Films, Screen Gems
Directors: Nicholas D. Johnson, Will Merrick
Writers: Aneesh Chaganty, Nicholas D. Johnson, Will Merrick, Sev Ohanian
Actors: Nia Long, Storm Reid, Amy Landecker, Daniel Henney, Joaquim de Almeida, Ken Leung, Lisa Yamada, Megan Suri, Thomas Barbusca, Tim Griffin, Tracy Vilar, Zeke Alton
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 51min
Metacritic Blurb: When her mother (Nia Long) disappears while on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend, June’s (Storm Reid) search for answers is hindered by international red tape. Stuck thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, June creatively uses all the latest technology at her fingertips to try and find her before it’s too late. But as she digs deeper, her digital sleuthing raises more questions than answers...and when June unravels secrets about her mom, she discovers that she never really knew her at all.
Missing is said to be the sequel to Searching (2018). It doesn’t seem to be a true sequel situation because none of the characters are shared between the two films, but they are apparently confirmed to be within the same ‘world’ or ‘universe’ even. I’ve seen some articles online about a subtle sub-plot that ran in the background of Searching that was somewhat of a ‘blink and you missed it’ sort of thing. That’s said to be continued into Missing, though to what degree I’m unsure. (I’m going to need to re-watch Searching to see if I can catch it.) You won’t need to have watched the first before this one, however.
That aside, Missing is a testament to the online resourcefulness of this current younger generation. I also really appreciate the framework of experiencing the movie via the screens in the manner that Searching started. We’ll get more of that here.
I’m curious to find out what the big mystery is and whether or not the mom is ok.
Missing is set for a theatrical release and digital on-demand and streaming info is not available at this time. I imagine it will eventually land on Hulu after the 45 day window, considering this is a Sony film.
5 - The Pale Blue Eye (1/6)

Production/Distribution: Cross Creek Pictures, Grisbi Productions Le, Streamline Global Group, Netflix
Director: Scott Cooper
Writers: Louis Bayard, Scott Cooper
Actors: Charlie Tahan, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Christian Bale, Fred Hechinger, Gillian Anderson, Harry Melling, Lucy Boynton, Robert Duvall, Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, Toby Jones
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Crime
Rated: R
Length: 2h 8min
IMDb Blurb: A world-weary detective is hired to investigate the murder of a West Point cadet. Stymied by the cadets' code of silence, he enlists one of their own to help unravel the case - a young man the world would come to know as Edgar Allan Poe.
It feels like I’ve been waiting for The Pale Blue Eye to release for forever. This was one of the few films we made an exception for this month. It was in contention or even listed on a previous Top 20 month. We don’t usually like to repeat, but considering the scarcity of good material eligible for consideration this month, and the delay of the Netflix release for The Pale Blue Eye, here we are.
I love Edgar Allen Poe. While The Pale Blue Eye is not derivative of any of his work specifically, it is an adaptation of a novel that features him as a character. Much like a movie we reviewed in 2022, it focuses on Poe’s time as a military cadet and postulates that dark and sinister occurrences during that time helped fuel the burgeoning writer’s sense of macabre and mystery.
Of course, then you take a look at the cast and it’s a foregone conclusion that The Pale Blue Eye should be at least an intriguing watch with the likes of Christian Bale (The Big Short, Ford v Ferrari, Amsterdam), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, Crooked House, The Crown), Robert Duvall (Crazy Heart, Widows, Hustle), Harry Melling (The Current War, The Old Guard, The Devil All the Time), Toby Jones (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, The Wonder, Empire of Light), Timothy Spall (Early Man, The Corrupted, The Last Bus), and Lucy Boynton (Don't Knock Twice, Rebel in the Rye, Bohemian Rhapsody) on board.
The Pale Blue Eye will be available on Netflix.
4 - Shotgun Wedding (1/27)

Production/Distribution: Mandeville Films, Maximum Effort, Nuyorican Productions, Lionsgate, Amazon Prime Video
Director: Jason Moore
Writer: Mark Hammer
Actors: Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, Lenny Kravitz, Cheech Marin, Jennifer Coolidge, Alex Mallari Jr., Callie Hernandez, D'Arcy Carden, Desmin Borges, Héctor Aníbal, Melissa Hunter, Sônia Braga, Steve Coulter
Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance
Rated: R
Length: 1h 40min
IMDb Blurb: A couple's extravagant destination wedding is hijacked by criminals. In the process of saving their families, they rediscover why they fell in love in the first place.
A blend of rom-com and action is actually how I prefer my romantic comedies. Sometimes they feel less cheesy when there are chases, fight scenes, and explosions going on.
I really enjoyed the trailer for Shotgun Wedding and have been eagerly awaiting its release. I think Jennifer Lopez (Second Act, Hustlers, Marry Me) and Josh Duhamel (Night of the Animated Dead, Blade Runner: Black Lotus, Bandit) have great chemistry for these parts and both have the range to pull off these characters well. Cheech Marin (Cars 3, The War with Grandpa, Maya and the Three) is also in this as well!
Shotgun Wedding is releasing as an Amazon Prime Video original.
3 - M3GAN (1/6)

Production/Distribution: Atomic Monster, Blumhouse Productions, Divide/Conquer, Universal Pictures
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Writers: Akela Cooper, James Wan
Actors: Allison Williams, Amie Donald, Arlo Green, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jack Cassidy, Jen Van Epps, Jenna Davis, Kimberley Crossman, Kira Josephson, Michael Saccente, Natasha Kojic, Ronny Chieng, Stephane Garneau, Violet McGraw
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Horror
Rated: PG-13
Length: 1h 42min
Moviefone Blurb: A brilliant toy company roboticist uses artificial intelligence to develop M3GAN, a life-like doll programmed to emotionally bond with her newly orphaned niece. But when the doll's programming works too well, she becomes overprotective of her new friend with terrifying results.
What could possibly go wrong with a life-size AI doll?
I have a feeling we’re going to find out the precise answer to that question in M3GAN. That doll is horrifyingly creepy – even when it’s just standing there and not ganking people.
I’m telling you, stuff like this is what’s going to make the ‘rise of the machines’ happen eventually. Let’s’ all take this as a cautionary tale, yes?
I’m excited to see the mayhem unfold. M3GAN is set to creep out audiences on the big screen in a theatrical release. Details for digital on-demand and streaming aren’t available at this time.
2 - House Party (1/13)

Production/Distribution: New Line Cinema, SpringHill Entertainment, The Hideaway Entertainment, Warner Bros., HBO Max
Director: Calmatic Will
Writers: Stephen Glover, Jamal Olori
Actors: Allen Maldonado, Andrew Santino, Anthony L. Fernandez, Aviel Ayoung, Bill Bellamy, Bottara Angele, Chinedu Unaka, Christopher Wolfe, D.C. Young Fly, Jacob Latimore, Jason Toler, Karen Obilom, Lester Purry, Maria Arroyo, Melvin Gregg, Michael Heidemann, Nakia Burrise, Olivia Sky, Paris Nicole, Ren Burttet, Rotimi, Shakira Ja'nai Paye, Tamera Kissen, Tosin Cole, Trevion Twosifix Pleasant
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R
Length: 1h 40min
Metacritic Blurb: Aspiring club promoters and best buds Damon and Kevin are barely keeping things together. Out of money, down on their luck and about to lose the roofs over their heads—and freshly fired from their low-lift jobs as house cleaners—the pair needs a huge windfall to make their problems go away. In a ‘what the hell?’ move, they decide to host the party of the year at an exclusive mansion, the site of their last cleaning job, which just happens to belong to none other than LeBron James. No permission? No problem. What could go wrong?
I’ve been hearing about this new House Party movie for a while now. My initial feelings were mixed, given that there were already 5 movies in the franchise that Kid N’ Play started back with the original in 1990. However, with this reboot, we’re getting a new and more updated take on the story without re-hashing what’s gone on in the past.
The concept of this House Party incarnation is actually a great setup for a hilarious movie and I have found myself actually really excited to see it. The cameos alone make this film worthwhile – and that allegedly includes the OGs Kid N’ Play popping in to the party.
I’m also a bit giddy as a Whovian that Tosin Cole (Unlocked, Pirates, Till) is one of the leads here. I don’t remember seeing him in much until he crossed my path on Doctor Who (2005-) as a companion of the 13th Doctor from 2018-2021. I digress…
House Party was originally set to be released directly to HBO Max, however with the recent merger with Discovery, the studio decided to give the film a theatrical run. You can bet it will land on the streaming platform after the now customary 45 day window. I wasn’t able to locate on-demand details at this time.
1 - Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (1/12)

Production/Distribution: Miramax, STX Films, Tencent Pictures
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies, Guy Ritchie
Actors: Aubrey Plaza, Bugzy Malone, Cary Elwes, Conor MacNeill, Eddie Marsan, Eugenia Kuzmina, Hugh Grant, Jason Statham, Josh Hartnett, Kaan Urgancioglu, Lourdes Faberes, Max Beesley, Peter Ferdinando, Sam Douglas
Genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller
Rated: Unrated
Length: 1h 54min
IMDb Blurb: Special agent Orson Fortune and his team of operatives recruit one of Hollywood's biggest movie stars to help them on an undercover mission when the sale of a deadly new weapons technology threatens to disrupt the world order.
We’ve finally reached my #1 pick for January of 2023. “Finally” is also the appropriate word when it comes to Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre. I’ve been chomping at the bit for this movie to be released for well over a year now. I really don’t know why it got delayed, but here we are. There were hints at the time
This was another of our exceptions this month, because Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre was actually listed on a prior Top 20 – but that was back in March of 2022. It was my #5 pick that month. Most of what I said can be summarized by an excerpt from that article entry: “When you put Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Aladdin, Wrath of Man) and Jason Statham (The Expendables, Redemption, The Meg) together, magic happens.”
There’s so much more to love about Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre. I wish it were available now rather than having to wait for mid-month. There will be a theatrical release followed by HBO Max after 45 days. Digital on-demand information is not available at this time, but I can imagine they’ll want to get this one out there sooner than later considering how long its been on the shelf.

Movies to Look out For

According to Selina

Teen Wolf: The Movie .20
Beautiful Beings .19
Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre .18
In From the Side .17
Fear .16
Firenado .15
The Seven Faces of Jane .14
Jethica .13
The Old Way .12
Snow Falls .11
Pathaan .10
Plane .9
Shotgun Wedding .8
Infinity Pool .7
The Pale Blue Eye .6
M3GAN .5
Missing .4
The Offering .3
New Gods: Yang Jian .2
House Party .1

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

'Tis the Season - Violent Night (2022)


Movie Name/Year: Violent Night (2022)
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Length:  1h 41min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: 87North, Universal Pictures
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller
Actors: David Harbour, Beverly D’Angelo, John Leguizamo, Leah Brady, Cam Gigandet, Edi Patterson, Brendan Fletcher, Alexis Louder, Alex Hassell, Alexander Elliot, Mike Dopud, André Eriksen, Mitra Suril, Can Aydin, Phong Giang, Finn McCager Higgins, Rawleigh Clements-Willis, Stephanie Sy
IMDb Blurb: When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas).

Selina’s Point of View:
I was down for Violent Night from the jump.
Right off the bat, the stage was set for something outstanding. The first scene is so hopeless and funny that it properly sets us up for the strange and miraculous everything that would follow. There’s never a moment that feels out of place, toned down, or overly sanitized.
Not only do I think director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow, What Happened to Monday, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) is to thank for that, but his editorial staff. The editing is so tight that nothing feels like ‘too much’.
David Harbour (Stranger Things, Black Widow, No Sudden Move) was his charismatic, bad-ass self while John Leguizamo (Encanto, The Menu, Waiting for Godot) killed it as the primary antagonist. When they finally meet in the film, it’s absolutely electric. Little Miss Leah Brady (The Umbrella Academy, Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls, Relax I’m From the Future) also held her own as the smart kid up against big-bad invaders. She took a little slice of Home Alone (1990) and made it her own. For a child’s performance to be flawless, that’s something special.

There is nothing I could possibly say against Violent Night. It was everything I want a holiday horror film to be. Not only did it have some of the most brutal kills from any Christmas horror flick I’ve ever seen, but it also had the same important holiday lessons without the obnoxious Hallmark tropes.
I would recommend this to just about anyone who’s down for something different, especially since it still has a Christmas spirit in the end.
I’m glad that we are leaving off this year with Violent Night. It’s the last movie before our Christmas break and there’s a lesson wrapped up in all the blood and puns. An important one.
For the past few years, Christmas hasn’t really felt like Christmas. It’s like the magic has gone out of December. There’s no question as to why. We’re all so beaten up by the times, it’s like none of us have the energy to care anymore.
We’ve gone several rounds with our very own apocalypse scenarios. It’s important to remember that after all that it’s ok to be sad, angry, and tired. It’s ok to feel lost in this absolute mess of a world we’re in. The important thing to remember is that there’s always hope – and something to believe in. Whether it’s belief in a religion, in yourself, a loved one, or the potential for something better, it is important to hold on to that.
Life is a cycle, and things will get better.
Happy Holidays.

Cat’s Point of View:
As time ticks down, and Christmas is imminent, things just seem to get crazier and crazier. What better reason than to get comfy and watch something highly entertaining and also steeped in the season. Violent Night captured my attention and had me chomping at the bit to watch it the moment I saw its trailer. This was the perfect selection to add some much-needed escapism and laughter to my week.
Let me tell you, Violent Night is all the things I hoped it would be – and then some.
I’ve seen Violent Night compared a lot to a blend of John Wick (2014) and Home Alone (1990). I have to admit that the mash-up isn’t that far off. If you haven’t seen any of the myriad articles or videos exploring the catastrophic damage Kevin’s traps would inflict in the real world, Violent Night gives a small, yet gruesome, taste of a few more accurate scenarios.
Seriously, though, I adore the concept of Santa Claus mopping up bad guys in the name of defending a little girl on his Nice List and her family – dysfunctional though they may be. David Harbour (Hellboy, Black Widow, Stranger Things) was also perfect for this role. I was absolutely giddy when I saw he was attached to this movie. He absolutely nailed the transformation from apathetic to ass-kicking that Santa experienced.
You really couldn’t go wrong with any of this cast, though.

Leah Brady (Hunting- A Documentary, The Umbrella Academy, Erin's Guide to Kissing Girls) is a fresh face in Hollywood and I’m excited to see what she does in the future. She embodied the hopeful naiveté that we all hope children hold on to as long as they can, and yet balanced with cleverness and a sense of adventure. It was also really interesting to see John Leguizamo (Critical Thinking, Encanto, The Menu) as the lead villain in Violent Night. It’s far removed from his usual roles, but he really sold it. He’s often underrated and absolutely deserves more spotlight.
Further, seeded within the entire production, there are nods to Christmas movies from the past – crossing several genres. One such nod had to be the casting of Beverly D’Angelo (The House Bunny, The Good House, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) as the Lightstone family matriarch. She played Ellen Griswold in nearly all of the National Lampoon movies featuring that hilarious family – of which one of my favorites is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989). It might be a stretch, but there are more concrete Easter Eggs sprinkled throughout than the 6-degrees-of-Christmas-Movies I attempted.

Violent Night had some really spectacular, if rather brutal, fight scenes. The action choreography here was top-notch. All of the elements of a great action movie were present and elevated by the comedic undertone. The laughter, while occasionally dark humor, took just enough of the edge off so that the situation on-screen didn’t get too intense.
If you love the action genre, don’t mind a little blood, and want it whipped up with the magic of the Christmas season, Violent Night is absolutely worth the price of a ticket or rental. Of course, that is if you want to see it before Christmas. I wouldn’t mind watching it afterward, either. (I’ve already watched it twice and I just rented it last night.)
Whether Violent Night is your cup of tea or not, we’re wishing you and yours a wonderful and safe Holiday Season. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 73%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 88%
Metascore – 55%
Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10
IMDB Score – 7.0/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
P.S. – There is a short additional mid-credits scene.
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

'Tis the Season - Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (2022)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Musical
Length:  1h 36min
Rating: TV-Y7
Production/Distribution: Timeless Films, Netflix
Director: Stephen Donnelly
Writer: Leslie Bricusse, Stephen Donnelly, Charles Dickens
Actors: Luke Evans, Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Fra Fee, Giles Terera, Trevor Dion Nicholas, James Cosmo, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Jenkins, Rupert Turnbull, Devon Pomeroy, Zaris-Angel Hator, Jemima Lucy Newman, Jeremiah Daley, Rebecca Gethings, Sheena Bhattessa, Homer Todiwala, Ayesha Antoine, Ewan Bailey, Graham Silcock, Stephen Donnelly
IMDb Blurb: A supernatural, time-travelling, musical adaptation of Charles Dickens's cult Christmas story

Cat’s Point of View:
There have been so many retellings of Charles Dickens’s classic novella of A Christmas Carol. We’ve seen versions tackled by Disney, The Muppets, and countless other adaptations for both the large and small screens. It’s a timeless tale of holiday cheer, the resilience of the human spirit, and a journey of personal redemption. There are likely going to be many more interpretations of this Dickensian masterpiece for years to come.
Though, with that being said, it makes it harder for new versions to stand out when compared to everything that has come before. One would think there are only so many ways you can tell the same story, right?

You wouldn’t even be too far off thinking you’ve seen this particular movie before, if you’ve watched the live action musical Scrooge (1970). Scrooge: A Christmas Carol is actually an animated remake of that very movie. The dedication in the credits to the lauded British composer Leslie Bricusse (1931-2021) harkens back to the original 1970 production, which he wrote the music, lyrics, and screenplay for (as well as the 1992 stage play). Bricusse also wrote the screenplay for this Netflix adaptation, including 6 of the original songs. Sadly, this was his final film project and he passed in 2021, unable to see its release.
When I first saw the trailer for Scrooge: A Christmas Carol, I was thinking it might be cute but basic – because I was getting that ‘been there, done that’ feeling. I was worried that it wouldn’t hold my attention. This time of year, I’m burning the proverbial candle at both ends and sometimes it’s really easy for me to drift off if I’m not well-engaged with what I’m watching.
I didn’t have any problems staying tuned in at all.

The music was gorgeous and didn’t feel recycled. The animation was smooth and well integrated the old 2-D style with the more updated computer enhanced cinematics. I really enjoyed the direction they took Scrooge’s redemption arc through the animations shown at each ghost-led journey. The way the thoughts played out as he connected emotions with his actions and their consequences was very well done, and in a freshly innovative way. Then there was the cast…
I can’t get over this cast, really. The production team made some phenomenal decisions here. Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast, The Alienist, Pinocchio) voiced the titular character, and let me tell you, this man has a gorgeous singing voice on top of his great acting ability. Olivia Colman’s (The Lost Daughter, Empire of Light, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish) portrayal of Past was both funny and touching. Jessie Buckley (Beast, Chernobyl, Women Talking) had me misty when she sang in her role as Isabel Fizziwig. Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes, Save the Cinema, The Crown) was hauntingly wonderful as the embodiment of Jacob Marley – and his ghost. I could go on, but I’ll rest there.

Scrooge: A Christmas Carol was absolutely everything I expected it to be – and then some. I was surprised by how engrossed I became with the story and the music. Yes, some parts were a little silly – but aren’t most musicals at one point or another? This film would be a great selection to watch with family, especially if you have children that haven’t really experienced this story before. I would caution, however, showing this to very young children. There might be some scary imagery and concepts that could disturb them when Scrooge visits the future.
All told, I’d say I enjoy this version more than the old fashioned period piece it was adapted from, and I might just watch this again before the end of this Holiday Season.  

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 40%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 73%
Metascore – 46%
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 6.2/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 12, 2022

'Tis the Season - 8 Bit Christmas (2021)


Streaming Service: HBO Max
Movie Name/Year: 8 Bit Christmas (2021)
Genre: Comedy, Family
Length:  1h 37min
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: New Line Cinema, Star Thrower Entertainment, Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO Max
Director: Michael Dowse
Writer: Kevin Jakubowski
Actors: Winslow Fegley, Neil Patrick Harris, Steve Zahn, June Diane Raphael, Bellaluna Resnick, Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Che Tafari, Santino Barnard, Max Malas, Brielle Rankins, Braelyn Rankins, Cyrus Arnold, Chandler Dean, Jacob Laval, Katia Edith Wood, Tom Rooney, David Cross, Kathryn Greenwood, Louise Nicol, Erica Levene, David MacInnis, Monica Dottor, Sofie Michal Maiuri, Alex Spencer, Miles Kerim, Luca Doulgeris, Mike Wilmot, Christy Bruce
IMDb Blurb: In 1980s Chicago, a 10-year-old sets out on a quest to get the Christmas gift of his generation: the latest and greatest video-game system.

Selina’s Point of View:
If you took The Princess Bride (1987) and mixed it with A Christmas Story (1983), you’d get 8-Bit Christmas. I know that sounds like a hell of a pairing. Both those 80s flicks have huge followings. I’ll admit that I’m only part of the fanbase for The Princess Bride, out of the two of them, but I can appreciate those that really love A Christmas Story.
I think both groups would greatly enjoy 8-Bit Christmas.
In this flick, the story is told by Neil Patrick Harris’ character. His daughter wants a phone for the holidays and he’s comparing it to a time in the 80s when he really wanted a Nintendo. It takes place in the part of the 80s when people were starting to try and say that video games cause violence. (They don’t. Thousands of years of violent history before video games were invented prove that, but I digress.)
It’s a very cute story, mostly played out in flashbacks. The child actors are all very good, especially for their ages, and the nostalgia (for an 80s baby like me) hits hard.
December is my least favorite month for movies, that’s no secret. Christmas flicks just get a tad repetitive. That said, every year there seems to be at least one stand out that’s still part of the family or romance genres. This year it comes early with 8-Bit Christmas.
I loved it. Even the cringey parts still managed to be mild enough that I didn’t have to look away. It was funny, cute, and the ending still brought tears to my eyes.
8-Bit Christmas is worth a watch, and perfectly fine to put on while the whole family is gathered. 

Cat’s Point of View:
In all honesty, I’d forgotten that 8 Bit Christmas had come out last year. I am very happy that we put it on this month’s schedule because it was a lot of fun. The nostalgia made the heart of this ‘80s baby happy, and there was a connection within the story to draw in kids of today.
It felt like a very heartwarming and funny ‘back in my day’ story that I would tell my kid but brought to life on the screen. I’m sitting right there in the generation of the father character. Good grief there was so much to relate to within his story. Though, I couldn’t go to the neighbor kid’s house to play a Nintendo. I could only play on one when I was visiting with cousins. I remember my own burning desire for a game console as a kid. (I didn’t get one ‘til I was in high school. It was a Sega Genesis.) So much of this movie hit home. I was in stitches.
In preparing this article today, I’ve seen a lot of critics compare 8 Bit Christmas with A Christmas Story (1983). They’re not wrong. I got a lot of the same ‘feels’ that the older holiday classic provided. I do, however, feel that this is a more elevated and updated narrative that can connect better with the current day. Some aspects of the classic just don’t translate to today’s audiences in the same way, and I think it’s beginning to lose ground for that reason. I appreciate it when new voices step up to bridge the generational gap like that – whether they intended to or not.

8 Bit Christmas also blended in the ensemble factor where the group of friends hatches a plan for a caper, rather than focusing on the single child’s ambitions for the desired Christmas present. It played out as a significantly more family-friendly set of shenanigans than Good Boys (2019) while giving off some of those same vibes.
Then, of course, I absolutely adored the cast.
I sincerely believe that the presence of Neil Patrick Harris (A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Matrix Resurrections, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent) in a cast makes any project better. I adored him as the adult Jake Doyle character, telling the story. I enjoyed his interactions with his on-screen daughter. The small scene interjections they had together called back a bit to the storytelling grandfather in The Princess Bride (1987), as well.

Steve Zahn (George & Tammy, Night at the Museum: Kamunrah Rises Again, Where'd You Go, Bernadette) was also an excellent pick for the somewhat zany DIY dad. A lot of the heavy lifting, however, went to Winslow Fegley (Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, Nightbooks, Lyle Lyle Crocodile) anchoring the cast playing young Jake Doyle. I believed every minute of his delivery and I am really looking forward to what he does in the future. Frankly, all of the kids were great. I have zero complaints whatsoever.
Nostalgia and ensemble comedy aside, 8 Bit Christmas was just overflowing with heart. It’s a great story about family and not getting sucked into the materialism that drowns the Holiday Season. It’s hard – we’ve likely all done it at one point or another. This story, however, doesn’t get preachy at all. It was a likable and fun ride that gave a subtle nudge rather than beating you over the head with the message.
I was actually misty at the end. These movies are making me leak from the eyes left and right this year, I swear.
I would absolutely recommend 8 Bit Christmas to anyone that enjoys family comedy, and I can’t wait to watch it again with my teen since she didn’t get a chance to watch it the first time with me.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 83%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 75%
Metascore – 66%
Metacritic User Score – 6.2/10
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Friday, December 9, 2022

'Tis the Season - Your Christmas or Mine? (2022)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: Your Christmas or Mine? (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 1h 35min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Banijay Entertainment, Shiny Button Productions, Amazon Prime
Director: Jim O’Hanlon
Writer: Tom Parry
Actors: Asa Butterfield, Cora Kirk, Daniel Mays, Angela Griffin, Natalie Gumede, David Bradley, Alex Jennings
Blurb from IMDb: Hayley and James are young and in love. They both make the same mad split-second decision to swap trains and surprise each other. Passing each other in the station, they are completely unaware that they have just swapped Christmases.

Cat’s Point of View:
Your Christmas or Mine? was one holiday rom-com that I’ve been looking forward to watching since we streamed trailers back in November. It was at a respectable #16 on my personal Top 20 for this month, and I had a small giggle to myself when I saw that Selina had this film listed as her #15. It’s not unheard of for us to choose things so similarly, but I get a kick out of it when it happens. I digress…
There were quite a few reasons that I was hopeful for Your Christmas or Mine? The first and, likely, stand-out reason was that the trailer painted the picture of a story we really haven’t heard before. (If it’s been done in the past, I certainly don’t remember seeing it at least.) The narrative for Your Christmas or Mine? felt far removed from the typical holiday rom-com, lacking all of the overdone sappy tropes.
That’s not to say that there weren’t a few corny moments here or there in this production, but they fit in the story well and it didn’t feel like the production team was aiming for a blackout round in Christmas movie cliché bingo.

Adorable (and sometimes cringeworthy) miscommunications and misbehaving family wove into a story tying a cute couple together. There were some solid character arcs here, and I even got a little misty at a few points along the way. Your Christmas or Mine? even provided me a jaw-dropping moment where I thought to myself “holy shit, they didn’t just do THAT in a Christmas rom-com, did they??!”
There was a phenomenal cast on board. This film has a veritable 6-degrees-of-separation of British cinema – large and small screens, alike. Though, it’s fairly easy to recognize the likes of Asa Butterfield (The Space Between Us, Slaughterhouse Rulez, Choose or Die) and Alex Jennings (The Forgiven, Operation Mincemeat, The Crown). If you thought you were doing a double-take seeing a favorite love-to-hate character Mr. Filch in the Potterverse, or the dubious Frey of Game of Thrones (2011-2019) you weren’t wrong. David Bradley (Broadchurch, Catherine Called Birdy, Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio) has an interestingly cantankerous role in this movie, as well. Meanwhile, Cora Kirk (Midsomer Murders, Doctors, Prey for the Devil), who played Hayley in Your Christmas or Mine? is a fresh face in British film. I really enjoyed her performance here and sincerely hope she takes on more roles that cross the pond.
All told, Your Christmas or Mine? was a lot of fun and left me with the warm fuzzies I was hoping for from this particular genre. This would be a treat to watch with friends or family in the mood for something a little different from the standard ultra-predictable fare.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 50%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 69%
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –6.4/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 4/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13
Movie Trailer: