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:

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

'Tis the Season - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

Streaming Service: Disney+
Movie Name/Year: The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)
Genre: Comedy, Action, Adventure
Length: 41 min
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Marvel Studios, Troll Court Entertainment, Disney+
Director: James Gunn
Writers: James Gunn, Jim Starlin, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Steve Englehart, Don Heck, Roger Stern, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen, Steve Englehart, Steve Gan
Actors: Luke Klein, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Maria Bakalova, Rhett Miller, Vin Diesel, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Thomas McNamara, Daniel Bernhardt, Rusty Schwimmer, Tinashe Kajese, Barry Curtis, Stephen Blackehart, Sarah Alami, Terence Rosemore, James Clarke, David Moskowitz, Old 97's
IMDb Blurb: Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket, Mantis, and Groot engage in some spirited shenanigans in an all-new original special created for Disney+.

Selina’s Point of View:
I can honestly say that the fever dream I just watched is the new most ridiculous entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Yes, I’ve seen Thor: Love and Thunder (2022). I said what I said.
Now, that’s not to say it’s bad. It was MUCH easier to sit through than the aforementioned Thor flick. The fact that it was only 40 minutes long might have a little to do with it, but that wasn’t the whole reason.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was not only just a special, but it was also a holiday movie. As a result, I expected it to be campy and full of cringe. Not to mention, that’s also the base of the Guardians in general. The whole group is a bit more on the absurd side, so this kind of humor just fits better. 

On the note of aspects of this film that work primarily because it’s with the Guardians instead of any other team, there were a couple of killer musical numbers. Sure, Kevin Bacon (They/Them, North Star, One Way) clearly lost a bet with James Gunn (The Suicide Squad, Guardians of the Galaxy, Peacemaker) – or got paid an obscene amount of money – but his little musical interlude was outstanding. Even better than the opening number, which was amusing enough to make even Weird Al (Bill & Ted Face the Music, Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe, Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation) smile. 
I enjoyed The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Just don’t go into it expecting a serious Marvel film. It’s much more of a ‘fuck around and have fun’ project than anything else.

Cat’s Point of View:
Marvel seems to be really pulling out all of the stops this year, giving us holiday specials. We had one for Halloween, and now we have one for Christmas – and I’m all in.
Then, of course, once I saw the trailer I was 1000% anticipating a fun time while watching The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. I was not disappointed in the least. James Gunn (Super, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Suicide Squad) and the Marvel team gave us quite an early Christmas present this year. This film is hilarious and was just the pick-me-up I needed right about now.
For 45 glorious minutes, I was enrapt with the crazy shenanigans perpetrated by some of my favorite comic book aliens.
Dave Bautista (Army of the Dead, See, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) and Pom Klementieff (Black Mirror, Uncut Gems, Thunder Force) always deliver the best face-palm moments with Drax and Mantis. All of the usual suspects for the Guardians were involved in this bananas tale, of course, but those two were in the middle of all of the whirlwind of activity shown in this special.

This sort of special presentation feature gives the platform to easily take other members of an ensemble cast that don’t get as much screen time and shine a little brighter spotlight on them with a ‘side quest’ of sorts. I really hope they keep doing this in the future, as well.
Though as crazy as the premise of this particular Guardians of the Galaxy escapade was, there’s actually a lot of heart and a story that brought out all the feels. I required tissues for a moment – but I’m a sap.
Do you know what else was awesome about this production? Kevin Bacon (The Following, They/Them, City on a Hill) was in it. A little Bacon makes everything better – and that goes for more than food. While some might feel his involvement in the story was a little random, it’s actually a solid callback to plot points from the prior Guardians movies.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was better than I thought it would be, and a much-needed source of cheer. If you enjoy the Marvel movies and these characters – this is absolutely a must-see. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 82%
Metascore – 82%
Metacritic User Score – 8.1/10
IMDB Score – 7.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4.5/5

P.S. - There is a short post-credits scene.

Movie Trailer:

Sunday, December 4, 2022

'Tis the Season - Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)
Genre: Horror
Length: 1h 21min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Channel 83 Films, RLJE Films, Shudder
Director: Joe Begos
Writer: Joe Begos
Actors: Riley Dandy, Sam Delich, Jonah Ray, Dora Madison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Abraham Benrubi, Jeremy Gardner, Graham Skipper, Kansas Bowling, Joe Begos, Josh Ethier
Blurb from IMDb: It's Christmas Eve and Tori just wants to get drunk and party, but when a robotic Santa Clause at a nearby toy store goes haywire and begins a rampant killing spree through her small town, she's forced into a battle for survival.

Selina’s Point of View:
The trailer for Christmas Bloody Christmas had me dying when we watched it on stream. A bloody Christmas horror with robots is exactly what I needed to break up the monotony of the Hallmark rom-com holidays specials we had to slog through. I wish it had come out later in the month so it could break up the films we are going to be watching as well.
I tend to get sick of saccharin-sweet rom-coms half-way through December.
That said, Christmas Bloody Christmas was so much fun. It was violent, raunchy, and funny. I’ll admit, some of the humor came from ‘so bad it’s good’ moments, but that doesn’t bother me. This is exactly the kind of horror that I really enjoy watching. It’s got a no-fucks-given late 70s, early 80s slasher feel, more than anything else. It’s what you would have gotten if Halloween (1978) was written by Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Red State).
The banter was outstanding. I cannot explain how surprised I was by just how organic the dialogue was. It didn’t feel like the actors were reading from a script. It felt like they were hanging out and teasing each other. I’ve had similar conversations with my friends, with the same rate of debates and ribbing. It was glorious to listen to.

The first killings don’t happen until about twenty minutes in, and I wasn’t missing it. I did, however, have fun once it started.
Riley Dandy (A Hollywood Christmas, That’s Amor, Interceptor) and Sam Delich (Spiderhead, Home and Away, The Marshes) had some serious chemistry. I’ve seen adored big-budget popcorn flicks, and award-winning indie films with actors that had less chemistry than them. I have seen both in past projects, but they never stood out to me.
I don’t know if it was working together, or Joe Begos’ (Bliss, VFW, The Mind’s Eye) script/direction, but they stand out now. I’m going to notice them in the future.
Christmas Bloody Christmas was grungy, bad ass, a little corny, and was phenomenally written. If you want to see it for yourself, check it out on Shudder December 9th.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score –7.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4.5/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: