Movies and TV

FROZEN (2013) is the radical animated reworking of The Snow Queen that doesn’t retain much except for having snow, and a queen. Said queen (Idina Menzel) being unable to control her super-freezing powers, she stays isolated from the world, leaving her little sister (Kristen Bell) baffled why they’re no longer BFFs. And then one day, the secret comes out and things get messy … This really starts off poorly for me, as I can’t see why her powers had to stay so secret other than the usual cliches of Accursed Unclean Muties; once Queen Anya cuts loose and unwittingly freezes the kingdom, though, it’s a lot more entertaining and visually striking. And Olaf the Snowman is one of Disney’s more entertaining comic sidekicks in recent years. “I never knew we had eight thousand salad plates.”
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION (1989) was the third in the “Vacation” series as Chevy Chase discovering a stay-cation can be just as harrowing as an away trip when it involves defective Christmas lights, an over-large tree, family visitors including Doris Roberts, Randy Quaid, E.G. Marshall and William Hickey, a disappearing bonus check and obnoxious yuppie neighbors (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss being one-half of the couple). Like One Magic Christmas, this acknowledges the stress of the season, though in a much more slapstick fashion; entertaining enough, though I doubt it’ll become a Christmas perennial for me. Natalia Scorsese plays a hot sales clerk. “I don’t have a log, not in the sense you mean.”
LOVE, ACTUALLY (2003) is an example of the Christmas movie where the Christmas element is arbitrary. That said it’s very good as various plots have Bill Nighy become the king of Christmas rockers (“The song’s shit.”), PM Hugh Grant defending his secretary against lecherous US president Billy Bob Thornton, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson discovering how many lobsters were present at the birth of Jesus, Liam Neeson helping his son get the shit kicked out of him by love, Colin Firth trying to see if love can overcome Portugal and Rowan Atkinson selling jewelry. A real charmer. “Oh say yes, you skinny moron!”

I skipped the perennial viewing of A Christmas Story so that I could catch DOCTOR WHO: The Day of the Doctor before watching the Christmas special with TYG and a friend (I could have held off, it turns out, as the special didn’t have any spoilers). Here we finally learn how the Doctor ended the Time War and watch Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt (as the Time-War Doctor) try to prevent the Zygon conquest of Earth without wiping out yet another alien race. This is a solidly entertaining one, with some great guest-appearances (which I won’t divulge) although Hurt’s “War Doctor” wasn’t as terrifying or dangerous as I think he’d been built up to. “For the next few hours, none of you are going to know who’s human and who’s a Zygon.”
And then, the special, TIME OF THE DOCTOR, which has Matt Smith’s Doctor arrive at a small town called Christmas (the Christmas element is really non-existent otherwise) and having to defend it from Daleks, Cybermen and the Church of the Silence when he learns the secret it hides. This is the big changeover episode to the next Doctor and doesn’t work quite as well: for one thing, the reasons why Smith supposedly can’t regenerate are rather forced. Looking forward to Peter Capaldi’s run, though. “Alright everyone, there’s a new sheriff in Christmas.”
And last but not least, HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS still gets me every time. The combination of Boris Karloff’s narration, Chuck Jones’ animation and Dr. Seuss’s story works magic. “And yet the sound didn’t sound quite so sad/In fact, the sound sounded … glad!”

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  1. Pingback: The pleasures of watching Alistair Sim (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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