What a fun movie to watch with the whole family. A Christmas Wedding Tail is an adorable upcoming holiday film from Anchor Bay Entertainment.
The winner for our giveaway is Hoa Le, who says, “Thanks for the giveaway!” You are welcome! It is Screenhead’s pleasure to giving away one copy of the Hallmark movie to you. Happy Holidays!
The heartwarming new DVD has a “top dog” cast, including the ever-popular Jennie Garth, Brad Rowe, Tom Arnold and Catherine Hicks – as well as real life husband and wife team Jay Mohr and Nikki Cox, playing the voices of two passionate pooches who fall head over tail in love. The DVD debuts nationwide on December 6, 2011.
A Christmas Wedding Tail is the story of a pair of passionate pooches, Labrador Rusty and Poodle Cheri. The two smitten pups conspire to get their respective owners, Susan and Jake to wed. Despite Susan’s and Jake’s compatibility, their new blended family turns out to be more than Rusty and Cheri had bargained for. Now, the calculating canines must channel their pooch powers to keep their family from ending up in the dog house.
With Christmas rapidly approaching–it’s about six weeks out, if you can believe that–it’s not surprising to see Christmas movies and, in general, angel-related fare start emerging. And as such, that’s why the folks out at Anchor Bay sent out a copy of The Littlest Angel for us to review. You won’t be able to get your hands on this one until this Tuesday, though, but once you do, you’ll be reasonably impressed, providing you either have kids or you have a particularly high tolerance for schmaltz.
The Littlest Angel is based on the children’s book of the same name, the fifteenth best selling children’s book of all time. It follows a boy who dies young, who is then dragooned into service in the afterlife as an angel. The problem here is, he rapidly proves himself incompetent at pretty much every other angelic task that one can be set to do. And while normally an angel must complete three good deeds before he can be returned to Earth to do the Lord’s work. But the title character wants to get back a little ahead of schedule as he’s looking for his box of earthly treasures. Now with a celebration about to take place in heaven, and one angel gone missing, things are about to get potentially disastrous across both heaven and Earth.
First off, it is incredibly disorienting to hear Ron Perlman serve as the voice of God. Admittedly, not quite as weird as Alan Rickman doing the job back in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, but still pretty creepy in its own right. But the key point here is that it’s going to a very niche title. Basically, most will probably not be able to get behind this one. Most will find the presentation a little on the low end, but it’s going to be pretty nice for the younger set. Of course, you’ll have to have a parent standing by on this one because the theology is such a chopped salad that it’s virtually unrecognizable. It’s about seventy percent Catholic and twenty percent Hallmark, with a smattering of “who knows any better” tossed in seemingly for variety. And then there’s the bizarre anachronisms like the solid wood Ferris wheel cropping up somewhere around about .5 BC, give or take a week or two.
Still though, a good message for the kids put on at just the right time makes The Littlest Angel one for at least a rental, especially with the kids’ various school vacations coming up in a matter of weeks. Plus, of course, there’s a little shot of moral in here too, about kindness to others and all the great schmaltzy messages. A little heavy handed, but considering the audience, good enough.
And that’s pretty much the stance the Screenhead Ten Scale can take with this one: good enough. Good enough for its audience, good enough for a watch, and good enough for a seven out of ten. It’s not going to be for everyone, and it’s a bit of “message” movie, but it’s not without its charms.
It’s hard to believe, folks, but Christmas is just under two months away now, and as such, it’s not too much of a surprise to see the Christmas movies come out in full force. And we’ve got a look at just one such early riser with Dear Santa, a movie that should leave you feeling your Christmas spirit just a little early. The folks out at Image Entertainment sent over a copy for us to review, and this one will tug all the right heartstrings.
Dear Santa follows Crystal, a go-nowhere socialite whose wealthy parents have just about had it with her constant shopping and layabout lifestyle. They plan to cut her off unless she can show some change in her life, either finding a good man or finding a good job. And since Crystal and work go together like matches and gasoline, she’s planning to go with plan B: find a man. But about that time, she finds a letter from Olivia, a little girl who’s got one special Christmas wish, for a new mommy to replace the one that died two Christmases prior. Crystal gets to thinking that she might be said little girl’s wish come true, which would also keep her in cash from her own, somewhat more live, mommy. But it won’t be as easy as Crystal thinks, no, nowhere near.
Dear Santa watches a lot like a movie you might see on Lifetime, except there, the roles would be reversed, with a little girl writing for a new daddy for Christmas and an irresponsible womanizing jackass gets his life changed by the ultimate virtuous force of a single mother. Here, the woman is the hopeless slackass and the man is the virtuous force, which is totally not what you’d see on Lifetime. But at the same time, it’s great to see lives changed in such a significant fashion by what looks like a whole lot of coincidences combining.
And indeed, from a narrative sense, this is a big pile of schmaltzy sludge that’s got all the structure of pudding. But then, it falls under that grandest of all umbrellas: the Christmas tree. Yes, it’s a Christmas movie in most every sense of the term, and it will behave much like one. Basically, as long as you don’t look too closely at it, you’ll find that the end results are tolerable, at least somewhat heartwarming, and manage to tug the heartstrings in the standard, most efficient way there is.
The Screenhead Ten Scale in turn gives Dear Santa the mark of reasonably good quality, a six out of ten. Nothing special here…nothing even particularly new or interesting…but still, a Christmas movie in every sense of the term.
The folks out at Lifetime sent over a copy of Comfort and Joy as part of their surprisingly large slate of Christmas movies, so we’re tucking in, and interestingly enough, this will manage to do something unsettlingly original…for Lifetime, anyway…so brace yourselves, because this should be good.
Comfort and Joy takes what so many Christmas movies before it have done…and then does the exact opposite. Instead of starting out with a mother / housewife / family gal who longs to have all the great creature comforts in life, then suddenly gets them, and discovers that she’d rather have the love of a family like she once knew instead, Comfort and Joy starts us out with the powerful single lady, Jane Berry, who has it all…and then discovers that that life was a dream, and she’s actually been a mother / housewife / family gal all along. And the more time she spends with her new family, the more she likes it. But she can’t quite remember just how she got there…and the more she finds out, the stranger things get.
I have to give Lifetime some credit–I’ve given them plenty of abuse here–they’ve actually done something halfway original here. I never would have thought of taking the old Christmas cliche about “the love of family is so much more important than things” and upending it to show the same basic lesson, just in a different direction. It’s a fairly clever move, and given that I haven’t seen a whole lot of clever moves come out of Lifetime, it turns “fairly clever move” into “epic move of catastrophic brilliance”.
And as strange as things are in this alternate universe, it’s actually rather surprising noticing how many things stay the same. Strange and puzzling phenomena, they just abound out here. The strangest things keep cropping up, and it’s actually interesting to watch Jane try to absorb these new shocks. New shocks will hit Jane semiminutely in this little universe.
Though this risk Lifetime has taken is not without cost: they’ll get better than halfway through the movie and we’ll have no clearer understanding of how Jane got into her alternate universe than we did before she even got there in the first place. By the time the two-thirds mark hits, we still have no clue what’s going on. It’s downright bewildering. But then, this time, it’s not just because Lifetime can’t make a good movie to save its own life, but rather, because the main character spends the entire movie bewildered, and we’re sharing in the confusing experience.
And no, we’ll never found out how Jane slipped into her alternate dimension. But Lifetime buffs won’t care in the slightest, because they’ll be too busy enjoying the funny, romantic fare set before them to notice that the plot’s got more holes than cheesecloth.
The Screenhead Ten Scale, meanwhile, does care about such things but rewards a chance taken, and thus gives the somewhat unique for Lifetime Comfort and Joy a six out of ten for doing a decent job and taking risks, even if they don’t exactly end well.
The folks out at Lifetime, as part of a grand package of Christmas fare, shipped out a copy of Holiday Switch for us to review, and this is going to be an absolutely priceless review. So sit down, strap in, and brace yourselves because the hilarity begins now.
Holiday Switch sends us over to Gary and Paula Ferguson’s house, where they’re struggling with the bills a lot like any other family. In fact, things are looking pretty bad for them, truth be told. And so it’s hardly a surprise that, when Paula runs into her old high school boyfriend, now a successful art gallery owner, she indulges in a little mental adultery…er…I mean, of course, a little harmless holiday wishing in which she wonders what life might have been like had she not married Gary and rather stuck with former beau Nick. And what she finds is that while life with Nick would’ve been a lot longer on creature comforts, it also would’ve been a lot shorter on lying to creditors. And a lot shorter on love, too.
This is where the hilarity comes in. See, that plot sure sounded familiar to me. And it might well sound familiar to you, too, especially if you were around last year when we reviewed Christmas Clause. It’s downright disturbing that their new offering actually looks like a direct to video project from MTI fully a year ago, and it’s almost the same thing, except they’ve thrown in some extra about relationships in that standard Lifetime fashion. And while it’s good, this time, that they’ve thrown over the misandry and made the woman a complete jerk for once, you still won’t find any really great examples of guy here–your choices are one of three: 1. ineffectual dirt-poor nice guy, 2. vaguely emo rich guy who spends most of his dialogue whining about love and 3. (mostly) nameless cipher who shows up for two lines (or so) and then vanishes like a puff of smoke.
They’re going for heartwarming and they’ve gone clear back around to schmaltzy, which isn’t at all surprising since that’s pretty much par for the course for a Lifetime movie, especially a Lifetime Christmas movie. If you’re watching Lifetime, then you probably already saw this movie and you probably already enjoyed it. But if you weren’t going to watch Lifetime to begin with, this is not a real great place to start.
The Screenhead Ten Scale hands this sappy, schmaltzy knockoff of an MTI film a four out of ten. They tried, they truly did, but it’s a dark sign when you’re so strapped for ideas that you’re taking your cues from a low-budget direct to video project.
The folks out at Lifetime sent out a big passel of Christmas movies, one of which was Home By Christmas, a movie that will once again show Lifetime‘s darker side–not because the movie is scary, but because the movie clearly hates men.
Home By Christmas joins Julia Bedford, a wife, mother, and homemaker living the good domestic life in a suburb with her husband (who’s doing pretty well on the job front, by the way) and sixteen year old daughter. But what Julia discovers will destroy her world: hubby’s been sleeping around. And naturally, Julia thinks divorce. Hubby meanwhile has planned ahead and hidden most of his assets, meaning that Julia’s take in the divorce is slim at best. She takes a minimum wage job to help support herself and her daughter into a small apartment, and her daughter quickly chafes at the lack of space and suburban comfort. In a further blow to Julia, her daughter moves back in with her father and his new girlfriend. Julia, meanwhile, is left to move into her car–no child means no child support–and soon, Julia, now at her lowest, is left to find a little of that Christmas magic when she needs it the most.
And yes, once again, Men Are Terrible And Will Hurt You Because This Is Lifetime. Note how it’s the husband’s cheating that kicks off Julia’s grand odyssey of poverty and self-discovery, specifically set up to make him look like a jerk. On the plus side, the daughter also looks like a jerk, so there’s a note of equal opportunity jerkitude here. In fact, the daughter is a master of jerk behavior–she’s so wildly unpleasant to listen to that most of her early lines actually will cause you pain to listen to. At least, they hurt me like a big old set of knitting needles rammed into my ears.
Linda Hamilton, meanwhile, is a far cry from the Sarah Connor role that made her famous. Give her some credit, it’s a great sign that she can take her classic badass persona and turn herself into a sad cringing milksop of a woman who gets walked on so often she needs a big “Welcome” tattooed on her lower back.
The development is also something to see–in fact, about halfway through Home By Christmas starts getting downright heartwarming. Hamilton’s playing the role surprisingly well, and this woman’s resourcefulness is something of a minor miracle.
Home By Christmas watches like a Horatio Alger novel come to living, breathing life–it’s entertaining, sure, but if the thing were any more clearly scripted they’d be handing out checklists with every copy so you could tick off exactly what was supposed to happen next.
Sure, it’s simplistic, and the first half is downright painful, but the whole effect is actually pretty decent. This’ll hit some people better than others, but then, that’s sort of the point. Guys looking for a good action flick or plenty of blood will not be satisfied by this nor were they meant to. This is, once again, Lifetime preaching to the choir, so not surprisingly, it will have somewhat limited appeal.
The Screenhead Ten Scale gives Home By Christmas a six out of ten because it’s pretty well done, but it’s very niche and very simplistic. It’ll never replace The Grinch as a holiday classic, but it still does the job passably well.
This teaser trailer for Arthur Christmas, a CGI-animated film voiced by the British cast of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jenson, is a clever introduction to a movie with a clever story.
How does Santa deliver all those presents in one night? The answer: Santa’s exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the heart of the film is a story with the ingredients of a Christmas classic – a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns.
McAvoy is the voice actor for Arthur, the good-natured but clumsy younger son of Santa. Arthur loves everything to do with Christmas; indeed, he is the only one in his family still captivated by the magic of the holiday.
So, okay, I’m jumping the season just a tick–not even the stores have their decorations up yet, but surely we’ve heard of Christmas In July? That and I haven’t actually seen it yet, so it’s on the list.
Anyway, this time we’re going up north, to get a better look at jolly old Saint Nick’s family life, including his disgruntled older brother Fred. Why is Fred disgruntled? Well, having a saint for a little brother can do that to you–especially when your little brother’s sainthood winds up making you immortal. And when you wind up as a repo man, often taking away the gifts that Santa brought for Christmas, it’s enough to leave you a little…well…bitter. And Fred’s no different. But after prevailing on his little brother for bail money, Fred’s forced to head to the North Pole to work off the bail money brother Nick provided. Will Fred be just the little extra punch Nick’s operation needs? Or will Christmas collapse under its own weight?
It didn’t take me long to enjoy this movie. In fact, it only took a few minutes to watch as character actor Vince Vaughn threw himself into a headlong run being chased by several Salvation Army Santa Clauses, and to watch as genius veteran actor Paul Giamatti waddled into frame in a fat suit, to firmly convince me that this at least had every chance of being a total comedy riot.
And there’s a lot to like about this movie–there are plenty of funny bits. For instance, when Nick introduces Fred to the Ten Most Naughty list, pause the DVD and read the descriptions. Some of these are priceless, if a little out of order. Just to show you what I mean, and spoiler just a couple, I really don’t see how “wore same underwear for seventeen days” qualifies you as MORE naughty than someone who “poisoned fourth grade class hamster”. You’d think murder puts you ABOVE poor hygiene on the naughty list, but hey. That’s Santa’s prerogative, I guess.
Okay, sure…on many levels you can see a lot of this coming. When even Family Guy can make jokes about Vince Vaughn’s career (“This is my impression of every Vince Vaughn movie ever: I’m utterly incapable of feeling love. Oh, wait–no I’m not.”), you know they’ve got a good reason. “Go after the easiest target ever” is pretty much the modus operandi out there, so you know that if they notice it it’s right out in the open. And yes, by all reasonable standards, this has been done unto death. But we’re not here for original thought. We’re here to hear an old chestnut told just a little bit differently, and frankly, the way they’ve told it is pretty sweet.
Sure, it’s trite. It’s cliched. It’s hackeneyed. Virtually every punch of the writing is telegraphed so hard it comes Western Union. But does that make it any less effective? No, not really. It’s still a force to be reckoned with. It does what it sets out to do, and in the end, can we ask for much more?
No, not really. Though this suffers from the albatross of cliches around its neck, it still manages to be entertaining and even a smidge heartwarming. A full six out of ten for getting the job done, but in the messiest fashion possible.
After premiering at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Where God Left His Shoes went on to win the Humanitas screenwriting award for a film developed or shown at Sundance. John Leguizamo stars in the drama about an ex-boxer and his wife (Leonor Varela) who are forced to move their family to a homeless shelter according to Hollywood Reporter.
Downtrodden but resilient, on Christmas Eve the father takes is 10-year old stepson on a journey around New York to find a job, so they can qualify for a housing project apartment.
The film directed by Salvatore Stabile has been acquired by IFC films for North American Rights. This is great. The film is to be released theatrically and on VOD in December. Sounds like a great Christmas movie.