A Very Merry Movie Stakeout Christmas

in #film5 months ago

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A look at all the festive films investigated by Movieland detectives Dick Japowski and Joey Arizona this holiday season.

Deck the Halls with Dick Japowski 🌲
Home Alone 3 (1997)
A group of criminal sorts hide a top secret military chip inside a radio controlled car and then the classic switcharoo at the airport happens and it winds up in the hands of one of those home aloners!
Far from being in the classic McCallister duo of films this is still heaps of fun with 4 bad guys so double the creative pain and a young Scarlett Johansson as the mean sister. Give it a whirl the children will love it!
Rewatch: 3 out of 5 Baubles
Christmas factor: 2


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On the Second Day of Christmas (1997)
When a shoplifting Auntie and her young niece are caught getting some Christmas bargains at a department store by Mark Ruffalo, he is tasked with looking after them for 2 days over the holidays untill they can be prosecuted? Ok sure.
Wouldn't you know it feelings are felt, pages are turned and Christmas miracles happen before our eyes! This is just the kind of sentimental I enjoy..
First watch: 2.5 out of 5 Baubles
Christmas factor: 3

Deck the Halls with Dick Japowski 🌲
Home Alone (1990)
The tree has gone up so the film must go on, so let's try this one.. last..time!
Left home alone by mistake, young Kevin McCallister gets to eat his own cheese pizzas, shop for toothbrushes and toboggan down his stairs before getting down to business and destroying local burglars the wet bandits with paint cans, irons, blow torches and micro machines!
Absolute top tier holiday viewing.
Rewatch: 5 out of 5 Baubles
Christmas factor: 5

Deck the halls with Dick Japowski 🌲
Fatman (2020)
Mel Gibson stars as the Fatman himself, Chris Kringle. Falling short on his toy orders, he is forced to subsidize by making military tech. That's only the start of his problems though as a precocious rich kid, upset with the coal given to him, hires an assassin to take Santa out!
This was an unknown gem of a movie. A high concept like this can easily go bad very quickly, but Gibson is great as the Santa who's seen to many Christmas's and needs his magic resparked as is Walton Goggins the hitman who's obsessed with collecting toys made by Santa and loves his Russian hamster more than anyone!
This is way more fun than the description given and never takes itself to seriously, making this a great slice of Christmas entertainment!
First watch: 3.5 out of 5 Baubles


The Arizona Christmas Files
Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square (2020)
A Scrooge-like tale of a women who attepts to evict an entire town, to make room for a new shopping mall....but with plenty of musical numbers.
It's adapted from a stage play, but feels like a TV movie with clout, if it wasn't for Parton's involvement this would be fairly forgettable. None of the characters have any depth, and the songs are often cheesy bad.
First watch: 2 Snowballs

The Arizona Christmas Files
The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
A true believer and her cynical older brother stay up to video Santa in the act. The pair then stowaway on the sleigh, causing it to crash when they reveal their presence. They then have to help Santa get Christmas back on track.
Kurt Russell was born to play Santa, and may be one of the best to put on the suit. This is a lot of fun, and destined to become a Christmas classic for the Netflix generation, and the release of a sequel looks to cement that status.
Rewatch: 4 Snowballs

The Arizona Christmas Files
The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two (2020)
A mystery character is trying to get into Santa's village and ruin Christmas, and uses young Kate Pierce to get his foot in the door.
This was both enjoyable and disappointing, I love the first movie, but this didn't hit the same sweet spot. While it does create a world which will draw in the younger viewers, it doesn't have quite the same appeal for the older viewer. It's definitely aimed at that first demographic this time round.
It also loses points instantly for including the song 'Who Let the Dogs Out'.
First Watch: 3 Snowballs


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Noelle (2019)
The mantle of Santa is about to be passed down to Bill Hader's Nick Claus. Only problem being Nick is getting cold feet so it's up to his sister Noelle to convince him of his Christmas spirit.
I really wasn't sure going in if this was going to be for me, but it didn't take long for its charm to take hold and win me over. The film has fun with the usual Christmas conventions and was a nice surprise.
First watch: 3 out of Baubles
Christmas factor: 4

The Arizona Christmas Files
Christmas Wonderland (2018)
Heidi Nelson left her home town for New York to pursue her artistic dreams, but winds-up working for an art gallery instead. When she returns to Pleasant Valley to look after her niece and nephew for a few days, she not only reconnects with her art, but also the High School sweetheart she left behind.
Typical Christmas TV movie starring 'that person who used to be in that other thing', just this one's on Netflix so you can watch it all year round.
There were two moments that had me laughing for all the wrong reasons; a diner meet-up with the usual 'do you want coffee with your sugar' joke, but the guy doesn't even stir his drink afterwards, and the classic 'the fuel gauge is broken, looks like we're out of gas' moment. Not only does the truck look like it just rolled out of the show room, it just happens to break down opposite the place the former lovebirds had their first date...a farm... literally in the middle of nowhere.
First Watch: 2 Snowballs

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Deck the Halls (2006)
Matthew Broderick lives and breathes for the perfect holidays and Is the unofficial king of Christmas.That is until Danny Devito moves in as his neighbour and quickly steals the crown with his neighbourhood light show. Let the rivalry commence!
Aside from a couple of chuckles, this was a Christmas turkey with this film not knowing if it wants to be a family or a raunchy comedy which just leaves you feeling uncomfortable.
First watch: 1.5 out of 5 Baubles
Christmas factor: 4


The Arizona Christmas Files
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Arnie plays a workaholic dad who repeatedly disappoints his son, and after he forgets to buy the year's hottest toy in plenty of time he spends Christmas Eve trying to get one. Trouble is he's not the only one.
Slapstick comedy that actually seems to get better the more you see it, didn't care for this when it came out, but over the years it's grown on me...I actually wanted to watch it this time round.
Rewatch: 3 Snowballs

The Arizona Christmas Files
It's Christmas, Carol (2012)
Carol is the ball-bustin' boss of a publishing company more concerned with profit than publishing quality works, unlike the ethos of her former boss. Well luckily it's not too late to turn it around, on Christmas Eve Carol is visited by the ghost of her ex-boss Eve (Carrie Fisher), who shows Carol her past, present and future so she might change her ways.
When I first heard about this film I thought Fisher was the Scrooge-like character, and I was totally on bored with that. That movie would have been fantastic. Unfortunately Fisher plays the guilding spirit, when she's in the movie it's pretty good, but the before and after just sinks into run of the mill Christmas TV movie territory.
First watch: 2.5 Snowballs

The Arizona Christmas Files
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
Luther Krank's only daughter won't be coming home for Christmas, and when he realizes just how much they spent each year decides to skip Christmas, much to the annoyance of the neighborhood, and go on a cruise instead. After weeks refusing to participate in anything festive the Kranks get a call on Christmas Eve...their daughter will be home after all, just on time for the family's annual Christmas party.
Christmas with the Kranks always seems to get less than favourable reviews, and I don't get why. It's got an impressive cast, ticks all the Christmas boxes, and it's essentially two movies, the Christmas avoidance and the mad dash. Maybe it's Tim Allen people can't get on board with, who knows? All I know is we watch this pretty much every year.
Rewatch: 3.5 Snowballs


The Arizona Christmas Files
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
A reimagining of the classic Nutcracker tale, which sees a young girl struggling with the death of her mother transported to a magical Kingdom where it seems her mother once ruled as queen. But far from the peaceful world her mother left behind, the realms are at war.
A breezy fantasy adventure which uses the famous ballet as inspiration, more than adaptation, but doesn't really explore the world it creates.
First watch: 3 Snowballs

The Arizona Christmas Files
Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
How a kindly toymaker became the father of Christmas, and how an ambitious elf trying to prove his worth gets duped by a crooked business man.
Mrs Arizona claims this is her favourite Christmas movie, she has previously described it as warm and cosy, we usually put it on after decorating the house, and every year she falls asleep. This year we didn't watch it after a busy day, this year she didn't fall asleep, this year she realised she's never seen the last half hour or so.
Rewatch: 3.5 Snowballs

Deck the Halls with Dick Japowski 🌲
Home Alone 4:Taking Back the House (2002)
Straight to video Peter McCallister (the father) has left his family behind and shacked up with a rich heiress who for some reason has a royal family coming to stay with her. Kevin is also coming over to stay, after not being able to put up with straight to video Buzz or his sister.
Cue straight to video Marv and his wife who want to kidnap the prince.
This is without doubt one of the worst films I've intentionally put myself or my family through and it could be a while before they trust me again.
The poster tag line says "bigger and better laughs". I'm sure someone could be sued here?!
What confused me the most though is the burgular is called Marv but he's costumed as Harry, like no one even went back to check who was who!
Are the traps any good though? No. No they are not.
First watch: 0.5 out of 5 Baubles
Christmas factor: 1


Deck the Halls with Dick Japowski 🌲
The Bishop's Wife (1947)
David Niven stars as the bishop who in trying to raise money to build a cathedral has been neglecting his wife, family and friends. This is when Cary Grant as an angel comes into his life and charms everyone in his world.. including his wife.
This film was an absolute delight and a real welcome Christmas charmer, with lessons we can all learn and live by.
First watch: 5 Baubles
Christmas factor: 4

The Arizona Christmas Files
Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight (2015)
Loki plans to steal the powers of an ancient being called Jolmir, a half elf, half frost giant creature more commonly known as Santa Claus. Luckily the Avengers are the case.
While Captains America & Marvel, Iron Man and new recruit/true believer Reptil head out to protect ol' St. Nick, Thor & Hulk try to figure out a contingency plan to deliver Christmas on case the big guy can't make it.
Meanwhile Rocket Racoon & Groot go bounty hunting for a fat man who breaks into people's homes at Christmas.
This is essentially an extended length Saturday morning show, with a Christmas twist, but there isn't anything wrong with that. The new twist on the Santa myth was pretty cool too.
First Watch: 3 Snowballs

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It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
The story of George Bailey, Bedford falls and his relationship with the townsfolk who hold him dear is brought to joyous life in this Frank Capra classic. And it is a classic. Funny, tragic, moving and heartwarming, if you don't find yourself running down your street shouting thanks for all you have then you're a snowman!
Rewatch: 5 out of 5 Baubles
Christmas factor: 5


The Arizona Christmas Files
Santa with Muscles (1996)
Wealthy business man Blake Thorne (Hulk Hogan) used to be a good guy, but the more money he made the less he cared for the rules. During a cross-country paintball game Blake gets chased by the police, and runs for cover in the local mall. Disguising himself as Santa, he thinks he's home free, until a blow to the head makes him forget who he is.
Don Stark's grotto elf then convinces Blake he's the real Santa, in an effort to relieve him of some excess funds. But while in Santa mode Blake foils two crooks stealing fundraising money for a local orphanage, and then heads to the orphanage to help out in person...and wouldn't you know it the orphanage is being squeezed by a germ-phobic crook with a squad of comical henchmen.
Hogan was one of my idols growing-up, so this was a must to tick of the Christmas movie list, although I was apprehensive given it's awful reviews and Hogan's movie track record...and it was bad...but gloriously so. There were even a few times I chuckled at the right moments, and for the right reasons.
First watch: 2.5 Snowballs

The Arizona Christmas Files
Home Alone (1990)
"It's like Die Hard for kids" Charles Boyle, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
It's Christmas Eve, I woke up at 4:30 am with heartburn, and after hitting the Gaviscon like a paint can to the face, I settled in to watch Home Alone in peace before the rest of the Arizonas woke up.
Rewatch: 4.5 Snowballs

Deck the Halls with Dick Japowski 🌲
Scrooged (1988)
Starting out with perhaps the greatest opening of any movie , Lee Majors! And only getting better from there, the genius of this update of *Charles Dickens" immortal classic Scrooge was in casting Bill Murray, an actor you can nail any movie to! This is possibly the film I quote most all year long. Niagara falls, Frankie angel. Yule love it!
Rewatch: 5 out of 5 Baubles
Christmas factor: 5

What festive treats have you consumed this year? What are your favourite Christmas movies? Let us know in the comments below.