MERRY CHRISTMAS, YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!!!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day filled with good food, some family bonding, and all the gifts that you hoped Santa would bring. I have one more little gift to deliver today: the last batch of reviews for my 12 Films of Christmas series. It’s been a fun ride with a whole range of genres, helping me to discover new favorites…and a couple that I should probably stay away from for the rest of my life. Hahaha. But thank you all so much for taking the time to vote and help me decide what to watch! There really were some awesome picks in this bunch. Anyway, I’m sure you all have plenty of stuff to do today, so let’s get right to it!
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)
Synopsis: “Six years after their Guantanamo Bay adventure, stoner buds Harold Lee and Kumar Patel cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree.” –www.imdb.com
In a Nutcracker’s Nutshell: Hmm. Y’know, I’m not entirely sure why I put this on the poll. I’ve only seen pieces of what I believe is the first Harold & Kumar movie, and it never really made much of an impression on me. But I thought, “Hey, I like John Cho, I like Kal Penn, and I love Neil Patrick Harris, so why not?” Now that I’ve watched it…meh. I still like Cho and Penn, and the bit with Neil Patrick Harris is arguably the best part of the film, but I think this is a little too much of a stoner comedy for me. Like, I can do stoner comedies—heck, I’ll readily admit to enjoying Pineapple Express (and, no, I’ve never been stoned while watching it)—but I think this is another level of stoner comedy. Maybe one where you actually need to be stoned while watching. Because I didn’t find a whole heck of a lot to laugh about. Harold (Cho) and Kumar (Penn) are a fun pair with plenty of chemistry, and there are even a few charmingly silly Christmas moments in this, but I struggled to get past the heap of unfunny stupid humor and the nagging fact that almost every female character was terrible. I don’t know…Maybe that’s expecting too much of a stoner comedy. But that’s how I felt. However, singing, dancing, and wonderfully meta Harris definitely gave this film some points, not to mention Danny Trejo as Harold’s intimidating father-in-law and Santa (Richard Riehle) as you’ve never seen him before. If you like your Christmas comedies raunchy, irreverent, and pretty dumb, this one’s for you.
Glad Meh Tidings: C+
Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)
Synopsis: “John McClane, officer of the N.Y.P.D. and hero of the Nakatomi Hostage Crisis, attempts to avert disaster as rogue military officials seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.” –www.imdb.com
In a Nutcracker’s Nutshell: After watching Die Hard for my Resolutions series earlier this year (see here for that write-up and here if you’re interesting in contributing to Resolutions 2015), I was kind of excited to continue the series. I have a serious soft spot for Bruce Willis for some reason, and I loved seeing him as John McClane in the first film. Nonetheless, I braced myself for Die Hard 2 since the general consensus seemed to be it wasn’t as good as its predecessor. And after watching it, I agree—it isn’t as good as the first one. But you know what? I still had fun with it. Willis is the same wiseass tough guy he was in the first film, grumbling one-liners to himself while he stubbornly goes about saving the day. The action is still spectacular fun. The stakes are even higher than they were before. Admittedly, the villain isn’t nearly as fun or memorable as the original Die Hard (Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber wins every time). Plus, in many ways, it really is the same film all over again. At one point, a bewildered McClane even asks, “How can the same s**t happen to the same guy twice?” Oh, and can we talk about how ridiculous that tagline is? I mean, “Die Harder?” Really? But ultimately, Die Hard 2 is still a fun film with just as much energy as the first. It has a feeling of “been there, done that,” yet the fact that the film acknowledges that is funny and, I feel, effective. The first Die Hard wins for me, but as far as sequels go, this one isn’t too shabby.
My Glad Tidings: B+
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Synopsis: “A murder mystery brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor.” –www.imdb.com
In a Nutcracker’s Nutshell: This is probably one of my biggest stretches as far as defining something as a “Christmas movie.” To be fair, it is set during the Christmas season. But even if it weren’t, I feel I would’ve brought it up at some point because Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a heap of fun. It’s a zany blend of mystery, comedy, romance, and crime with an intentionally, hilariously convoluted plot that moves along at a breakneck pace. I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that this was Robert Downey Jr.’s big comeback film. Regardless, Downey Jr. is perfect in it. As thief-turned-actor Harry, he is as snappy and sly as ever, but there are also some moments that chip away at that lightheartedness to show exasperation and genuine sadness. Harry is a great, relatable character. And Val Kilmer! Honestly, I haven’t seen Kilmer in much, but if he’s as wonderful in everything else as he is in this, then I really need to change that. As sharp-tongued, sarcastic, sometimes outrageous private eye Gay Perry (who, yes, is actually called that and, yes, is actually gay), he is an absolute riot. Downey Jr. and Kilmer paired together make for a gloriously silly duo of mystery solvers. Throw in Michelle Monaghan as a clever struggling actress, and it’s a perfect cast. It’s a pretty off-the-wall neo-noir, so it might not be to everyone’s taste (plus Harry’s narrating can seem like a little much sometimes), but I think this film is something of a hidden holiday gem.
My Glad Tidings: A-
Well that does it! All 12 films! Gees this month has flown by! Let’s break it down with a handy dandy ranking of my favorites all the way down to my least favorites:
- Edward Scissorhands (1990) – A
- A Christmas Story (1983) – A-
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – A-
- Batman Returns (1992) – B+
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) – B+
- Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) – B+
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – B+
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) – B+
- Bad Santa (2003) – B
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – B
- A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011) – C+
- Jingle All the Way (1996) – D
Again, I apologize to my Jingle All the Way fans. Just not my thing. Haha. But let’s not wallow in the Grinchy stuff. I wish you all the merriest of Christmases!!! I’m taking a little break tomorrow and over the weekend, but I will be back with a vengeance on Monday. See you then! 🙂