Quotes Quiz – Movies with Groundhogs Day Themes

A Groundhog Day Movie repeats the same day over and over (and over) until the main character gets it “right.” Basically the person trapped in the time loop needs to use science/magic (or something never actually explained) to ‘level up’ to the next day, and continue their lives.

Seen any good movies like that? There’s a bunch of them, and TV episodes too. Let’s start with the Bill Murray classic of the same name and play with some quotes. I sincerely doubt you’ll get that one wrong. 🙂 You’ve got ten questions, and, like a Groundhog Day Loop, you can take the quiz endlessly until you get it perfectly right. I give you the quote and you answer with the right movie. Begin!

groundhog day themes

Now that  you’ve taken the test, read our reviews on each of these time looping movies. Which ones are your favorites?

18 Groundhog Day Type Movies – the Ultimate Repeating Day List

Movie Review – Looper

Movie Review – Before I Fall

Movie Review – Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)

Edge of Tomorrow – Lyrics and Video to Love Me Again – A Kickin’ Action GroundHog Day Themed Movie

Movie Review – Happy Death Day

 

All the Clues to the Killer in Happy Death Day (SPOILERS)

Virgin Review – Source Code

Movie Review – Doctor Strange

Rewatch Review – Mary Poppins – The Original & Classic Film

mary poppins flies with her unbrella
How do I get my Umbrella to do that?

As we approach the Oscar season, I decided to rewatch the original Mary Poppins (MP). I’m certainly torn as to which one is better, considering that Mary Poppins Returns is not a remake; it’s a continuation of the Banks family drama. I love Julia Andrews and Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. They both have a sassy, arrogant, and attractive draw to their personalities that make each one a stand-out character.

[pullquote]I enjoy Mary Poppins so much, for so many reasons. It’s fun; the music is uplifting; the cross between human and animation scenes is intriguing, and there’s a morale message for both adults and children.[/pullquote] From the moment MP arrives floating from the sky until she fades into that same sky, my heart beats like a big.band.drum (tee he he).

The storyline tells a lot about parenting and coping with problems and stress. The Banks are so consumed with their careers and lives that they miss precious moments with their children. [pullquote position=”right”]Watching this movie as a child triggered different thoughts in me about my own parent’s attention to me, than watching it as an adult. [/pullquote]Today, I view the message through parental eyes and reflect on how I can do a better job of parenting my daughter, Destiny, and ensuring I don’t just let the street sweeper babysit her, just because I have a book signing or speaking engagement.

The movie truly gives perspective to managing work and life. I dare not say work/life balance, because I don’t personally believe work and life are ever balanced or equal. At some point, one or the other is sacrificed. I prefer to tell people that I’m standing on a see-saw where life is on one end and work is on the other. My goal to keep from falling my behind off the see-saw.

In the same vein, the hard-working and overly focused Mr. Banks got an eye opener on how to live and laugh at the same time. [pullquote]The word that changed George Banks wasn’t the normal word we would think should crack this grumpy old man, like the word love. The word was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.[/pullquote] Phew! That was the game changer for him. That word opened his heart, mind, and his mouth with laughter, and a flood of love and awareness oozed from him like marshmallows in a s’mores.

As a bank examiner by day, I know the bank language they speak of in the movie regarding the tuppence. We see that story come full circle in Mary Poppins Returns as well, as with that kite which seems to get Micheal in trouble in both movies.

One thing that always stand out for me in MP is how the bankers fired George. They didn’t escort him out of the building with a guard and a pink slip in hand. They ripped his suit pocket flower, inverted his umbrella, and pushed a hole through his top hat. Every time I watch this movie, I laugh so hard because I guess for boujee rich people that was equivalent to being a disgrace, when your clothing and accessories are in disarray. Lol!

One more thing, did you notice in the credits of MP how Mr. Dawes, Sr.’s cast name was displayed? It showed as Navckid Keyd, then unscrambled before our eyes to reflect Dick Van Dyke. That’s because Van Dyke played the role of Bert and Mr. Dawes, Sr.

So of course, in Disney style, they had to make it magically-cute.

Mary Poppins will remain as one of my favorite movies, no matter how many times they add on to the story. To me, it’s practically perfect in every way. Now, chop chop, I have work to do here Peeple.

Movie Review – Mary Poppins Returns

5 Differences between the Old and New Mary Poppins

Movie Review – Saving Mr. Banks

While Mary Poppins Returns didn’t get any Golden Globes, it did boast four well-deserved nominations: 

Full List (and comments) for the 2019 76th Annual Golden Globes Nominees & Winners

Mary Poppins is now currently nominated for three Oscars: 

RunPee and the 2019 Oscars – Predictions for the 2018 Movie Awards

A Stomping Good Time at the Tournament – Video and Lyrics to We Will Rock You from A Knight’s Tale

Health ledger in a knights tale with Queen - We will rock you
He will rock you.

When Brian May told his group members in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody he wanted the audience to be the instrument for one of their rock songs, I realized just how brilliant the rest of the band was: it’s not all about the immortal Freddie Mercury. All these men had something special, and the glorious anthem We Will Rock You is one absolutely genius result.

Even in high school, my drama club used to play We Will Rock You in the green room while we all stomped and sang to get psyched and ready, pre-performance. It was perfect to get us in the mood. And we see this same trick used to the same effect in A Knight’s Tale, pre-tournament, to get the audience excited for a great day of games. [pullquote]This is one of the more creative uses of a diegetic (ie – heard within the context of a story) song in any movie ever.[/pullquote]

Stomp along with the brilliant Knight’s Tale opening scene below until you make the Earth shake! (Lyrics are below if you want to bellow along too.)

Lyrics to We Will Rock You

(Music by Queen — 1977)

Buddy, you’re a boy, make a big noise
Playing in the street, gonna be a big man someday
You got mud on your face, you big disgrace
Kicking your can all over the place, singin’
We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you

Buddy, you’re a young man, hard man
Shouting in the street, gonna take on the world someday
You got blood on your face, you big disgrace
Waving your banner all over the place
We will, we will rock you, sing it!
We will, we will rock you, yeah

Buddy, you’re an old man, poor man
Pleading with your eyes, gonna get you some peace someday
You got mud on your face, big disgrace
Somebody better put you back into your place, do it!

We will, we will rock you, yeah, yeah, come on
We will, we will rock you, alright, louder!
We will, we will rock you, one more time
We will, we will rock you
Yeah…

(Songwriters: Brian Harold May
We Will Rock You lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)


One of the most unique things in A Knight’s Tale is the wonderfully weird use of modern rock tunes in a story facilitated by Geoffrey Chaucer (Paul Bettany, on top of his game) himself.  I can’t see this fun film enough times. What do you think?

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

What is a Scaramouch? The Meaning Behind Bohemian Rhapsody

Don’t Stop Me Now – Video and Lyrics by Queen in Shaun of the Dead

 

Don’t Stop Me Now – Video and Lyrics by Queen in Shaun of the Dead

shaun of the dead does don't stop me now by queen
Shaun: David, kill the Queen!
David: What?
Shaun: The Jukebox!

I have two favorite funny zombie films, and alongside the awesome Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead is a near perfect zom-rom-com. (It’s also a great satire about modern man and modern life.) One of the best scenes features the Winchester Pub Team attacking the bar-owner-turned-zombie with pool cues, synchronized to the strains of the classic Queen tune Don’t Stop Me Now. My vote for best line: “Kill the Queen!”

[pullquote]This is deliriously fun filmation. Where the actors instructed to smack the guy in unison with Freddie Mercury’s lines? Was is just serendipitous?[/pullquote]

…..

(By the way, if you ever jump out of a plane on purpose, this makes a great song selection for your skydiving video. If I ever post mine on You Tube, you’ll see how perfectly it fits.)

Enjoy these “killer” lyrics while you whack zombies at home: 

Lyrics to Don’t Stop Me Now

(Song by Queen)


 

Tonight, I’m gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive and the world I’ll turn it inside out, yeah
And floating around in ecstasy
So don’t stop me now don’t stop me
‘Cause I’m having a good time, having a good time

I’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I’m a racing car, passing by like Lady Godiva
I’m gonna go, go, go
There’s no stopping me

I’m burnin’ through the sky, yeah
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I’m traveling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time
I’m having a ball
Don’t stop me now
If you wanna have a good time, just give me a call
Don’t stop me now (’cause I’m having a good time)
Don’t stop me now (yes, I’m havin’ a good time)
I don’t want to stop at all

Yeah, I’m a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite, I’m out of control
I am a sex machine, ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh explode

I’m burnin’ through the sky, yeah
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I’m traveling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

Don’t stop me, don’t stop me
Don’t stop me, hey, hey, hey
Don’t stop me, don’t stop me
Ooh ooh ooh, I like it
Don’t stop me, don’t stop me
Have a good time, good time
Don’t stop me, don’t stop me, ah
Oh yeah
Alright

Oh, I’m burnin’ through the sky, yeah
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I’m traveling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time
I’m having a ball
Don’t stop me now
If you wanna have a good time (wooh)
Just give me a call (alright)
Don’t stop me now (’cause I’m having a good time, yeah yeah)
Don’t stop me now (yes, I’m havin’ a good time)
I don’t want to stop at all

La da da da daah
Da da da haa
Ha da da ha ha haaa
Ha da daa ha da da aaa
Ooh ooh ooh….


(Songwriters: Freddie Mercury, 1979
Don’t Stop Me Now lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

What is a Scaramouch? The Meaning Behind Bohemian Rhapsody

Did Rami Malek Sing In Bohemian Rhapsody?

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Classic Movie Re-Watch Review – It’s A Wonderful Life

it's a wonderful life movie
The meaning of Christmas in black and white.

I have to watch It’s A Wonderful Life (IAWL) every year during the holidays. It’s just one of those movies like that annoying drunk uncle at the family reunion…. it never goes away. I revisited Bedford Falls yet again, and this time with my husband (Scott) because he had never seen it (I know, clutch my pearls). Every time I watch this movie, I discover something new. Hold that thought; I’ll come back to that.

[pullquote]IAWL is a movie that makes you laugh, cry, and think.[/pullquote] Released in 1947…I didn’t see it until the late 70s, or early 80s. It’s about a big dreamer’s (George Bailey’s) plan to see the world, but his plan gets derailed when “life happens.” (pun intended).

Here’s the 30-second or less snippet: George saves his brother. George’s hearing is impaired. Angel Clarence saves George’s life. George discovers his leadership niche. Old Man Potter is evil. Wifey Mary is a superwoman. George learns the meaning of a meaningful life.

Now, here are a few things I discovered during this viewing: (1) Violet was a thirsty (a desperate hoochie. Always up in George’s face trying to vie for his attention); (2) The #MeToo movement started in Bedford Falls, when Harry slapped the maid Annie on the butt as she walked in the kitchen; and (3) The movie started with the big bell ringing, and ended with the same bell ringing.

Favorite line this viewing: Potter says to George, “Are you running a bank or a charity ward?”

Best love moment: When Mary leans over George, as children in the store, and says in his deaf ear, “I’ll love you until the day I die.”  Love that part.

Leadership at its best: during the deposit run, when George uses logic, patience under pressure, persuasion, and interpersonal skills to calm the community members that were demanding a withdrawal of their money from the bank.  He gave them a reason to trust him, to trust themselves with taking only what they needed and not what they wanted.

If you didn’t read this before, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite Christmas movies.  As a child, it was the first encounter I had with hearing about a “bank examiner.” I never knew bank examining was a job or career until that movie. Then I went to college and low and behold the FDIC was recruiting when I was 18 years old for bank examiners on my college campus.  Long story short — until you read it in my book — at age 21 FDIC hired me.  I’ve been employed with them for over 26 years and lived in 5 states via promotions and special assignments.  Interesting, uh?!?!

[pullquote position=”right”]Enjoy the movie this year and for years to come.  [/pullquote]If you notice something different about the movie when you watched it, comment below.  I’d love to hear your insight.  Happy holidays!

Movie Grade: A  

A Merry Movie Christmas – The RunPee Family’s Favorite Holiday Films

The Weirdest Moments in Classic Christmas Specials

Best Non-Christmas Christmas Movies

Best Non-Christmas Christmas Movies

Gremlins is a genuine Christmas movie.
Never let your Mogwai wear a Christmas hat. No good can come of this.

What is a non-Christmas Christmas movie, you ask? I’m happy to explain. It’s a story that takes place over the holiday season, but isn’t a Christmas film. The plot isn’t about Santa, reindeer, snowmen, elves, Scroogey Grinches, or magical stockings. Christmas might help the plot along, but these movies stake their tent in the camp of another genre. Savvy? We begin.

Note: most of these movies are DECADES old. So there might be a few spoilers. We’re going to assume you’ve seen most of these. Consider this a Christmas warning, just in case.

Die Hard: This  is the main one, the real biggie of non-Christmas Christmas films. Ask around about people’s favorite Christmas movies and someone will happily shout DIE HARD!

I’m one of those people.[pullquote] This is  in the best feel-good holiday tradition that just happens to have a high body count.[/pullquote] Bruce Willis was on top of his game, as the only man to stop the Grinch — I mean Gruber — from stealing Christmas. It’s such a successful outing that even Die Hard 2 is set over Christmas (this time it’s “Die Hard in an airport”).

Here are two good scenes in the holiday spirit:

Remember kids, it’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi building.

Lethal Weapon: This movie is just as great as Die Hard, and just as Christmasy. It slips into the number two spot only because Die Hard is a bit more iconic. Bruce Willis is more fun than Mel Gibson, and Alan Rickman (RIP) can do anything. ANYTHING. He’s Snape, ya’ll. Okay, now I’m sad.

[pullquote position=”right”]Lethal Weapon is the start of a run of  Shane Black films that take place over the Christmas holiday season. It’s not a coincidence.[/pullquote] He’s even quoted on it, saying, “Christmas represents a little stutter in the march of days, a hush in which we have a chance to assess and retrospect our lives. I tend to think also that it just informs as a backdrop.”

Here’s the heartwarming holiday end scene:

Iron Man 3: I have trouble remembering which plot is which between Iron Man 2 and 3. The second is the one with Mickey Rourke and the magical whips and the fake Mandarin. The third…um: it has a little boy he befriends (way before he mentors Peter Parker. Sniff), and the many, many Iron Man Mark suits flying around a high-rise construction zone. (I should turn in my geek card, or at least see this again.) Also Tony Stark suffers from PTSD. How much more Christmasy can this be?

I’m going to let this video tell us why Iron Man 3 is a Christmas movie:

Oh, and it’s a Shane Black film.

The Long Kiss Goodnight: The actual plot: a woman who has rebuilt her life after getting amnesia begins to recover her memories, when trouble from her past finds her again. It takes place over Christmas. There’s a Christmas party, Christmas parade, etc. And yes, this too is a Shane Black film.

Kiss Kiss Bang  Bang: Oh, hello there Shane Black. Nice of you to drop in again. Obsessed much? 🙂

Read why Kiss, Kiss is a Christmas Movie.

Gremlins: Man, is this ever a strange film. I don’t even know how to describe it, except to firmly and authoritatively tell you to NOT feed  your Mogwai after midnight, and never give him water. This movie also taught me what happens when you put an animal in the microwave. It’s set in someone’s nice suburban home, decked out for the holidays. [pullquote]This is kind of a feel-good, feel-weird film.[/pullquote]

These Gremlins know how to party on Christmas Eve:

Trading Places: I just saw this. Like, last night. I can’t believe I missed it the first time — it’s corny but excellent, and I laughed a whole lot. I mean, really? The plot of rich people betting on who’s a criminal and who’s a business man?You have to sit back and let the laughs roll in. And speaking of which, this all happens over a few weeks over the Christmas season. The biggest laughs come from Dan Aykroyd, posing as the filthiest, creepiest Santa imaginable, stealing food at a Christmas gala. He hides a whole salmon under his dingy gray beard. It doesn’t get better than this.

I love this whole segment:

Mean Girls: This one requires a bit of fudging, since it takes place over the course of a whole school year. But the Christmas segment is fun and memorable: the Plastics don sexy Santa dresses and sing Jingle Bell Rock. It’s so fetch. You know, I’m going to just give you a link so you can watch it:

There you have it. I know there’s a lot more, like Edward Scissorhands and possibly Batman Returns. Let me know your favorite and what I missed in the comments below. Do you think these qualify as Christmas movies?

I’ll be cuddling onto the couch watching Die Hard and Lethal Weapon for my Christmas Eve double feature. It’s all about tradition. 😉

Want to know the favorite Christmas Movies of the members of the RunPee Family? Read about it here, and Happy Holidays from ours to yours. <3

A Merry Movie Christmas – The RunPee Family’s Favorite Holiday Films

The Weirdest Moments in Classic Christmas Specials

The Deadpool Before Christmas

 

 

Virgin Movie Review – Footloose (1984)

Kevin Bacon in Footloose
Yes, the songs are great. But is that enough?

Somehow, I’ve never seen the original Footloose before. I did catch the remake a few months back and found it mildly awful. I figured the iconic original would impress me more.

It did.

But only by a small margin.

I cannot figure out why this movie has iconic status, much less be considered a Teen Anthem. It boasts an extremely thin plot and cardboard characters.

The only emotional stakes belonged with the Ariel and her father…but I frankly thought Ariel was insane. I’m pretty sure she tried to kill herself twice for our viewing pleasure. Were we supposed to identify with her? I’ve done crazy stuff in my time, but nothing like standing between two cars barreling down the highway in the face of an oncoming Mac truck. When that girl took a lead pipe to her boyfriend’s ride I found it needlessly destructive. Yes, he should not have hit her, but she hit him first. I really don’t know where to go with this, but apparently casual violence is…hmm. I don’t know how to even finish that sentence.

Remember, the big climax in Footloose is Kevin Bacon and his friend brawling outside the prom. Yay?

The good: John Lithgow  was amazing, and he elevates an otherwise dull film. The directors could have taken the easy way out and made him a one note bad dad. His character certainly pounds that pulpit, and he has trouble with one-on-one relationships. But he’s also beloved in the community and takes his heartfelt service to the town seriously. Even the small children adore him (I loved when he teased the little ones in the church kitchen about their milk and cookies — see? Small moments matter). He also stops wacko community members from burning  library books. As the town’s preacher, he gives of himself freely,  and from a place of true belief, instead of chasing self-aggrandization. I’d hate sitting through his fire-and-brimstone sermons in person, but the actor makes his supporting role sympathetic and wonderfully layered.

Lithgow alone gives me a reason give this film a solid C instead of a C-. It’s supremely average. I guess this is damning it with faint praise.

And…Kevin Bacon? Again, I don’t know how to say this, because the man has a lot of good roles in his filmography. But here he’s inscrutable. He reacts, but doesn’t act. There’s only one scene where his character has agency, and that’s his big speech to the town council. They could have gone from there and straight to the prom, and we could call in a night. End scene.

To wrap this up before I whinge some more, I’ve recently rewatched a ton of classic movies from the 70s and 80s, and most of them stand up beautifully with time: films like Jaws, Rocky, Close Encounters, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…even other early ‘dance’ movies made me care about the characters. Take Dirty Dancing, Grease, Staying Alive, or White Nights — you CARE. Hell, Flashdance was a good ride.

By the end of Footloose, I figured out the problem: there are no genuine emotional beats, no real stakes that matter. The dance should have been a backdrop to the meat of the story. This movie was like a bread sandwich —  two slices of plain white Wonderbread with nothing inside.

I made other notes while watching Footloose, but it’s not worth analyzing this further. Someone, if you love this movie, please tell me why.  I’m open to correction, because I feel like I must be missing something.

Movie Grade: C

PS: The 80s pop soundtrack is great. I had fond feelings for every song. I think I’ll write about that next time and link to it from here. 

A Merry Movie Christmas – The RunPee Family’s Favorite Holiday Films

Die Hard, A christmas movie
Now I have a machine gun. Ho Ho Ho.

It’s that time of year again, when you can’t walk around in stores without hearing that Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, how mommy kissed Santa Claus, or that sad Last Christmas song by WHAM! In other words, ’tis the season to pay lip service to the holidays. (Ouch. I sound like a Grinch. Let me start again.)

Even if you’re not Christian, it’s tough to not feel your heartstrings tugged by the onslaught of themed family-friendly films. Now is when family becomes the central theme, and we spend too much money on presents nobody actually needs.  At its best, at Christmas, we remind ourselves family shouldn’t be taken for granted; we can forgive familial trespasses, and work on spreading love and cheer to all and sundry. Remember: family isn’t necessarily based on the bonds of blood. Do you care about someone? Let them know!

The RunPee Family is especially thankful to all of you, who’ve either been long term boosters or brand-new fans of the RunPee app: you are the reason we give up our nights, week after week, to see every movie, and share Peetimes with the world.

We thought you might enjoy hearing what our favorite holiday movies are. Please add your own in the comments section! You’re a part of our extended family, after all. 🙂

With no further ado, here are the favorite holiday movies from the members of the RunPee Family: (Note: reviewed movies and family profiles are linked.)

RunPee Dan:
Love, Actually
Lethal Weapon (written by Shane Black)
Die Hard
The Long Kiss Goodnight (written by Shane Black)
Iron Man 3 (written by Shane Black)
“I’m starting to notice a trend with Shane Black movies.”

RunPee Jilly:
Die Hard (“It’s just not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi building.”)
Lethal Weapon
Love, Actually
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (“It’s the one with Yule Ball celebration! Although each Harry Potter film has quite a bit of Christmas in it, to one degree or another.”)
Home Alone
Elf
Iron Man 3
Gremlins
“I’m also a sucker for the original Grinch holiday special.”

RunPee Mom:
“I would have to say that Nightmare Before Christmas is my favorite. And on the other end of the spectrum, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is my second-favorite.”

RunPee Sis:
“Howdy…hands down, my #1 is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Also, the new Will Farrell and Mark Walhberg movies…Daddy’s Home 1 and 2.”

The RunPee Princess/Granddaughter:
RunPee Mom reports, Jim Carrey’s The Grinch (Max the dog was her favorite part), and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

RunPee Shani:
It’s a Wonderful Life
Home Alone

RunPee Dana:
It’s A Wonderful Life
The Preacher’s Wife
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer
“Sooooo!  I wanted to share a little tidbit about why I chose Its a Wonderful Life as one of my favorite Christmas movies.  As a child, it was the first encounter I had with hearing about a “bank examiner.” Do you remember when George was nervous when the deposit run started, and he said the bank examiner was coming, and he needed money to cover the books?  I never knew bank examining was a job or career until that movie. Then I went to college, and low and behold the FDIC was recruiting when I was 18 years old for bank examiners on my college campus.  Long story short, until you read it in my book, at age 21 the FDIC hired me…after I stalked them for 3 1/2 years in college.  I’ve been employed with them for over 26 years and lived in 5 states via promotions and special assignments.  Interesting, uh?!?! Yup, being a Female Masterpiece…It’s A Wonderful Life….pun intended! Wink wink.”


The RunPee Family wishes you and yours a very merry Christmas, a fabulous holiday season, and of course, a great new year. I think we could all use a good new year.  😉 Here’s to wishes and new year’s kisses that 2019 will rock!

Moview Rewatch Review – Elf

The Weirdest Moments in Classic Christmas Specials

abominable snowman on the year without a santa claus
Turns out he’s not a bad guy. But still kind of strange.

Old Christmas TV specials can be downright bizarre. I grew up watching the animated cartoons like  Frosty the Snowman and The Grinch, and eagerly lapped up the clay stop-motions like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and The Year Without a Santa Claus. Joyous holiday fun, right?

Yes. And no. They’re enjoyable shorts, but as an adult I’m noticing really strange beats, weirdo songs, and odd, almost off-putting characters. Some of these things resonate through the years: we’ve learned to use the term Reindeer Games to signify human pack behavior that’s intended to be more clique-ish than inclusive. And among those experiencing “outsider status” alienation, the concept of The Island of Misfit Toys really hits home.

Here are some of the best wacked-out characters and songs from decades ago that we still love, probably because of their strangeness.

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974):

Remember the Heat Miser? There’s also a Snow Miser, but nobody remembers him. The Snow guy seems too nice, but the “Heat Blister” is the king of strange. If you’ve ever seen this, the lyrics come flooding back. (He’s too much…da da da duh…)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966):

I can’t go any further without mentioning the beloved song, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. What great about this song is there are so many additional lyrics as the song reprises over the course of 26 minutes of cartoon runtime. It’s really creative and each set gets wilder and weirder. I love this. Between The Grinch and the Heat Miser, it’s like grumpy geek nirvana.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964):

This is the cutest one in the holiday lineup, with a whole lot of adorableness and a great message about tolerance, compassion for others who don’t fit the societal role, and the kind of understanding that leads (if we’re really lucky) to friendship. Everyone in this special is damaged goods in some way, even Santa himself, who has to stuff himself unhealthily to fit the “image” of a fat old man. But the real strangeness award has to go to the Abominable Snowman, who’s only cranky because his teeth hurt. Enter the elf who wants to be a — gasp! —  dentist. It all comes around, and Rudolph’s deformity saves Christmas. I hope the other reindeer invite him to play their games and he tells them off. Although, I guess, that’s defeating the spirit of the message.

The Island of Misfit Toys also qualifies as weird. There’s a birdfish, a crying dolly, a Charlie in the Box, a train with square wheels…all toys probably made by elves on crack. The toys believe no child would ever want them. In reality — our reality — there are kids who’d love them instead of getting the boring same-old toys: these are unique. And remember, even in this day there are children who’s families can’t afford any gifts. They would CHERISH these toys.

Those who are different don’t have to be outcasts, or think of themselves as broken. Apparently Santa doesn’t even bother to save the toys in the original, as LifeNews reports in an excellent article (well worth a read — angry letters from children saved the day).

And that’s all I’m going to say as I put my soapbox away. Here’s the brightly, sprightly song the lonely toys sing, at strange odds with their predicament — they truly have no hope for themselves. It’s remarkably subversive, and I love it:

In sum, I’d posit that strange is memorable and fun, sticking to the nooks and crannies of the brain moreso than taking more expected  route. Look at the new (1918) Grinch movie. It’ a marvel of animation, but boring. Really, really boring.

Have I missed something noteworthy and odd from your favorite holiday specials? Do you prefer the Grinch song or the Heat Miser? Please add your comments below!

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

 

 

 

A Novice Rocky Review

rocky and adrian
Rocky — a love story.

I’d never seen the original 1976 Rocky in the past, because it seemed to be a “boxing” movie, and watching people hit each other into a bloody mess has never been my bag. Somewhere along the line I watched Rocky III, which was a decent enough film. It was sad and then triumphant. But I never became a Rocky fan. I did see Rocky IV, but thought that one wasn’t good, and then gave up on the whole thing as more decades of Rocky  and Rocky-adjacent films passed me by.

With Creed II killing it in theaters, all the Rocky movies have been re-playing on TV, so I DVRed I-III for a newbie review. I can’t quite call it a Virgin Review, since I did see two of the eight films in the franchise (although if you ask me for any details, all I remember is III is the sad one and IV is the one with the blonde Russian boxer.)

[pullquote]I figured it was time to see what the fuss was about with Rocky the First.[/pullquote] I recently watched Jaws this summer, to prep for The Meg, and thought Jaws was truly an A+ film. I was too young to appreciate Jaws when it came out, thinking it a horror monster movie, when it really is not. It’s about three men and what they are made of when it counts. (Jaws is a perfect film. I gave it an A+  and posted a glowing rewatch review here.)

Well, Rocky is not really a boxing movie. The cold open shows Sylvester Stallone in a match, but we don’t see any more fighting until the end with the big champion-ship match. The plot is really more about this somewhat under-educated man with an unappealing job of collecting loan debts. He’s rough around every edge, but as you watch, you can sense he’s also so much more: he loves animals; is enamored with the shy bookish woman at the pet store; he tries to help a young girl on the streets, and, most tellingly, doesn’t break the thumb of the man he’s ordered to hurt when collecting a debt. Rocky also loves music. He fights because it’s the one thing he feels he’s really good at. [pullquote]He’s as insecure as everyone else seems to be in the story. One could argue Rocky is more about overcoming your self-loathing than fighting.[/pullquote]

More than being a sports movie, it’s a love story and a drama. The scenes where Rocky tries to bring Adrian out of her shell are unusual: he likes the quiet girl that doesn’t speak words if she can help it. He gave her enough self-confidence to tell off her abusive brother, in a wonderfully acted and taut scene. I don’t understand why Rocky is even friends with Paulie, but I think we are given to understand Rocky likes everyone, and doesn’t hold their personality defects against them. What a rare trait, and something to consider in our own lives.

[pullquote position=”right”]Rocky is also clearly a drama. The two fight scenes are more efficient than gripping, and I have no problem with that.  But the scenes that truly stick out show Rocky with coach Mickey, Rocky with Paulie, and Rocky with his strangely sympathetic loan shark.[/pullquote] The one big scene with Coach, played in an astoundingly profound, yet gruff way, needs to be seen once, then seen again. It’s sorrowful, hopeful AND hopeless, and features two significant monologues, spoken to a closed door in one case, and then from listening alone in a stairwell for the second. This turns into a  masterful, surprising, and deeply moving pair of performances. Rocky and Mickey are damaged people who don’t know how to trust or feel hope again…yet the two men come together as the camera pans out to a wide shot on the streets, without any words at all. Its beautiful. You could cry right there. I hope this scene, and Burgess Meredith in particular, won an award. [pullquote]It’s that good. You feel you’ve witnessed a great moment in cinema.[/pullquote]

Here’s a video of this duology of monologues. Watch this again, because scenes like this don’t come around very often: 

I had no idea Rocky was a good movie, let alone a great one, which puts me in my place. It’s got seven sequels for a reason. (Maybe I need to see the first Fast and Furious, by my logic?) 😉

Many iconic moments stood out that I only absorbed through pop culture til now:  when Rocky cracks five raw eggs into a glass and sloppily gulps it down. When Rocky, trying  to make a point with Paulie, beats up a side of beef so furiously that he breaks its ribs. When Rocky runs through the streets of Philly, pre-morning, and triumphs over the stairs that left him winded earlier, as the Rocky theme song we all love crescendos all around, Rocky’s arms making a V to the skies as the dawn emerges from the night. (I’ve got goosebumps remembering this.)

The training montage scene that should never be considered a Peetime:

And then, of course, the climax: Rocky blinded, bloody, and beaten, calls plaintively for Adrian. When she makes it through the throng, I thought this would be the time to say they love each other, which they do. I lapped up every second of that. Remember when this film came out in 1976, audiences were still hopeful movies would leave them happier than when they came in. Now we are cynical and a bit jaded, so it’s nice to see an early film that awards the viewers for their patience, as a slow tale reaches a beautiful conclusion.

I think the only reason this film doesn’t get a Plus on that A, is from the confusing ending. Who won the fight? I have no idea from watching it. I asked my mother, also watching, who won and she had no clue either. Nobody was punched out on the ground. We re-wound the scene and still didn’t understand what happened, although I could barely make it out that Apollo Creed mumbled something about a re-match. So, was it a tie?

I texted a friend and asked WHO WON IN ROCKY? He said Creed did, from “points” — and the denouement is about Creed respecting Rocky enough to give him a real chance for the title next year. Or something like that? When I watch Rocky II I might understand better, but I think it’s unforgivable to keep your non-sport oriented viewers this confused. At that time in movie history, sequels were not much of a thing, so this might have left us confused forever. I don’t mind him not winning: I just want to know what happened without asking the Wikipedia. (It turns out they professed love and a vow to not have a re-match? I am not sure how I’m supposed to know this from watching it on film.)

There’s a nice bit of background to Rocky: Stallone himself wrote it, and the story says he was down to around $106 left to his name. The studios offered him $300, 000 for the script and wanted to put someone like Burt Reynolds in the role. Stallone turned it down, insisting that he should star in it. The rest, I guess, is history, as per Wikipedia:

The film, made on a budget of just over $1 million, was a sleeper hit; it earned $225 million in global box office receipts, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1976, and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. The film received many positive reviews and turned Stallone into a major star.[4] In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. Rocky is considered to be one of the greatest sports films ever made and was ranked as the second-best in the genre, after Raging Bull, by the American Film Institute in 2008.

Movie Grade: A

The Rocky theme music for your nostalgic enjoyment, and good luck getting it out of your head:

PS: I’ve started noticing the use of holidays in films. Well, in this case, Rocky could be called both a Thanksgiving movie and a Christmas flick. Pay attention the next time you watch it. 🙂


Here are our detailed Rocky I–Creed II reviews, from a Rocky Virgin who’d never seen any of the films  in the franchise before.

Some related reviews we think you’ll like:

Movie Review – Creed II

Movie Review – The Meg

Movie Rewatch — Jaws