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

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

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 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

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

Movie Review – The Grinch

 

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

To start with, the Grinch doesn’t seem all that bad. He doesn’t like a lot of dissonant noise. That’s hardly a crime. I don’t know why he seems to hate Roast Beast, but maybe he’s on a diet. And he’s never directly mean to anyone. Look how sweet he was to Cindy Lou Who. He gave her a cup of water and patted her head and practically tucked the tot into bed.

He’s also a pet owner.  He owns a dog! This is a creature he feeds and looks out for, and probably gives him company while he schemes in his lonely cave. Honestly, I think this guy has probably a big history with rejection.

I didn’t like him whipping Max all the way up to the top of Mount Crumpet, but this was in the 60s, and people might have been less sensitive about this kind of thing then.

I also noticed he’s quite domestic. He sewed up a nice red Santa coat with a treadle sewing machine, and hand stitched white cotton onto his hat.

His stealing techniques were masterly creative. He used a cane like a pool cue on the Christmas balls, walked the wind-up toys into his sack, and drove the choo choo train off its rails. He was having a lot of fun. He’s probably be a hoot to hang around with a few beers in him.

And he comes through in the end. He hears the Whos singing,  realizes that one’s thoughts determine their reality, and saves the day he worked so hard to steal. He goes from loser to hero over the course of one life-affirming moment, and best of all: the Whos accept him to their hearts and their table without fuss or complaint. In this moment, everyone who’s been damaged by rejection can also heal, even a tiny bit, and feel hope again.

Not bad for 1966 children’s cartoon special.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Rewatch Review — Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

The Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day.
Spoiler: I cried at the end.

I don’t know if you can technically call a 26-minute television Christmas Special a movie, but let’s go with it, since it’s almost Christmas, and I owe the nice people who like sappy holiday shows a kind-hearted review.

Filmed in 1966 and based off the classic 1957 children’s tale by the beloved Dr. Seuss (who didn’t invent the term grinch, but did coin the word nerd), the short film really stands up well over time. It’s cranky yet sweet, has some great tunes you can’t help but sing to, and the late, great Boris Karloff narrates the thing.

Seriously. How can you NOT love this song?


The animation itself recalls old Looney Tunes, specifically The Road Runner shorts. Watch the special and listen, and see if you don’t agree.

The Grinch himself is basically Wile E. Coyote, but more creative. I couldn’t help but chortle as he slunk around the presents like a green furry snake, wearing a gleeful grin.

This version is just as long as it needs to be, telling an economical tale that’s got a good message and tugs at the heartstrings without being treacly.

And you know, the Grinch isn’t really evil; he’s misunderstood. I’ve even defended him here.

I’ll tell you a secret. I watched this last night with my mother, sang the Grinch song out loud, and cried at the end. I wasn’t just misty-eyed; actual tears ran down my cheeks. I was careful to hide this show of sentimentality, of course, but when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes, and he saved Max and all the presents and rode into town like a hero, I felt like my heart grew too. Like the Grinch, I can’t be all bad, right?

At this time, I’ve seen every Grinch movie, and saved my rewatch of this one for last. I really hoped it would still be good, that I hadn’t hardened too much to appreciate it, and that it wasn’t showing too many seams as the decades slipped by. I was thrilled when I realized it was as good as I remembered. It blows all other Grinches out the water: Jim Carrey’s live action movie is just too darkly weird, and the new full-length Grinch movie is oddly milquetoast. I’ve reviewed them as a set here.

Movie Grade: A

Happy Holidays to everyone, whether you’re a sentimental sort or a Grinchy grump!

Read more Grinchy Reviews on RunPee: 

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Virgin Movie Review – Magic Stocking (half of it, maybe)

I didn’t realize this was one of those Hallmark Specials until I already had my workout pad and weights all spread on the floor and got comfy. (Yes, a little fitness routine during my evening shows is comfort food for me.)

But when “HallMark’s Magic Stocking” came onscreen, I gave my mother the stink eye. What was this? It’s not a real movie. Normally she DVRs a nice film for us, so I thought to myself, “Give it a try.”

I even took some notes:

  • There was a sad but attractive widow facing her first Christmas alone
  • There a handsome single guy building a Christmas Gazebo in the town square as a monument to his grandfather
  • There was a cute kid
  • It had a quirky grandmother
  • Puppies were involved

It didn’t take long to notice the awkward acting, but my mother said, “These are light holiday shows, with nice people. The actors are probably trying to break into Hollywood.”

It was really goofy. Dorky, even. The titular stocking decided to gift the little girl with the puppy she so desperately desired, and produced a silver locket to the lead character (the widow), for unknown reasons.

Then the grandmother pranked her grieving daughter into going on a date with the handsome single younger man, while avoiding the affections of the nice older single man pursuing her. But, then — the narrative thickens —  to convince the older man to prank the sad widow, she had to go on a “real date” with said older guy who made the awful mistake of buying her every bouquet in the local flower shop. The horrors!

Yeah, are you bored yet too?

I sat there through other people’s sweetly awkward dates and wondered when the stocking was going to perform magic again. I’d say I made it though an hour of this monument to mediocrity before packing up my equipment and heading to bed.

I’m sure the little girl gets her puppy, the widow finds love again, and the quirky grandmother has a steamy night to remember. But I didn’t care enough to find out because THIS ISN’T A PLOT.

I’m not even going to look for a photo to attach to this post, because: boring. If you like these little Christmas “movies”, that’s very nice for you, and I’m sorry to be a Grinch on your parade. It’s now the morning after and it’s raining like the Dickens (excuse the holiday pun), while my mother is curled up under a fuzzy blanket watching another Hallmark Christmas Special. I asked her the title but already forgot it.

She’s LOVING this stuff. You might too. I know she’s lined up at least a dozen more syrupy Hallmark Christmas Specials I won’t be watching. My favorite Christmas films fall onto the Lethal Weapon/Die Hard end of the spectrum.  And Home Alone, even, and Love, Actually. So I’m not completely unsentimental.

I think.

Movie Grade: C-

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Can Dune be done? Should Dune be done? Bringing Long Books to the Screen

herbert sandworm dune
If you walk without rhythm, you won’t attract the worm.

Until the last generation, when Peter Jackson proved The Lord of the Rings could not only be made into a successful film — but be so off-the-charts good that it took home 11 Oscar Awards — it was unheard of to succeed at translating most of the great sci-fi and fantasy epics of literature to the big screen.

That’s not for lack of trying. Larry McMurtry’s  Lonesome Dove book-to-film effort was a grand feat, but it’s the mini-series scale that made it work. The book is too big and involved to be made into one cinema-length film. Nowadays it would be at least a film trilogy, but I don’t think it needs a reboot — the 1989 miniseries is already a flawless snapshot of the last gasps of the Western Expansion. So they could make a new movie with these characters, yes, but I’d say it’s time to move on and  tackle other works of genre literature. (Also, who’s going to try improve on Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duval?)

Watership Down is another epic tale in a brick-sized book, but it’s a hard sell, being entirely from the point of view of rabbits. And it’s absolutely not for children: the themes are mature and often mesmerizingly frightening. (The rabbits even have their own word for being stuck in a “mesmerizingly frightened” state — called Tharn –). The 1978 animated feature has its fans, but most people who’ve loved the book pretend the “movie” doesn’t exist. (Seriously, it’s like a long scary drug trip.) Hazel’s troop of rabbits could now be done with puppets, animatronics, or CGI — instead of animation —  but the question here is “Why?” We’ve seen entire CGI movies like Avatar, and they can be lush and sweeping films, but it still remains that Watership Down must be seen at rabbit-height and from rabbit-eyes. It would take a very special studio or director to take that on. This is probably why nobody is chasing this particular story at the moment.

Here’s a full length video of Watership Down, if you’re curious:

In  the Post-LOTR and Harry Potter world,  the densest, longest, and most involving books can come alive on film…with inspired directing, gobs of studio money (and little studio interference), the right acting ensemble, and legions of dedicated crew members. Not to mention a crack PR team dropping hints and teaser trailers to excite the fans. (See: anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

The key to adapting epic novels to the big screen, it seems, is respecting the source story. Behind the sets, Sir Ian McKellen (as Gandalf) would pace around Peter Jackson with this LOTR novels, saying, essentially, “Peter!That’s not how Tolkien wrote it!” This is probably one of the many interconnected reasons why Lord of the Rings, previously considered unfilmable, worked so well.

It’s not that a script can’t deviate from a source, but the result should clearly be recognizable from it. Book fans will be waiting for certain beats, beloved details, fantastic settings worthy of a grand story, and most of all: a faithfulness of essence to its literary origins.

There’s a line between slavishly book-faithful recreations (as in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), and movies that recalls its novel by name only (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, AKA Blade Runner, or Lynch’s Dune).

So, yes, finally. We get to Dune. It’s been tackled several times, although none were recent enough to benefit from the current seamless FX at our disposal. (Which doesn’t excuse anything at all. Look back on the practical effects of Star Wars: A New Hope, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and tell me those films failed — they don’t.)

david lynch dune
Lynch’s Dune – looks good, tastes bad.

Lynch’s 1984 Dune remains a problem, and its not from poor effects. It’s mainly that Lynch took Herbert’s book, tore a few pages he liked from it, and threw away the rest. It’s only “Dune” because the characters have the same names, there are Fremen and there are Sandworms, and Arrakis, the desert planet, is still called Dune. Otherwise, it’s a sprawling, sometimes grotesque mess, bearing little likeness to the story they aim to tell. I admit they got to the story’s conclusion just fine, but the path to get there was completely unorthodox. I know Lynch’s Dune has its fans, so I’ll let it lie.

scy fy dune
SyFy gives Dune a try. Definitely more Herbert, but definitely still wrong.

When SyFy made Frank Herbert’s Dune (2000) into a television miniseries, you can see there were many attempts made to be faithful to the book…but Sy Fy also took liberties in the telling. The main arguments I’ve heard seem to coalesce around the casting, that the actors didn’t look like the part, or didn’t act like the part. I’d say in both versions they got Jessica right, and Chani, and Irulan, for that matter, but the men’s roles are hit or miss. I think they got a lot more right than wrong, and crafted a personable, sensible, enjoyable tale without a whisper of heart plugs.

In my grading system, I’d give Lynch’s Dune a D+. (While I thought it was overall atrocious, he got a few things right, and that’s where the + comes in.) I’d give SyFy’s Dune a nice fair B score. It crumples a little as time marches on, but at least it’s recognizably Dune. SyFy even went on to combine Dune Messiah and Children of Dune as a second mini-series, which was ambitious, welcome, and mostly effective.  That one gets a B as well; maybe a   B+ — I’d have to see it again.

jodorowksy dune
Jodorosky’s Dune. Third time’s a charm?

A lot of people mention Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013), which isn’t actually a movie. It’s more like an appetizer for a film, or a promise of Dune. You can watch the movie-length documentary for $3 on Amazon, or check out the free trailers on IMDb. However, if you watch the video, you can’t help but notice that it’s even stranger than Lynch’s version. There’s a lot of people who want to see this one picked up by the studios, but I’m not one of them. I want to see the story the way Herbert saw it in his mind’s eye.

The time is right to try Dune again, using a well-funded production studio, a director who is comfortable with an epic scale,  and detailed sets in grand desert locations. I want to see world-building. Toss in some smart humor, dynamic ensemble casting, and of course, magnificent sandworms: make me long to be a rider. The movie should be a visual delight, engulfing the audience so much you’ll think you can smell the sietches, taste the spice, and feel the grit of sand, sand, sand.

So, it’s exciting news that director Denis Villeneuve plans to try his hand at a multi-film Dune. He says he hopes to make Dune into the Star Wars movie he never saw. “Most of the main ideas of Star Wars are coming from Dune, so it’s going to be a challenge to [tackle] this,” Villeneuve said. “In a way, it’s Star Wars for adults. We’ll see.” (Read the Dune News page on IMDb.)

It ‘s a promising start. We’ll record the news for this Dune project as it comes along.

While you wait for the right version of Dune to thrill you, entertain yourself with Fatboy Slim’s song Weapon of Choice. The lyrics are definitely Dune-inspired, even if the setting isn’t. But watching Christopher Walken putzing  around an empty hotel is a whole lot of awesome by itself…

Which version of Dune is your favorite? Do you think it will be done right by Villeneuve?

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Thanksgiving Holiday Movies

snoopy charlie brown thanksgiving
I guess it’s okay for birds to eat birds after all.

I originally thought there was just the one Thanksgiving movie: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Turns out the RunPee fans stepped in to correct this error, and gave me a few more Thanksgiving films to consider.

The first one to add is a 30 minute TV Special that comes annually on Turkey Day. It’s the animated short film where Snoopy makes toast and popcorn to serve his Thanksgiving guests,  which turns out to be a problem for everyone… until Linus gives a little speech about the first Thanksgiving, and about…well…thankfulness. So, by now you’ve guessed it: it’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. And I think maybe Snoopy didn’t want to serve a turkey in the first place, seeing that his best friend is a bird. As I child I never noticed that, since food was something that came from the grocery store. But it doesn’t matter much, since Snoopy serves Woodstock a slice of turkey at the end anyway.

Is it the best Charlie Brown Special? I’d say no — the best ones are the Halloween and Christmas Specials, but never mind. Watching these always heralded the extended October through December holiday season, and have endured through their simple and sincere sentimentality. And I think calling this racist is kind of overthinking it. It’s like admitting Lucy is a bully (which she is).  Or I don’t know. Franklin does look a little lonely on his side of the table. You tell me.

It turns out you can’t watch this for free on You Tube, but you can buy it for $2: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

There’s more. A lot more. If you love this holiday, sit back and appreciate this surprisingly bountiful list of movies about Thanksgiving:

  • The Oath (this one just came out)
  • Jack and Jill (Adam Sandler does Turkey Day)
  • Free Birds (animated)
  • Garfield’s Thanksgiving (animated)
  • A Chipmunk’s Celebration (animated)
  • A Winnie The Pooh Thanksgiving (animated)
  • Hallmark Movies A Family Thanksgiving
  • The Mouse on the Mayflower (animated)
  • The Turkey Caper (animated)
  • Thankskilling (yes, a horror movie where the birds strike back)
  • Maybe Spider-Man…? (I’ve included a video arguing just this)
  • A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (wow, we’re reaching way back now)

I think that’s plenty.

Let’s get straight to the videos then, shall we?

Here’s a scene from the Steve Martin/John Candy delicious duo from Planes, Trains and Automobiles:

Or you can buy the full show for $3 on YouTube.

Here’s the trailer for Jack and Jill:

Free Birds is actually free on You Tube, a full length film:

Garfield’s 25 minute special is free too:

The Chipmunk’s Celebration:

Winnie the Pooh gets in on the action:

The Turkey Caper:

Hallmark’s Family Film:

 The Mouse on the Mayflower:

The full ThanksKilling trailer:

If you’re feeling open to a new idea, here’s an argument why Sam Raimi’s Spiderman is the perfect Thanksgiving film:

There’s actually more movies I could list, but honestly, I’m feeling a bit full. Kind of like after the Thanksgiving feast, where you want everyone to go home so you can sleep off those tryptophans in peace.

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Through the Wormhole – Are We All Bigots?

Morgan Freeman has a Science Channel series called Through the Wormhole. I highly recommend the series for those interested in learning about a broad range of topics from is the universe a simulation to is privacy dead.

One of my favorite episodes is about the nature of racism: Are We All Bigots? In this episode Freeman comes at this question from a number of angles, as he does the topic in every episode. Below is, what I think, is one of the most important segments.

If you like that clip then I highly recommend you watch the entire episode. You can buy it on YouTube for $1.99 (No affiliation with RunPee.)

Opinion
I have to accept that part of my brain is bigoted. It does things (and sometimes gets away with it) that I don’t like.

That may sound like an odd thing to say: my brain does things that I don’t like. What am I if not my brain and it’s decisions? I think its clear, especially if you watch the entire episode of Are We All Bigots, that our brain instinctively makes decisions without the consent of our brain’s rational consciousness. (Not that consciousness is always rational.)

What researchers have proven is that we are not always in control of our thoughts and actions. It’s not an excuse for bad behavior, but it’s a reality we have to deal with. For instance, when someone is addicted to gambling, or food, a drug, whatever, you can’t attribute that to poor character, or weakness.

Our brains evolved to cope with many situations we no longer face. In this modern age we can manipulate those situations in ways that were never possible while the circuitry in our brains was evolving to help us survive. When we eat carbohydrate-rich food — bread, rice, cake, sweets, etc. — our brain says, “OMG, this is great. More please.” That’s because during our evolution there was hardly a chance that we could overeat those things because of their scarcity. That part of our brain doesn’t understand that we now have unlimited access to calories, and don’t need to overeat at each opportunity. The only way to stop ourselves is to use our rational consciousness to intervene and put the breaks on. Again, the rational part of our brain isn’t always in control — much as we might wish it.

It’s the same for how our brain reacts to people who are different from us. Generally speaking, for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, people from outside their tribe wasn’t always a good thing. Like a dog barking at a stranger, we evolved to be wary of different than us. It’s only through life experience that we can retrain our brains. Essentially, we need take that part of our brain that makes snap judgments and pet it, and say, “Hey, it’s okay. These different people are okay. Don’t get worked up.” Over time, that part of our brain will relax. But, we must recognize that it’s always there, ready to wake up again and bark at the next different person that passes by.

I want to make racism go away; from myself and my country and all of humanity. I believe the only way this will be possible is to acknowledge that part of our brains evolved to be wary of different people — because it gave them an edge in survival.

When we see racism, in ourselves or others, we need to make an effort to retrain us/them. And just like training a dog, the best method is positive reinforcement. Because when you yell at someone for being bigoted it’s about as effective as yelling at a dog — pointless and counterproductive. (Even though it feels as good as eating chocolate cake dripping with melted fudge and covered in icing.)

Creator of RunPee. Aspiring author.

Entering the X-Files – The Pilot Episode

The X-Files Pilot still one of the better long-running television pilots out there. Quintessentially set in the early 90s, it holds up well. Scully is an adorable skeptic, still bright-eyed and bushy tailed — so eager to please — with a sweet face still bearing traces of baby fat. Mulder starts out almost exactly as he finishes, tossing his new partner a half-assed joke in greeting: “Welcome to the FBI’s most unwanted.” He knows she’s been sent to his basement to dubunk him, and he has his I Want To Believe Poster posted proudly behind his desk, surrounded by conspiracy theory news clippings and marked-up maps. He looks like a kook, and he kind of is, but the brilliant kind.

(Get used to this being Mulder’s domain. Scully only perches on things for the next few years. It does improve for her much later, when she gets a desk of her own. And on a side note, Mulder doesn’t get a bed until the two-parter ep Dreamland, so it’s an equal opportunity level of bodily discomfort.)  🙂

In spite of this preliminarily  lopsided pilot powershow, the two exude instant charisma, and the minor ‘abduction’  story needs thankfully little exposition. It’s got a self contained plot (is it about alien abductions, or driven by some other supernatural condition? It doesn’t matter), and it concludes in a satisfying place.  But the plot isn’t the main show, thankfully.

The real reason to watch the pilot is to play close attention to the dynamics of Gillian Anserson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder, respectively. Right away, their mutual charisma bounces between them with a crackling electricity, whether they’re bickering in their office, or laughing at each other while drenched in the road in the middle of the night — where a big red spray painted X marks the spot they experienced lost time. It’s a good moment. I don’t want to be too specific. Just watch it.

Were they abducted ? Why did they lose time? It’s actually par for the course that we will actually never know. Get used to this in this series, and you’ll be fine. The show is about its two leads, and how they almost, but quite, prove the evidence of aliens and the supernatural.

If you find this coy cat and mouse overly-plotted, stick it out anyway, at least until seasons 5 or 7. The Chis Carter Effect doesn’t set in ’til then. This is a great show to take the time to savor: the frequent Monster of the Week episodes are often the best things ever seen on television,even though the “mythology episodes” are the ones that keep fans coming back. This was one of the very first shows depicting through-arcs and long-form storytelling.

In spite of the varying quality of the two movies and two revivals, this is still one of the greatest shows on television.

Are you an X-Files fan? Feel free to comment below about your favorite episodes.

Here’s our RunPee movie review of the 2nd feature film: 

Movie Rewatch Review of X-Files – I Want To Believe

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Rewatch Review of X-Files – I Want To Believe

You’d think they do believe by now…

The X-Files now has nine television seasons, two movies, and two short-term TV revivals under their belt. This no-spoiler rewatch is for the second feature film,  I Want To Believe, taking place years (both in-universe and out) after the final run of original TV episodes, and before both revivals were even a concept.

(Is this making sense to you? If it’s gibberish, you might not want to bother entering the X-Files universe at this time. X-Files is the most complicated long-running popular entertainment franchise ever made.)

Like the first movie, Fight The Future, most of this takes place in way too much snow. (Just before the credits, you get a small warm payoff this time, so stick around through it.)

A few thoughts on I Want To Believe:

  • No humor. Bummer.
  • It’s mostly a stand alone feature. At least, the plot is. You still need to know the history between Mulder and Scully to appreciate who they are, their motivations, and what they want from each other.
  • It starts out pretty slow, and continues along at a dirge-like pace. The few action scenes we do get are pretty frenzied. Not sure what the director was thinking. Weirdly paced.
  • The plot was sad, depressing, dark, and distinctly unfun.
  • The characters were more pessimistic than usual. The whole reason this great show ran so long was on the strength of the Mulder-Scully dynamic and characterization. I realize they are older and more serious now, but that didn’t make for enjoyable viewing. It was like the director told them to tone down their natural chemistry.
  • Some parts were hard to see – either blurry, dimly lit, or both. Many things ran by too quickly to comprehend. Pay attention to the unusual dog mid-way through, or you’ll miss out on a big clue (and he’s super hard to see properly, even when I knew what to look for).
  • Mulder still has his den of posters (including the iconic titular one), tacked up dodgy newspaper clippings, and pencils stuck in the ceiling tiles (okay, that part was cute).
  • We do find out what happened with the relationship between Mulder and Scully after the series comes to that abrupt end. So that’s sort of satisfying.
  • It had a psychic/serial killer plot, not an alien cover-up one. There was no whiff of the “Mythology/Conspiracy Arc”, unlike in Fight The Future.
  • It was ultimately more about Scully and her religious themes, than Mulder and  his unexplained phenomena.
  • The movie was super creepy at the end. When I say it’s a “Monster of the Week” plot, here the monster is real, and unfortunately all too human. I don’t know how to say more without revealing a big spoiler about WHICH monster this movie references. It’s obvious by the climax. Brrrr. Feel free to put spoilers in the comments.
  • I liked this part the best: we’ve had about a baker’s dozen episodes before, dealing with the use of possible psychics to solve paranormal cases. The BEST part of I Want To Believe is when Scully actually references these guys by name: Luther Boggs (Beyond the Sea), Clyde Bruckman (Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose), and Gerry Schnauz (Unruhe). Those were stellar episodes that fall within the best episodes of any television show EVER done.  Want to watch something great ? Skip this movie and stream those episodes. Bring a hanky.

Here’s a short text exchange between RunPee founders Dan and Jill about I Want to Believe:

Jill: I just did a rewatch of the second X-Files movie. Remember that one?

Dan: I remember that it sucked.

Jill: Sure. That’s totally fine.  It was like a very long, very mediocre X-Files episode. I haven’t seen the second TV revival yet, but I hope they pick up with the William story and put that storyline to bed! Metaphorically (and literally works too).  😉

Dan: I don’t even know if I’ll see the second  revival, after watching the first one. It only had the one good episode with the Were-Monster.

Jill: Agreed. I really liked that one. The rest were meh, at best. It’s too bad.

Dan: Whatever.  I give up.

Jill: But I have some insights from I Want To Believe. I’ve decided that Mulder and Scully can’t quit each other, even though they are not good together. Mulder is a man who will do his thing, and place finding the truth above his relationship, every time. Always. He is a brilliant obsessive-compulsive. And she wants a real life, with the children and a picket fence…Mulder will never give her those things. But she just can’t quit him.

Dan: I can see that about their relationship.

Jill: My mother has already forgotten the entire plot of this movie, believe it or not. It’s weird; we just saw it last week.

Dan: It’s not a good movie, so I’m not surprised.

As you can see, I’m still a fan, even after being disappointed by most of the show’s follow-up. I’m doing a partial TV re-watch right now, introducing my mother to some of the series’ highlights (and having to try to explain most of it). I’m not even sure I remember where most of the dead end subplots ended up going…look up the “Chris Carter Effect” to understand this trope. This phenomenon went on to derail other great, dense shows like Lost and the reimagined Battlestar Galactica).

Ugh! In SPITE of that, it’s still one of the best television shows ever put to the small screen. If you get a chance, and have a lot of binging time available, start at the beginning and worth through the whole thing. Most of it is astoundingly gripping. Mulder and Scully are so much fun to watch that you never notice only two actors carry most of a decade of work between them.

Movie Grade for I Want to Believe: C

———————–

A little happiness to end this post: 
Here’s a quick vid about the Were-Monster, the most enjoyable revival episode. Yahoo Entertainment says this: ““Were-Monster” single-handedly justifies the show’s return after its decade-long hiatus.”

Really, the ep is a pure joy, with a lot of in-jokes for X-Files long-suffering fans:

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)