Virgin Movie Review – Merry Friggin’ Christmas

robin williams in merry friggin christmas
Not a funny movie, in spite of the title. Also, painful in retrospect regarding Robin Williams. RIP to a national treasure.

Merry Friggin’ Christmas was a strange, strange film to watch. It seemed to have the distinctive low production values of a Hallmark Holiday Special, yet somehow boasted the clout and cash flow to hire friggin’ Robin Williams as the co-star. (Not to mention Candice Bergen, in a throw-away role.) What happened? Why was this flick so  unforgivably boring and depressing?

Also, it was rather mean-spirited. Call it an anti-Hallmark Hallmark Movie.

Whatever’s the case, I expected a comedy, based on the commercials and the title. And while some scenes proffered the funny, it was mostly awkward cringe-humor, with a pervading stench of black comedy.  Did I laugh out loud? Maybe once.

I DVRed this on TV this Christmas, billed as a double feature with Bad Santa (also a darker comedy than expected). The difference between the two is while Bad Santa was also a dark comedy, it had good acting, a real dramatic story, and high production values.

Friggin’ Christmas was boring, with limp humor, thinly drawn characters, and a depressing narrative lacking a worthy payoff. They could have had fun with the road trip trope, for example. (Driving a truck full of porta-potties had so many unrealized possibilities – were the writers completely checked-out?)

At the denouement, the kid gets a present he can’t even use. Why? Is that supposed to make the narrative’s lengthy shenanigans ironic? It certainly wasn’t satisfying.

I don’t have a lot to say in this review, except to note that the late Williams seemed stuck under a thick cloud of depression, which might have been an indication of how the actor felt by that time in real life. His character oozed self-loathing. Knowing what we do about his death, it was painful to watch.

Looking up Robin Williams’s bio, I realized (and kind of guessed) he killed himself in 2014, the same year Merry Friggin’ Christmas came out. Ouch. 🙁

(Want to celebrate his Robin Williams’ life? Don’t see this. Rewatch The Birdcage instead, where he clearly had fun with his role.)

Rotten Tomatoes gave Friggin’ Christmas an aggregate rating of 16%, so it’s clearly not just  me turned off by the film. The best moments belonged to the amusing police officer, the cheery guy who pulled them over several times. I bet that character had a nice Christmas. (Remember, there are no small parts, only small actors.)

I can’t say more about this lackluster offering. I wish I could rate it higher, if indeed it’s Robin Williams’ swan song.

Movie Grade: D-

Virgin Movie Review – Bad Santa

Love, Actually and Christmas Is All Around (That “Festering Turd of a Record”)

bill nighy singing about christmas in love actually.
Father Christmas and his elves want you to buy his festering turd of a record.

Bill Nighy rocks. And in Love, Actually, he rocks even harder as a washed up, has-been rock star, an aging bad boy we can’t help but love.

Also, he’s one of those actors I’m certain can do no wrong. Hear that, Nighy? We’re all in agreement here: RunPee loves you. 🙂

Love, Actually is one of my absolute top Christmas movies; it gets a annual rewatch during the holidays, and yes, I still tear up at the denouement in the airport when everyone comes together. So many good feels!

In the teaser, Nighy’s character attempts to sing Christmas Is All Around…getting it wrong twice, then letting loose with a string of awesome British curses. I want to memorize that line and use it freely.

The scene and the song, for your Christmas viewing pleasure:

Here’s the lyrics for you as well, if you want to take this one out for a holiday caroling stroll.

Christmas Is All Around

As sang by Billy Mack (Bill Nighy)
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Christmas is all around me
And so the feeling grows
It’s written in the wind
It’s everywhere I go
So if you really love Christmas
C’mon and let it snow
You know I love Christmas
I always will
My mind’s made up
The way that I feel
There’s no beginning
There’ll be no end
‘Cause on Christmas
You can depend
You gave your presents to me
And I gave mine to you
I need Santa beside me
In everything I do
You know I love Christmas
I always will
My mind’s made up
The way that I feel
There’s no beginning
There’ll be no end
‘Cause on Christmas
You can depend
‘Cause on Christmas
You can depend
It’s written on the wind
It’s everywhere I go
So if you really love me
C’mon and let it show
C’mon and let it show
So if you really love
C’mon and let it
If you really love me
C’mon and let it
Now if you really love me
C’mon and let it show…
….
Songwriters: Reg Presley, 2003
Christmas Is All Around lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
….
Excellent! Let’s put it all together so you can play karaoke:
Finally, have one last naughty/nice message from your Uncle Bill (25 second video). Merry Christmas, you awesome old sot!

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

He's still a mean one.
He’s still a mean one.

With the newest incarnation of The Grinch in theaters this year, we thought it was time to take a look at the history of this mean green creature, who is both dastardly and oddly sympathetic.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas  (1957) – The original kid’s book by Dr. Seuss is beloved, and for very good reasons. It started it all, showing us a grumpy Gus who hates the holiday (shades of A Christmas Carol). He steals, he lies, he abuses his dog Max, and breaks Cindy Lou Who’s trust…but eventually hears the joyous music and comes through in the end. This is an allegory for humanity, in a real way. We can be mean, we can hurt others to hide our own miserable loneliness…but if we open ourselves — just a crack — to others…well, we might learn to belong after all. Who hasn’t known this kind of profound alienation? Who doesn’t secretly dream of being accepted despite the petty crimes we’ve committed? The message hits us right in the feels. Dr. Seuss knew it. This is among the three top stories he gifted to generations of children. (Along with The Lorax and The Cat in The Hat. Can’t argue with those.)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas –  A faithful and rousing rendition of the Dr. Seuss book, the animated 26-minute special from 1966 is definitely something…yes, special. Growing up with this, it was a traditional treat to rewatch it every year, as a child. I still watch it now to herald the holiday season. Good animation, great songs (I still sing the refrain), and a story to make your heart grow three sizes in the end. A-level work.

The Grinch (2000) – The live action version with Jim Carrey dropped on the scene to a mostly poor reception. (It seems Carrey doesn’t always have the magic touch.) I recently watched this for the first time, and found it lacking. Middling, dank, arbitrary, and a bit sour. Ron Howard himself directed, and usually produces great films. What happened to the color, the joy, the fun? Not everyone panned it, however. The Wikipedia reports, “Despite mixed reviews that often compared the film unfavorably to the 1966 special, it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, and was also nominated for Best Art Directionand Best Costume Design.”

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) – Did we need ANOTHER Grinch? Why reboot this one; it’s been done enough, surely? In spite of my fears, every time I saw the new animated trailer in theaters I smiled and giggled in spite of myself. It looks a world of better than the live action version. I think they might get it right! I’m not the kind of critic who wants to see the same darn themes rebooted every few years, but agree Pixar knows how to craft a film. The trailer looks charming and fun: I’m all over it. If it doesn’t suck, it might put this story to bed, finally. NOTE, after seeing the 2018 movie: it didn’t. Here’s my Grinch-like review.

Watch The Grinch Trailers, to get you in the proper mood for the Mean One this Christmas: 

The Final Grinch Trailer:  

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

The Deadpool Before Christmas – A PG-13 Version: New Footage, New Film

Remember, he sees you when you're sleeping.
Be good this year, kids, or you’ll get something very naughty in your stocking.

Santa Claus has a super duper maxi big treat for us this Christmas, with an almost-new Deadpool 2 arriving in theaters on December 21. Ryan Reynolds is back in the red suit, just like Santa, re-shooting 15 minutes of original footage, dubbing creatively subversive, yet clean lines for the “new” film — even adding a brand new character to his pantheon. We’ve got a good idea who this could be, which I’ll get to in a moment.

According to ComingSoon.net, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick recently took part in an interview with /Film…and shared what the writers had to say about the upcoming Deadpool 2 PG-13 cut.

“We definitely shot new stuff,” revealed Wernick. “And recently too. After Deadpool 2 came out and we were all sitting around, we came to it less about the idea of let’s make a PG-13 movie and more, ‘Let’s talk a little bit about Deadpool.’ We were kicking around some ideas and then I think it was Ryan [Reynolds] who had the great framing device and we all got excited and went to the studio. They said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it. Fire up the cameras.’

“I think it’s not only going to appeal to kids, but also to people who love Deadpool,” Wernick said. “I think it’s subversive enough and fun and creative and something that only Deadpool could do. So I think it’s going to be a real joy for not only a whole new audience, but also an audience that has seen and loved the Deadpool movies.”

They promise the film’s basic plot remains unchanged, possibly adding a Princess Bride type of storytelling bookend, if this Tweet can be believed:

Seeing an adult Fred Savage called back in a detailed recreation of his old bedroom from The Princess Bride has fans salivating for more. What could be better than the Man in Black crosspollinating with the Man in Red?

This might be seen as a way to make nice with Disney, who recently acquired Marvel Studios, which in turn owns Deadpool. In no universe could we say that Deadpool, with his snarky potty-mouth and sexual…proclivities…would nest easily in the Disney brand. But since Disney isn’t stupid (James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy knee-jerk firing aside), they can’t possibly be thinking of sanitizing the future of their money-making R-rated blockbuster property. However, adding a “clean” and fun sideline of the Merc with the Mouth sounds like a true Christmas treat.

I, for one, will be there with (jingle) bells on, getting brand-new Peetimes for all the good boys and girls of the world. Remember kids, Santa Wade is always watching, and he likes it when you’re naughty.  🙂

Movie Review – Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 Outtakes, Bloopers, and Banned Jokes

Every Hilarious Deadpool 2 Trailer

Guardians of the Galaxy Ex-Director James Gunn to Direct Suicide Squad 2

Movie Review – A Bad Mom’s Christmas (RunPee Jilly’s POV)

A Bad Mom’s Christmas isn’t much to write home about, but there were a few decent laughs and it was consistently entertaining. Don’t expect much, and you’ll enjoy it. Susan Sarandon did her best with the low-brow script, and Kristen Bell was adorable, as always. The overbearing moms were overbearing, and the raunchy jokes were raunchy. The meaning of the mother-daughter bond was discussed. It was all a little rote. A lot of movies try to recreate a woman’s version of The Hangover, but this just doesn’t get there.

The plot-line of making the perfect Christmas party was all kind of nuts – I don’t know a lot of people who care that much about party perfection. My thought is that if you’ve got good food and drink, some decor and appropriate music, you’re golden. But then I thought about it: I love Harry Potter. If I was going to make a Hogwarts Yule Ball, I’d probably go a little overboard in the planning department. It’s all in what you enjoy obsessing on. 🙂

I was able to follow this movie without having watched the previous Bad Moms movie. This is to be expected – it’s fluffy, forgettable entertainment, capitalizing on viewers wanting to relax at mall theaters after all the holiday shopping. It delivers on this count.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Review – The Man Who Invented Christmas

This charming little film does a nice job ushering in Christmas time at the theaters. I really don’t know how much of this movie was fact or fiction concerning the character of Charles Dickens. In the movie, one moment he’d be in a screaming rage, and the next, a funny, engaging fellow. I think in today’s terms he’d be considered bi-polar. I did enjoy the rambling conversations he’d have with the characters from his book, although it might be said that he didn’t have a firm grip on reality. Ultimately, I found The Man Who Invented Christmas heartwarming, whimsical, and just a bit humorous.

Of course Christopher Plummer made the movie, with his biting humor and sarcasm. Scrooge has been portrayed by who knows how many actors, and I’ve seen at least 10 versions of A Christmas Carol, but Plummer, hands down, is the best.

Dan Stevens owned the role of Charles Dickens. I loved him in Downton Abbey, where his charm made many female viewers tune in every week, and happily, he brought it here.

I don’t know if TMWIC will become a seasonal favorite, but for this year it has become mine.

And really, who cares if Charles Dickens had a few character flaws?

Movie Grade – B

Movie Review – Daddy’s Home 2

It’s been almost 24 hours since I saw the movie and I’m still laughing. This was perhaps THE funny movie of the Christmas season. I am really curious how it was on the set. It looked like they had so much fun. This cast was stupendous.

Each and every actor was great. I can’t single any of them out because they were all perfect. This was a great movie to kick off the holiday season. My normal go-to movie has always been *Christmas Vacation* with Chevy Chase. From here on out *Daddy’s Home 2* will be in the DVD player while we put up the tree.

Great job, movie people. I appreciate such a wonderful movie.

Movie Grade : A

Virgin Movie Review — Daddy’s Home