Christmastime Movietime: Scrooged (1988) & Four Christmases (2008)

Saturday, November 26 is the day I decided to do something for my soul. I had to rectify the mess that I made by starting off the season by watching something other than the actual A Christmas Carol or, it’s near-perfect adaptation and one of my top top top tops, Scrooged.

After saying she enjoyed Christmas Cupid, my mom got pretty much screamed at by me. We were going to watch Scrooged to make the universe right again.

Okay, so I love this movie. It’s got a thousand one-liners my sister and I quote all day long, Christmastime or Fourth of July. It has a stellar cast and Bill Murray. I am easily amused so the casting of Murray’s two brothers craaaaaaacks me up for no other reason than that family really, really looks alike. Also, I have Buster Pointdexter’s song “Hot, Hot, Hot” in my head almost the whole movie as he stars as the Ghost of Christmas Past. This is not annoying, as it may sound. We learned a dance to this song during my stint in dance when I was little. I’ll do it for you right now. Olé, olé.

Scrooged, always a winner.

Has anyone noticed how Vince Vaughn is suddenly the king of Christmas? I mean, how did this become? Is it a comment on how raunchy and cynical Christmas has become? Yes, I know, this from a mom who wished for a pretty, young Mrs. Claus (who would inevitably be slutty) for my son to go visit for pictures since he’s terrified of the real Santa. Okay, I just checked. He’s technically only been in two Christmas movies, but they were made a year apart and that’s enough for my tiny little brain to short circuit a little bit.

I expected nothing from this movie. The previews for it were God awful and I’m sorry, we’re at the point, right, where we pretty much know how any movie starring Reese Witherspoon is going to go? She’s the Meg Ryan of this time (which is odd, considering this movie poster that is currently bugging me). My BFF watched it earlier that week and just casually texted me how hilarious it was. I, being the ever judgmental one, wrinkled my nose at it like “ohhkay…” Still, her review of it was enough to push me and the hubs to order it (for freeeeee!)

Um, where do I begin? I hope the guy that was in charge of the trailer got fired and kicked in the butt by everyone he passed on his way out of the building. Always a sucker for ensemble casts (oh, get ready for Love, Actually…), I thoroughly enjoyed this movie at a really basic level. Beyond that, it stirred out of me some pretty intense laughs that frankly scared my young, sick, son.

Jon Favreau stars as Vaughn’s brother (as he tends to always do) and, also, so does Tim McGraw. At first I didn’t recognize him and then it got oh-so-real. That in itself was reason enough for me to love this movie. Oh, and Robert Duvall, my beloved Tom Hagen, is their father. Mary Steenburgen is Witherspoon’s mom (Elf, I’m coming for you, baby) and Kristin Chenoweth is her sister (no singing this time). Carol Kane is her aunt (hellooooo Ghost of Christmas Present) and to round out the country music singer-actor casting, Dwight Yoakam is Steenburgen’s boyfriend. Oh, there are more. I’m just kind of tired of looking at IMDB to make sure everyone’s name is spelled correctly, to be honest.

Despite its moments of gut-busting laughter (I’m thinking of a specific game of Taboo) the overall charm of this movie is the main plot line. It’s about two people who are so stuck on fighting the traditional path of 30-something couples, that they don’t even see that it’s something they might actually want. It’s about when the having fun with just the two of you runs out. It’s about realizing that your families are crazy, but you kind of are a little bit, too.

Enjoyed. Watch it.

Christmastime Movietime: Christmas Cupid (2010) & Deck the Halls (2006)

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The day after Thanksgiving began with a visit to the pediatrician. The boy was sick. With my mom in tow, our day of holiday preparation became one of couch hostages. We were okay with it. We had some nursing back to health to do and some bad Christmas movies to watch.

Okay, it didn’t start out that we were intentionally going to see bad movies but in lining up my M.O.I. (movies of interest) list, I did choose some saccharine-laden-made-for-tv-with-clear-breaks-for-commercials selections that my husband rolled his eyes at. My mother, however, it game for any “bad” movie. In fact, they’re her favorite. Her entire DVD collection consists of $2 clearance films starring has-beens and, often, animal actors.

We began with Christmas Cupid (2010), an ABC Family film from last year (I could tell since it began explosively with some serious character establishment to the song “Oh, Santa!” by Mariah Carey, a favorite of last holiday season). Before this time, I only knew Christina Milian as my little brother’s high school crush. I IMDB’d her and realized we were the same age. The movie progressed with quite the teen/early 20s drama that ABC Family requires to exist. Then, at some ridiculous point way too far in the game, I realized the storyline was based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This then made me 100% more interested as I looooooooove picking apart adaptations.

All in all, it was cute (perfect adjective, right?). I didn’t hate it. Jackée Harry emerged from my 80s memory as Milian’s daschund-loving mom. The little girl from Growing Pains also joined her. This is always entertaining for me. It’s ACC value was pretty decent for an intended audience that was likely to be texting through the whole movie. Plot points were clearly spelled out and linked to the literary work. That bugged me, but was probably helpful for someone using this movie to do their Dickens’ book report. I do have to say, though, that the green dress above has more likability than the movie as a whole, but that’s a little unfair because I really like emerald green.

Next.

I got a lovely email from Cox saying they’d give me 3 On-Demand movies for free this holiday season. Mom and I decided to cruise the On-Demand holiday movies for prospective next-watches. $4 for Home Alone? Golly. Glad I own it. I get Deck the Halls and Jingle All the Way (over-the-top, weird ensemble cast, Christmas carol lyrics, ugh) so I selected the preview for Deck the Halls and look at that, clumsy fingers, I bought the movie. So, I had to watch a movie I’d already sort of seen and not particularly liked despite the fact that it stars often-entertaining actors.

Let me summarize. Massachusetts. Christmas lights. Odd marital pairing of Kristin Chenoweth and Danny DeVito and even more odd marital pairing (for the SATC set) of Kristin Davis and Matthew Broderick. Families falling into irreparable debt and growing apart from each other, respectively. Davis has about 17 lines and is wearing pjs or a robe for nearly all of them. Out of place, but totally obligatory singing by Chenoweth. Kal Penn, Fred Armisen, and Jorge Garcia have small parts; two of them with accents. I don’t want to see it again. It was more like an improv plot thought  up on a whim by these four actors than a film that was planned and paid for.  Good sick day movie if there is nothing else on and it’s Christmastime and you hate yourself.

Christmastime Movietime: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

This year, I decided to give myself an early Christmas gift: relaxation. Despite accounts that it makes “people sick” or that I’m “a crazy person” because I have all my Christmas decorations up and all my gifts wrapped under a decorated tree, I would like to argue that I won’t be the one running around traffic and stores in December or messily scrawling addresses on Christmas card envelopes. Sitting at home with friends and family 7-8 months pregnant watching holiday movies sounds much more appropriate for fostering the whole “peace on earth and good will towards men” spirit to me. So, this year, I’m getting to all those holiday movies I’ve never seen as well as viewing my favorites as well.  I begin with perfection…

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A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on television in 1965. I find its seemingly dated concerns of Christmas “turning commercial” quite poignant since, yes, I’m writing a blog about watching a movie as the peaceful alternative to holiday sale shopping. Christmas has, unfortunately, fully turned commercial to most and I’m afraid that with the rise of Black Friday shopping creeping further into Thanksgiving (leave us alone, stores! there’s cranberry sauce to clean off my chin yet!), it’s becoming downright savage (that’s why I shop small, local and slowly in November).

This mini-movie is amazing. Vince Guaraldi’s score has become a modern classic and Linus’s speech about the meaning of Christmas is one I sweetly throw at Scrooges this time of year. I admit, I didn’t see this tv special all the way through till I was a teenager. That’s when I noticed the little boy dancer in orange dances like my dad. Like, for real.

Last night’s viewing was fun! We figured we should have the boy sit and watch this one since it was a mere 25 minutes and surely he could squeeze that into his schedule (toddlers are very busy). He found Snoopy and Woodstock hilarious (as, I think, little boys are required to do) while my husband had the epiphany that I am Lucy. Good for him and his epiphany, I say.

We had hot cocoa and it was over all too soon. Good warm up for what I hope to be a month of heart-warming, cheeseball holiday movies. Deal with it, Scrooges.

Waiter, There’s a Cookie in My Cookie

The Mt. Everest of cookies.

Remember when Madonna went to that awards show with Michael Jackson and the earth stood still because–oh, my God, were they dating? If so, could that union really work? Isn’t there a cap for how much awesome can exist in a couple? (The Jolie-Pitts answered that question by becoming progressively lamer over time.)

I was confronted with a similar feeling of exasperation when my dear friend FB-posted a recipe of a cookie that could only have been invented by the food demons that keep Paula Deen from dying of a heart attack (I mean, that lady’s vital!). The Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie.

What the what, you ask? Surely you’ve stuck bite-size Snickers in a sugar cookie before, right? Delicious. This, however, intrigued me to the point of action! (A tough feat for my lazy butt these days). Not only is it a cookie within the very same cookie entity, it’s a chocolate cookie within a chocolate cookie. I mean, come on. Don’t your teeth hurt just reading that?

So, after I purchased my second container of Double Stuf Oreos ever (I have absolutely NO idea where the first went!), I got to work.

(The recipe can be found at Picky Palate.)

The verdict? Amazing first bite. Second, pretty darn good. The third, you want to die. No amount of milk can better this situation. Also, they’re so substantial that you could easily use them as training discus…-es. Disci? (It’s discuses. I looked it up. Because I’m a librarian.)

I called my mom, the queen of unbelievable desserts and she suggested the mini Oreos for a regular, human-sized result.

I, myself, will never eat one of these again (it’s just all too much, as another very wise dear friend predicted) but I have been commissioned to make a ton for someone’s birthday this weekend. They will be smaller.

*Popcorn Marshmallow, I am not going to bring you any of these after all. I brought them to work to impose their sweetness on strangers. I love you too much to do this to you. (I’ll make you a batch of the smaller ones this weekend!)

Gelica

Angelica and her son AJ with Wilma Wildcat just last week. Courtesy of La Estrella de Tucson.

Where I come from, “cousins” means something a little bit more than its dictionary definition. We were 10 in number; 7 of us girls, less than 10 years of age difference between us. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think we were sisters and not the children of three sisters. We made up dances. We gave each other bike rides around our grandparents’ yard. We shared a lot of hairspray.

When we’ve been apart because of time or distance, we never miss a beat when we meet up again. You always know we’re together because we are the loudest in any God-given place. Seriously. The very loudest laughs you will ever have the misfortune of sitting next to at Olive Garden.

Last night, we lost my beautiful cousin Angelica. Not the oldest, not the youngest. Not sick. Not an accident. Not anything. Just – and I have to trust this – meant to be. Mother to three children (the one she was so close to giving birth to went with her). Kind. Warm, but also a firecracker.

I haven’t entirely absorbed what happened less than 24 hours ago, but I do know that I want to honor her in my own little way.

Gelica was always bubbly. Always. Even when she had no reason to be, she smiled. It was a gorgeous smile. I find photos of myself where I think I resemble her and I love those. She was funny and warm. And I don’t like the fact that I’m using the past tense one bit.

This last day and the days ahead will be tough, but my family’s amazing.

Gelica, I’m going to miss you ridiculously.