CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: JINGLE ALL THE WAY

CAST

Arnold Schwarezenegger (Predator)
Sinbad (American Dad)
Phil Hartman (Small Soldiers)
Rita Wilson (The Bonfire of The Vanities)
Jake Lloyd (Star Wars – Episode I)
Martin Mull (Killers)
James Belushi (Red Heat)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons)

Howard Langston is a workaholic mattress salesman with no time for his wife, Liz, and his 9-year-old son, Jamie — especially when compared to next door “superdad” divorcee, Ted Maltin, who continually puts Howard in a bad light. After missing Jamie’s karate class graduation, Howard resolves to redeem himself by fulfilling Jamie’s ultimate Christmas wish: getting an action figure toy of Turbo-Man, a wildly popular TV superhero. On Christmas Eve, Howard sets out to buy a Turbo-Man doll at a store, telling Liz that he already has one at work that he must retrieve.Along the way, Howard meets Myron Larabee, a postal worker dad with a rival ambition, and the two soon become bitter competitors in their race for the action figure. During his search, Howard runs his car into the parked police motorcycle of Officer Hummel, who earlier pulled him over and gave him a ticket. After several failed attempts to find the toy in a store, Howard attempts to buy a Turbo-Man from a Mall of America Santa, who is actually the leader of a band of counterfeit toy makers. When he accuses the Santa of undermining the values of Christmas (having been ripped off and sold a defective toy that falls apart the moment he opened the package), Howard ends up in a brawl with the gang. He narrowly escapes when the police raid their warehouse and gets out by posing as an undercover detective using a toy badge.Later, Howard arrives at Mickey’s Diner and uses their phone to call home. As he tried to get a hold of Liz, he unintentionally scolds Jamie on the phone over Turbo-Man. Jamie, in turn, rebukes his father about how he never keeps his promises, and hangs up. Liz overhears the argument and becomes disappointed in her husband. Howard then encounters Myron at the diner. As they sat down and talk, Myron tells Howard about the time when his father was unable to get him a Johnny Seven OMA toy on Christmas. They hear on the KQRS radio station that there is a trivia competition in which the winner will receive a Turbo-Man doll. They rush to the studio, with Howard breaking the door to the recording booth, under the impression that the DJ has a Turbo-Man doll in the studio. After Myron threatens to blow up the studio with a package he claims is a mail bomb, he and Howard find out that whoever wins the competition will get a doll “eventually.” The package is revealed to be a music box. The police, led by Officer Hummell, arrive in the studio, and Myron bluffs the police into backing off by threatening them with another “mail bomb,” allowing him and Howard to escape. Hummell confidently rips open the package and it explodes, leaving his face covered in soot.After his car is stripped by thieves, Howard is ultimately forced to return home empty-handed. Outside his home, he sees Ted in his house placing the star on his tree. In anger, Howard breaks into Ted’s house and steals the Turbo-Man doll from under his tree. He realizes that he is stealing from a child and changes his mind. He is attacked by Ted’s pet reindeer, accidentally setting one of Ted’s decorations on fire, and kicking it out the window trying to stamp it out, drawing the attention of Ted and Liz. Liz, having had enough, leaves with Jamie, Ted, and his son Johnny to the local Christmas parade; Howard follows, aiming to make amends.At the parade, Ted makes a pass at Liz and she hits him with a thermos of eggnog. Howard witnesses Ted’s actions from a distance, and on his way to confront him, he runs into Officer Hummel, spilling his hot coffee all over him. Howard runs and Hummell chases him, and Howard enters a room where he is mistaken as the replacement actor for Turbo-Man. As the “real” Turbo-Man, he presents the coveted limited-edition Turbo-Man doll to his son. Before he recognizes his father, Jamie is chased by Myron, who has dressed as Turbo-Man’s arch enemy Dementor (having caught, tied up and gagged the real actor). As the crowd assumes this is all part of the show, Howard attempts to rescue his son by utilizing the Turbo-Man suit’s equipment.Howard catches Jamie as he falls from a roof and reveals himself to his son. Officer Hummell gives the doll to Jamie, then asks Howard (as Turbo-Man) to join the police force, saluting him. Howard turns and reveals himself and Hummell is dumbfounded, as Howard apologizes for all the trouble. Myron is arrested while ranting about having to explain his failure to get the Turbo-Man toy for his son. Jamie decides to give the doll to him, telling Howard that he has “the real Turbo-Man at home.” Later, Howard puts the star on the top of his tree and celebrates Christmas with Jamie and Liz. Liz commends Howard for everything he’s done just to make Jamie happy, and then asks Howard what he got her for Christmas. Howard stares in shock at the camera before the fadeout.This film shows the insanity of Christmas. Two parents, who waited untill the last minute to buy a popular gift for their child, spend all of Christmas Eve trying to come up with the toy. They were vicious and violent with each other in their efforts to secure the piece of plastic junk for their little darling. This picture shows just how goofy people act at this time of year. Instead of preparing, most folks wait till it is too late; all in the name of Christmas spirit.  How true of real life. A funny movie on one hand, a tragedy on the other. Look and learn.

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REVIEW: STAR WARS – EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

CAST

Ewan McGregor (Cassandra’s Dream)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Jake Lloyd (Jingle All The Way)
Ian McDiarmid (Margaret)
Pernilla August (Search)
Samuel J. Jakcson (Jackie Brown)
Oliver Ford Davies (Johnny English)
Hugh Quarshie (Highlander)
Ahmed Best (Poolboy)
Anthony Daniels (The Lego Movie)
Kenny Baker (Labyrinth)
Frank Oz (Sesame Street)
Terence Stamp (Superman 1 & 2)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Ray Park (Heroes)
Warwick Davis (Willow)
Celia Imrie (Our Zoo)
Dominic West (300)
Keira Knightley (King Arthur)
Peter Seafinowicz (Spy)
Richard Armitage (The Hobbit)

Supreme Chancellor Valorum, leader of the Galactic Republic, dispatches Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to negotiate with the Trade Federation leadership to end a blockade of battleships around the planet Naboo. Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord and the Trade Federation’s secret adviser, orders Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray to kill the Jedi and invade Naboo with an army of battle droids. The Jedi flee to Naboo, where Qui-Gon saves Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks from being killed during the invasion. Indebted to the Jedi, Jar Jar leads them to an underwater Gungan city. The Jedi try but fail to persuade the Gungan leader, Boss Nass, into helping the people of Naboo, though they are able to obtain transportation to Theed, the capital city on the surface. They rescue Queen Amidala, the ruler of the Naboo people, and escape the planet on her royal starship, which is damaged as they pass the Federation blockade.

Amidala’s ship is unable to sustain its hyperdrive and lands for repairs on the desert planet Tatooine. Qui-Gon, Jar Jar, astromech droid R2-D2, and Amidala (in disguise as a handmaiden) visit the settlement of Mos Espa to buy new parts at a junk shop. There they meet the shop’s owner Watto and his nine-year-old slave Anakin Skywalker, who is a gifted pilot and engineer, and has created a protocol droid called C-3PO. Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force within Anakin and is convinced that he is the “chosen one” of Jedi prophecy who will bring balance to the Force. Qui-Gon wagers Anakin’s freedom with Watto in a Podrace, which Anakin wins. Anakin joins the group to be trained as a Jedi, leaving his mother Shmi behind. En route to their repaired starship, Qui-Gon enters a brief lightsaber duel with Darth Maul, Darth Sidious’ Sith apprentice who was sent to capture Amidala.

The Jedi escort Amidala to the Republic capital planet Coruscant so she can plead her people’s case to Chancellor Valorum in the Galactic Senate. Qui-Gon asks the Jedi Council to train Anakin as a Jedi, but the Council are concerned that Anakin is vulnerable to the dark side of the Force and decline. Undaunted, Qui-Gon vows to train Anakin himself. Meanwhile, Naboo senator Palpatine persuades Amidala to make a vote of no confidence in Valorum to elect a more capable chancellor to resolve the crisis on Naboo. Though she pushes for the vote, Amidala grows frustrated with the corruption in the Senate and decides to return to Naboo with the Jedi.

On Naboo, Padmé reveals herself to the Gungans as Queen Amidala and persuades them into an alliance against the Trade Federation. Jar Jar leads his people in a battle against the droid army while Padmé leads the hunt for Gunray in Theed. In a starship hangar, Anakin enters a vacant starfighter and inadvertently triggers its autopilot, joining the battle against the Federation droid control ship in space. Anakin ventures into the ship and destroys it from within, deactivating the droid army. Meanwhile, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan battle Darth Maul, who mortally wounds Qui-Gon before being bisected by Obi-Wan. As he dies, Qui-Gon asks Obi-Wan to train Anakin. Subsequently, Palpatine is elected as the new Supreme Chancellor and Gunray is arrested. The Jedi Council promotes Obi-Wan to Jedi knighthood and reluctantly accepts Anakin as Obi-Wan’s apprentice. At a festive ceremony, Padmé presents a gift of appreciation and friendship to the Gungans.I always felt it grossly unfair that many Star Wars fans are quick to denounce The Phantom Menace as the worst Star Wars film in the entire saga. I suppose in a certain aspect they are right: in every set of slightly different things, there statistically always has to be a best and a worst one. However “worst” doesn’t necessarily mean terrible. Each Star Wars film is still above and beyond in terms of budget, quality and entertainment, most other sci-fi films out there.  I can summarize that The Phantom Menace serves as a solid opener to one of the greatest sci-fi film series ever made, and does a good job setting the scene and introducing the characters who we’ll be spending a lot of time with and watching them develop over the coming films, while at the same time also serving as a workable and enjoyable film in its own right.