Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Narrated (by Bob Newhart) just as any Christmas tale would be, the tale of Buddy the Elf (Ferrell) is a fantastical one about a little baby who crawls into Santa's sack one Christmas and gets brought back to the North Pole, where he is raised by the elves as one of them. Of course he grows (and quite literally, too) to realize he is not one of them, and at the age of thirty-something is finally sent back to the "real world"-- still in his elf garb, though!-- to find his real father, who is a titan in publishing.
And it is Ferrell's wide-eyed enthusiasm that makes this film truly spectacular and can excite just about any Scrooge for the wonder of the season. He turns simple lines like "I like to whisper, too" and "I just like to smile; smiling's my favorite!" into eager quotables well past the Christmas holiday and into the rest of the year. His play opposite the equally wide-eyed, if somewhat aloof Zooey Deschanel is endearing, as well. Everything from the magical wonderland Buddy creates in the department store, to the giant sugar breakfast he makes for his new family, to the moment where his little brother gets all of Central Park singing to raise Christmas cheer and Santa's sleigh, can warm even the iciest of hearts on a cold winter's night. Elf transcends age groups and puts everyone in the Christmas spirit!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
A Muppet Family Christmas tells the tale of Fozzie and friends going to surprise his mother for the holidays. They arrive on her doorstep just as she is about to leave for Florida, renting the place out to a man and his dog. Instead of going forward with her trip, though, she decides to make room for everyone at her inn, so to speak, and everyone includes not just Kermit, Gonzo, and Rizzo the Rat, but also the entire cast of Sesame Street! This movie is Jim Henson at his finest (and the late, great creator even has a cameo at the end).
Throughout A Muppet Family Christmas, plenty of classic Christmas songs are sung, but so are some new ones (like "Pass It On," when Kermit and his nephew meet the Fraggles and share in their Christmas tradition). The Swedish chef decides he wants to try to cook Big Bird, but just as quickly is won over by the big yellow guy's sweet holiday sentiments. And Miss Piggy has to race to the house in a snowstorm when her photoshoot runs long and she can't make the road trip with the rest of the gang.
Admittedly, though, watching A Muppet Family Christmas today is not the same as back in the eighties because for some reason, the version available on DVD is an edited version that does not include all original songs (it deletes a duet between Fozzie and the Snowman, for example), and it is also lacking the Muppet Babies old home video footage. :( Still, it is twenty times better than having this modern classic lost in the PBS archives forever! If you're a diehard Muppets fan or just a diehard Christmas fan, this is a must see movie of the season!
Friday, November 27, 2009
This year, since I have had most days and nights free leading up to this holiday weekend, I ended up getting a lot of my holiday shopping done earlier than usual, so I know I'll have more time on my hands today/tonight. Therefore, I am starting "Double Feature Fridays" during this 30 Days of Christmas marathon. First up? Tim Allen in The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2!
Eric Lloyd got to live every little kid's dream when Santa Clause fell off his roof and his father (Allen) put on the suit and ultimately "became" the Claus in The Santa Clause. Not only did he get to fly around in the sleigh, delivering presents to other little kids, but he actually got to visit the North Pole, hang out with the elves, and help make Santa more efficient and safe up in the skies. Sure, having your dad be Santa Claus means you only get to see him once a year, but his parents were divorced, and he never really saw his dad anyway.
The film deals with the fine line between believing and just imagining, but ultimately, through the magic of the holiday, it shows that anything is possible. And, of course, it teaches the importance of family, but also the importance of honoring one's responsibilities.
The Santa Clause 2 works as a surprising sequel to a film that came eight years before it-- and never expected to be anything but a stand alone-- because it plays off the mythology of the first film but also of what have always known about St. Nick. Mr. Claus surely needs a Mrs in the most traditional of ways...even though his elves can easily handle filling his sleigh with warm cookies and hot cocoa. Bringing Lloyd back to play the somewhat sullen teenager that many of the fans of the original had grown up to be as well was equally fitting. Once again, though, through the magic of Christmas everything works out for the kid: his father falls for his nemesis (the school principal, played by the underrated-- well, until about two years ago-- Elizabeth Mitchell) and whisks her away to the North Pole.
You can skip the third installment of this film franchise altogether. Nobody wants to think about Santa as being ungrateful (even if he learns a lesson in the end)! Though, if you purchase the 3 movie box set simply because it's more economical, you'll get a nice coaster for your mug of cider, eggnog, or hot cocoa out of that third disc!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
You may say it can't be done. You may say I'm crazy for even attempting-- nay, even wanting to attempt. You may get bored halfway through and give up, but I never will. No, Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of the year. Especially now that I live in Los Angeles and can still spend the "cold" month of December at the beach. I love everything about it-- from the fake-snow covered mall Santa displays to the overpriced gingerbread houses and boxes of candy adorned with red and green ribbons. I love drinking hot chocolate for breakfast and staring at a giant tree (though mine is fake because of how well I can't keep plants alive in my house), on which I notice a new section of memories each day. And I especially love all of the cheesy Christmas movies that come with the season!
And I always have.
Sometimes when I'm feeling particular bored on a hot August weekend, I'll pop in one such holiday film to remind myself that the season of giving is really just around the corner. So needless to say, when I came up with the "challenge" to watch one Christmas movie a day starting on Thanksgiving and leading up to and including Christmas morning itself, I knew it would be a piece of cake. Warm, fresh from the oven, chocolate chip with lots of extra chocolate icing Christmas cake.
My friends raised eyebrows: "How will you find thirty Christmas movies!?" They were skeptical and hesitant, assuming I was setting myself up for failure. Meanwhile, my question was how I'd cut it down to only thirty! I am putting together the Ultimate List (at least to date-- because with the invention of ABC Family Channel we get about half a dozen new ones every year!) of Christmas movies that meant something to me as a child and ones that do (or still do) now. It will be a healthy mix of classics and those more modern. And I'm sure I will have to end up leaving many off the list, simply because society says Christmas festivities must end at the strike of midnight on December 26th. Or maybe if it's going well, and we're all having fun, I'll extend this "experiment" until New Year's-- to keep the hope and joy of the season alive just a little bit longer-- at least as long as I keep up my tree. I've never been one to just blindly follow traditions because those who came before me said I had to, anyway.
My family was never all about baking popcorn balls or wearing matching reindeer sweaters (thankfully!). My mom and I were much more into gift giving (and receiving). We would start the holiday season off early, hitting Hallmark the second they put out their new ornaments for the year, and we would end on Black Friday, finishing our holiday shopping at Bloomingdale's and then walking our way down Fifth Avenue for any straggler stocking stuffers we may need-- a pair of gloves for my teacher that year or boxes of Godiva for the guys in her mailroom.
Nowadays, I use Black Friday-- or rather the day before, which most will traditionally refer to as Thanksgiving, but which I do as Christmas Kickoff! On that third Thursday of November I put up my tree (though this year I found I had to fight myself to wait even that long!), and I begin my annual marathon of classic holiday films with everyone's favorite: Home Alone.
Can you believe it's almost twenty years since that film was released, by the way? That means I have had this tradition for almost as long...oh boy! Anyway, I digress.
When I was a kid, the magic of Home Alone was in what Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) was able to accomplish on his own. I was younger than his character when the film was first released, and watching him rig his house full of booby traps to catch the bad guys was almost inspirational. I found myself digging through my Playskool toy bins after returning home from the theater to see if I, too, could pull something like that off if situation called for it. Plus, Culkin was pretty cute to my elementary-school aged self!
Home Alone spoke to the part of me that was rushing to grow up too soon and just wanted to spend Christmas away from the crazies in my family so I could do it "my way." It featured all of the family Christmas traditions (decorating the tree, ice skating, attending mass-- for those who grew up Catholic, anyway) but without the big, loud, and as we learned from the opening scenes, obnoxious meddlers.
But the film has heart and a message, which is what every one of these films needs to be watched and re-watched year after year instead of just pushed aside like a gimmicky, dated pop fad. Though Culkin truly carried the film, Catherine O'Hara's touching and surprisingly dramatic role as his guilt-ridden mother steals scenes left and right-- whether she's stealing pay phones from French airport travelers or bonding over polka and bad parent stories with the late and great John Candy in the back of a truck.
Home Alone really is the quintessential holiday movie! And for an added laugh, watch it when it airs censored for television. The ADR replacement of "growing on my...butt" is pretty awesome in and of itself!
It's only day one of my 30 Days of Christmas, but "do you guys give up, or are you thirsty for more!?" Grab your hot cocoa-- and maybe a sugar cookie or strand of popcorn-- and sit back, because you're in for one bumpy sleighride!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Last year Madison had an ornament that looked just like him (Hallmark's annual Puppy Love), but this year he finally has one with his name on it!!
Monday, November 23, 2009
THESE ARE THE UNEDITED PHOTOS.
All photos (C) ...TBD Productions/Danielle Turchiano 2009. No reproductions or reprinting without written permission.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
IBG Inc officially became a 501c3 of our own this year, so I want to encourage all of you to please visit our website and consider donating a small amount (we know times are tough, but really no amount is too small) so that we can continue to throw great events like this one for other very deserving shows and charities! Also feel free to check back there for information on our upcoming wave of auctions; all of today's panelists signed some memorabilia for IBG to auction off on eBay (as always, proceeds will be going to charity).
IBG all together and being professional...
Friday, November 13, 2009
Joel McHale may be one of the funniest men on television today, but he’s eager to pass the title to everyone else in his ensemble of Community before taking credit himself for the success of the show.
“I think the scripts for the show are the sort of the strongest scripts on television…if we just get the scripts, and they’re amazing, but on top of that, the Russo Brothers love improvisation, so it’s like the best of both worlds, and that’s why you do get dynamite performances out of Ken. Because he can do the page or he can improvise; he can do it all.” A very un-Jeff Winger thing to say, McHale!
Sitting down with McHale and scene stealer Ken Jeong (Senor Chang) for a conference call this past week, the actors were cracking jokes left and right, and often at each other’s expense, but they did have a few serious things to say about the show, it’s intent, and their upcoming episode, “Environmental Science.”
“It’s about the characters and not in any way making fun of an actual community college other than just the general education,” McHale explained, after admitting that prior to the show airing, some were skeptical. “They said ‘those bastards are going to make fun of us!’” McHale noted, putting on a typical “tough guy” voice. So how is it for the two men who play, on paper, characters who are completely unlikable, and at times, unredeemable?
“Well, I think Senor Chang is the only likable character!” Jeong joked. “I’m really shocked…I really thought I’m the good guy and everyone around me is the bad guy but whatever!”
“Your character berates people,” McHale got in on the fun.
“Really? But if you saw the context—“
“The context!? …You’re inappropriately touching most of the women in your scenes, and then with the guys, you just insult their weaknesses!”
“But first of all, if I can address the female complaint: that was affectionate. And second of all, to address the male complaint: I don’t care—because I only care what the women think. So…I hope that clears it up!” Jeong announced, clearly expecting such a question.
In all seriousness, though, McHale believes that if Jeff Winger were a real, live person walking around the streets of Los Angeles (or wherever), he would in fact be pretty likable because he’d just “turn on his charm.”
“He came in pretty selfish, but you see in this study group, he’s slowly unraveling—or they’re slowly unraveling it out of him, which is a hard thing for him. But slowly he’s turning.”
McHale admitted that his character’s growth was “glacially slow,” in part due to the kind of character Jeff Winger the lawyer had to be for so many years. It just wouldn’t be believable for him to have an overnight epiphany—though his fellow students (or namely Britta (Gillian Jacobs)) are trying to get him to.
“Starting over again, how would anyone not have some sort of baggage?” Jeong pontificated. “To me, it’s very real, and I would think of these characters not as unlikable but they’re all meeting at certain points in their lives—or maybe certain events have happened to them—that causes them to behave in bad ways.”
In fact, both men feel that Chang’s behavior will be justified and understood once the audience finally gets to see his back-story explained in the upcoming episode. If there is one complaint about the show so far, it is that the comedy comes out of the situations the characters are thrown in, instead of through who the people are. But that is mostly because we still don’t yet know a whole lot about the characters. Come this Thursday, that is promised to be rectified, though!
The next episode of Community (“Environmental Science”) will have Jeff and Senor Chang finally embarking upon the friendship that has been gradually seeded in past episodes. Neither actor finds such a relationship (blurring the line between student and teacher) all that unlikely or inappropriate (though, what on this show is one hundred percent, completely appropriate!?) either.
“Due to my own back-story, you really get to see layers behind it [the friendship]. Joel’s character is really the only guy who really unravels it and gets me, and it’s like “Wow.” Throughout the episode we develop a nice little report,” Jeong teased.
“The only problem was the cigar smoke!” McHale couldn’t help speaking up and taking the nice moment down a peg, ala his alter ego. “I stopped at one point because there was no sort of performance happening. I had entered some sort of spirit world!”
If you’re a fan of Community and have been paying attention thus far this season, though, you have to wonder just what Jeff’s real motivation behind becoming so buddy-buddy with his hapless Spanish professor is! Find out what it is (and learn what exactly the problem with the cigar smoke was) by watching this week’s episode airing Thursday, November 19 at 8 p.m. on NBC.