Bad Santa: Santa Claus Is Drunk Driving To Town.

‘Bad Santa’ is a Christmas Black Comedy film revolving around Willie, (Billy Bob Thornton), a depressed alcoholic, who stopped giving a damn about anything a long time ago; every year him and, his friend Marcus, (Tony Cox), poses as a Santa and, Elf duo all in the effort to rob blind the mall they’re working at that year.

‘Bad Santa’ is the perfect film for people who don’t like Christmas, I know that term is thrown around a lot, but it is really true here; Willie is the embodiment of everyone who have ever given up on life and, simply said F it. Thornton plays the role with real charm too, never does his performance become grating or, annoying instead Willie is very likeable and, as the film goes along and, you learn more about him you root for him even more. There is also a sad vulnerability to Willie and, Thornton manages to capture this perfectly as you can see on a deep level how damaged he is and, this helps us the audience empathise with him.

Another thing this film does really well is forging relationships and, then making you care about them. Willie and, Marcus are a good example of this they argue a lot and, Marcus even betrays Willie at one point, but you know deep down they are family; the second film even says as much. The banter between Thornton and Cox is also incredibly strong making for a lot of great laughs and memorable scenes.
The real heart of this film is the relationship between Willie and, a little boy called Thurman, (Brett Kelly), who meets “Santa” at the mall and, takes a shine to him letting him come and stay at his house. The reason this relationship is so endearing is that you can see over time Willie grow to care about Thurman, even going so far as to basically adopt him in the second film, and it suggests that there might still be hope for Willie to find happiness after all which gives the audience a warm feeling inside.

Overall this film succeeds in every respect, it is funny and, the humour never falls flat, it has real heart, the relationship between Willie and Thurman especially in the film’s third act can’t help but, bring a tear to your eye and, as a Christmas film as this film more than any others made me feel festive; reminding me of the reason for the season.

Thornton is Excellent.
The Humor Is Fantastic.
The Relationship between Willie and, Thurman is endearing.
It succeeds as an Anti-Christmas film.
The Humor might be a little blue for some.


Reviewed by Luke

The Two Popes: A Look Behind The Curtain

‘The Two Popes’ is a biographical drama film detailing the end of Pope Benedict XVI time as Pope and the rise of Pope Francis. The film looks at the relationship and, to an extent friendship between these two men, showing how even though they had strong disagreements, Benedict was far more conservative in his approach than Pope Francis; they found common ground and, a common respect for one another.

I was worried when I watched this film that it might be preachy or, have a message or, agenda that it tried to force down the viewer’s throat, I am pleased to report that this film can be enjoyed by anyone no matter your religion. As it is an acting masterclass and, each piece of dialogue is delivered with such relish that you can’t help but love it. Extensively this film is made by the performances of Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict and, Jonathan Price as Pope Francis, it is a joy to see these two veterans acting on screen they are both giving it their all and, it is a marvellous thing to watch.

This film is not afraid to get dark, at times it covers some very serious subject matter such as the child sex abuse within the Church as well as Pope Francis’ past in Argentina. These sections are brief but incredibly powerful they leave an impact on you and, make you think; I applaud this approach as it gives the film a heft to it that helps to define it beyond simply a film about the Papacy.

My one issue with the film is that it feels as though it could have been made shorter and, that it could have benefited from a harsher edit. By this, I mean that some sequences in the film do end up overstaying their welcome, the flashbacks to Pope Francis’ past are a prime example, as a result of this they lose some of their impact as instead of feeling thoughtfully considered they instead feel as though the filmmakers are trying to pad out the films’ runtime. This a shame as most of the film feels very tight and, most scenes have meaning.

Overall this is very interesting and, I learnt things I wasn’t previously aware of, Hopkins and Price both do a fantastic job in their respective roles and, I think it was a brave move for the film to have darker subject matter but, I am really glad they did. This could have been great if the pacing was a bit better and, every scene felt necessary.

Sharp Dialogue.
Great Performances.
Darker Themes.

Pacing Issues.


Reviewed by Luke

The Princess Switch: The Hudissance Begins!

The Princess Switch is a Christmas romantic comedy film serving as part of the wider Netflix shared universe existing with the likes of ‘A Christmas Prince’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘The Knight Before Christmas. The plot of the film revolves around Stacy DeNovo, (Vanessa Hudgens), a young baker, who is invited to take part in a baking competition oversees, while there she crosses paths with The Dutchess of Montenaro, also played by Hudgens, and, the Dutchess seeing Stacy as a way to escape her royal responsibilities, talks her into switching lives.

As you can probably guess this film is chocked full with over the top romantic melodrama, the Dutchess is supposed to marry Prince Edward, (Sam Palladio), but she doesn’t really love him. Stacy hasn’t allowed herself to fall in love, after a personal tragedy, which is almost beat for beat the same as her other film, ‘The Knight Before Christmas’ although the reason is slightly different. Stacy is also oblivious to the fact that her fellow baker Kevin, (Kevin Richards) is in love with her; spoiler she doesn’t love him back. Can you guess what the resolution to all this drama is? Yes, Stacy, the baker ends up falling in love with the Prince and, marries him, with the weird if you still feel this way in a year rule from ‘A Christmas Prince’ coming back. The Dutchess, on the other hand, gives up the royal lifestyle and, falls in love with Kevin.

There will be plenty of people out there who will tell you that these films are trash and, to an extent they’re right but, the reason why I like them, this one especially, is because they throw any kind of logic out of the window and, random things happen and, you have to go with it. It is like a beautiful disaster you know you should look away but you can’t.

I truly believe that Vanessa Hudgens is in the midst of a career renaissance this and, ‘The Knight Before Christmas’ could both be so bad but, her performance saves both. She is lovable and, warm and easy to root for she places the every-woman incredibly well. What’s more she is convincing as both Stacy and, the Dutchess so much so that after a while you forget that both are Hudgens; you see them as entirely different characters. She is the heart a soul of these films.

Overall this film is more fun than it has any right to be, a great performance by Vanessa Hudgens and, throwing logic out of the window make this film surprisingly good.

The Ridiculousness
Vanessa Hudgens
The Wider Shared Universe

It is drunk or, hungover trash viewing, but you knew that


Reviewed by Luke

The Ring: Remaking The Japanese Classic

‘The Ring’ is a supernatural horror film serving as a western retelling of the J Horror masterpiece Ringu. The film stars Naomi Watts as Rachel Keller, a journalist who investigates a killer videotape that supposedly kills you in seven days; the more she dives into the mystery surrounding this tape the more she learns of the ungodly activities that made it in the first place.

Before we get started, I just want to say that I didn’t find this film scary. No, it isn’t because I think the horror elements are weak rather that when I was young, I use to watch the hell out of the ‘Scary Movie’ films and, the third film serves as a parody of this film and, I can’t unassociate the two in my head; I can’t think of one without thinking of the other, so it isn’t scary for me.

There will be a group of people who won’t like this film, not because of its quality, but because they see this after yet another remake of a foreign language horror film and, that we don’t need this film when we have the fantastic Japanese original that we can all watch. To that, I would say both are good, the original the better but, this film still has great moments.

The horror elements are strong, I especially love the inescapable capture of the curse itself; even at the end of the film when Rachel thinks she’s beaten it, she hasn’t. Thus the futility of the characters’ struggles makes this film far more interesting to me.
Moreover, the mystery aspects of the film are also surprisingly strong, you come for the creepy ghost girl scares, you stay for the gripping mystery behind the tape that leaves you with more questions than answers.

The actors all do a serviceable job but, their characters are left weak and, underdeveloped; they fall prey to what is extensively the crux of the horror genre, the decision to either focus on the characters who are being scared or, the scares themselves. A lot of horror films this one included decide to focus more on the monster, to establish them, this can lead to some incredibly memorable villains: but the heroes are usually left flat. ‘Sinister’ a film that is quite similar to this is a great example of what I’m talking about: the film spends a lot of time telling you about Bughull and, his mythology but, then tells us very little about Ethan Hawke’s protagonist aside from a few details about his family and, that he is a true-crime writer.

Overall this is a very good western adaption of a Japanese classic, the scares and, mythology are fantastic and, add many extra layers of detail to the film. The one fault is that the protagonists who you’re supposed to root for are as blank as a piece of paper.

Good Scares
Good Mythology
Well Adapted

Focusing on the scares and the monster to the detriment of the hero.


Reviewed by Luke

A Christmas Prince, The Royal Baby: A Scroll, A Curse And, Two Families

‘A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby’ is a Christmas romantic comedy as well as the third instalment in the franchise and, as you can guess centres around the birth of now, Queen Amber, (Rose Mciver) and King Richard, (Ben Lamb) first child. The plot this time around seems to go in the complete opposite direction to the last entry, serious and lacking in whimsy, being once again over the top and, ridiculous much like the first film; hell not to spoil anything but, ghosts and a curse play a part in the plot this time around.

I think this third instalment is a return to form for the franchise, going back to its trashy over the top roots, and I think the film as a whole benefits from this; there are not multiple subplots that are all boring and, trying to take away from the main narrative in one way or, another, everything is relatively straight forward this time around.

*There is one subplot about Melissa, (Tahirah Sharif), Amber’s best friend who has been a background character, thankfully, for most of the series thus far, questioning her relationship with Simon, (Theo Devaney), Richards’ cousin. Simon has quietly become my favourite character in the series over time, but he works well in small doses both the first and second film seemed to understand that but, this film gives both he and Melissa far too much screen time. I have never cared for Ambers’ friends in these films they’re forgettable and, throwaway so to see Melissa get a subplot of her own made me groan. All of these scenes drag on and, on and feel like the film trying to buy itself time; what makes it worse is the acting and, the plotline itself could and, have been done better in a soap opera.

I think the film greatly benefits from suddenly remembering what it is, a trashy, made for TV movie people might watch when they’re drunk. By throwing any sense of seriousness or, sense out of the window it allows the film to be what it once was again, fun. The idea that if they don’t find the missing scroll by midnight Richard and, Ambers’ baby might be cursed is wonderfully silly and, daft. I appreciate and, applaud this film for not taking itself too seriously, as that was my issue with the second film.

Overall I think this should be the last entry in the ‘A Christmas Prince’ franchise as I don’t see where they can take it from here. This film is a high note for the series being just as good as the first film and, being made that much better by embracing the wackiness and, not taking itself too seriously; definitely good drunk viewing.


Reviewed by Luke

Christmas With The Kranks: A Neighborhood Obsessed.

Christmas With The Kranks is a Christmas comedy film, the plot follows Luther,( Tim Allen) and Nora Krank, (Jamie Lee Curtis), as a couple who decide to skip Christmas and, go on a tropical getaway instead; this runs them afoul of a lot of people in their neighborhood who try and, get them to change their mind.

Narratively this film is a mess it makes absolutely no sense what so ever, whenever the film seems to be going one way it goes the other, almost as though it is trying to be perplexing; this means you can’t invest in the characters or, anything that is going on as you don’t understand and, therefore don’t care.

The characters and, their motivations range from strange to downright bizarre an example of this would be Dan Aykroyd’s character, Vic. Vic seems to have something about Christmas he is obsessed with it he wants Luther and, Nora to celebrate it so much he breaks several laws trying to force them into it. If this is supposed to be funny, it doesn’t come across that way; it is more like creepy and unsettling.

However, it wasn’t only Aykroyd’s character that is done a disservice here, most of the characters are intensely dislikable and, I get it this film is the mean spirited sort of Christmas comedy, but even still these are just the worst sort of people, self-obsessed, no regard for others, trying to enforce their personal world view onto other people and, worst of all our protagonists fall into these sort of character traits as well; making them very hard to root for.

As I said before this film is mean spirited through and through if you view it through the lens of what does it say about Christmas? Does it have a nice message? Then this film stands out drastically from a lot of the more wholesome fare, a lot of the film suggests the most important thing in the world is doing what you want, other people be damned. However, in the film’s third act it does try and, cram in that wholesome festive message, but the issue is that the rest of the film is so tonally opposite to this that the final Christmas message almost feels like a bad joke; cheap and meaningless.

Overall this film doesn’t make me feel any Christmas cheer if anything it makes me question the meaning of the season. Jamie Lee Curtis is trying her best but, not even she can save this mess of a film. This goes to show that the bar for holiday entertainment is set perilously low.


Reviewed by Luke

A Bad Moms Christmas: Mums Taking Back Christmas!

‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ is a Christmas comedy film and, a sequel to the 2016 film ‘Bad Moms’, there are two twists this time around firstly that it is set at Christmas and, secondly the mums of the leading trio show up for said holiday.

I thought the first ‘Bad Moms’ film was an interesting idea to make a film like The Hangover, or Old School, but about Mums; who break bad, there is a mine of comedic potential there waiting to be tapped. While I never thought the first film reached any lofty heights of excellence, it was watchable and, entertaining. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and, Kathryn Hahn all gave good performances and were quite funny; all was well.

I would say pretty much the same thing for this sequel it is very watchable and, entertaining, basically more of the same, simply this time around set at Christmas. The angle the film takes for explaining why it is set at Christmas is interesting: basically, it says that Christmas is the busiest day of the year for mums and, that they are sick of the thankless chore that it has become. This film does use the mums at Christmas jokes for all they’re worth, but they never become unfunny.

However the same can’t be said for the mother-daughter jokes, as I said before each of the leading ladies mums show up for Christmas for Hahn’s Carla this takes the form of free spirit Isis, (Susan Sarandon), for Bell’s Kiki it’s the overly needy Sandy, (Cheryl Hines), and for Kunis’ Amy, it comes in the form of the perfectionist Ruth, (Christine Baranski). Each mother and, daughter pair are woefully mismatched and, that is the comedy; this would be funny if it was for maybe half an hour but, it’s not it’s the entire film. The joke of oh isn’t Sandy a Stalker or, isn’t Isis a carefree hippy type, get used up very early on and, become stale fast.

Sadly as a result of this good things like character development and, the sweet relationship between Carla and, a male stripper named Ty, (Justin Hartley), are under nurtured. This is a shame as it would have been these things that would not only have made this film better but, also to give more meaning to the franchise as a whole.

Overall it is very much more of the same, if you liked the first film you will most likely like this; the only new addition is the older mums. It is sad to see this film squander the potential it had just so it could have a few more of the same jokes it had already said before.


Reviewed by Luke

Deck The Halls: A Character Study Into One Of The Most Unlikable Characters In Cinema

‘Deck the Halls’ is a Christmas Comedy film about two neighbors who come into conflict over one of them having the goal to have so many Christmas lights on his house that it will be visible from space. A series of pranks and, hijinks ensue that escalates over time until the point both men lose everything; they then form an uneasy friendship.

Those 5 lines are the entire plot of this film. I don’t know if I have seen too many Christmas films at this point, or if this one is just incredibly generic, but I genuinely can’t tell this film apart from a slew of other Christmas films and, just comedy films in general, that have this same exact plot; but actually do something memorable with it.

The only memorable thing about this film is that never before in all my life have I ever hated the main character, that you are supposed to root for, more. Steve Finch, (Matthew Broderick), who’s name I never knew at any point during the film and, didn’t care to learn, is the most annoying, obsessive kill joy I have ever seen; it seems as though no one can have fun unless it suits him and, he can be involved. He involves himself in other peoples business religiously and, is thoroughly unlikable.

His warring rival is Buddy Hall, (Danny Devito), it is him that wants his house visible from space: because that would give his life meaning I guess. Buddy is a charismatic car salesman who can sell anyone on anything and, always gets what he wants. I would assume both men are supposed to be dicks at the start of the film, as this would allow them to grow into better people by the end, but the level of dickery is not equal. Yes, Devito’s Hall might have his nastier moments but, compared to the black hole of fun that is Broderick’s Steve Finch he is basically Santa Claus.

That was a major issue I had with the film, in many scenes where you’re are supposed to root for Finch and, hope he wins against Hall you don’t, Hall is so much easier to root for. Devito actually manages to make the audience smile a few times in this dumpster fire, unlike Broderick who has all the charm of a brick. If roles were reversed and, Devito’s Hall was the main protagonist we were all rooting for then the roles would be much better suited.

Overall this is a godawful Christmas film and, one that doesn’t age well either. Definitely keep away from this over the Christmas period, even the Internets sweetheart Danny Devito can’t save this. If it was a choice between catching a showing of this or, catching the plague I would probably pick the plague.

1/5 (Only Because Of For Devito)

Reviewed by Luke

The Last Exorcism: A Preacher Heads Down To Louisiana

‘The Last Exorcism’ is a found footage supernatural horror film about Preacher Cotton Marcus, (Patrick Fabian), a man who has lost his faith in exorcism after reading about how a young boy lost his life during one, as a result of this Cotton tries to make a documentary film exposing the practice for the sham he believes it to be. While doing this Cotton meets Nell, (Ashley Bell), a young woman who believes she is possessed by the Devil.

‘The Last Exorcism’ is special, in a sea of possession film each more alike than the next this film stands out and, it is not just because it has a unique gimmick in its documentary-style as this was during the found footage craze, no no the thing that makes this film so good is that for a good 85% of the film you don’t know whether Nell actually is possessed or if she has been the victim of abuse and, as a result, is mentally unwell.

The horror sequences in the film are incredibly strong, Horror Master Eli Roth was heavily involved with the making of this film and, it is clear to see. However, this film does not suffer from Roth’s, often criticised, overuse of gore; instead, it builds its scares through character and, the atmosphere.

Said characters are well done mainly Cotton, Nell and, Nell’s father Louis, (Louis Herthum), are the ones I would single out for praise. Fabian makes for an excellent preacher as well as a conman he also delivers a masterful performance in the film’s third act when his faith is proven to be true; he makes for a thought-provoking lead. Bell does incredibly well in her portrayal of Nell capturing her childlike innocence but, also being a believable physical threat in the possession sequences being not only creepy but, menacing as well; which makes for a nice duality.
Herthum’s praise comes as a result of a sequence when he pursues Cotton and, co around the farm with a gun this one sequence is more tense and, nervewracking then all the possession scenes that follow; which isn’t to say they aren’t scary as well.

The ending of the film as well also helps to add a nice sense of hopelessness to the film, suggesting the idea that no matter what Cotton did it was always going to end the same way; which personally I greatly enjoyed.

Overall this is an underrated horror gem, often discounted by people thinking, “oh this is just another possession film”, but if you watch this film and, give it a chance you will see that it is one of the finest horror films of recent memory.


Reviewed by Luke

Fred Claus: A Tale Of Two Brothers

‘Fred Claus’ is a fantasy comedy-adventure film about the older Brother of Santa Claus Fred, (Vince Vaughn), naturally, as someone who grew up in the shadow of an older sibling could tell you this lead to Fred having a strained relationship with his brother as well as the season he represents. Then one day after a series of bad events for Fred, he is forced to go to the North Pole to see his brother; and in a twist, no one could see coming save Christmas.

Now I want to get this out of the way here; this film does feature Kevin Spacey, he is not featured prominently, but he does appear mainly to act as a villain of sorts. His involvement does tarnish the enjoyability of this film; it has to be said.

That said on to more happy topics, the performances of Fred and Nicholas AKA Santa Claus, (Paul Giamatti), are both very good. Giamatti’s Nicholas gives off the sense that he wants to make everyone in the world happy but, he doesn’t realise when this want actually makes other people unhappy, this social blindness in a sense, really helps to humanise Santa Claus, who is by most accounts an all-round perfect being.

What’s More, Fred comes across as an annoying dick but, he is supposed to be, and as the film goes on and, you get to see more and more inside this head; you realise that he is a deeply sad individual, he is someone who has realised very early on that they are never going to measure up and, because of this has stopped trying to. The more we see Fred grow as a person, the more we as an audience care about him.

Another feather in this film’s cap is how well it captures and, depicts the relationship between brothers. They fight, they even hate each other at times, but deep down no matter what they love each other and, are always going to be there for one another. This is reflected extremely well at the moment when the two brothers make up and, Fred takes up the mantle of Santa Claus for the night and, the brothers share a scene, the emotion is spot on.

My one big issue with ‘Fred Claus’ other than the one mentioned before is that it wastes it supporting cast, said cast has talented actors like Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks and, Kathy Bates amongst its ranks but, it gives them precious little to do other than drive a few subplots; which to me feels like a waste.

Overall all this film has heart, it captures the familial feeling between brothers very well and, what is more, important than family on Christmas? The wasted cast let this film down a ways but, it is still worth a watch.


Reviewed by Luke