The Spirit Of Christmas: Ghost Sex For Twelve Nights A Year

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Kate, played by Jen Lilley, is a workaholic who is tasked with prepping an inn for sale during the holidays, little does she know it is haunted.

There is some charm here let it not be said there isn’t, however, the cliches and the laughably dumb plot really hold it back.

So yes the lead falls in love with the ghost, played by Thomas Beaudoin,  that is the plot of the film, but wait is he even a ghost? The film says yes but then he becomes human for twelve days a year or something because he is cursed… None of it makes sense.

Moreover, though the film wants us to celebrate the love between the lead and the ghost we really shouldn’t be, the ghost has or rather had a wife which the film is totally fine with him abandoning for his new girlfriend. The morals are all over the place and it gives the film and iffy taste to it that takes away from some of the charm.

Despite all of this this film is charming and the romance does feel genuine and warm which allows the film to have something good to cling to.

Overall, a subpar Christmas rom-com with a plot that makes no sense and a charming romance that is overshadowed by troublesome morals.

Pros.

The leads are both serviceable

The romance feels genuine

Cons

Troublesome morals

A silly plot

Pacing issues

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Robin Robin: Whilst You Sleep At Night Mice Steal Your Food

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young robin called Robin, voiced by Bronte Carmichael, is taken in by a family of mice, but must then find out who she is after she realises she doesn’t make for a very good mouse.

My track record with Aardman Animation is mixed, I liked Wallace and Gromit and thought Early Man was okay, but I really didn’t like Chicken Run. So when it came to watching this I was mixed, however I have to say this is easily the best Aardman feature to date and if this is any indication for what they are going to produce through their collaboration with Netflix then I am very on board for what is to come.

I thought the film was sweet and really sold its message of being yourself and being proud of who you are well. I enjoyed all the characters and thought each had their moments to shine over the features run time. I thought the pace was well decided as well, as by keeping it short it allowed the film to have a real momentum that lead to it be constantly engaging and never boring.

Finally, there is a musical element to this film which could be hit or miss for people, for me I thought it worked and I enjoyed almost all of the songs, bar the final proper one during the third act, but for the most part I thought the songs added to the film’s charm.

Overall, a lovely little animated Christmas film.

Pros.

It is sweet

It is well paced

It has fun characters

The songs work well

Cons.

The third act could use work as it is a little played out  

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8 Bit Christmas: Do You Remember The Eighties:Of Course You Do

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A child, played by Winslow Fegley, must overcome a sea of obstacles to get a Nintendo games console for Christmas.

This film took eighties nostalgia, which is already quite a tapped out well, and went too far with it. Though I enjoyed the sentiment of the film and thought a lot of its messages were good, I thought the film leant far too heavily into eighties nostalgia and showed us all the things we have seen before, and all too recently at that.

I could never hate this film as it features Neil Patrick Harris in a leading role. Harris is as terrific as always and manages to get a number of good jokes here. I particularly enjoyed the film’s final scene which I thought really hammered home the emotional message of the film, I thought during this scene Harris did a magnificent job of selling the emotion of the scene and turning something that could have felt quite overly sentimental into just poignant enough to resonate.

The laughs were quite sparse for me, like I said Harris has a few funny lines but outside of that the film is quite lacking with most of the jokes not landing. I found a lot of the side characters to be quite annoying and the video game violence subplot to be not only annoying but deeply caricature like of everyone involved, it was silly to include if they had nothing meaningful to say on it.

Overall, a very meh Christmas film that manages to sneak past average thanks to Neil Patrick Harris and a powerful emotional ending.

Pros.

Harris

The ending

A few funny jokes

Cons.

Annoying side characters

Far too reliant on eighties nostalgia  

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The Princess Switch 3: Vanessa Hudgens Is A TALENT

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Vanessa Hudgens is back switching places with people who look exactly like her again, this time it is because an expensive Christ ornament is stolen.

I unironically like these films, yes I know many think they are trashy and they certainly won’t win any awards for their plot or their characters any time soon, but there is just something so happy and fun about them that I will watch them every year as soon as they come out.

Hudgens does a good job of playing three separate characters and giving each their own moments and character traits so they can feel different and important narratively. I think this film is a little Fiona heavy, she was the character introduced in the last film and is the bad cousin, however I am not complaining really as Fiona is probably the most fun out of the three. It is clear that Hudgens is having a lot of fun here and it is very infectious.

The silliness of the plot and the surely known cheapness only serves to make the film more endearing and likeable as you can’t help but laugh at how dumb it all is. Certainly this isn’t one that you need to pay attention to and can just space out whilst watching, but again that not a bad thing here.

Overall, the film is a lot of fun and if like me you enjoyed the previous Switches then you will most likely like this one too.

Pros.

Hudgens

The dumb fun

The feel good ending

How needlessly over the top it is

Cons.

Hudgens other two characters, who aren’t Fiona, could have done with a bit more

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Pottersville: Furies Taking Over Small Town America, Who Can You Trust

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A drunk man, played by Michael Shannon, accidentally convinces his townsfolk of the existence of Bigfoot after a drunken stumble through the woods.

There wasn’t very much to this film. In truth it was nothing I hadn’t seen done better before, with almost everything being deeply played out and predictable. There was not a single moment in this film that took me by surprise.

However, that is not always a bad thing and sometimes there is a comfort in a familiar narrative where you know everything that is going to happen and to an extent that is true here. This film is watchable and none of the characters are particularly offensive in any way allowing you to playfully switch off whilst watching this as it requires nothing from you.

I liked Ian McShane’s drunk old hunter character I thought he was easily the funniest character of the piece and the only one I cared about. Though I did also like seeing Ron Pearlman in a role where he was having a laugh at his own expense and wasn’t taking himself too seriously.

To me the ending was a bit sickly sweet and I didn’t care for that at all if anything I found it to be very false and feel forced.

Overall, a deeply average film but one that is fine to watch if you have nothing better to do.

Pros.

Ian McShane

Ron Pearlman

The tease of a real Big Foot at the end

Cons.

There are no surprises

It is deeply generic

It isn’t funny

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Home Sweet Home Alone: Better Than You Are Expecting

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A child, played by Archie Yates, is left home alone and must fend off against perceived burglars, played by Ellie Kemper and Rob Delaney.

I went into this one expecting the worst and was more than a little bit pleasantly surprised by what I got out of it.

I enjoyed Archie Yates, I though he played the role well and was funny. Likewise I enjoyed that this film gave the burglars a backstory, made them human, and made us like them. I thought this film was far more feel good than the original and I liked the ending where everyone just talked it out.

However, due to the fact that we like the burglars and we know that the whole thing this time around is just a big misunderstanding makes it hard to enjoy the traps. A big part of what makes a Home Alone film is watching the baddies get torn apart by the leads traps, however, here because we like them this is less pleasurable viewing and instead just makes the lead look like a brat. There really are no villains here and the conflict itself is entirely avoidable, a conversation would have defused it.

That said I won’t go so far as to say this film is better than the original but it certainly is as good. I really enjoyed this film’s sense of humour and it made me laugh a number of times throughout. Moreover, I like that it referenced the original films and teased us with the return of Kevin, McCauley Culkin.

Overall, a strong hit for Disney + that might be a bit too sweet for some.

Pros.

The humour

The baddies

Archie Yates

The ending

Cons.

The traps are less enjoyable because we like the characters they are hurting    

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Father Christmas Is Back: Daddy Issues At 40

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of posh people come together to celebrate Christmas, however an unexpected guest throws things out of whack and causes emotions to fly.

I thought this film was good, for the first hour and a half and then it didn’t know when to end. Indeed, the first hour of this film is quite good, everyone is funny a lot of the jokes land, the actors have good chemistry and it doesn’t feel too overly semimetal. However, then the ending happens.

The final act of the film goes out of its way to redeem Kelsey Grammar’s absentee father character, having him basically be a saint and having left as he was a victim of infidelity. He even saves the day at the end of the film if that isn’t enough for you. I think the moral ground that this film takes in this regard is shaky and falls apart the more you think about it. Moreover, the finale just feels bloated so whilst it is doing all of this grandstanding you just want it to end.

Overall, one of Netflix’s better Christmas films for sure, but not one without its own share of issues.

Pros.

John Cleese

It is funny

Two thirds of it are very good

Cons.

The moralising

The ending and its bloat  

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Love Hard: Make Better Films Netflix It Is Getting Embarrassing

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young woman, Nina Dobrev falls in love online only to later realise she has been catfished, the catfisher promises to set her and this guy up if she pretends to be his girlfriend during the holidays.

When I saw from the makers of Holidate I knew this was going to be bad, much like the previously mentioned film this again has a bad message and iffy morals.  By making Jimmy O. Lang’s catfishing character in any way redeemable this film almost feels like it is saying his behaviour is okay, it is not just in case you were wondering. I wish romantic comedies would stop pushing these icky narratives and toxic messages it’s time to move on, catfishing someone is not a valid or acceptable way to try and get a relationship.

Moreover, every line in this film is cringe. By that I mean the film thinks it is so cool and trendy in a lot of the things it says, sometimes directly towards the audience, but it is not. Best case it is saying supposed insightful points that other films have spouted before or at worst it feels like an out of touch executive trying to be down with the kids and failing horribly.

Overall, this is why people think Netflix films are usually trash because they put out far too much content like this.

Pros.

Nina Dobrev is trying

Cons.

The writing is stilted

It is horribly cringe

The romance feels forced

The premise is deeply flawed

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Christmas Inheritance: The Big City Will Turn You Evil

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Highflying CEO to be Ellen, Eliza Taylor, must go and deliver a letter to her uncle in small town America in order to complete her training and take over from her father. Naturally going to this town forces her to see how morally corrupt big city life is and how she has had the wrong priorities all her life.

And so we begin, it is quickly becoming the time of the year where I review Christmas films- the good, the bad and the overly moralistic. This film is somewhere between those latter two, as it preaches the values of ‘real America’, and suggests that modern big city living is evil and causes people to lose touch with their humanity. This is nothing new from these type of Christmas films, and this plot has been recycled over and over again.

The romance here, as they always have to have the big city woman ditch her current boyfriend and find love in the small town, is poorly done. The trope as a whole is not helpful, and here it is particularly unbelievable as the characters have no chemistry so their whirlwind romance feels blatantly fake.

The only reason this film isn’t getting lower is because of Eliza Taylor. Taylor is clearly trying her best to give this role some personality and warmth and that shows, sadly what she is given to work with boxes her in and leaves her with nothing to work with. However, she still manages to be charming.

Overall, yet another samey, questionable Christmas film. Is small town America really this magical, or is this over romanticised  in the extreme? Let me know.

Pros.

Eliza Taylor

Cons.

It is the same story you have seen before

The morals

It feels sexist

The central romance doesn’t work

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Home Alone 2: The Highlight Of A President’s Career, Even If He Did Bully His Way Into It

Home Alone 2, Lost In New York is a family Christmas comedy film directed by Chris Columbus. The plot once again sees Kevin (Macauley Culkin), become separated from his parents at Christmas, however this time rather than just being home alone, he is in an entirely different state.

I have long believed out of the Home Alone films that this is the best (though I do also have a soft spot for the 3rd film as well). The reasons for this are multiple, I think that this film took everything the first film did right and improved on It. An example of this is Kevin’s unlikely friends in the first film he befriends the old man on his street that everyone is afraid of (for no good reason), and here he befriends a woman who covers herself in pigeons. The idea is the same and both friendship arcs do have solid emotion behind them, but the emotional impact is greater here, at least it was for me.

Furthermore, the trap sequence is also improved upon from the first film, with that films final showdown sequence almost looking simplistic when compared to this one. If the traps were you favourite part of the first film you will not be disappointed here.

The one negative of this film comes in how it sets itself up. Kevin is once again seen to be bratty and wishing his family gone, this undoes the entirety of his character’s arc from the first film. The film is self-referential with this and comments on it, but that does not excuse poor writing it just makes it feel lazier.

Another issue I have with the sequel is that the feel good, overly sentimental Christmas message is turned up to 100 and does become a bit too sickly sweet in part; looking at you turtle doves.

Overall, a superior sequel that though an improvement is let down by a few cheap tricks and a lot of bad writing.

Pros.

The improved friendship storyline and its pay off

The improved trap sequence   

Tim Curry is always a delight

It is a lot of fun

Cons.

A bit too overly sentimental at times

Reusing the same set up and undercutting the first film

4/5

Reviewed by Luke