The Christmas House – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas House.

Story

I’ve watched a lot of Christmas movies and they’re all a little shallow, but this one felt very surface level. There are 3 major storylines and none of them get the time or treatment they need. The mother’s depression, the older brother’s love story, and the younger brother’s adoption issues are all glossed over with Holiday Magic. However, I do have to give them credit for bringing up emotions and issues that are relatable.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There’s a nice mix of characters with a gay couple and a hispanic love interest. It could have used some more realistic diversity, but it certainly tried. I like that the gay couple weren’t portrayed as perfect or as stereotypes, but as any busy young couple. They were set as the stable couple. Unfortunately, their storyline was short and they were the most interesting characters.

The mom’s depression after retirement was understandable and a little too easily overcome. The main love story was sappy and cute. I don’t feel like any of the characters got enough screen time to talk through their issues, making the whole thing feel like Christmas magic fixed it. I don’t like that.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The main character being a TV lawyer led to a lot of really funny lines. There were some great magic puns and the younger brother was nice and wise. The quips between siblings was well done and believable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’ll cut them some slack since Hallmark movies are filmed at breakneck speeds, but there were a lot of editing hiccups and some weird camera angles. The house was gaudy, but not all that fantastic. The actors were pretty though.

The music did what it needed and rarely got noticed.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed watching some of my favourite sci-fi tv actors in a holiday movie. Beyond that, it was a lovely, sappy movie that had a smile on my face the entire time.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion, for queer representation. That being said, the movie was a sappy holiday movie with surface level storylines that could have been better served with more talking. It is, however, a joyful stress and angst-lite movie.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

Story

It was a cute Christmas story but was derivative and predictable. Each beat (no pun intended) was expected and the middle bits dragged a little.

The emphasis on the necklace felt like an unused thread, and the “magic” inventor granddaughter proved she was smart and then the plot didn’t let her fix or make anything. It also contained one of my most hated tropes, where the adults don’t listen to the kids.

I’m trying really hard to ignore the moral, ethical, and humane questions of creating sentient toys and being able to mass produce a slave toy race that you can “reprogram” when they don’t behave.

Score: 0

Characters

The acting in the movie is superb. The characters are mostly pretty awesome. I didn’t really like the mail woman / love interest. Her constant mis-naming rubbed me the wrong way. Overall she came off as a male Christmas love interest, which I’m not a fan of.

The Jeronicus and his apprentice storyline is sad but extremely well acted. Journey was a joy and should have had a larger part in the plot.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was appropriately steampunk meets modern day in a way that only a holiday fable could do. Some overly sappy and some kinda deep.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The sets, clothing, lighting, character design, and worldbuilding are fantastic. The cinematography was amazing and background information on posters, etc is meticulously done.

The music is fantastic, although I would have liked one last big number at the end.

I found the choreography a little repetitive, but not enough to dampen my awe at the music and visuals.

Score: 1

Fun

I was awed by the first few frames and hooked by the first song. It wasn’t until the midway point that I fell a little out of love but it passed fast enough. My family and children were riveted. The 17 month old would stop and watch, or dance, at every song and cooed at the adorable robot.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen with some amazing songs and more than a little magic. It falls flat if you think about it too long, and all the beauty and wonderful acting doesn’t cover up the lack of original story.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

A Christmas Prince Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 film A Christmas Prince, The 2018 film A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, and the 2019 film A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby.

Story

A Christmas Prince

The main plot of the movie is typical undercover reporter fall in love with subject. It makes reporters look bad and honestly the entire things is awkward.

The parts of the story that shine are when the characters are soul searching or making genuine connections. The sister character is fantastic and I could have watched the whole movie about her instead.

Score: 0

The Royal Wedding

The weak mystery is barely explored instead they spend most of it on wedding angst and pushing the main character around.

Again, like the first on the bright spot is the sister. She’s inspiring and adorable.

Score: 0

The Royal Baby

This was a well written closed-circle mystery that kept me guessing until the end. (Although I did have the culprit in my top 3.) The characters were less wet towel and they gelled with each other more. There was some awkward drama and they tried much too hard to pin the blame on Simon, again.

Score: 0.5

Characters

A Christmas Prince

The main character does a great job of being doe-eyed and fell for the prince the same time we all did, when we saw him with his sister. There’s some nice developement for the main three characters but overall it felt lack-luster.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Wedding

The king went from an unsure prince who doesn’t want to commit to being king to now being an unsure king who trusts his advisors way too much. The main character gets pushed around and is only really interesting when she pushes back or is helping the sister. There’s also a storyline that’s lifted directly from Princess Diaries. I’ll give the movie this, they did a great job with the redemption arc.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Baby

Overall this was a cute and joyful set of characters, something that should be standard for a Christmas movie. I liked the new additions.

Score: 1

Dialogue

A Christmas Prince

Mostly acceptable, if a little over the top. There are a few good speeches about identity, but nothing spectacular. The dad and the sister got all the great lines.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Wedding

Completely over the top; comparing the dialogue to a telenovela would be an insult to telenovelas.

However, as a giant nerd, I did appreciate the quotes and nods to other movies.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Baby

The writers built on the geeky quotes from the last one and made sure to include as much dorky future parents stuff as possible. The dialogue for them was believable and cute.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

A Christmas Prince

The cinematography of this movie made me angry and gave me a headache. My family didn’t seem to notice, but the constant slow paning for no reason was extremely frustrating.

The locations were lovely and very thematic.

The music was lack-luster and was only elevated by the christmas music included. (You can’t go wrong with Tchaickovsky.)

Score: 0.5

The Royal Wedding

The cinematographer discovered quick cuts since the last one and they were almost as over used as the pans.

That being said, the scenery and clothing were good and the music classic.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Baby

Finally the useless pans are gone and the director and cinematographer started to frame the shots better. It’s not excellent, but good. The castle and clothing are as beautiful as ever.

The music didn’t stand out much; a few cute scenes but nothing spectacular.

Score: 0.5

Fun

A Christmas Prince

Breaking a ming vase or shooting an arrow through a window is a level of awkward I don’t like. There’s a lot of the movie that just isn’t fun to watch even if you know everything will end up fine.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Wedding

The obvious mystery was dragged out too long, and the angst was also dragged out too long. I spent a lot of the movie rolling my eyes and not yelling.

The sister and eventual warm ending was good though.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Baby

I have a soft spot for good mysteries and this was pretty close. It also isn’t angsty and kept my attention. A lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

A Christmas Prince

An excellent cast with a mediocre script and lots of cringe, the only thing that truly saves this is the interactions with the little sister.

Final Score: 2 stars out of 5

The Royal Wedding

An acceptable sequel to a lack-luster movie. Too little plot and too much angst. Again the sister saves the movie but she’s joined by a delightful redemption.

Final Score: 2 stars out of 5

The Royal Baby

Finally a balance between urgency and angst, this movie is the best of the three, with a fun mystery and lots of the best parts of the first two movies. I will probably skip the others in future years and just watch this one.

Final Score: 3.5 stars out of 5

Snow – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2004 movie Snow.

Story

At times the movie is brilliant and others you wonder how that story point got past editing. It’s a bare bones slightly goofy plot. The world building is interesting and other than a few cringy moments it’s great.

I like the near complete reversal of traditional gender roles in holiday movies.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Nick is at times a clueless goofy idiot and at others a wise loving Santa… It’s a role that should be hacky and terrible but is made believable by Tom Cavanagh. (Seriously this role shouldn’t work, but he makes it not only likeable but one of my favourite versions of Santa.)

The rest of the cast is perfectly suited and well acted. Ashley Williams manages to play up the humour of her attraction to Nick without ever coming off as lewd.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

It’s a made for tv movie from the mid 2000’s the visuals are okay. The cinematography is bare bones and the special effects are mostly limited to the mirror and a flying reindeer. The costumes are very well done, especially the Santa Suit at the end.

The music is fantastically well thought out. I’m not humming the themes but they were perfect for the characters and had a quirky cheerfulness that saved some scenes from being too serious or too scary.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is clever and adorable. Also very dorky. I loved that we went from, “Nick… name… mine… my name is Nick.” at the begining of the movie to, “The first time I saw you I forgot to breathe.” near the end.

Score: 0.5

Fun

My wife and I have been watching the movie yearly for a decade and a half. It’s a Christmas staple that I enjoy. I’m not sure my kids liked it as much.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie is both adorable and aDORKable. The actors elevate what could have been a weird and uncomfortable movie into something lovely and fun.

Final Score: 3.5

A Christmas Movie Christmas – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 film A Christmas Movie Christmas.

Story

This is one of my favourite sub-genres; the transported into a movie movies. (I reviewed Teen Beach Party that falls in the same sub-genre.)

Post-wish, the story follows the traditional Christmas movie tropes with a lot of wry commentary. At times it was ridiculously cheesy. The story itself was passible and held a few tiny surprises.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The stereotypes of the Christmas movie world were amped up at the beginning and slowly started to become grounded as the movie moved forward. I really enjoyed the lampshading of the stalkerlike behaviours of some of the men. Santa was perfectly mystical.

The main girls managed to rise beyond the tropes of “The Meek escapist” and “The Jaded one who really wants to believe”.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The wry humour and lampshading made this movie. The dialogue pulls together the ridiculous concept and elevates it beyond just cheese.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography wasn’t amazing, but the set design was amazing. They amped up the “fake christmas town obviously filmed in summer” to a new level of absurd. Using cotton balls as snow and plenty of impractical clothing. The outfits were also really pretty; loved the sparkly sweaters.

The music was okay for what it was.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I laughed and smiled the entire movie. It was light and entertaining. A perfect Christmas romance that managed to be nicely self-aware.

Score: 1

Overall

If you enjoy Christmas romance movies this is probably for you. I loved seeing the tropes and stories through the lense of pseudo-real people. The wry dialogue and hammyness were all perfectly well done.

Final Score: 3.5

Arthur Christmas – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 film Arthur Christmas.

Story

Oh angsty Christmas. This movie is well thought out both as a comedy and drama. The world building is both enormous in scale and efficiently done.

Score: 0.5

Characters

With the exception of Bryony and Mrs. Claus, I find the majority of the characters annoying. It’s not a flaw of the writing, but more a necessity for the character’s growth. That doesn’t mean I don’t spend a large portion of the movie stopping myself from yelling at the screen.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Extremely well acted with unique vocal traits and some great lines. Overall the dialogue is smart, well thought out, and very funny.

I’ve watched this now in Quebec French and in English and both are fantastic.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is starting to show it’s age but is still impressive. Lots of background visual gags and the whole thing is quite pretty.

The music is acceptable but nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoy the movie and I don’t. It’s a lot of angst and a lot of awkward but it does end all nice and fuzzy. There’s also a lot of fun and funny bits.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A Christmas story that revels in it’s worldbuilding without getting boring. The characters grow and angst their way through a heartwarming story with plenty of laughs.

Final Score: 3 Star out of 5

Ocean’s Eleven – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 film Ocean’s Eleven.

Story

This movie was fascinating. The heist was extremely well done (cinematographically) and the characters, although a lot of them, felt very distinct. The love story felt trite and forced and there were a few borderline racist casting choices.

The heist is great if you don’t think about the details and how much could have gone wrong. And should have gone wrong.

Score: 0.5

Characters

When I watch a reality show it takes me more than half it’s run before I start telling the people apart. That didn’t happen here and I’m going to credit that each character is distinct and could in theory lead their own movie.

That being said, the movie was ridiculously male heavy, where the only women were strippers or love interests needing to be saved from themselves.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The banter and friendship of the main two characters is fantastic. The overall back and forth between characters and even with the “villain” is pretty good too. The nature of the movie means that you never get too long dialogue pieces which works for this movie, but makes it feel like we’re constantly missing something.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie was washed out, with a weird reddish-orange filter. It’s shot well to keep the plot’s secrets and surprises, but it’s not a pretty movie.

The music is okay but there are some weird choices and I’m sad they didn’t use the a modern version of the original’s theme in the credits.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I had a lot of fun laughing at how old the tech looks in this movie. It’s clearly trying really hard to look like all the security is cutting edge tech. It’s certainly dated now.

It’s still a lot of fun to watch the whole thing unfold and see all the moving pieces in the plot.

Score: 0.5

Overall

There’s something particularly satisfying about watching a heist go off so well. I also appreciate that they didn’t use the original’s depressing ending. But for me, there’s too many characters, the love story is terrible, and I have trouble not nit-picking the details of the plan.

This is a good movie but not my favourite.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

Night at the Museum Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 movie Night at the Museum, the 2009 movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and the 2014 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

*I reviewed Battle of the Smithsonian in 2009* I didn’t re-read that review when writing this one. Ratings may vary, I’m grumpier and older.

Story

Night at the Museum 1

The concept for this story is fantastic, a wonderful idea. The story is a little uneven I really can’t stand the interludes of stupid humour.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

The story was an entertaining modern D&D adventure. It was cute and clever but there was something unsettling about the shoehorned love plot. It was also terribly busy and seemed to ignore parts of the first movie. (If Dick Van Dyke can turn the tablet off, why can’t Stiller?)

Also the Smithsonian has the worst security in existence. Why was Ben Stiller not arrested, he should have been on a million cameras.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

This is a movie that knew it was the last in a series, but left a lot of openings for spin-offs. (Thank goodness that didn’t happen.) The story was a slight variation on the previous ones with a London twist. Definitely the weakest of the group.

Score: 0

Characters

Night at the Museum 1

The self awareness of Teddy Roosevelt along with the stellar cast and characters makes this movie. Roles that could have been boring or cliché are brought to life with depth and heart. It’s also nice that there wasn’t a romantic subplot with the historian. I truly hate dumb characters and needless bosses which made this less fun. Ben Stiller and Ricky Gervais’s antics are frustrating at best and boring at worst.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

Ben Stiller is still annoying but there’s less of him. I felt like leaving the room when he talked with Jonah Hill or the monkeys. There was certainly not enough time given to the characters from the first movie.

That being said, Amy Adams was spectacular as was Hank Azaria. It was also nice to see that Stiller’s character had evolved not reverted which is common for movies.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

Ben Stiller’s humour is still not my thing and there were two of him in this. I would have taken another six of him over Rebel Wilson. Not my style of comedy. The rest of the cast, as usual, did a great job. This is Robin Williams’ last live action movie and he’s great. The new additions are funny and well done. It was nice to see the trio of nightguards again.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Night at the Museum 1

There are gags and moments of true depth in this movie. Everything from Robin Williams is gold and a lot of the other secondary characters dialogue is wonderful.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

The dialogue was much more developed in this one, lots of fantastic banter between the characters.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 3

When they weren’t making melting nose jokes or peeing monkey commentary the movie had some very funny lines and a few very deep moments.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Night at the Museum 1

The special effects are a little dated but still hold the beauty and wonder of a museum coming to life. The cinematography has a few moments of genius.

The music is epic and grandiose and used perfectly.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 2

This movie took all the beautiful visuals from the first one and doubled down. The special effects are bigger and prettier. The hall of paintings was excellent world building. Visually this was wonderful to watch. And that fight scene at the end was fantastic.

The music didn’t disappoint and although I won’t be running out to buy the soundtrack, it was suitably epic.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 3

The movie is beautiful and absolutely well done visually. The Esher painting scene and the snake dragon thing fight were stunningly beautiful. It was a beautiful movie that was well shot.

The music once again elevated the silliest gag to epic.

Score: 1

Fun

Night at the Museum 1

This movie is entertaining nearly throughout. Again I dislike Stiller and Gervais but the rest made up for it.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

There’s a little cringe at the beginning and the whole Brundan thing took too long, but after that it was a fun thrill ride. I still was uncomfortable with the love story though, and that took some pleasure out of it.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

This movie had more awkward in it and longer anoying gags. It’s the shortest of the three but felt like the longest. It also felt like it took a long time getting to any sort of plot.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Night at the Museum 1

This is a lovely movie with a good message and some exceptional actors doing their comedic best. It’s fun and despite a few really dumb moments, it’s a classic. I also have to give the film makers credit for a racially diverse group that is actually properly cast.

Finals Score: 3 Stars

Night at the Museum 2

This was a good sequel that built on the first and brought some fantastic action and visuals. Amy Adams is spectacular as is Hank Azaria. Definitely worth a watch.

Finale Score: 3.5 Stars

Okay, so I went and looked at my previous review and it’s pretty consistent.

Night at the Museum 3

It’s a fitting end to a series of movies that was okay but not great. It didn’t fully live up to its potential, but was elevated by brilliant actors.

Overall, I like the background info on the tablet but it made me wish for a TV show spinoff starring a kooky off-the-wall librarian museum curator and his 3 apprentices.

Final Score: 2.5

The Wedding Planner – JenEric Movie Reviews

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 movie The Wedding Planner.

Story

I’m not sure what was going on in the early 2000’s that this was considered a romantic comedy. There was very little comedy and very little romance. The most jaded love story I’ve ever seen. It’s interesting that it has a similar love story to Enchanted but a completely different feel.

It’s the early 2000s but the amount of sexism, ableism, and racism is disturbing.

Score: 0

Characters

Jennifer Lopez manages to make a narcissistic, vapid, and whiny character be sympathetic. Beyond that I disliked almost everyone in this movie. I hated that she suddenly stopped caring about her career the minute a pretty boy blinked at her, I cringed at the love story, I yelled at the screen about how disrespectful her father was, and overall wished I could slap some sense into everyone.

Also can we talk about the inherent racism of making Lopez an Italian? I’m all for casting anyone in any role but it would have taken 2 lines to make her mixed race Italian-Latina.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The movie is pretty standard dialogue for it’s time and avoids a lot of slang by being mostly about rich people. There are a few lines by McConaughey that should be uncomfortable but he manages to make almost sweet. This is massive feat considering the dialogue is terrible.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

The movie was well shot. It had solid angles and the locations are beautiful. They didn’t try to use any weird colour filters and let the beauty of the locations and the clothing shine through. I feel like they could have increased the saturation a little.

The music was well done, adding emotion and guidance where the movie lacked any idea whether you should be cooing or screaming in horror.

Score: 1

Fun

I like my romantic comedies with more comedy and more sweetness. I don’t like to cringe and I really don’t like it when a powerful career woman is made out to only be the product of a loveless life.

Score: 0

Overall

This type of movie is the reason rom-coms started to die out. It’s jaded, creepy, and overall offensive. The main actors are fantastic at what they do and manage to make the characters almost likeable but the writing gets in the way.

This is the kind of movie that would be fun to watch without dialogue where you make up your own story.

Final score: 1 star out of 5

Mr. Peabody & Sherman – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2014 film Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

Story

Less of a consistent story and more of a series of vignettes, usually ending in a pun with more than a few fart/poop jokes.

The way it was tied in at the end was clever and overall it was inoffensive, if juvenile.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main three characters had growth and a little depth despite themselves. I’m personally sick of the bully actually secretly likes the victim trope; it feels like setting up kids for abusive relationships.

The rest of the characters didn’t even try to be historically accurate and once you get over that, it’s cute.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I like puns and wordplay so the quips at the end, and sometimes middle, of the sketches were enjoyable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was colourful and quite well animated. Beautiful landscapes and clever use of framing.

The music was epic enough to tie the sketches together into some sort of coherent whole.

Score: 1

Fun

I felt the movie dragged a little at the beginning and the sketches were a little too silly even for me. Once the plot started to kick in midway I started having more fun.

Score: 0.5

Overall

It felt like there was more thought given to the wordplay than the characters or plot. Unfortunately characters and plot will stick with me.

It was a cute and fun movie, but didn’t have much substance.

Final Score: 3 stars