The Knight Before Christmas – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 film The Knight Before Christmas.

Story

The story is Christmas-y and happy. They avoid awkward tropes and lean into the cutesy cheese. The least believable part was that a teacher could afford the property taxes on such a massive house.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters are sweet and heartwarming. They are also completely unrealistic. Brooke is a teacher, but throws money around like an heiress. She’s overly trusting and kind of naive.

Sir Cole is anachronistic in every way. His knight’s code is pure Romantic reconstruction, he speaks modern English, his armour is off a little and his sword is styled more like WIlliam the Lionheart than William the Third.

The rest of the cast are adorable and interesting.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Pure Christmas movie cheese and I loved every part of it. Once you get over the fact that the historical characters are not talking in middle English, it’s freaking adorable.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The cinematography is okay and the setting is picturesque. The leads are pretty to look at and the clothes are fantastic.

The music isn’t amazing, but it’s fun.

Score: 0.5

Fun

It kept the interest of the entire family and was a lot of easy fun.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a cheesy, angst-free, lovely holiday movie with a great cast and a lot of cuteness.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2018 film Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.

Story

The basic narrative is the same from the original book, cartoon, and the 2000 film. In the 2000 film, you are made to feel bad for the Grinch and his mean ways because he was bullied by Whoville Whos.

This takes a different approach and makes him sad and a little anxious.

This means less kid Grinch, more Cindy-Lou, and more Illumination style gags and gadgets. I liked the addition of Fred the reindeer.

Score: 1

Characters

Jim Carrey said that the Grinch didn’t hate Christmas, he hated people, and that really encapsulates the 2000 movie.

Meanwhile in this one, the Grinch doesn’t hate Christmas, he hates being alone. This makes him a lot more sympathetic and they can play up his being a softy instead of a jerk. It makes for a completely different feel for the movie.

The other characters are also likeable and surprisingly heartfelt.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is adorable and has a few very quotable moments, but overall is just okay.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie was lovely and festive. The visuals were typical of the company and pretty good.

The music was good, but I’m not a fan of what they did to the You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie flows from one story element and gag to the next very well. It kept my interest and was fun throughout. Both kids were captivated and me and my wife laughed more than a few times.

Score: 1

Overall

It’s the Grinch. Exactly what it says on the tin, but it’s a much kinder, softer, and more fun Grinch. His heart is two sizes too small, but yours won’t be after watching.

Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Single All the Way – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Single All the Way.

Story

The story is a copy paste from so many other Christmas movies. Instead of an ex or childhood friend, it’s a current best friend, but it’s pretty much the same. Even though the story is basic, the final touches are wonderfully queer.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The slightly neurotic big city agent, the small town ski instructor, the overbearing mother trying too hard, the sensitive nice guy, and the overdramatic aunt. All the stereotypes are there and they added a few extra with the meddling teens and the wise dad.

A lot of Christmas movies feel like they forget about the love part of romance and the love in the family around them. This one didn’t and love was very much central and believable.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Oscillating from corny to sweet, the dialogue was perfect for the type of movie. I’m also really impressed at how well the different couples communicated. It would be easy, and typical, to have non-communication caused hijinks. I’m glad they didn’t go that way.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were pretty but generic. The filming was effective and I really liked how they framed the lovey-dovey moments.

The music was pretty good. Lots of Christmas and a few original songs.

Score: 1

Fun

I took particular joy at the teenagers forcing a “There was only one bed” scenario. Obviously the teens are learning their set-up methods from fanfics. I also really liked seeing all the Canadian actors.

My five year old liked it; she really got into the set up. She kept asking why he was going on date with the other guy. My two year old got a little bored.

I appreciated that they avoided angst and awkwardness. I also liked that it was an unabashedly queer and happy story, which is a combination that we need more of.

Score: 1

Overall

This is the happy, queer, and Christmassy movie you’ve been looking for. It’s fun, cute, and honestly really refreshing.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

A Castle for Christmas – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film A Castle for Christmas.

Story

Part Christmas movie, part enemies to lovers, and part rich author can’t write. (I’ve released 6 books in six years. When are the talk show interviews, international renown, and castle buying money supposed to kick in?)

The story is simple and not very original, but that’s part of it’s charm. If follows through with all its promises and it’s certainly a feel good movie.

Score: 0.5

Characters

It’s nice to see a love story without mocking about two 50+ characters / actors. They are roughly the same age (thank you for not making her 21) and other than her having an adult daughter, age isn’t mentioned.

The main cast play their roles perfectly. The reticent author, the grumpy Scot, and the new best friends are all fantastic. I like the relationships made throughout the movie. Also nice to see a guy friendship with no toxicity in it.

There were a few times it felt forced or scripted and it threw me out of the movie.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

One of my English teachers told me that every type of love story is based off one of Shakespeare’s plays. This one has all the sass and quipping of Much Ado About Nothing. I love the interactions between characters and the quick, simple wordplay.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

It’s hard to beat the setting of a Scottish castle. They filmed it perfectly to bring out the beauty of Scotland, and the set dressing for the Christmas scenes was over the top in the best way.

The music was lovely, especially the choice of songs.

Score: 1

Fun

Both kids sat for the whole thing, although I bribed them with chips (don’t judge me, please). It was exactly what I wanted to watch and exactly what it said on the tin. I laughed, cried, and smiled a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

With two veteran actors hamming it up, this movie couldn’t be anything but entertaining. If you like romances and Christmas movies, you’ll like this one. It’s a lot fun.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Dear Pegasus – The Holidays

Hello My Little Pegasus,

Boy have you grown in the past six months. From partial sentences to full conversations and descriptions. You are utterly adorable. You’re also a little terror at times, but that comes with big ideas, big emotions, and trying to deal with them.

Last Christmas, you didn’t seem to understand what was going on; this year you don’t know what is happening, but you know you should be excited about it. You asked for a cash register from Santa. I’m not sure if that’s because you wanted one or because Keladry had once mentioned she wanted one.

Right now, I take care of you while I work and I sometimes feel like I don’t give you enough attention, but that’s the way things have to be for now; soon things will change again. Your sister got her first vaccine and hopefully you’ll have yours early in the new year. That means that Dragon should be going to first grade in person. Then you’ll have Mum and I for most of the day.

When someone opens something you chant, “What is it, what is it, what is it?” in the cutest voice filled with excitement.

You’re starting to do imagination play where you make figures talk to each other and make up little stories.

You give the best snuggles.

You are terrible when you’re hungry or bored. You’ll scream and refuse to clean up. Just the other day, I was explaining other religious holidays to Dragon and you were bored so you just screamed. So frustrating.

There are 3 search and find books that you love and I swear they are the most soul sucking experiences. You’ve memorized all the locations of the stuff so you get bored part way, but insist on having me read them to you and then you just drift off. Sigh.

Overall, you are a wonderful little person and I’m proud to be your Papa. I hope you have fond memories of the holidays and I can’t wait to spend them with you for years to come.

Love you,

Your sappy Papa

The Holiday – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 film The Holiday.

Story

The movie is easy to brush off as another rom-com holiday movie, but it has some surprising depth to it’s story and insights on love. The parallel structure both between the stories and between each pair of lovers is amazing.

Score: 1

Characters

Despite some exaggerated characteristics, the characters are well grounded and relatable. Each actor is at their best and it shows that the characters and roles were written for these specific actors. I still think it would be nice to see Jack Black in more romance roles.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s a wonderful balance between mid-aughts slang, romance tropes, and dialogue inspired by classic films. It gives the film a historic and timeless feel.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Between this viewing and the last we upgraded from a DVD to a Blu-ray and upgraded our TV to 4K. The jump in colour and depth was amazing. This movie looked foggy and grey before and now looks vibrant and sharp.

With the upgraded tech, I can see the impressive camera work and hear the music better. The music goes the extra mile to give each character a theme and even make it so that they are played at a different tempo and key depending on the situation. Example, when they’re having a hard time, things go minor. Another cool trick is the melding of the romantic lead’s themes when they’re being romantic.

Score: 1

Fun

I always expect to find this movie long or get annoyed with the plot, but I don’t. It’s a story that makes me sad and happy and leaves me feeling satisfied. It’s just enjoyable.

The kids, however, got bored. It’s a little more talky and emotional than they fully grasp right now.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie plays on the actors’ strengths and develops believable and lovable characters. It’s got just enough of a classic movie feel combined with a good romance to make it unique and fun to watch.

Definitely a feel-good movie with lots of depth.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

The Christmas Setup – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

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

Story

Borrowing partly from indie slice of life and partly from Christmas romances, this is an easy to watch mix of the two. There’s a mystery and a little angst, but overall wasn’t too bad. There are two parts that I didn’t like. I hate the trope of forcing a character to go on stage and then they rock it. If someone doesn’t want to do it, they shouldn’t be pressured. The second time it happened the character didn’t even do what they were supposed to.

I did however love the mirroring in the story of the train station and the main characters. That was cute and awesome.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Fran Drescher plays the perfect meddling mother. She’s never hurtful and she’s somehow always respectful. A nice change of pace for this character archetype. The rest of the cast is both pretty and easy to watch. The characters are believable and overall pretty authentic. I really liked the dynamic of the brothers and how they had to work at understanding each other.

I also like that the main couple being gay didn’t add to the drama but still influenced the character’s stories and conversations.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie had an interesting effect. I laughed and loved the clever dialogue… but I don’t remember any of it. It was fast and clever and never took itself seriously.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was well shot, the clothes were fantastic, and locations were stunning. That being said, I wasn’t a fan of the “Northern Lights” scene that looked pretty fake.

The music was good if not memorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie was fun to watch. It kept my 18 month old completely enthralled. I’m thinking it was the banter, but it could have been my popcorn. The entire family liked it and I hope there will be more like it in the future.

Score: 1

Overall

This is an adorable Christmas love story that is made all the better by wonderful dialogue and authentic representation. I liked this one and look forward to buying a copy for annual watching.

Final Score: 4 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