Posts Tagged ‘Bad Santa’

Ezra’s Six Days Of Christmas Movies

Posted 23 Dec 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Muppet Christmas Carol is a delightful and remarkably faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic. Yes, I know this should be “12 Days of Christmas Movies.” Listen, it’s the holidays, guys; cut me some slack. Anyway, Christmas is far from my favorite holiday, as evidenced by my much more thorough Halloween article (over four times as many movies in that one, folks!), but I wanted to take some time this year to look at some rather off-the-beaten-path movies, as well as a couple I had seen before, but felt it was time to revisit. Here they are, in the order in which I watched them. Happy birthday, Jeebus!

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL – a delightful and remarkably faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic, starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge (Ebenezer apparently went the way of Adolph as a first name choice), Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, and the Great Gonzo as Dickens himself. The biggest deviation from the source material is the casting of not one but two Jacob Marleys, in the form of crusty old hecklers Statler and Waldorf. Michael Caine gives a typically excellent performance, with far more emotional depth than you’d expect from a Muppet movie, and the film ends on a positive, Sesame Street-esque educational note: “If you’d like to know more, read the book.” ****  Read More

I Love You Phillip Morris

Posted 06 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

I Love You Phillip Morris is a unique and hilarious romantic comedy. I Love You Phillip Morris, France / USA, 2009

Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

This is one of the best and most unusual romantic comedies I have ever seen. The way it subverts the genre and toys with audience expectations is truly exceptional, which is probably what should be expected from co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writing team behind the highly unusual and subversive Christmas movie Bad Santa (2003). They followed that with the lazy Bad News Bears remake (2005), which basically retread the same ground in a much less funny and original way, but for that I shall give them a pass, mainly because Santa is so severely excellent (it has replaced Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life as the traditional Christmas Eve movie in my family).

I Love You Phillip Morris is a film that lives up to the promise shown in that previous work. It begins by assuring us that “This really happened … No, really, it did,” a disclaimer that becomes increasingly necessary as the story unfolds. Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell, whose book I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks provided the source material for the film, and it is quite possibly the very best performance of his entire career. Carrey, who was always known as an energetic physical comedian but not really seen as a seriously good actor until the late ’90s when he began tackling weightier roles in films like Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998) and Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon (1999), dips into his whole repertoire here, employing his trademark grinning facial contortions and manic slapstick while also tugging the heartstrings with a portrayal of surprising emotional depth. This variety of technique is perfectly suited to the character of Steven, a con artist who is never quite what he seems and constantly pulls from a huge bag of manipulative tricks to get what he wants and needs, first because, as he puts it, “Being gay is really expensive,” and later in doing whatever it takes to be with the love of his life. Read More