How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Merry Christmas and we cannot forget one of the best Christmas films out there. ‘The Grinch’! Personally, this is one of the films to watch every Christmas to appreciate and love. Spreading Christmas cheer and the moral that Christmas is not all about the presents but time to spend with family and friends. Of course, there needs to be a cute sentimental message to this Christmas film!

The Grinch is played by the brilliant Jim Carrey and without him this film wouldn’t be nearly as good. He executes the humour excellently and makes the film that much better. We know he is a brilliant actor anyway, one of my favourites being Count Olaf in ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, but there are so many more. His over-exaggerated emotions and executed humour works amazingly well in this film to portray this poor Grinch who was laughed at and mocked in school so turns to hatred of everything Christmassy. Once he leaves WhoVille, he spends the rest of his life living alone with his dog Max, trying to tune out anything when it comes to cheer and Christmas. Until… Until one curious little girl, Cindy Lou (played by Jenny Humphrey from ‘Gossip Girl’, Taylor Momsen), hates the fact he is on his own on a day such as Christmas. She ignores his attempts to scare her and desperately tries to get him to return to WhoVille and celebrate with all the other Whos. That’s if he can find something to wear…

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Meanwhile, down in WhoVille Christmas is the most celebrated holiday of the year. Every single Who screams joy and cheer around his festive season. As Christmas trees are decorated, lights are thrown on houses, songs are sung and presents are wrapped. The audience could not witness a more Christmassy-filled film. We also get to know some more characters, such as the Mayor Augustus (Jeffrey Tambor), Martha May (Christine Baranski – Tanya from ‘Mamma Mia!’), Cindy’s parents Lou (Bill Irwin) and Betty (Molly Shannon), and many more. Characters we can appreciate as part of the film, perhaps maybe one to dislike. But everyone is played great to join in with this Christmas film.

As said before, the film is funny, The Grinch is a loveable character even if he is perceived as the bad guy. We delve into his past and learn his true ways, something to get the audience understanding who he is, a very clever idea for a kind of anti-hero protagonist. I would have to say this is a Christmas film not like any other, one executed well, and one where The Grinch steals Christmas, but Christmas be destroyed. With a great ending, the audience are filled with a Christmas mood and a happy feeling.

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This film is a fun Christmas film for the whole family to love. Jim Carrey should, of course, be appreciated. ‘The Grinch’ is based upon Dr Seuss’ book, the writer of the likes of ‘The Cat in the Hat’, ‘The Lorax’ and many others; all brilliant books for children. This is a classic Christmas film that should be watched every Christmas to get into that holiday festive mood.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016)

J K Rowling is back and the Harry Potter fans are not left hanging when we are taken back to this magical world we all know and love.

Set in New York, America, in a very different light from Hogwarts, as pre-Harry Potter we are introduced to a different magical world, yet one with similarities we know and can relate to so well. This was done brilliantly. I don’t know about other Harry Potter fans but I feel that his story ended perfectly for us to accept an end and move on, therefore I didn’t want to watch another film that was a repeat of all the characters we already know (and love) or similar stories repeating themselves as we’ve already ingested those. I’m a big believer of those things coming to an end and not over-doing it to eventually ruin it (not that J K Rowling could actually ruin anything). So where does ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ fit into this? As it was set in a different country, a whole different atmosphere was created; this a difference that was needed. Plus the introduction of new characters and different aspects should be loved. However, saying this, there were similarities to get the Harry Potter fans excited and ready for a new story. This was excellently done, I don’t want something completely different, polar opposites wouldn’t satisfy Harry Potter fans, and I believe that this film had the perfect combination of similarities and differences that Harry Potter fans and new fans would love.

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The new world was brought to us in a blast. A dramatic beginning to throw us straight into the wonderful, yet dangerous side of magic. But even before that, as you’re sitting there ready to watch this new almost prequel of Harry Potter, the music, that joy that brings Harry Potter fans to the reminder of when it ended in 2011. Then the film began, hooking in the audience straight away with a new plot we are unfamiliar with, yet need to know. There were many little plots going on at the same time in this film, with newspaper clippings, to the danger, to the Salem witches hunters, to Mr Graves (Colin Farrell), to the magical world of New York, to the main character, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). However, all these plots tied perfectly in the end. Now we all know Eddie Redmayne can play some challenging roles excellently, so we know he will be brilliant in a role such as this one. He plays the nervy, awkward, animal loving young wizard perfectly. A character we want to understand, yet one with much more depth than we are aware. Newt is a character who introduces the magical creatures to us extremely well. Not only are we fascinated with these new creatures, but they are adorable or even funny, as some escape and are accidentally let loose onto New York City. As I said there are many different little plot lines, so we don’t just delve into these new magical creatures, but they make the film fun and unpredictable to watch.

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There’s also an introduction of some other characters that should be appreciated. In America the non-magic person is called a No-Maj, even if we are familiar of the word Muggle; although do not be raged by this change in name, as Newt is a British wizard and appreciated Hogwarts as the best wizarding school in the world, plus he is more well known to a non-magic person being a Muggle as we are. Anyway, as we come to terms of a new dialect as Newt does himself, we are introduced to a No-Maj as he becomes a main character. One of my favourite characters in the film I might add. Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). A fellow man who just wants to open up his new bakery. However, he becomes wrapped into this magical world just as the audience does, we learn about the new magical creatures along with Kowalski, which in my opinion brings the audience in with the film more closely; cleverly done. Kowalski is a humorous character, one confused by this new world yet loving as well. Also, we cannot forget Tina (Katherine Waterston) and her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), two new characters to be appreciated as they both bring a new edge to the film, even Queenie being able to read minds.

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I would recommend seeing this film, it really is worth a watch. Even if it is quite a long film, however we are quite used to this from Harry Potter. But I believe ‘Fantastic Beasts’ cleverly combines what we know and what we don’t know extremely well to keep the audience gripped and even bring in a new audience. Besides of course there are similarities as David Yates directs it, just like the last four Harry Potter films. There are times in the film of stress, of fun adventure, of laughter, and of shock. If you can’t tell I enjoyed the film a lot and there’s even a glimpse of Johnny Depp! It’s the first introduction to our new characters and new plots, beginning the love of magical creatures for many more films to come. Ones that tie into the Harry Potter world we know. Besides one of the creatures is adorable as all it wants is shiny things… Isn’t that persuasion enough?

Jingle All The Way (1996)

I’m sad to say that this Christmas film was just one that wasn’t for me. I understand what it was trying to do, but I feel like it just wasn’t executed fully and I didn’t enjoy it that much to be honest. Now I know people have different beliefs over this film, but there are much better Christmas films out there that rank over this one.

So what was this film about? Basically a desperate father, Howard (played by the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger), spends his Christmas Eve trying to find the hottest selling toy of the Turbo Man doll, in hope that he doesn’t let down his son, like he has so many times before. But it’s not that easy to find the biggest selling toy a day before Christmas (I wonder why?), so the film is spent in an over the top panic and expresses that very urgent Christmas rush. On this panic, he meets a rival for the same toy, Myron (Sinbad), an alike father trying to get his son a present on Christmas Eve. This is supposed to create a comedic rivalry, which in some ways is so ridiculous you kind of just have to laugh, and I’ll admit that there were times when I did laugh. Whereas amongst this crazy day, Howard’s son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd), just wants to spend time with his father, Howard making the mistake again by letting him down by just not being there. Meanwhile, the mother, Liz (Rita Wilson), there to pick up the pieces; and the divorced next door neighbour, Ted (Phil Hartman), keeps making an appearance filling in for Howard, which annoyed me to say the least, but I think he is supposed to.

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The film was very dramatic as Howard attached himself to every chance he could to possibly find the Turbo Man doll. The audience is warped into this crazy day when we jump from a Department Store to a kids play area, to Santa’s secret hide out (or whatever it was), to a radio station. It was very confusing and manic. I understand how it was meant to feel due to the fact that the father was in desperate need to find this toy, but I don’t understand how he found himself in those situations, for example a random bizarre fight with a load of Santas. The whole film was quite random. I have to admit however, I did like how the film kept occurring back to the Police Officer (Robert Conrad), it created a continuous comedic element to the film, which was needed.

Sad to say, I don’t think Arnold Schwarzenegger was the best decision for this film. Maybe he should just stick to those action movies he’s so well known for. For me, I don’t think he executed the comedy of the film to the full potential. I understand where the comedy could have been put in and it could have been a potentially funny film with the plot idea, but there was a continuous drag in the film for me, where this desperate need was never going to be filled and just got worse. I also didn’t feel invested into the characters, which is obviously an important part of a film. The film continued to escalate to breaking point, which by this time was very close to the end of the film. Then we were thrown the ending, which to say is unrealistic would be an understatement, but I did like how they tried to throw this ending in to get a good feel for the film when it finally finished.

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Overall, I just felt this film tried too hard, that it felt a bit forced at times and over exaggerated. The plot could have been a good one, despite the chaos. Maybe this is more a film for the younger ages as they get wrapped up in the desperate need for the toy as well, I don’t know. I would more advise a Christmas film such as ‘The Grinch’, ‘Elf’ or ‘The Polar Express’, or maybe for older ages ‘Love Actually’; because ‘Jingle All The Way’ has nothing on them.

Love Actually (2003)

I have to admit this is probably one of my favourite Christmas films, and I know many would agree with me. But firstly, I have to mention, this is a Christmas film for older ages, as there are many references to sex and a lot of swearing. Anyway as you could probably tell, this is a film of more of a Christmassy romantic comedy type based around a big selection of people.

One of the best things about ‘Love Actually’ is that it contains so many well-known actors and actresses, I would be very surprised if there was one person who didn’t recognise anyone. And of course, they are all brilliant actors. Most of them are British actors I have to say, but there is an essence of patriotic feeling of Britain in this film, which is great. Actors and actresses with the likes of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth (just like in ‘Bridget Jones’), Liam Neeson in a different film from action or adventure (for example ‘Taken’), Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman (all make an appearance in ‘Harry Potter’), Andrew Lincoln (‘The Walking Dead’), Keira Knightley (‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’), Martin Freeman (‘The Hobbit’); and so many more, but I think I should stop there… Wait, even appearances of Ant and Dec, and of course we’ve got to have Rowan Atkinson in a brilliant British film!

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As you can tell with the amount of actors in this film, there are many different plots of the film. This might sound like it gets confusing, but I promise you it doesn’t at all. The audience becomes, either invested in all the characters, or love certain ones, but they are all great in connecting to the narrative story arc of love. All the characters interlink in some way or another, and it’s something the audience loves to see, well I do anyway. I can’t say every plot of this film, there are way too many, but just in case you haven’t seen this film, a flavour of some of the plots are here. Each plot line has a different type of love. There’s the loss of a love, when the film introduces a character who’s lost his wife, but the film also introduces a new love to contradict the funeral there is a wedding. The Prime Minister falls in love unable to deal with it. A young boy tries to chase his one true love. There’s a break-down of a marriage at the hands of a younger woman; and also there’s unrequited love as he struggles to be around her, projecting hate to replace his love. There’s a couple meeting and starting a relationship, and there’s a man desperate for love. So as you can tell the film is full of love and romance around the holiday season. But don’t worry, there’s also the pop star to possibly win Christmas number one, with his hatred of all things love and his single in particular, which contrasts to everything else brilliantly.

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‘Love Actually’ has a full circle feeling. The film begins with Hugh Grant off-screen narrating, introducing the love that can be seen in Heathrow Airport. The film then ends on the characters that we now know and love at the same Airport joining their loved ones. This gives an excellent full circle feel of the film as the audience knows the film is coming to an end. Another great thing about ‘Love Actually’ is that it is brilliantly done to be a comedy as well. Amongst all the love of the film, there are many comical moments. Of course, Rowan Atkinson is a comical, yet slightly serious, character of the film. But Hugh Grant is one of my favourite characters in this film, never failing to make me laugh in his dance sequence (you’d understand if you’ve seen it).

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A film I watch every Christmas, personally, this film is my favourite Christmas film. I love the countdown to Christmas to bring in the Christmas spirit and bring in the holiday season. It’s a romcom for sure, so people who hate romcoms might hate this Christmas film, that is understandable, however I promise you it is a different romantic comedy to many others due to the fact that it is revolving around so many characters. So I would advise you to watch this Christmas film to witness that “love is actually all around”.

Elf (2003)

Another classic Christmas film. Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf. An over-excitable, childish 30 year old Elf/human. An adventure from the Elf world to the human world and Buddy struggles to fit in anywhere. A film to be loved by children and admiration for the audience of the Christmas spirit.

When Buddy has grown up 30 years of his life thinking he is an elf, discovering he is actually human breaks him, he feels like he doesn’t fit in to the Elf world anymore. So an adventure he goes, a journey to New York City to find his real father, Walter (James Caan), but it isn’t as simple as that. I love the differences between the Elf world and the human world, it plays with the imagination for children to appreciate; as the Elf world is full of animated arctic animals and a talking snowman, children love it. Then the dramatic change to the human world, one we know so well (obviously), but one that Buddy is not used to and finds it extremely difficult to fit in. As Buddy tries to understand this new world, we fall in love with his character, in hope that he can spread some Christmas spirit that he believes in so powerfully.

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Buddy is of course played amazingly well by Will Ferrell. His character is comical for the audience as his personality explodes fun and joy. Full of Christmas joy, he’s over-excitable when it comes to revolving doors, lifts and many other things he’s not used to. As he crashes into a Department Store, he meets a fellow Elf, well Jovie (a blonde Zooey Deschanel) earning money around the holiday season. Jovie is a brilliant character to compliment the changes Buddy has to be make in order to fit in to this new world. Buddy is a very over the top character, but this is done on purpose as children (who this film is most for) would appreciate the exaggerated Christmas-filled emotions. For example, there’s use of many special effects to get the audience experiencing the personality of Buddy.

The film starts cleverly with Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) narrating to the audience, talking to us personally bringing in the life of Buddy. Papa Elf is a character that brings the story to a beginning and an end, an excellent way of a full circle for the audience. Of course, this is another film with a beautiful ending, expected of Christmas films. Because “Santa Claus is coming to town”.

I would recommend watching this over-excitable Elf come to grips with his new life, but also spreading Christmas spirit as we love all the excitement that is revolved around this holiday season. However, I would say this is more of a film for children or families. But still should be appreciated in a comical and Christmassy way.

Home Alone (1990)

I would assume that most people who love a Christmas film have seen this one. It is one of the classic family Christmas films. However, in my opinion it isn’t my favourite. Now I understand why many love this film, I really do, but personally when I was younger the idea of the film used to kind of freak me out. That an eight year old boy is left home alone around Christmas, that burglars are trying to break into the house… But maybe I was overthinking it. For example, for my little brother this is his favourite Christmas film.

A rush of a huge family holiday means that one child accidentally gets left behind. Like a said, a little eight year old boy, named Kevin. I have to admit Macaulay Culkin playing Kevin is brilliant. He plays the cheeky and clever little boy extremely well. He is definitely the character who adds to the comedy of the film and makes it enjoyable for the family-based audience. Plus, I definitely can see why he seems so troublesome at the beginning, being called a “jerk” by his Uncle and picked on by all the other little children. The audience really does see things from his perspective. But he realises he doesn’t want to be alone round Christmas, no one does. A moral of the film of course, to always be with family and they will always forgive.

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‘Home Alone’ jumps back and forth to Kevin at home and the mother, Kate (Catherine O’Hara), desperately trying to get home – that’s once she realises she’s actually left her son at home… The aspect with the family on holiday gives an emergency and desperate feel to the film, an urgency to get back to poor little Kevin. While at home, burglars, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), work the street Kevin lives on, their dream being Kevin’s house, of course. This is the part that used to creep me out that two grown men were spying on a young child vulnerable in his house, however he fights his own. A part of the film that I can imagine is loved, well it is by my brother, is when the burglars truly get what they deserve in a comical and clever way in the hands of Kevin. Throughout the film, ‘Home Alone’ delves into the creative imagination of the young boy left alone, as he tries to mature and fight his fears, something to be admired by the audience. The film really does have a beautiful family-filled Christmassy end that I do love.

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It is a film not like any other. One that isn’t too much wrapped around Christmas in itself but more of the importance of family around the holiday season, which is loved by audiences. You know it is a Christmas film, but as it is mostly based around Kevin and his ways at home, you experience his few days alone as he grows and becomes more confident in himself, appreciating the little things more. But within all this, there are comedic elements that are enjoyed, even some squirmy moments when someone stands on Christmas ornaments – just imagining that makes me squirm. Overall, it’s an understandable family Christmas film that is loved by so many, even if it isn’t my favourite, I wouldn’t knock the classic too much.

The Incredibles (2004)

‘The Incredibles’ is a brilliant classic animation that should be in everyone’s childhood. Well that’s my opinion anyway, and it’s my review so I would encourage anyone who hasn’t seen this film to watch right away.

“Every superhero has a secret identity”. This is something we become to know extremely well in this film, it is the basis of ‘The Incredibles’. When the world no longer wants superheroes, they are forced to live among everyone else. I love how this is done at the beginning of the film, through newspaper clippings, sketches in court – it will become clear if you watch it… The beginning throwing you straight into that action element of the film, and delving into the love of Mr Incredible being a superhero. Then it jumps 15 years ahead and begins the main story line, the Parr family trying to live a normal suburban life.

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Introducing the characters then. As I’ve already mentioned the film is based around the Parr family. The man of the family, a man of incredible strength, Mr Incredible or Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson). Next, the wife, a woman of extreme flexibility, Elastigirl/Helen (Holly Hunter). And their three children. Invisibility and force fields are the powers of the eldest child, Violet (Sarah Vowell). The middle child, Dash (Spencer Fox), is like his name says, very speedy to say the least. Then finally, the youngest Jack-Jack, who’s “not even toilet trained”. And of course, there has to be a villain! This is Syndrome (Jason Lee). Syndrome, a non-super wanna-be superhero, if that makes any sense… The film is built up and built up to the ultimate plan of Syndrome’s, which finally hits at the end in a burst of more action and the urge of the Incredible family to save the world.

This film has a mixture of romance, comedy, adventure and a lot of action. Then throw in some enjoyable and brilliant animation. What more could you want? As Bob reminisces the old glory days of using his powers and saving people, it leads to him lying to his family. This eventually leads to a family adventure, one involving a lot of action. As Helen angrily goes to save Bob, their two eldest children become tied up into the action, which forces them to finally come to grips with their superpowers. Dash, a child in love with his powers but unable to show who he is, finally is able to run and run fast; his scene of running on the island is such an enjoyable part of the film for the audience, with edging close calls as he is chased by those who want him killed, the audience is wrapped up in Dash’s love for running and him discovering his new limits to his powers. The romance between husband and wife, Bob and Helen – despite the lying – is cute in its own way too.

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I have to mention, watching this film as an older audience – not saying I didn’t enjoy it, quite the opposite, this is a brilliant film. But the film is very clever in how it covers other issues in life, especially family issues. A young girl struggling with her confidence. A young boy unable to express himself, just wanting to compete. A man who just wants to be accepted in society again and appreciated for saving people which he loves to do. And finally, a woman trapped in lies told by her husband. I love how all this could potentially delve into realities of the audience even if it is a film about superheroes. This makes it a family film for everyone to enjoy.

‘The Incredibles’ ends on a cliff-hanger, begging for a second film. Which I believe is a want for many people, including me. So I thought what is best is to do a film review on this classic animation that should be remembered and appreciated by everyone. Just in case those who haven’t watched it can, seeing as it is such a great film, and be ready for ‘The Incredibles 2’. Yes, in preparation for the next Incredibles movie, said to be released in 2018. 14 years after this classic first one. I will definitely be racing to see this next one. Just hope it is up to standards of this brilliant one. So go and watch the adventures of the Parr family because you won’t be disappointed in this animation.