Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special Christmas themed streaming opportunities and television shows to watch over the weekend including the Netflix special “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square,” the HBO Max reality show “12 Dates of Christmas,” the Amazon Prime presentation of the “worst” movie ever made “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” and an old favourite on Crave, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Richard’s CTV News Channel look at his top five favourite movies for the holiday season! Curl up by the TV and check out his takes on “The Shop Around the Corner,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Elf” and more!
Richard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn,” the Seth Rogen Christmas comedy “The Night Before” and the Julia Roberts thriller “Secret in Their Eyes.”
‘Tis the season to be heart warming. In the coming weeks the movies will pull out the tinsel and sentiment in an effort to give you the Yuletide feel-goods.
“The Night Before” is not one of those movies. Sure, it’s filled with the spirit of Christmas past, present and future, love and other familiar themes, but this Seth Rogen movie also puts the X in Xmas.
The story begins fourteen years ago with the deaths of Ethan’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) parents. Alone and sad on Christmas Eve, his best friends Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) rally around him, beginning a December 24th tradition involving karaoke, Chinese food, playing the giant piano at FAO Schwartz and, because this is a Seth Rogen movie, lots of drinking and drugs.
Isaac and Chris are the only family Ethan has, but as the years pass the guys grow apart. Today Isaac is a lawyer with a wife (Jillian Bell) and a baby on the way. Chris is a superstar athlete while Ethan is still struggling. Recently dumped by his girlfriend (Lizzy Caplan) he picks up catering gigs (dressed as an Elf) as he tries to get gigs for his band. The guys plan one last Christmas Eve together and when they score tickets for the best party in NYC, the Nutcracker Ball, the night is poised to become one for the ages.
“The Night Before” is profane and probably sacrilegious but it’s also the funniest and in its own foul-mouthed way, sweetest Christmas movie of recent memory. It’s a fairy tale of sorts that borrows heavily from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol” but forges its own path. It believes in all the usual Christmas clichés, but updates them with outrageous antics that some will find hilarious while others may find extreme. Either way, the one thing that is not subjective is the spirit of kindness that manages to peak through, past the swearing babies and drunken, brawling Santas.
The three leads are likeable, funny and keep things flowing nicely but it is Michael Shannon in an extended cameo as a drug dealer whose weed provides “surprisingly accurate visions of the future” who steals the show. Surreal and slightly menacing, he’s Clarence Odbody for a new generation.
“The Night Before” could become a beloved Christmas classic… if Justin Trudeau finally makes marijuana legal in Canada. It’s a stoner comedy that is nuttier than Grandma’s fruitcake but just as sweet.
Richard Crouse: CTV Canada AM, Metro News and NewsTalk 1010
James Stewart stars in one of the movies that always puts me in the mood for Christmas, but its not the one you think. Sure, It’s A Wonderful Life is a classic and yuletastic, but I also enjoy The Shop Around The Corner. It’s a Christmassy romance that sees shop co-workers Stewart and Margaret Sullivan at one another’s throats at work, unaware that they are also anonymously courting one another as pen pals. All becomes clear on Christmas Eve and they unwrap a big ol’ gift basket of love. It’s almost as heartwarming as a giant mug of hot chocolate.
On the other end of the scale is Black Christmas. Many years ago, on the first Christmas the PMC — my Preferred Movie Companion — and I spent together, I screened the movie for her, which almost stopped the relationship before it had a chance to really get going. I love the slaying slasher story. Her, not so much. I quickly rebounded with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which made the yuletide bright once again. Thanks, Chevy Chase, for saving Christmas and my relationship!
Read entries from Peter Howell, Johanna Schneller, Linda Barnard, Eli Glasner and Brian D. Johnson HERE!
Check out Richard’s look at “It’s a Wonderful Life” playing in the December Cineplex Pre Show at theatres across the country, then check out the movie when it plays on the big screen on December 20, 22 and 24!
Some more info!
A movie that was a flop when it played theatres in 1946 is now one of the best-loved films of all time. It’s a Wonderful Life was nominated for five Academy Awards but lost money when it was first release.
Inspired by a short story called The Greatest Gift, it’s the story of George Bailey, played by James Stewart, whose Guardian Angel shows him what life in his hometown of Bedford Falls would be like if he had never been born.
Despite being set around Christmas, much of the film was shot during a heat wave. The famous scene on the bridge where George’s angel saves his life was filmed on a back lot in July when the temperature was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If you look closely you can see Stewart sweating in the scene.
To create a wintry look of Bedford Falls set designers used 3000 tons of shaved ice, 300 tons of gypsum, 300 tons of plaster, and 6000 gallons of chemicals.
Because the movie was shot in the sweltering heat of a Los Angeles summer they had to use fake snow. Instead of using the usual cornflakes painted white—which was loud when stepped on—director Frank Capra and RKO studio’s head of special effects Russel Sherman invented a quiet—and sprayable—version by mixing foamite with sugar, water and soap flakes to create the winter wonderland seen in the movie. The RKO Effects Department received a Class III Scientific or Technical Award from the Motion Picture Academy for the development of the new film snow.
James Stewart said that of all his films, this was his favorite. The American Film Institute agreed, ranking it the #1 Most Powerful Movie of All Time.