Watching Ghosts of Girlfriends Past actually inspired this post. I know it strange, but I take inspiration where I find it 🙂 It occurred to me that this movie borrowed a few aspects from Scrooged, so I decided to have some fun with the review.
If you haven’t seen these movies, here’s a quick summary: Scrooged (1988): A selfish TV exec needs to change and learn the true meaning of Christmas. Ghosts of Girlfreinds Past (2009): A womanizer needs to change his ways; not a Christmas movie.
Both use Dickens’ A Christmas Carol format. The dead guy who comes to warn the main character, and there are three ghosts.
Both have a love interest who got away.
The girl who got away is a brunette. In Scrooged, it’s Karen Allen; in Ghosts, it’s Jennifer Garner.
Both have a strong actor who plays the main character (aka the a’hole) In Scrooged, it’s Bill Murray; in Ghosts, it’s Matthew McConaughey. They both have a brother, who is really the only person they love.
The main characters are successful in the entertainment industry.
The ghost of Christmas/Girlfriends present is the most interesting ghost, both are women, and neither are afraid to teach the main guy a lesson.
Even though both use the same format, Ghosts is not a Christmas movie — it’s a true rom-com. It actually deals addresses the pressures of getting married, and if you are single, the pressures of fitting into a society full of love and couples.
The love interests are very different characters. Allen is sweet, a do-gooder, donates her time to the less fortunate. She clearly loves Murray and wants a future with him; she supports him throughout the entire movie. Garner hates McConaughey; he has obviously jaded her against men and relationships, but she’s not quite ready to give up on love. Garner is quick and sometimes nasty to him.
The first ghost in Scrooged has one primary scene. In Ghosts, that ghost (his uncle) stays with McConaughey throughout his journey and even pushes McConaughey into his own grave.
Murray is a selfish, true cynic of a man. He’s hollow and would staple a mouse’s head to make a costume work. McConaughey is this character 2.0. He’s a real piece of crap, and it’s obvious they tried to make him hateable. They did a good job.
So which one is a better movie? I prefer Scrooged because it’s funnier and moves well. The pace is perfect. Ghosts feels a little slow, and they spend too much time on the past. Emma Stone plays a great ghosts of girlfriends past, but the exposition slows the movie down. Murray may not be as mean as McConaughey, but he’s a lot more endearing and fun. Both movies deserve a watch, but I can and have rewatched Scrooged several more times.
Share your thoughts in the comments below, and if you want us to “verses” something, feel free to suggest something!
Christmas movies usually teach a lesson – whether it’s appreciation for life, realizing we should give more, or maybe gifts don’t matter that much.
Romantic-comedy Christmas movies do the same thing, and usually have a fun love story tied in. And although it’s cheesy, there are two romcoms I have to watch every year, and Holiday in Handcuffs is one of those movies. I’ll give you a moment to laugh 😉
Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez star in this quirky, silly movie. Not known as the greatest actors in the world, but in this movie, they work really well together and give the movie a youthful energy many romcoms don’t have. If you’re still interested but not sure if you should check it out, here’s why you should:
Themes: One of my favorite aspects of the movie is the theme of acceptance. I’m sure many of you feel the family pressure during the holidays. Why aren’t you married, why don’t you get a better job, why can’t you be more like <fillinyourperson>? And if they don’t say it, you know someone thinks it. Holiday in Handcuffs addresses this issue in a natural way. The entire family is looking to be accepted by someone else, and I often think need for acceptance is often overlooked, so it uses not one but all characters in this theme.
The stars: If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, this is Clarissa and Slater. The preteen/teen in you will appreciate seeing they haven’t changed much. Hart is still expressive and strong, Lopez is still a hunk and suave. Other stars include Timothy Bottoms (Land of the Lost) and Markie Post (Night Court), and June Lockheart (Step by Step, 90210), who you may remember as well.
Script: The script is well written, and there’s plenty of humor for adults. It’s a romcom for the generation who’s now in their ’30s, but fun for today’s teens too. The interactions between the characters feel real, and the funniest parts are the jabs and digs. There’s a good bit of sarcasm and wit, and tt’s not overly mushy. During the “romantic” parts, it still feels like real life.
Premise: With that said, the movie starts out with Hart kidnapping Lopez because she needs a man to take home for Christmas. (Her loser boyfriend dumps her hours before they’re supposed to be there). Sure, it’s a made for T.V. movie and a little silly, but good romcoms will have that special quirkiness that grabs you and makes you want to watch until the happy ending. And there’s always a happy ending.
Is Holiday in Handcuffs an Oscar winner? Nah, but not all good movies need to be. Sometimes it’s nice to kick back and just enjoy a fun, heartwarming movie that gets you away from the stress and to-do lists. So, if you need a good holiday movie that won’t make you cry, check it out. Happy Holidays, everyone!
If you’re reading this, you must have needed a break from the chaos and holiday cheer. I’m happy to help! In the spirit of the season, here’s my continuation from yesterday’s Christmas specials list:
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): I’m mean like Lucy and think Snoopy is the most smart-ass dog ever, so of course this is on my list. This is the only Peanuts special I really enjoy, and it’s message is very sweet. In fact, James even found a “tree” that reminded me of the one the kids took home and loved. The music is fun, too, and it’s a heart-warming little special that delivers a great message.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): My amazing grandmother used to read this book to us all the time. It’s a terrific story and probably my favorite Christmas special. The Grinch and I are a lot alike: our shoes are too tight, our hearts are two sizes too small, and we hate the whole Christmas season. And like the story goes, our hearts grow, we see the meaning of the season, and have the twinkle in our eye. The TV special comes alive with wonderful, catchy songs and colorful images, and who can forget the Grinch’s evil grin?
Wings – A Terminal Christmas (1990), Twas the Heist Before Christmas (1995), All About Christmas Eve (1996): Wings is one of my favorite shows ever, and I don’t get to work it in nearly enough! The Christmas specials are fun and quirky and real. There’s not much fake Christmas cheer – it’s like watching a group of people deal with the holidays with jokes and lots of sarcasm. Families annoy them and people freak out. Of course, shenanigans occur but everything works out in the end, in its own way.
Spongebob – Christmas Who? (2000) and Fairly Odd Parents Christmas Every Day (2001): Being a parent rocks most of the time, and I’ve enjoyed these gems with my son for years. Once Spongebob learns about Christmas, he tries to bring it to Bikini Bottom. Squidward is the Scrooge character, and it is a fun episode with lots of good songs and sweetness. In Fairly Odd Parents, Timmy wishes every day is Christmas and the repercussions of that wish are awesome. His parents become slugs, the other holidays riot against Santa, and the fairies lose their powers because they have to give them to Santa. The people are exhausted as they sing, “On the 15th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” Both shows are great for kids and adults.
Psych – Gus’ Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy (2007), Christmas Joy (2008), The Polarizing Express (2010): It’s hard for me to pick a favorite from these three; they’re all good for their own reasons. If you haven’t seen Psych and enjoy random fun with a little crime fighting, you should check it out. These specials stand alone, and all are SO funny. One of my favorite consistent themes is the competition between Shawn and his dad to guess what they got for Christmas. There’s nothing like a little game to spice up the holidays!
We hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday! Eat lots of food and laugh – it’s almost over!
My lovely and talented RevPub colleague posted her favorite and least favorite parts of the holiday season. In the same spirit, I thought I’d do a short and less creative list of my top five favorite holiday films, with a little bonus of holiday music at the bottom.
Christmas movies tend to follow a typical pattern, usually revolving around the “miracle” of Christmas and/or togetherness. That’s all well and good, but like any cliche it can get less entertaining as it’s used repeatedly in both movies and TV specials. Of course any “Christmas” movie will have that theme somewhere in it, but the ones I like tend to be the ones that either give that a twist (without devolving into pure anti-holiday, which seems like an easy way out in films) or use the holiday premise to make what might seem like a NON-holiday movie. Here they are, my top five Christmas movies!
5.) Die Hard: I used to say this was one of my top Christmas movies in high school and people looked at me like I was crazy. “That’s not a Christmas movie!” Since then, it’s kind of become accepted as indeed being a Christmas movie. The whole movie is set around the holidays (that’s why John McClain went to visit his wife after all) and references are made to Christmas all throughout (“It’s Christmas, Theo, it’s the time for miracles,” Run DMCs “Christmas in Hollis” at the beginning, and the holiday tape John uses at the end). Though the sequels diminished the premise, the original stands as one of the best action movies, and one of the most non-traditional, but still traditional, holiday films.
4.) The Ref: During the height of Dennis Leary’s MTV/standup rant-off, this movie came out as a good vehicle for the fast-talking comedian. Starring Leary, Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, and a great ensemble cast of character actors, the film revolves around a cat burglar who bungles a job and has to take the world’s most dysfunctional family hostage. You have bickering spouses, annoyed relatives, and the mother-in-law from hell; all while we sympathize with Gus, Leary’s character, trying to remain in control. It’s far from perfect, but full of SO many great moments (two words: Sink Sprayer), and is so much fun it has always been a Christmas favorite.
3.) Home Alone: I went through a period in high school of Home Alone hate. I remembered it as Macaulay Culkin running around screaming. It wasn’t until last year that I came full circle and realized what a great Christmas movie it is. Probably the “most traditional” (whatever that means) movie on the list, everyone knows the premise and knows it has the “miracle” ending, but in between there is so many hilarious and memorable scenes; Angels with Dirty Facesused on visitors, the “Rocking around the Christmas Tree” automated party, great dialogue exchanges (Marv: “Yeah kids are scared of the dark…” Harry: “You’re afraid of the dark too, Marv…”), and of course the booby trap bonanza at the end. Some consider it schmaltzy, but it is so much fun and emotional without being overly so it holds up better than ever.
2.) Lion in Winter: I came to this film relatively late. Obviously, a kid won’t be interested in a dialogue-heavy period piece from 1968, but college-me found how amazing this film is. Starring Peter O’Toole, Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, Richard Dalton, and a bevy of other terrific English actors, it’s set around Christmas time at the court of Henry II. He lets his rebellious wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, out for Christmas and the two of them scheme over who will inherit Henry’s kingdom (the noble but devious Richard or the dimwitted but supposedly-loyal John, middle son Geoffrey is largely overlooked). Though the premise is kinds and queens, it is actually just another messed-up family at Christmas and that’s what makes it great. I’ve never had a kingdom to bequeath, but many of us have seen parents bickering, kids taking sides, and random shocking admissions during family get-togethers. It’s an absolutely brilliant film, and one of my favorite movies, in addition to being a great holiday movie.
1.) TIE Scrooged & Nightmare Before Christmas: Richard Donner’s great retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is still my favorite Christmas movie. Perfectly cast, perfectly acted, wonderful moments of both emotion and humor. My RevPub counterpart did a masterly review on it previously and rather than just say it all again, here are her comments. I’ll just add, “I agree!” Nightmare Before Christmas is great because it’s both a Halloween and Christmas movie. It has all the terrific imagery of a Tim Burton film and explores the nature of one’s true-self and personal happiness. Even though it doesn’t have the typical “Christmas miracle” message, instead substituting a message of finding your place in your own world. It has wonderful music, a great story, and is perfect for TWO holidays!
Christmas music tends to have a grating effect on my psyche. There are only a couple notable exceptions and here they are in no particular order:
3.) Anything Heavy Metal: Raven posted a hard rock version of my favorite traditional Christmas song on her Good Things About Christmas post, and I tend to like the heavy rock versions of Christmas songs.
2.) Tales from the Crypt: Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas: My friend Kate at my previous job introduced me to this album. It is ridiculous, goofy, and sometimes so bad it’s good (the Crypt Keeper was like that…his puns…) but it’s so dark and wonderful, and a great change of pace for the holidays!
1.) John Denver and the Muppets A Christmas Together: My family doesn’t have a LOT of holiday traditions, but this is one. Every Christmas during the present opening we played this album. I know Muppet versions better than original versions of almost all of the songs on the album! I still play it at least once every year, and it’s one of those things that truly takes me back to that time when the world was simple, and sparkling lights and decorations made the world that much better of a place.
It’s Christmas time! That is supposed to mean harmony, togetherness, and good cheer; instead it’s usually stress, road rage, and social embarrassment.
This particular story relates to the latter category, and if I had an ounce of pride I would indeed find it rather embarrassing instead of merely hilarious.
I have recently purchased a new phone. My old Blackberry Bold (shut up, haters, I loved that tough lil bastard) fell face first on the tile and cracked the screen into oblivion, so I got a new Samsung Galaxy SIII. It was my first touch screen, my first smartphone, and my first real introduction to auto-correct. I’ve actually adjusted well to the use of it and enjoyed the applications, but there have been some hiccups in the adjustment. One such incident occurred while discussing a Christmas present I was getting for a good friend.
I enjoy picking out good presents and never expect anything in return, in what should be the true spirit of the season. This friend loves owls, and in addition to a few other things, I got her a little stuffed owl ornament. I should also mention that she is a NEWLYWED whose wedding I attended last year (and even danced Gangnam Style with her husband). When I found out she was getting me something too, this was the conversation that followed, the blue bubbles are me:
Now…clearly I’m getting used to the swipe texting feature, and they have the words listed in alphabetical order…so “owl” became “oral” with hilarious results.
You don’t even want to know what happens when I mis-swipe-text “and”…
From the RevPub family to yours, may your holidays be filled with as few socially embarrassing situations as possible!
As promised last week in my list of pet peeves, this week I’ll discuss the things that make my least favorite holiday more bearable – sometimes even enjoyable.
1. Christmas with family and friends – Some of my favorite memories are seeing my son’s eyes on Christmas morning. There’s something about the twinkle they have that seems to make it all worth it. Family Christmas is crazy town, and we all go a little overboard, but we have a great time and enjoy the chaos. My friends are the best, and it’s not because they give awesome gifts. Whether we’re playing video games or watching it snow, we always have fun.
2. Shopping Day – I hate shopping. You will never find me out on Black Friday. However, it has to be done, so my awesome RevPub partner James volunteered his company a few years ago to lend a hand. We take a Friday off from work and shop and eat. We leave at the time we’d normally go to work and come home eight or nine hours later – just like a regular work day. We run through my multiple lists, make fun of people, and have a blast. This year, the added bonus: it was Friday the 13th.
3. Buying special gifts – Although I hate to shop, I do love finding that perfect gift. It stresses me out terribly, and I plan for it all year. I love finding those unexpected things that actually surprise people. The gifts that are not on a list. And I don’t do gift cards unless the person leaves me no choice. People know when they open their gift that I put my brain and heart into it; that’s what’s important.
4. Christmas movies and specials –How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Scrooged, and While You Were Sleeping are in my top 20 favorite movies of all time. Christmas movies and cartoons are fun, lighthearted, and entertaining, and it’s an easy way to remind yourself that the world is not as crazy as it seems.
5. Lights and colors – Inflatables are a bit much, but it is nice to drive down a dark street and see a house lit in color and beauty – red, white, gold, blue, silver, and green. It’s the one time a year where color throws up all over the place and brightens things up.
Here’s my favorite traditional Christmas song, too. Enjoy!