Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Eve is sometimes merry and bright

Movie Title:   Christmas Eve

Grade: C+

Rating: PG, 1 hour 35 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This Christmas comedy features people trapped in various elevators on Christmas Eve in Manhattan and the insights they discover during their cramped, reflective moments.  It tries pretty hard to be profound and has a few shining moments. 

 If I had to be trapped in one of those elevators, I’d probably pick the one with the musicians, because at least they could pass the time with beautiful music.  Which one would you choose?

 Uplifting theme: 

  • Christmas Eve is the moment of hope, the night before the world changed.  Hope is a powerful thing.   You can change your world by changing yourself.
  • “There’s no such thing as a question without an answer.  You might not know it now, but it’s out there, waiting to be found, wanting to be found.  It’s almost always simple, so simple it’s almost silly and when you find it, well, there’s no feeling like it in the world.”  - Nick  (Taylor James)
Things I liked:

  • The cast includes a few famous people you’ve heard of: Patrick Stewart, Jon Heder, Cheryl Hines, Gary Cole, James Roday and Julianna Guill.  It’s also full of a lot of unknown actors who share the screen with equal time.  Good on them.
  • I got a kick out of seeing James Roday.  I haven’t seen him in anything since his hit TV crime comedy “Psych”.
  • Jenny Oaks Baker, who plays the violin player Mandy, is an accomplished violinist in real life!  She sent me a quote for one of my books and is a wonderful person!  I loved watching her play "Silent Night."
  • The script was realistic enough to show that at least one of the people stuck in the elevator for hours had to pee.
  • There is a group of medical providers stuck in one of the elevators who have a science vs. religion discussion, which makes the movie feel like a Christian film.  While a lot of Christian movies usually have a high “cheese” factor, I appreciated this element in a movie about Christmas.
  • I thought the “art tour” that Glen (Steve John Shepherd) took his trapped companions on was very sweet.  He revealed some important life lessons and elevated the movie during that one scene.
  • I like how the people’s lives were intertwined.
  • Keep watching during the rolling credits for two more little bits.  I wish B had said something like “Living” or “Photographing people who are alive” or something better than what he did.

Things I didn’t like:

  •  It would have been more fun to watch with more celebrities in the bit parts.
  • There are quite a bit of stereotypes and overacting that plays like farce, rather than clever comedy.
  • Patrick Stewart nailed it in A Christmas Carol several years ago, but in this film his Scrooge-like character monologues his change-of heart-crisis alone in his elevator, usually while yelling.

Did you know?

  • Surprisingly, the entire movie was filmed in Sofia, Bulgaria!
  • This is CNN talk-show host Larry King’s first time at producing a feature film.  His wife (the 7th one!) plays Nurse Byrnes who discusses religion with Dr. Roberts and encourages him to believe in “things unseen.”  Her name is Shawn Southwick King and she is a Mormon.  Jon Heder and Jenny Oaks Baker are two other Mormons in the film.
  • Mitch Davis also directed the Mormon-based film “The Other Side of Heaven”, which starred Anne Hathaway.  He must like that look for an actress, because every time I saw Margaret Clunie in this film, I thought of Anne.

Funny lines:

  • “I don’t live here.  I pop in.  I make a difference.  I pop out.”– B (James Roday)
  • “Do you play Fantasy Football yourself?” –  Randy (Max Casella)
           “No.  I’m not a loser.” – James (Jon Heder)

  • “Well, I’m Molly and I’ve been sober for 45 minutes.” – Molly (Roxanne Cook)
  • “We’re headed to a Salsa bar to dance with illegals. It’s our little Christmas charity.” – Molly
  • “I just want to say. I’m not afraid to eat you, if that’s what it comes down to.” – Walt
          “I think I figured out why you’re still single, Walt.” - Mandy


Interesting lines:

  • “Look, let’s be honest…God, white beard, angels.  Isn’t that the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?” – Dr. Roberts (Gary Cole)
  • “Is there anything about our existence that isn’t ridiculous?” – Nurse Byrnes
  • “The mind controls the body.  The body serves the mind.” –  Glen  (Nate Fallows)
  • The French art critic Andre Gide famously stated that art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does, the better.” – Glen
  • “No one even knew we were here.” – Molly
         “But we did.” –  Sherry

  • “Everything that has ever occurred, everything that ever will occur is subject to laws that are knowable and with enough of that knowledge, you could literally understand everything. And to live in recognition of that goal, between what is knowable which is everything and what is what we do know, which is nothing, well that’s more than sad; it’s the ultimate human tragedy.” – Nick

Tips for parents:   

  • An adult farts and another one throws up, but you don’t see it.
  • Some fighting and gun shots.
  • Very little profanity.
  • Children will probably be bored, as this is not a traditional Christmas movie with Santa Clause and lots of jingle-bell action. 
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