Archive for November, 2010

** Finding John Christmas (2003)

Daniel H Blatt Productions, Viacom Productions

Valerie Bertinelli, William Russ, David Cubitt, Jennier PIsana, Maria Ricossa, Patricia Gage, Peter Falk

This is the second of the “Max” movies starring Peter Falk as an mysterious Christmas Angel.   Kathleen McAllister (Valerie Bertinelli) is a nurse who works in an Emergency Room that is about to be closed.  They need money to keep it open and she’s running a charity fundraiser to try to save it.  A photographer takes a random photo of a man with a flag next to Santa.  Kathleen sees the picture on the front page and figured out it was her brother who disappeared some years ago.   Funny thing is that the Santa in the photo is not there when it was developed.  The photo touches people so much especially after he saves a man from a heart attack, that she dubs him “John Christmas” and offers a reward to anyone who can find him and identify him so that he can be honored as a hero.  But John Christmas has a secret that is eating him alive, and he just doesn’t want to come home.

There is a twist in the end of this story that might be obvious to some, but is still an excellent story.  Even though it’s set around the Christmas season, the meaning and feelings of this transcend all seasons.  It’s a very touching movie with a great message.  Other Max movies are “When Angels Come to Town” and “A Town without Christmas”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this movie:
Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Author: EdG

There are currently 1 Comment on this post.

Daniel H Blatt Productions, Paramount Network Television Productions

Mark Akeson, Dylan Aucoin, Tammy Blanchard, Wyatt Bowen, Babs Chula, Alexander Conti, Rosey Edeh, Peter Falk, Kathleen Fee, Seann Gallagher, Aaron Grunfeld, Danny Blanco all, Mark Antony Krupa, Marina Lapina, Pierre LeBlanc, Katey Sagal

Max the Angel (Peter Falk) returns in the 3rd installment of this series.  In this story Max returns to help a poor soul but goes to the wrong address.  He reads the card upside down as 666 instead of 999 so he leaves a very important box at the wrong address.  So another angel  Jo (Katey Sagal) comes down to help straighten it out.  They try to work as a team, although they’re a strange pair.

Turns out the two mortals have met each other a long time ago, and become involved in the mystery of the box and where it came from.  But there are major troubles.  Sally (Tammy Blanchard) works for the Beehive department store and business is tough.  She and her little brother are recently orphaned, and she wants desperately to adopt her little brother so they can stay together.  Meanwhile,  Karl (Seann Gallagher) is estranged from his father, and immigrant who ran his grandfather’s business of hand-making glass ornaments.  Karl is changing with the times and trying to modernize, but his father is very angry that he is not following the family tradition of hand making the ornaments.

Everything turns worse and it seems that Max and Jo have made a mess of things.  But these two are experts in the job of helping people, so don’t count them out.

This whole series is sappy and sentimental, and it goes for the tear ducts, for sure, but it’s a wonderful story.  The first two “A Town Without Christmas” and “Finding John Christmas” are both probably better than this one, but the complexities in this story make it interesting as well.   These seem to be repeated every Christmas and are ones that I try to see when I can.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this movie:
Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Author: EdG

There are currently No Comments on this post.

Craig Anderson Productions, The Family Channel, Hallmark Entertainment

Diana Scarwid, Robert Urich, Tegan Moss, Brittney Irvin, Alexander Pollock, Tom Heaton, Alf Humphreys, Matthew Walker


True life depression era story of a Detroit man who’s unemployed and arrested for a crime he didn’t commit.  His three kids are convinced he’s not guilty and vow to do everything they can do to get him out of jail by Christmas.  But how can they do anything?  Well, the kids learned in school that Herbert Hoover is the most powerful man in the world because he is the president, and so they figure out he’s their only hope. So off they head to the White House.

On the way they meet some really colorful characters.  But in these times when the economy is floundering this film really hits home.  We’re in a similar situation today, but it’s interesting how differently we are handling it today.  It’s an interesting comparison.  The drive and pride and love of country they used to have is awesome.

This is an intense film with a lot of emotion.  It’s a roller coaster ride, and certainly pulls the heart strings.  But it’s a fine story and a worthwhile couple hours. One note, the story is based on something that really happened.  However according to reports, no one actually talked to Bernice Feagan prior to the project, and she was not even aware until after it was done.  It is also said that the writers took a lot of liberties in how and when it happened.  But the basic facts of the story are true.  Just don’t accept the way it happened as fact.  Still, it’s a decent movie that looks and feels like an authentic 1940’s film.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this movie:
Rating: 3.8/5 (9 votes cast)

Author: EdG

There are currently No Comments on this post.

** Mr. St. Nick (2002)

Hallmark Entertainment, Mr. St. Nick Inc.

Kelsey Grammer, Charles Durning, Katherine Helmond, Brian Bedford, Elaine Hendrix, Ana Ortiz, Luis Garcia, Lupe Ontiveros, Brian Miranda, Wallace Shawn


I’m not a big fan of this film.  It was probably fresher in 2002, but now it’s kind of corny.  Kelsey Grammer is Nick St. Nicholas, and Charles Durning is his father, His Majesty  Santa Claus XX.   Well the old man is ready to turn the scepter over to Nick Jr. but he’s not ready.  He needs to find a Mrs. Claus and cut out the Miami playboy life and grow up and get busy in the family business.  But he’s obviously not ready and Mr. Claus doesn’t seem to be ready to give it up yet, even though he’s not really up to it anymore.   (Now maybe he could have just slipped off someone’s roof an conned them into taking over, but that is a different movie).

So Nick Jr. gets a new housekeeper/personal assistant who is really just looking for a green card.   He also gets taking in by some big time scammers in a fake charity and almost blows his chances with Dad.

So, all in all, I feel Kelsey is annoying and doesn’t seem the character.  Durning is a great Santa, Katherine Helmond has always rubbed me the wrong way in any of her roles, most notably in Soap and Who’s the Boss  (Mona!).  The best characters in this film, aside from Santa himself, are the scammers.  There just isn’t much heart in this film, and it’s one of the least of my holiday favorites by far.  This would be on my skip list (unless you’re nursing that broken leg and have nothing better to do! 🙂

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this movie:
Rating: 2.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Author: EdG

There are currently No Comments on this post.

** Ebbie (1995)

Crescent Entertainment

Susan Lucci, Wendy Crewson, Ron Lea, Molly Parker, Lorena Gale, Jennifer Clement, Nicole Parker, Susan Hogan, Kevin McNulty, Taran Noah Smith

Ebbie is another modern retelling of A Christmas Carol by Dickens.  It’s from 1995, but it’s still pretty fresh.  It’s also one of the cleverest updates to the story, but for some reason, for me, it’s not nearly the best.  I am not sure why it fails, but it just doesn’t seem interesting enough.

This is the story of a ruthless business-woman who owns a department store.  Her name is Elizabeth (Ebby) Scrooge.  Her partner, Jake Marley is dead, but keeps popping up in some unusual locations (no mere doorknockers here) until he finally catches up with Ebbie in an elevator and informs her that she will “have to take 3 meetings”.  Of course she’d rather have a conference call and get them all over with at once.

Well, you get the idea.   The “ghosts” in this version are very strange (although I guess not quite as strange as William Shatner in “A Carol Christmas”) but the do make an attempt to actually use a lot of well known Dickens phrases verbatim from the book.  This tends to keep reminding you of whose story you’re watching.   The first “ghost” are actually two bimbos (?) who don’t make much sense.  The next appointment is with (get this) a jolly lady dressed up in ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, and a hat decorated with scissors.  (Christmas PRESENT, get it!)  Then they have to actually SAY it in case you missed it.

All in all it’s not a bad redo of Scrooge.  It’s sharp looking, the actors do a good job, the settings are good, but all the “spirit” of the original “little ghost story” is pretty much ruined by the constant references to business meetings, appointment, and conferences.  The Crachet’s just don’t cut it either.  Poor Tim can’t get better because the insurance plan at the store sucks.   This movie could have been a lot better.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rate this movie:
Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Author: EdG

There are currently No Comments on this post.