Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (PG13 – 152 minutes)

Let me say up front – I loved this movie.  If you did too – great!  If you didn’t, that’s cool too! 

I’m not going to give you any intensive backstory on Star Wars, honestly you know what you need.  The first one was actually episode IV, and was released in 1977, written by George Lucas.  He completed his original trilogy with Episode V in 1980, and Episode VI in 1983.  He then went back and added three prequels starting in 1999.  Star Wars has an incredibly passionate fan base, of which I am a member (I have just shy of a dozen Star Wars-related tattoos).  I have read a lot of the expanded universe novels – both the old ones that are no longer canon and the new ones that are. J.J. Abrams released Episode VII: The Force Awakens in 2015, and this one is by Rian Johnson.  In between we got our first ‘stand-alone’ Star Wars story with Rogue One, which was essentially Episode 3.75 and was outstanding.

This movie picks up right where the previous edition left off.  The Resistance, now in panic mode thanks to the First Order destroying most of the New Republic at the end of the previous movie, has been tracked to their base and is escaping right out from under the nose of the First Order, led by General Hux.  Rey, having left the resistance at the end of the previous movie with the blessing of General Leia Organa, follows the map they found to Ahch-To, where Jedi Master Luke Skywalker is hiding, having gone into self-exile (what is it with fallen Jedi Masters and self-exile?).
From this point forward – I’m giving you a spoiler warning, because to really get into what I loved, and what I didn’t, I do have to discuss story points.  So, Spoiler Alert!  Seriously, see it first, then read this.

When Luke does take his father’s lightsaber from Rey, (which is the one he first got from Old Ben Kenobi, and lost in the lightsaber fight in Cloud City and Maz Kanata had in a trunk in her castle), he looks at it, and promptly tosses is carelessly over his shoulder and off a cliff.  That gives you a quick sense of what this movie is all about, in the best possible way.  He’s serious about sticking with his self-exile, and doesn’t want to help Rey. She has Chewbacca knock down his door, and informs him of Han’s death, but still he doesn’t want to help.  After much persuasion, he finally agrees to give her three lessons.
Meanwhile, The Resistance realizes that the First Order can track them through lightspeed – and they are attacked after their next jump.  Kylo Ren hops in his ship, and sensing Leia on the bridge of her cruiser, doesn’t blast it – but his wingman definitely does.  This results in her getting blasted into space with the majority of the bridge crew. She uses the force to save herself, but remains unconscious, so Vice Admiral Holder takes command, and preps the Resistance to keep running as they burn fuel – which doesn’t sit well with hotshot fighter Poe Dameron.  He listens to Finn and Rose Tico tell him about a plan to get on board Supreme Leader Snoke’s Dreadnaught to disable the tracking – the three of them touch base with Maz Kanata – she tells them they need a master codebreaker, and they can find one in a casino on Canto Bight, so Rose and Finn head there to find said codebreaker.

Luke gives Rey a couple of lessons, between which she is having weird telepathic communication sessions with Kylo Ren.  He expresses some frustration to her, and she yells at him.  He gives her one account of what happened when he destroyed the Jedi temple – while Luke gives her another version.  Luke confesses he did think about killing him, but wasn’t going to, but Kylo is convinced he was about to be killed and acted to save himself.  Rey finds a weird hole/cave on Luke’s island/former Jedi temple that she goes into to face herself, and doesn’t really find the answers she is looking for – while Luke encounters a former teacher of his own, reminding him that he should let the past go.

Rose and Finn do not find the codebreaker they are looking for, get captured, but then get free with the assistance of another mysterious codebreaker named DJ, and some kids who are tending to a stable full of fathiers – or space horses. They get back to the fleet – and break into the dreadnaught to shut down the tracking device. Holdo preps the evacuation transports to run from the large cruiser, which Poe has an issue with, to the point of mutiny.  Rose and Finn are unsuccessful, Rey heads to face Kylo – leading to all of them on the Dreadnaught while the fleet makes a break for the nearby planet of Crait, which used to be a rebel outpost.  Snoke reveals he was aware of all of this, and gets lippy with Rey, leading to an incredible action sequence where Kylo and Rey battle (not each other) in Snoke’s throne room while Finn and Rose have to fight their way out of the ship with the assistance of BB8. Meanwhile, Holdo goes down with the cruiser in an incredibly spectacular way, so that the resistance can make it to the planet. 
This leads to the final battle scene you’ve seen in the trailers, with the larger walkers attacking the fortress while the rebels attempt to counterattack, just as Luke shows up to assist.  The resistance makes an escape, with Rey, Finn, Poe, and Rose looking to lead them in the future as the First Order recognizes a new Supreme Leader in Kylo Ren.

I liked the Force Awakens well enough, I enjoyed all the new characters, but honestly felt like I expected everything that happened in that movie.  This movie caught me completely unaware. I did not know what was going to happen next, or where the story was going to turn. And just when I thought I did – the story did something else.  The new characters got far more to do here, and really came into their own. The legacy characters were elevated to a level they deserved.  In particular, I loved the complete toss away of the two huge leftover questions from Force Awakens: 
Who is Snoke? It doesn’t matter. He was set up to be the huge big bad in the previous movie, and here, he’s disposed of fairly quickly, and is used as a tool to establish Kylo Ren as the new big bad – and also, clarify that he is now completely irredeemable. The Force Awakens left some question as to whether he could be ‘saved’ or brought back to the light side – after this movie, nope. 

Second question: Who are Rey’s parents?  It doesn’t matter – they’re either someone or no one. Kylo says they are just junk dealers on Jakku who sold her for drinking money – and that could be true or he could be attempting to manipulate her.  At first, I was a little disappointed with that, I did want her to be related to the legacy characters in some way – but, after “letting go of the past”, and realizing the Force can manifest in anyone, I really loved that turn.  Rey doesn’t need a fancy bloodline as an excuse to be powerful – she simply is powerful in and of her own right – which is wonderful. 
I loved seeing Leia use her force powers, but I wasn’t thrilled about her waking up floating in space and zooming herself back into the ship. I would have preferred her using a force bubble to protect the bridge as it was exploding – but hey, I’ll take it. I loved Luke’s character – his grumpy brokenness at the beginning, and his confident coolness at the end. His moment of saying goodbye to Leia, reminding her that those we lose are never far from us was incredibly touching. I loved the scene of him stepping out to face the entire first order by himself, and simply brushing off his shoulder after Kylo fires every single gun he has at him. 

I enjoyed the scenes in the casino – but I wasn’t happy they dared to go to a casino in the Star Wars universe and Lando Calrissian was not there. You know he would own that place by now. 
Yes, the story overall is a bit of a downer - hell, by the end, the resistance seems to be down to just enough folks to fill the Falcon, barely, but it does end with hope.  Since Finn, Rose, and BB8’s side mission really ends up not working and having almost no bearing on the story, some have argued it was unnecessary, but I enjoyed it. I liked those two characters, and I liked them having an adventure together. I enjoyed the introduction of the stable kids, who come back in at the very end of the movie.  I’m not thrilled that we seem to have seen the end of Captain Phasma? I sure hope she’s back in some way, but I can’t imagine how.  I love the Porgs. I really loved all the creatures in this one, the fathiers, the crystal foxes (vulptex), but the Porgs are especially silly and wonderful.

I loved the overall message of moving forward, and that the force can and exist for anyone.  The last scene of the movie is the stable kids telling the story to each other, and when one goes out to sweep, he force-pulls the broom to his hand, just before looking out to the skies with hope.  Johnson did an incredible job of taking what was built before he came to the table – looking at it, and then making an exceptionally new story in the framework that was there – being unafraid to tear down that framework if necessary. It was ballsy, for sure.  Visually, the movie is stunning, the space battles are astounding, and the planets are lovely – especially Crait at the end with its dusting of white salt on top of the brilliant red mineral underneath – resulting in blood-red trails anytime someone disturbs the surface. The costumes were exceptional – no, I don’t know why Holder is wearing an evening gown in battle – but man, what a gown!  The look was great, the story, was great, but the cast blew me away.
  • Mark Hamill was the heart and soul of the original trilogy.  Where the others were uninvolved, and a little bit uninterested – Hamill was the one who knew the potential of Star Wars, and committed to doing what he could to pushing that potential as high as possible.  Here, he gets to do things we never expect from Luke – including milk a crazy sea-cow type thing, and then drink it (a scene both hilarious and disturbing). He also gets to explain why he is so afraid of continuing the Jedi order, but then realize that it will go on without him, and so give Rey what he can. Hamill’s performance shifts from one end of the spectrum to another, with every moment feeling honest and believable. He’s exceptional, and is finally getting the recognition he has always deserved.

  • Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Leia is strong and confident – even in the face of incredible losses.  I loved that she kept hope through the entire movie until just at the end – which only lasts for a moment, until Luke shows up to restore it. She’s as sassy as she has ever been, and the costuming was incredible. I will say that I felt nervous the entire movie – expecting her to be killed off at some point since Carrie Fisher is no longer with us, but I am grateful she makes it through – I like the idea of Leia at large in the galaxy, fighting injustice with an attitude.

  • Adam Driver plays Kylo Ren, and has more to do in this movie than just be a whiny bitch.  He was loosely defined in the previous film, but here – after eliminating everything tying him to the past, he can now truly become the evil and power he was meant to be.  He was creepy and almost-convincing while communicating with Rey.

  • Daisey Ridley plays Rey, and she is just getting better and better. She is determined to get what she needs from Luke, and when he won’t help her – she searches elsewhere.  Her revelation at the end of the movie as the force-source of hope for the resistance going forward just makes me excited for what comes next.

  • John Boyega plays Finn, and again has more to do this time.  His character continues to evolve, building his hatred of the First Order and his determination to do what he can to fight against it. I really enjoyed his building relationship with Rose as well.

  • Kelly Marie Tran plays Rose, and after the trauma of losing her sister in the opening battle of the movie, she sticks by Finn’s side to try to do what she can to assist the Resistance in its fight against the First Order.  She helps him realize that not everything is black and white, and that there are shades of gray in war – with profiteers on both sides.

  • Oscar Isaac plays Poe Dameron, and he’s a little more annoying in this movie – if he would just listen to orders, but no – he feels like he knows best and gets upset when those in charge won’t tell him every little piece of his plan. His heart’s in the right place, but sheesh – you don’t know everything dude.

  • Andy Serkis plays Snoke, and no – you really get no answers on who he is, where he came from, or what his plans are – and really, that’s fine.  He’s a storytelling device used to solidify the evil of Kylo Ren, and I like that.

  • Domhnall Gleeson plays General Hux, and he’s just there to be the egotistical leader of the First Order. I don’t get tired of seeing him get belittled and beaten.

  • Gwendoline Christie plays Captain Phasma, and she gets an awesome fight with Finn, but it’s not enough.

  • Laura Dern plays Vice Admiral Holdo, and I appreciated how she was a bit mysterious at first – can we trust her, or not?  By the end, she proved herself to be an incredibly capable military leader who was not taking crap from anyone. Also – she hyperdrives her ship through the dreadnaught in one of the coolest scenes ever.  Just awesome.

  • Benicio del Toro plays DJ, and seems mostly useless. Maybe he’ll return?

Overall, yes, you should see it – the action should please even non-fans. Yes, there’s a lot of noise from folks about how it’s “too different”, but those are the same folks who complained that the Force Awakens was “too similar”.  Look – it’s a new Star Wars movie, and you can form your own opinion about it.  I loved it, I loved the theme of letting go and focusing on moving forward – as well as the theme that you don’t have to be anyone special to do the right thing when it matters, and step into the heroic moment that presents itself.

10 out of 10 – took off a half point for no Lando, but gave it back for the porgs.

Bonus!  The LAMBCast discussing Last Jedi !

Monday, December 18, 2017

Retro Movie Review: Scrooged (1988 – PG13 – 101 minutes)

The second of my four recommended holiday movies brings us to Scrooged.  Charles Dickens first wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1843 and since then, there have been countless versions on both stage and screen.  In this particular version, the story was updated for 1988 and Bill Murray.

The story follows Frank Cross, a very Scrooge-like President of the IBC television network.  As his network is preparing to air a live version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, he is forcing everyone to work on the holiday.  He fires Eliot Loudermilk for daring to disagree and asking if they can go home, and refuses to give anyone Christmas bonuses; and sends everyone on his Christmas list a monogrammed towel.  While he’s busy being a dick; his boss has hired Brice Cummings, a dude clearly after Frank’s job.  Before the show is scheduled to start, Frank has an encounter with the ghost of his mentor, who of course, warns him that he will be visited by three spirits. 

The first of the spirits – the Ghost of Christmas Past - takes Frank back to his childhood in 1955. His father was cold, and Frank fell in love with TV.  Then they head to 1969 to see Frank meet Claire, and as he slowly rises in his career, how badly he began to treat her. When Frank pops back into the present, he heads down to visit Claire, but reverts back to his terrible self, telling her that she is letting her life pass her by and she should only care about herself.
After blowing that encounter, Frank heads back to the studio – double checking the final preparations when the Ghost of Christmas Present arrives as a violent fairy-type. She shows Frank how his assistant Grace has been struggling to take care of her family because of the hours Frank makes her work. Her son, Calvin, is mute, and has been since the death of his father. They also get the chance to see Frank’s brother James who still invites Frank to come every year, even though he never does.  After witnessing all this, Frank is starting to go a little crazy, so his boss puts Brice in charge. 
Eliot, returns to shoot Frank for ruining his life and while Frank tries to hide in an elevator, he runs right into the Ghost of Christmas Future, who, like in all previous versions – is mostly terrifying.  Here, it’s a huge cloaked skeleton with tortured souls trapped inside and a TV for a head. The ghost shows him that his current path will result in him dying alone and unloved. Terrified, he snaps back to the present, rehiring Eliot immediately.  Frank goes on camera during the live show to apologize to Claire and James, and to basically everyone. Claire, witnessing this epiphany on TV, rushes to the studio to see Frank, just in time for Calvin to speak and everyone to break into song.

The movie is directed by Richard Donner, yes, the same Richard Donner who did Superman.  The story is predictable, because it is the classic version, just updated. But that doesn’t make it any less chaming, or relatable.  After being shown the error of his ways, Frank is reminded that it is not too late to make a change for the better – and that is a moral that will never go out of style.  The movie is really funny, but does have some genuine frightening moments in it with the Ghosts and especially the casket sequence. 
  • Bill Murray is the perfect choice for this role, taking the snarky self-involved character he had perfected prior to this and elevating it just enough to make him unbearable.  That makes the transformation after the evening of ghosts even more meaningful.

  • Karen Allen (yes, Lois) plays Claire, and straightforward and calm to Murray’s crazy.

  • Jon Forsythe plays Frank’s mentor Lew, who tries to warn Frank about his ways, as they have affected Lew in his own afterlife.

  • John Glover (who would eventually be Lionel Luthor on Smallville) plays Brice Cummings, the up-and-comer who tries to take Frank's job.

  • Alfre Woodard plays Grace, Frank’s overworked and underappreciated assistant.

  • Bobcat Goldthwait plays Eliot – working his particular brand of crazy into a specific crazy that would attempt to kill the boss who fired him on Christmas Eve.

  • David Johansen plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, and drives his cab all over Frank's memories.

  • Carol Kane plays the Ghost of Christmas Present, and is surprisingly violent for a fairy-type creature.

  • Robert Mitchum plays the station president. 

  • John Murray plays Frank’s brother James and Wendie Malick plays his wife Wendie, while Brian Doyle-Murray plays their father.

Overall, the movie holds up because Dickens wrote a great story and because of the fabulous cast and entertaining circumstances.  If you haven’t seen it in a while, be sure to check it out this holiday season.

8 out of 10

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Movie Review: The Disaster Artist (R – 104 minutes)

In 2003, a movie called The Room debuted in Los Angeles.  The movie was written, produced, directed by, and financed by Hollywood mystery Tommy Wiseau.  It swiftly became beloved as one of the worst movies ever made and is now the subject of many a late-night screening involving audience participation, similar to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tommy’s friend and co-star Greg Sestero eventually wrote a book about his friendship with Tommy and the experience making the now infamous movie.  That book is the basis of this movie directed and produced by James Franco.

The story begins with Greg struggling through an acting class in San Francisco when he is about 18.  He meets Tommy in the class, and is blown away by Tommy’s commitment (perhaps over-commitment is a better word) and asks to be his scene partner.  Tommy is a mystery, refusing to say where he’s from, aside from New Orleans – despite a very clear eastern European accent. He seems to have an endless supply of money, despite not working, and he also refuses to tell anyone how old his is – continuing to state that he’s about the same age as Greg – which is clearly untrue. Greg introduces Tommy to several movies he was unfamiliar with, including James Dean’s work, and together, the two decide to move to Los Angeles to make it in the business.

Once in L.A., and after receiving several negative responses – Tommy decides to write, direct, and produce his own movie, talking Greg into starring in it.  Together, they hire a cast and a crew, and set about making Tommy’s insane vision come to life.
After a brief falling out, the two reunite for the premiere, and the audience laughs just about through the entire movie at the terrible acting, lack of story, and poor production value.  Tommy is at first distraught, but Greg helps him to realize that people love the movie – even if not in the way he meant them to.  The movie ends with scenes from the original movie played side by side with scenes that were re-done for The Disaster Artist, and it is truly magical.

I was familiar with the Room before seeing this – mainly due to the episode of the How Did This Get Made Podcast about The Room with Greg Sestero.  I was pleasantly surprised by this version. It ends up as a love letter to anyone who has a dream and the motivation to make it come true.  It is surprisingly touching and charming, directed with just enough reality to allow you to believe that Tommy is crazy, but never pushed to finding him abrasive or despicable. The cast is just fabulous, and Franco made a point to surround himself with friends, which really helps center the focus on friendship.

  • James Franco plays Tommy Wiseau, and if you were unfamiliar with the Room or Tommy in general, you may be puzzled with his performance, or think he’s way over the top.  That’s why it is such a good idea to layer the original movie scenes over the reshot scenes so that you can see exactly how accurate his portrayal is.

  • Dave Franco plays Greg, and while much shorter than the real Greg, his earnest-ness and desire to help out his friend comes through. The wig is terrible. Since the entire movie is essentially James and Dave, their inherent fraternal chemistry really plays well into their on-screen friendship.

  • Seth Rogen plays Sandy, the Script Supervisor who steps in to help direct the scenes that Tommy is in.  His complete disbelief at the entire situation helps as an ‘in’ for the audience, and yes, he gets most of the comedic lines.

  • Ari Graynor plays Juliette – the actress who plays Lisa in the Room.  She’s mostly bewildered by the process, but does her best to stay professional throughout.

  • Alison Brie plays Amber, a woman that Greg meets and begins dating when he moves to L.A.
  • Jacki Weaver plays Carolyn, the woman who plays Lisa’s mom in the Room – with the infamous ‘breast cancer’ line that never comes back into the story.
  • Paul Scheer plays Raphael, the Director of Photography who pairs with Sandy on his level of disbelief and is constantly arguing with Tommy – getting fired and rehired at least once.

  • Zac Efron plays Dan, the actor who has one scene in the Room, and then shows up at the premiere.  Honestly, I did not recognize him until the last sequence of the movie.

  • Josh Hutcherson plays Phillip, the actor who plays Denny in the Room.  He has lots of questions about his character: how old is he, what is his relationship to the other characters? True to the original movie, none of those seem to get answered.

  • Megan Mullally plays Greg’s mom, who attempts to ask Tommy how old he is when he and Greg decide to move to L.A. – she does not get an answer.
  • To round out the ‘How Did This Get Made’ podcast trifecta, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas also have small roles in the movie.

Overall, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.  In general, I don't enjoy movies by this group of dudes - mainly because they are normally crass stoner movies, and that's just not in my wheelhouse.  This however is a different type of story. It really is at its core a very simple story about friendship and chasing dreams.  On top of that it’s really hilarious, so you should definitely see it.
8 out of 10 – fantastic. Gained points for the side-by-side scenes at the end.

Bonus Cast interviews:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Retro Movie Review: Elf (2003- PG – 97 minutes)

Because I don't go to the theater as often in December (Oscar-bait movies are things I wait to see), I decided to review a holiday movie I enjoy every week this December. It worked pretty well for horror movies for October!

Back in 2003, Jon Favreau was still the dude from the Swingers movie, and had not yet become the director who would launch the MCU with Iron Man.  Will Ferrell had just left Saturday Night Live, and was ready to begin his movie career.  The two of them teamed up to create what I would call a really fun Christmas movie that would then go on to spawn a Broadway musical.

Elf begins with a baby crawling into Santa’s bag while he is delivering gifts at an orphanage. He gets taken back up to the North Pole, and is raised by Papa Elf as an elf called Buddy and works in Santa’s workshop.  Buddy grows up at the north pole, thinking he is an elf, but because he’s actually human sized, inevitably Papa Elf has to tell him the truth.  He’s actually the son of Walter Hobbs and Susan Wells.  Susan has died, but Walter is alive and well, and working for a children’s book publisher, having no idea that Buddy exists. After learning from Santa that Walter is on the naughty list, Buddy heads to New York to attempt to meet and redeem his father.

Buddy gets into the building where his father works, but the meeting goes about as well as you would expect between an uptight New Yorker and a nearly six-and-a-half foot man dressed as an elf, and Buddy gets kicked out by security. He then goes to Gimbel’s department store and gets mistaken for an employee due to his elf outfit.  While ‘working’, he meets Jovie, who is not thrilled about Christmas, or Buddy, or anything really.  When Buddy learns from the manager that Santa will be at the store tomorrow – Buddy uses his elf skills to decorate the store overnight.

Buddy gets into it with the ‘fake’ Santa, because he is used to the real Santa, and ends up in jail where Walter does come to bail him out after having run a DNA test to find out that Buddy is his son.  Walter takes him back home where he meets his stepmother (Emily) and half-brother (Michael). Everyone finds Buddy really annoying and weird, but Emily insists that he stay until he can get back on his feet.

Michael pretty quickly befriends Michael, since they act the same age, and Buddy can make and throw snowballs faster than anyone else. Michael encourages Buddy to go on a date with Jovie, which actually goes pretty well.  Meanwhile, Walter is struggling at work, and needs to deliver a brand new book.  He attempts to bring Buddy to work with him, which goes very poorly, costing Walter a book deal, and causing him to kick Buddy out.  Buddy, depressed, is going to head back home and Michael goes to tell Walter, who suddenly and conveniently realizes the importance of family over profit (hey, it’s a Christmas movie, that’s how these things go), and goes to help Michael find Buddy. 

Santa’s sleigh crashes in Central Park (hey, again, it’s a Christmas movie, these things happen) due to a shortage of Christmas spirit (because that is what powers the sleigh). Buddy is helping him fix it when Michael and Walter find him and realize everything he’s been telling him about his upbringing is true.  Jovie leads the slowly assembling crowd in singing, which raises enough Christmas spirit to get the sleigh in the air just in time to evade capture.  This leads to a happy ending for everyone as Walter starts his own business, and Buddy and Jovie get married and have a baby.

Jon Favreau has a wonderful touch with this movie, really letting Ferrell shine with this character.  Sure, it’s over the top with the super-sugary holiday cheeriness, but honestly, that’s what you want from this type of flick. It’s short enough to not wear out its welcome and has become one of my newer holiday favorites.  The cast is just about perfect, and really helps to sell the story.

  • Will Ferrell is often just a bit too much for me, but here, that ‘too muchness’ works perfectly for this character, and he is the heart and soul of the movie. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in his love of Christmas.

  • James Caan plays Walter Hobbs – and is the perfect old grump to play an old grump.

  • Zooey Deschanel plays Jovie, and her bland flatness actually pairs perfectly with Ferrell’s outrageous joy.

  • Mary Steenburgen plays Emily, Michael’s mother and Buddy’s new stepmother.  She does what she can to be patient and kind even when Buddy is really annoying everyone else.

  • Ed Asner plays Santa, who keeps the kid he accidentally picked up at an orphanage?!?  I guess that’s okay? Hey, people are a resource and he needs folks to staff the workshop, I suppose.

  • Bob Newhart plays Papa Elf, who raises Buddy and has near-infinite levels of patience with him.

  • Faizon Love is the manager of Gimbel’s and is there to attempt to tolerate Buddy’s overflowing Christmas spirit.

  • Peter Dinklage has basically a cameo as Miles Finch, a best-selling children’s author who Buddy mistakes for an elf.

  • Amy Sedaris plays Deb, Walter’s secretary, and works some hilarity out of the couple of scenes she has.

  • Andy Richter and Kyle Gass play Walter’s co-workers.
  • Artie Lange plays the fake Gimbel’s Santa who Buddy claims “sits on a throne of lies!”

Overall, it’s charming, sweet and fun, and if you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it in a while – I’m sure it will be on TV several times this season, go ahead and check it out.  It’s sure to elevate your Christmas spirit levels – maybe not enough to fly a sleigh – but certainly higher than they were.

8 out of 10 – It’s not perfect, some of it is just way too much, and watching Buddy eat makes me a little nauseous.  But it is really super fun.