Batman: The Movie is the groovy motion picture the Dark Knight deserves, but not the one he needs. Batman is among the greatest superheroes ever created. He’s had so many mostly dark iterations over the years. Yet his first major live-action outing was in the campy 1966 television series. Most people are familiar with the lighthearted take on the Caped Crusader. While not as much as my parents, I’ve certainly seen my fare share of colorful episodes. Adam West is an ideal crime fighter whose theatrical speech pattern makes him the perfect “Bright Knight.” The ironically named Burt Ward is always by his side as his old chum Robin. “Holy Sidekick Batman!” It was intended for a movie to be released before the show, but it didn’t arrive until after season 1. Batman: The Movie brings the bright brisk world of Gotham City to the big screen for the very first time (not as a serial). Batman and Robin fight crime and teach important lessons along the way. Their latest villainous plot to take down is one foiled by The Joker, Penguin, Riddler, and Catwoman. The mustachioed Cesar Romero, salty Burgess Meredith, and goofy Frank Gorshin all reprise their roles. With the exception of least memorable Catwoman Lee Meriwether replacing Julie Newmar. They plot a ridiculously complicated plan to dehydrate world leaders. With Bruce Wayne blissfully unaware that his new lady love is the felonious feline. Together the Dynamic Duo “Pow!” and “Sock!” their way through every henchman and utilize the Batmobile, Batcopter, Batboat, and even Shark Repellent Bat-Spray. But the crowning achievement of camp by far is Batman unsuccessfully trying to get rid of a bomb. Batman: The Movie is just good old fashioned Bat-fun. What will I review next? Find out tomorrow! Same Bat-time, same Bat-blog!
The Jerk is Navin R. Johnson. Well actually he doesn’t become a jerk until the end. Navin is at first just a slow-witted grown man played by Steve Martin. He was born a poor black child. Meaning he was adopted by African-American sharecroppers. He never realized he was adopted despite all the obvious clues. Navin decides to sets out to find fortune and glory in St. Louis. Along the way finding a dog he names Sh*thead, working at a gas station, carnival, finding his “special purpose,” falling in love with Marie, and eventually becoming a millionaire. After he unknowingly invents glasses that don’t fall off the head. As you’d probably expect, Navin’s fabulous wealth is what turns him into the titular jerk. Steve Martin is a riot in what is surprisingly his first starring role. The most memorable scene is one involving Navin being shot at by a crazy guy for no apparent reason. He misses every time, only managing to hit the cans. “Stay away from the cans!” This is also apparently the first Carl Reiner directed movie I’ve seen. His style of humor is very similar to his friend Mel Brooks. They both tend to gravitate towards edgy material. In this case, it’s all the stereotypes that surround Navin and his black family. It’s still funny, but hasn’t completely aged well. That being said, you’d have to be “some kind of a jerk, or something” not to give The Jerk a chance.
Jumanji: The Next Level seemed like a replay of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, but somehow it’s just as hilarious and action-packed the second (third?) time around. Even though the story of kids getting sucked into a video game and winning seemed pretty closed, a nearly billion dollar box office haul begged the differ. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black all return looking exactly the same. The biggest difference being who ends up as who. Jumanji: The Next Level picks up with the four kids now attending college and reuniting for Christmas break. Only one of them misses who he was in the game. So he foolishly rebuilds Jumanji. Unbeknownst to his friends, two more people accidentally end up in the game. Danny DeVito becomes Dwayne Johnson and Danny Glover becomes Kevin Hart. Both are hilarious playing even more against type than before. Karen Gillan stays the same, but Jack Black is now the black jock. Making the body swap humor all the more wacky. This time their adventure takes them to burning desserts and snowy mountains. Another addition is the inclusion of two new avatars. One is Awkwafina as a crafty burglar and the other is a horse. Nick Jonas does return, so you can probably guess who ends up in what body. Although everyone does eventually end up back in their original avatar. The funniest scenes are sort of similar to what came before. Jumanji: The Next Level sticks with what works, but adds enough to pack a punch.
Preceded by: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Noelle is a jolly invitation into the exciting new landscape of Disney+. It’s not enough that the streaming service includes just about every Disney property ever made, there’s original stuff on it as well. So as soon as it launched my brother and I binged everything new first. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, The Mandalorian, Lady and the Tramp, and Noelle. The latter being the only true original of the bunch. Noelle is the latest Christmas offering from Disney. It’s about the Santa Claus that we all know and love passing his title on to a successor (that old chestnut). Only this time Santa has a son and daughter named Nick and Noelle Kringle. With their father’s passing, an unenthusiastic Nick becomes next in line. Leaving his extra cheerful sister Noelle to see that he fulfills his duty. Until he runs away, with her trying to get him back in time for Christmas Eve. Noelle is not even close to being an annual Christmas classic. Even with the infectious Christmas spirit of Anna Kendrick. While it is refreshing to see such an innocent G rated Christmas flick, it’s still nothing I haven’t seen many times before. Some of its interpretations are a bit unimaginative too. Like the elves looking like full grown people with pointy ears. Obviously you can see the ending coming from a mile away. I wasn’t overly bothered by it, since there’s like a hundred different interpretations of Santa. Noelle is just good cheer in an average package. Merry Christmas Eve!
Arthur Christmas is Christmas with a British twist. After converting to computer animation with Flushed Away, Aardman Animation once again went the CGI route with Arthur Christmas. This time with Sony Animation distributing instead of Dreamworks. It’s just a bit hard to tell, since it’s the only Aardman film that doesn’t bare their usual character designs. Santa has been interpreted so many ways in media, but Arthur Christmas might be the most unique. The North Pole is more like a military compound. The elves are like soldiers and Santa is like a general. Probably the most interesting change is that the sleigh is now a giant flying saucer. The title of Father Christmas is like a mantle passed down for generations. With the current Santa growing increasingly weary, his militaristic oldest son Steven is ready to take over. Only he’s a bit too structured for the job. His younger brother Arthur who answers all the kids mail, is much more qualified. He proves this after it’s discovered that a child’s been missed. So Arthur and his grandfather take the original sleigh and reindeer to get that one girl’s bike under her tree. What follows is a big hearted adventure where everyone’s Christmas spirit is put to the ultimate test. Although it’s been hailed as an instant Christmas classic, I’m sorry to say I wasn’t immediately won over by it. It was funny at times, but I guess I found it to be a bit too non-traditional. I probably just need to rewatch Arthur Christmas, because I’ve grow to appreciate the moral. That it doesn’t matter how a present is given, it only matters that someone cares.
Home Alone: The Holiday Heist goes the Home Alone 3 route of focusing on a random kid we don’t care about. This movie was made just to be part of ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. Obviously, since there’s no other reason for it to exist. Just trying to squeeze a little more nostalgia out of Macaulay Culkin’s Christmas classic. The kid this time is an even less memorable kid named Finn. He thinks his new house is haunted. Wait is this 25 Days of Christmas or 13 Nights of Halloween? The house isn’t haunted, it’s just being ransacked by the worst set of disposable criminals yet. A girl complaining about her break up, a Snoop Dogg look alike, and Malcolm McDowell who for some reason agreed to be in this. They’re searching for a priceless painting or something. I kind of zoned out. Yes, Finn does wind up home alone, but his older sister isn’t far behind. All the other movies are referenced in some way. Yet that doesn’t help it standout. The traps are just juvenile at this point. Home Alone: The Holiday Heist proves there’s only so many times we can tolerate a kid being left home alone.
Preceded by: Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House
Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House is just insulting. If you don’t have Macaulay Culkin, you shouldn’t make a Home Alone movie. What’s worse this time is that they seriously try to convince you that it’s in some way connected to the first 2 movies. By using the names of every character from those much better installments. Even though this Kevin McCallister in no way compares to the original. He suddenly has only two siblings, his mom and dad are separated, and Marv looks more like Harry. Home Alone 4 has “Kevin” flee to his dad’s fiancé’s mansion before Christmas. Where he winds up, you guessed it, home alone on a few separate occasions. Only this time in a smart house. One that a solo Marv is trying to rob with his wife Vera. French Stewart is clearly no Daniel Stern. The same can be said for every other discount actor. It goes without saying that the traps are lackluster as well. Lacking any cartoonish imagination. The made-for-TV budget fully shows. The plot is so thin that you can very easily figure out every twist and turn. Home Alone 4 wouldn’t have worked even with the original actors.
Home Alone 3 is not what anyone was asking for. That’s why I didn’t see it when I was younger. No Macaulay Culkin, no deal. Seeing it all these years later, I’ll at least admit that it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. Not that it isn’t far less fun without Kevin and the “Wet Bandits.” Home Alone 3 is now about some kid named Alex. He’s really smart and just the nicest kid you’ll ever meet. Probably the biggest problem with the movie. It’s sickeningly sweet. Which normally wouldn’t be a problem with me, but there’s just no way I buy such a good kid torturing a band of criminals. It made sense with Kevin, because he was just as friendly as he was devious. The threat this time is a group of thieves trying to get a computer chip to a terrorist organization. It ends up in a toy car that’s given to Alex. Alex ends up home alone due to being sick. When his calls to the police fail, he sets traps with the help of a snowstorm and a talking bird. These four criminals barely have a personality and its just not as fun watching them get hurt. It’s not even centered around Christmas. Although it does feature a very young Scarlett Johansson. Probably the only person who liked Home Alone 3 more than the first 2 was Roger Ebert. Who really enjoyed it strangely enough. While I did get a few mild chuckles out of it, Home Alone 3 is just a concept without Kevin to execute it.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is a serious suspension of disbelief. There’s just no way a family is gonna leave behind their child 2 years in a row. But since Home Alone was so successful, you know it had to be done. So the McCallister’s once again leave Kevin behind through a series of even more unlikely conveniences. Some of which are just lazy. This time the family is taking a trip to Florida where they’re at least able to get Kevin to the airport. Thanks to early 90’s security, Kevin winds up on a flight to New York City. You know the drill. His mom desperately tries to get back to him, meanwhile Kevin is living every child’s dream. Only now his dream is exploring the Big Apple. He checks into The Plaza hotel with a cool recording device where he runs into none other than future President Donald Trump. Even more convenient is that the “Wet Bandits” also happen to be there. Now calling themselves the “Sticky Bandits,” Harry and Marv try to get Kevin after he catches them robbing a toy store. Everything is exactly the same as before. From the traps to the scary looking friendly person. Now a homeless bird lady. Even Kevin using a gangster movie is the same. As far as the traps go, they’ve gotten a lot more sadistic. Kevin literally throws four bricks at Marv. How they’re not dead I’ll never know. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is a lot of the same, but I’d argue it’s just as enjoyable as the first. The director, writer, Macaulay Culkin, the rest of the cast, Christmas theme, and the added bonus of Tim Curry make it work.
Home Alone is one of the best Christmas movies that has nothing to do with Christmas. It is centered around Christmas, but the plot wouldn’t change too much if you stripped it away. Since Home Alone is really about a kid being left home alone after his parents, siblings, and extended family leave on a trip without him. The inclusion of Christmas just makes the set up work a lot more. For a long time making it the highest grossing Christmas and comedy movie of all time. Although my mom recommended it before, my first introduction to the movie was actually an accident. When my brother and I rented Pirates of the Caribbean at Blockbuster and they mistakenly gave us Home Alone. We didn’t watch it then, but we did watch it later on. Where we were instantly won over by its seasonal charm and slapstick. So I was surprised to learn later on that it wasn’t initially well received. Well fortunately its now been hailed as the Christmas classic that it is. From the youthfully experienced duo of John Hughes and Chris Columbus. And starring up-and-coming 90’s superstar Macaulay Culkin…
Home Alone sees the McCallister family getting ready to take a Christmas trip to France. It’s here that we’re introduced to Kevin McCallister. The greatest Kevin in movie history. Along with being my namesake, he also has a fondness for cheese pizza just like me. I guarantee my mom would shout my name and be just as frantic if she realized she left me somewhere. Although that wouldn’t be too likely since Kevin is only left home alone through a series of unlikely conveniences. The first being Kevin’s large family that includes: his mother, father, 2 brothers, 2 sisters, aunt, uncle, and 6 cousins. Then something needs to go wrong causing Kevin to end up in the attic, his family to oversleep, miscount, rush to the airport, and all before Kevin wakes up. It helps that his family is just a little jerky to him. His older brother Buzz is pretty bad, but I would argue his Uncle Frank is the worst. Not that Kevin is much better. He’s charming and likeable, but more than a little rambunctious. His mom on the other hand, is one of the most determined movie moms ever. While she’s out desperately trying to get back to her son, Kevin is living every child’s dream. Of course the most iconic shot is Kevin trying on his dad’s aftershave and screaming. He also makes lots of noise, eats lots of junk food, goes through his brother’s stuff, and watches violent movies. Like the fake movie Angels with Filthy Souls. That he cleverly uses later to trick the pizza man. But tricks like this are really put to the test when the “Wet Bandits” come a knockin’. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern play Harry and Marv respectively. Bumbling crooks who attempt to rob the McCallister house. Until Kevin shows himself to be more crafty than he looks. Constructing a house of horrors full of dozens of crazy torture devices. Leading to plenty of hilarious moments where the would be robbers practically become cartoon characters. Since this is a kid’s movie, Pesci had to refrain from swearing (much to his chagrin). Home Alone is actually a perfect movie for the season. Christmas is all around and Kevin even goes to church. Where he gets to know the so-called “Old Man Marley.” Home Alone is heartwarming and hilarious all at the same time.
Followed by: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York