Hollywood: Step it Up

Roasting some popular movies of the winter holidays.

Delaney Tarpley

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Photo by Chrystian Noble

The Christmas Prince 

   This movie was so cheesy, I thought it was made in Wisconsin.

   I was told this was Netflix’s attempt at emulating a Hallmark Christmas movie, yet I couldn’t say I was excited to watch it. I loved princess movies as a child, but the older me has become a hater of clichés and movies that feel thrown together for a cash grab. “A Christmas Prince,” as I expected, was both of these things. A journalist named Amber gets sent to cover a story about the playboy Prince of made-up country, Aldovia, who will be coronated on Christmas Eve. The magazine she works for wants all the juicy details, no matter the lengths Amber has to go to. Amber travels to Aldovia, which is an absolute winter wonderland, and gets mistaken as the Prince’s younger sister’s new tutor. She plays along to get closer to the Prince and the family drama. Over the course of the movie, we only see Amber tutoring the Princess one time. The actress playing the Princess is no Haley Joel Osment in terms of child actors. Her inflection was rare, and she had a total of three facial expressions. She could only do completely snotty (convincing), sad (not convincing) and endearing (the most disingenuine thing I’ve ever seen). The Prince and Amber get to know each other over the nights leading up to Christmas Eve. One of the first moments we see them interacting is over an especially abysmal scene where the Prince teaches Amber archery, which couldn’t fool me as anything more than a “Princess Diaries 2” knock-off moment. A large problem with this movie is the supposed protagonist is not someone with whom the audience wants to sympathize. Amber is annoying, with her completely reckless approach to writing her story and a quirkiness completely built off of clichés. She wears a pair of bright red Converse at fancy palace dinners and balls, bumps into expensive vases and breaks them, and is completely awkward around the Prince. Amber is near-sighted, not realizing the potential consequences of breaking so many rules such as lying to the royalty, secretly snooping around the castle and recording private moments. The plot certainly does take a twist, which did finally have me paying attention at the end, but so much of this movie is unrealistic and cheesy. In the end, I did not have a warm nor fuzzy feeling, I was just upset I had spent time watching this mess.

 

Eight Crazy Nights

   If I had to watch this for eight nights in a row, I wouldn’t make it.

Photo by Chrystian Noble

   Throughout watching this animated movie (if you can even call it that), I kept asking myself one question: Who is this for? Riddled with bathroom humor in the opening scene, I assumed this was for kids, but I soon realized how wrong I was. The main character, Davey, voiced by Adam Sandler, deals with his alcoholism and depression over his parents’ death in the midst of Hanukkah and has some especially crude and inappropriate moments along the way. Yes, this is supposed to be a comedy. In the first five minutes, we witness Davey dining and dashing and running from the cops. Because this is not Davey’s first offense, he is faced with 10 years of prison, until the most annoying movie character I’ve ever been faced with hobbles into the frame. Davey’s old basketball coach, Whitey Duvall, also voiced by Sandler, convinces the judge to let Davey complete community service by refereeing for the Jewish basketball league. Let’s be honest, this movie made my ears bleed. I questioned if I could go on watching this movie, because whatever Sandler was doing to his vocal chords when he voiced Whitey, physically pained me. Chaos ensues over the nights of Hanukkah in the least humorous way possible. I’d not only call it immature and lazy, but also disgusting and nauseating. Several times I was grossed out by what was on the screen and I’d really rather not elaborate on this and have to relive the memories in my head. I suppose I have to give the movie some credit in terms of messages. “A Christmas Prince” provided no good message or meaning, but “Eight Crazy Nights” did have the message of owning up and dealing with your past along with a nice theme of retribution. This is one of the only mainstream Hanukkah movies out there, and I commend Sandler for making it, but Hollywood, you’re doing Hanukkah a disservice if you think “Eight Crazy Nights” is enough.

 

Photo by Chrystian Noble

A Rugrats Kwanzaa Special

   A dose of nostalgia and knowledge I didn’t know I needed.

   Watching “The Rugrats” at the age of 17 felt surreal for me. I remember so many things about them from my childhood: a few faces and names, the orange VHS tape some of their movies would come on and the unforgettable logo. Apparently, “The Rugrats” are famous for their holiday specials. The Kwanzaa special, because it is one of the only Kwanzaa specials out there next to “The Proud Family’s” Kwanzaa special, is popular. I can see why. This was really engaging and cute. The special focuses on the Carmichael family as Great Aunt T comes into town to celebrate Kwanzaa with the family. The Carmichaels don’t typically celebrate Kwanzaa, but Great Aunt T tells them the holiday is about the greatness of the African people. This makes one of the Rugrats, Susie, uncomfortable and self-conscious because she thinks her brothers and sisters exemplify the greatness of the African people, but she doesn’t. With help from Great Aunt T and the rest of The Rugrats, Susie learns everyone is great in his or her own way. Some standouts from this episode are when we see some of Great Aunt T’s flashbacks, such as when she meets Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as when she funded Lucy’s tuition for Harvard Medical School. My major complaint with this special is that I felt like I didn’t learn much about the holiday of Kwanzaa. I was still confused on the traditions and customs that were a part of it, even if I did learn the meaning. Then I thought to myself, “What did I learn about Christmas from ‘A Christmas Prince?’ What did I learn about Hanukkah from ‘Eight Crazy Nights?’” In the same way “A Christmas Prince” and “Eight Crazy Nights” should not be responsible for teaching me about the holidays their movies center around, The Rugrats should not have to teach me about Kwanzaa. Don’t expect a history lesson out of this, but instead, just allow yourself to enjoy the story.

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