ORBzine - Comedy 2008 Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Bedtime Stories (2008)

Bedtime Stories (2008) Hotel Handyman Adam Sandler ( Biodome ) wants to be Manager, but this job is going to slimy executive Guy Pearce ( Iron Man 3 ). Sandler's best buddy is co-worker Russell Brand ( Four Kids And It ), while Pearce is assisted by fellow Kiwi Lucy Lawless .

Sandler, a confirmed bachelor, is asked by his sister Courtney Cox to look after her kids for a week while she is out of town. She does not let them watch television or do anything fun, so he has to tell them bedtime stories instead. His stories start to come true ... and he attempts to manipulate them in order to improve his life.

The result? The comedy is dumbed down to child-friendly level, and the climax is incredibly contrived. Of course, it is a kids movie ... so the extreme predictability should not matter.

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Be Kind, Rewind (2008)

Be Kind, Rewind (2008) This is French Director Michel Gondry 's commentary on the state of Hollywood today. The Studio bosses are greedy, cracking down on the so-called Pirates. denying the viewers a decent selection

Jack Black ( Tenacious D: Pick of Destiny ), with his usual inane capering, manages to accidentally erase every single movie in the video store. The guys' answer is to create their own remakes of the films. This is actually quite realistic. Mos Def would be good in a remake of British shows, like the 1980s TV show Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy or the 1960s film The Italian Job ! Jack Black could be in a remake of Day of the Jackal ... Why does all this talk of remakes give off a certain feeling of Deja Vu? It cannot just be the predictability of the jokes about them!

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Black Knight (2001)

Black Knight (2001) Martin Lawrence ( ) becomes a Connecticut Yankee at the court of a Medieval English King. He shacks up with token black chick Marsha Thomason (who at least has an authentic English accent).

The UK release happened almost a full YEAR after it premiered in the USA. That should tell people what to expect.

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A Bug's Life (1998)

A Bug's Life (1998) This is an all-star animation from the late 1990s about an ant who can think abstractly. Not to be confused with Antz , of course. This is the one made by the creators of Toy Story .

Flick is an ant whose ant-hive is threatened by greedy grasshoppers led by Kevin Spacey ( Se7en ). The Princess ( Julia Louis-Dreyfuss ) sends Flick off to get some warrior bugs to fight the grasshoppers. This turns from Magnificent Seven into The Three Amigos when he accidentally recruits a theatrical troupe including Dr Zachary Smith from Lost In Space .

Naturally, there is a feel-good ending with a moral for child viewers to learn.

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Burke and Hare (2010)

Burke and Hare (2010) This is the true-life story of a couple of multiple murderers, brought to life by American Director John Landis .

Burke (Simon Pegg - Shaun of the Dead ) and Hare (Andy Sirkis - Lord of the Rings ) are a couple of Irish economic migrants trying to scrape a living in Edinburgh, 1828. Desperate for money they get involved in the bodysnatching racket. Ronnie Corbett and the Town Militia have made grave-robbing impossible, so the protagonists take to murder instead.

Burke is a reluctant villain, but he needs money to impress Isla Fisher . She wants to produce an all-female version of MacBeth, a reluctant villain who Burke can relate to.

There are a host of familiar faces for the UK audience - in fact we have not seen so many cameos since Carry On Columbus .

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Epic Movie (2007)

Epic Movie (2007) A quartet of unlikely orphans (including Kal Penn from Harold and Kumar fame) win tickets to visit a magical chocolate factory run by the Creepy Pale Man (Crispin Glover - Charlie's Angels ). Even better, they discover a magical doorway to the land of Gnarnia, which is trapped in eternal winter by the White Bitch ( Jennifer Coolidge ).

This is basically a lot of scatological jokes strung together.

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Get Smart (2008)

Get Smart (2008) This is a pretty decent movie. Not just because it stars Steve Carrell ( Evan Almighty ) in the title role, or is based on a 1960s TV show. No, it is good IN SPITE OF these things. It actually stands on its own as a comedy-thriller! The closest thing to this movie would be The Tuxedo , which means that Anne Hathaway is the new Jennifer Love Hewitt . There is lots of slapstick, rather than the endless OTT parodies of the post- Scary Movie comedies that proliferate these days.

The US Government's most secret spy movie, Control, is on the trail of stolen nuclear weapons. Kaos (led by Terence Stamp - Elektra ) is back in business, and they hit Control where it hurts. Agent 23 (Dwayne Johnson - Scorpion King ) and the other secret agents are compromised. Control has to deploy their last resort - Agent 99 (Hathaway) and Maxwell Smart (Carrell), an expert analyst who finally passed his Field Agent exam (8th time round).

The mismatched pair make their way across Russia, pursued by a thug from a James Bond parody. Back home, support is provided by the Boss (Alan Arkin) and Bruce the Nerd (Masi Oka - Heroes ).

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Meet The Feebles (1989)

Meet the Feebles (1989) This is Peter Jackson 's parody of The Muppets. Heidi Hippo goes on a rampage.

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National Lampoon's Men in White (1998)

National Lampoon's Men in White (1998) This is a low-budget parody of the blockbuster comedy men in Black . Instead of highly-trained US Government Agents, this time it is Garbage men who fight the alien invaders.

National Lampoon used to be associated with high-value comedies. These days the brand is more closely linked to cheap low-brow crap. Not as bad as the Epic Movie brand, but bad enough.

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Paul (2011)

Paul (2011) Scifi Nerds Simon Pegg and Nick Frost ( Shaun of the Dead ) take a road trip from San Diego Comic-Con to Roswell, New Mexico ... and pick up a hitch-hiking alien named Paul (Seth Rogan - Green Hornet ) on the run from the Men in Black. And hilarity ensues!

Every other line is a reference to a scifi film, and if you like scifi then you'll love this - like Galaxy Quest . But it is easy to get in to, even if you're a newbie to the genre.

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Shaggy Dog (2006)

Shaggy Dog (2006) Tim Allen ( Santa Clause 2 ) gets bitten by a genetically engineered dog in the hands of evil scientist Robert Downey Jnr ( Iron Man ). An unforseen side effect is that Allen becomes a were-dog.

All these shennanigans cause problems for Allen's marriage to Kristen Davis .

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The Simpsons (2007)

The Simpsons (2007) This is the feature-length film version of the most popular animated sitcom of the last two decades. It is widescreen, with much more expense paid to the visual quality of the animation. Also, pretty much every character still living in the cartoon is in the movie.

Basically, Homer's stupidity causes Springfield to become the most polluted city in the USA. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) seals the town in a gigantic glass dome.

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Your Highness (2011)

Your Highness (2011) Once upon a time ... The evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux - Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle ) kidnaps beautiful maiden Belladonna ( Zooey Deschannel ). The brave Prince Fabious (James Franco - Spiderman ) and his stoner brother Thadeous (Danny McBride - Land of the Lost ) must go and rescue her. On the way they team up with warrior woman Isabel ( Natalie Portman ).

Our heroes trek across sets and locations throughout Northern Ireland. The film cost over a million dollars for every minute of screen time. Unfortunately it was filmed mostly in medium shot, which misses most of the expensive sets and spectacular filming locations. The result looks to be mostly CGI (E.G. Dunluce castle is on the poster, but in the movie it is CGI'd up as the villain's tower).

This movie was rated 'R' (15) - presumably for the swearing and a couple of visual penis gags. The problem is not the presence opf these jokes, it is the relative lack of any other jokes! The film is not constant Monty Python style slapstick, or Blackadder-style rapid-fire one-liners. Instead it tries to mix the serious and the funny. The result is a light-hearted action-adventure romp.

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Scooby Doo Movies

Daphne And Velma (2018)

Daphne And Velma (2018) This is a live-action prequel to the Scooby Doo stories. Daphne ( Sarah Jeffrey ) is online friends with Velma. Until, that is, Daphne transfers to the same High School as her buddy.

Their High School shenanigans take a turn for the worse when they discover that their fellow pupils are being zombified. Not murdered, just brainwashed.

The big reveal includes outing a supposedly teenage character as a twenty-something, and matches the character's real age with the actual age of the person playing that role.

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Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed (2004) The Mysteries Inc team are in Coolsville to attend the opening of a museum exhibition in their honour. But a supervillain is also in town, intent on unleashing an army of monsters to destroy our heroes.

Just like in the first film, the team have to cope with internal conflict as well as real monsters. Fred and Daphne feel the wrath of TV reporter Alicia Silverstone . Velma has another love interest - Museum curator Seth Green ( Buffy ). Scooby and Shaggy investigate creepy old man Peter Boyle ( Species II ).

All in all, a decent follow-up to the original.

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    Scoob! (2020)

    Scoob! (2020) This is a CGI animation that starts with the first meeting of a boy named Shaggy and a stray dog with no name. The boy names the dog after his favourite food, Scooby Snacks, and a lifelong friendship begins. This appears to be in the modern day, since Shaggy has an Ipod.

    Ten years later, Mystery Inc does what it does best and splits up. Fred (Zac Efron - ), Daphne ( Amanda Seyfried ) and Velma ( Gina Rodriguez ) are lured off by a job offer from Simon Cowell (American Idol). This leaves Shaggy (Will Forte - MacGruber ) and Scooby alone.

    Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaacs - Event Horizon ) is after Scooby. Luckily, Shaggy and Scoob team up with a new bunch of heroes - Dee Dee ( Kiersey Clemons ), Dinomutt (Ken Jeong - The Hangover ) and the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg - The Big Hit ).

    The quest takes them to meet another Hanna-Barbera cartoon hero: Captain Caveman (Tracey Morgan - 40 Rock).

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    Scooby Doo and the Goblin King (2008)

    Scooby Doo and the Goblin King (2008) The Scooby gang spend halloween at a carnival. When the carnival's magician is upstaged by Scooby and Shaggy, he decides to use real magic instead. He gets his hands on the Necronomicon, which is just sitting around waiting to be discovered.

    Shaggy and Scooby enter into a quest across the Goblin-infested landscape. They have to make it to the Goblins' castle before the deadline, like in Labyrinth .

    Daphne and Fred try to capture the Goblin King (Tim Curry - ). They do not bother to take his magical sceptre before it falls into the wrong hands. Well, planning is Velma's job - and she is not at the top of her game on account of becoming a werewolf. It is up to Shaggy and Scooby to save the day.

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    Scooby Doo And The Gourmet Ghost (2018)

    Scooby Doo And The Gourmet Ghost (2018) Fred takes the gang to meet his uncle Bobby at the Rocky Harbour Culinary Resort. This is a centuries-old food vendor, which pre-dates the American rebellion of 1776. Naturally it has its own old spook story about a Red Ghost. And quickly enough, a spooky red ghost appears.

    There are a few celebrities around. Well, apparently they are celebs because the voice artists are playing themselves. One of the guest-stars is a woman who turns out to be an expert at everything that is needed, at exactly the right time. There is also a pair of cartoon cats that seem to be smarter than Scooby, although they do not actually speak.

    One of the suspects is a creepy old caretaker, while another is a historian somewhat reminiscent of Shelby Foote. They are both experts in the American Revolution, although they have different versions of the legends. Well, the US Civil War is still a bit to controversial to be used in the storyline.

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    Scooby Doo: Return to Zombie Island (2019)

    Scooby Doo: Return to Zombie Island (2019) Scooby and Shaggy are sick of being used as live bait all the time, so they make the other three promise not to investigate any more mysteries. That is not a good thing, because it turns out that this is the only thing the group have in common. Fred has sold the Mystery Machine, which is the first time we learn that Fred is actually obsessed with his van. Anyway, it looks like the old gang is gone for good.

    Shaggy wins a contest run by his favourite TV star, Elvira ( Cassandra Peterson ). The prize is an all-paid vacation to an exotic tropical island. By incredible chances, he can bring three friends and a pet. He invites his pals along, for a get-together without mysteries.

    A creepy old sea-captain tries to scare the team away from the island, telling them it has been overrun by zombies. This leads on to some expositionary dialogue about the last time the team visited an island of zombies. That place was apparently a completely different location called Moonscar island, named after the Pirate Captain Morgan Moonscar – whose treasure is still rumoured to be buried somewhere there.. This island is called Moonstar island … completely different!

    We discover that Velma still regards the original Zombie Island case as being unsolved. Yes, everyone else was happy with the supernatural conclusion … but Velma regards herself as woman of science, and thus rejects the supernatural.

    Finally Scooby and Shaggy are persuaded to dissolve the promise, and Velma manages to solve the mystery to her own satisfaction. Some people end up facing fifteen years to eternity in prison. However, what laws they are supposed to have broken is not explained.

    The end credits shows a series of out-takes from the Based-on-a-true-story Film, Zombie Teenagers on the Island of Doom. Fred's stunt-double is a more impressive version of him, giving rise to a lot of jealousy on Fred's part. This comes into its own when the Mystery Machine is concerned - or rather, the souped-up stunt-car version of it.

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    Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo (2020)

    Happy Halloween, Scooby Doo (2020) This is a sequel to Scooby Doo: Return to Zombie Island (2019). The team have been living in Crystal Cove, a small town in the USA, where Elvira ( Cassandra Peterson ) is hosting the Halloween parade. The parade is attacked by a jack-o-lantern headed supervillain who throws bombs around. He may seem like a Spider-Man villain, but he is actually one from the Rogue's Gallery of Batman . Yes, Velma ( Kate Micucci ) exposes Jonathan Crane (AKA Scarecrow).

    The team seem to be different this time. The voices are good enough – Shaggy is Matthew Lillard, who made the role his own since the first live-action movie Scooby Doo (2001) . The problem seems to be the writing. Daphne seems at a loose end, so the writers give her a lot of cliched dialogue to make her seem hip and trendy.

    Just when the team think they have won, and there are no real monsters … the town is taken over by real monsters! Even the Mystery Machine Van, which Fred loves more than he loves Daphne, falls victim to the monsters. Luckily, the team get help from celebrity guest star Bill Nye, Science Guy ( Stargate: Atlantis ), who gives them a new hi-tech version of the Mystery Machine van.

    When the team escape in a small convoy of vehicles, they are pursued by the monsters in the parade floats. This leads on to a typically cartoonish extended chase scene.

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    Lego Scooby Doo (2021)

    Lego Scooby Doo (2021) The Mystery Machine crew gets a free tour of a Hollywood studio. It is an aging setup, long past its prime as a proxy for Universal Studios. Naturally there is a mystery, and only the Scooby Gang can solve it.

    One actress is an Elvira type, and Daphne hangs around with her. This seems to be the inspiration for the involvement of the real Elvira in later movies.

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    Soon

    Soon

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    Kevin Smith Movies

    Jay And Silent Bob Reboot (2019)

    Jay And Silent Bob Reboot (2019) Jay (Jason Mewes - Todd & the Book of Pure Evil ) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith - Die Hard 4.0 ) discover that Hollywood is doing a reboot of the Bluntman and Chronic movie. The key scene is to be filmed at a SciFi Convention in California. The dynamic duo try to hitch-hike across the USA again, just like in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) . There are a lot of shout-outs to that movie, and Smith's other View Askewniverse efforts.

    In Chicago, Jay meets up with his love interest from the first film ( Shannon Elizabeth ). The bad news is that she is married. The good news is that we get a great cameo by Rosario Dawson . The worse news is that Jay now has a tweenage daughter ( Harley Quinn Smith ). She is also going to the SciFi Convention, so they team up and travel across the USA together.

    The ending has a climactic fight scene that seems shoehorned in. Yes, there is little or no setup to a twist that turns the third act into a riot at the Convention. On the bright side, there is an after-credits sequence with Stan Lee ( Mallrats (1996) ) which certainly lightens everything up.

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    Clerks 3 (2022)

    Clerks 3 (2022)

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    Twilight Of The Mallrats (2023)

    Twilight Of The Mallrats (2023)

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    Red State (2011)

    Red State (2011) This was written and directed by Kevin Smith , and is one of his non-View Askewniverse movies.

    Jarod (Kyle Gallner - Veronica Mars ) and his college buddies go looking for some pre-marital sex. They end up in a honeytrap run by Melissa Leo .

    The villain of the piece is Pastor Cooper (Michael Parks - From Dusk Til Dawn ), leader of a group of far-right religious fundamentalists - a parody of the Westboro Baptist Church. The ATF is after him, because (like the Branch Davidians) he has been stockpiling illegal weapons.

    ATF Agent Keenan (John Goodman - Now and Again ) gets called in to deal with the preacher and his crew. Luckily he has SWAT team backup, including Harry (Kevin Alejandro - Arrow: S2 ) and Sniper (Marc Blucas - Buffy: S4 ). At this point, it stops being a parody of the right-wing Xian fundamentalists and shifts focus to parody the US Federal Government's excessive use of violence in law enforcement situations.

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    Tusk (2014)

    Tusk (2014)

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    Yoga Hosers (2016)

    Yoga Hosers (2016)

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    Zack and Miri Make A Porno (2008)

    Zack and Miri Make A Porno (2008) Zack (Seth Rogan - ) and Miri ( Elizabeth Banks ) are a pair of slackers who have been flatmates ever since they left school. They are down on their luck, without enough money to pay the rent or utility bills. But a chance encounter with gay porn star Brandon Routh ( Superman Returns ) convinces them that the best way to pay off their debts is to make a porn film. They recruit a crew (including RL porn-star Traci lords ) and set out to make Star Whores!

    This was directed by Kevin Smith , and has many of his hallmarks. The main plot, the love story, is reminiscent of Chasing Amy (and even of Clerks 2 ). However, unlike most of Smith's films this is not part of the View Askewniverse. But while Jay and Dante do not appear, the actors who play them also portray members of the porno team!

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    Xmas Movies

    The Amazing Mr Blunden (1972)

    The Amazing Mr Blunden (1972) This starts as a typical Dickensian tale, with a widow-woman and her two starving children. An elderly man, the title character Mr Blunden (Laurence Naismith - ), offers the mother a job as the caretaker of a remote country mansion. The house has been abandoned for a hundred years, since 1819. Yes, this is actually set in the inter-war years even if the scene-setting seems more Victorian. Anyway, the widow and orphans settle into the gatehouse ... ignoring the warnings that the house is haunted.

    The 1919 children meet up with a couple of children, the ones who lived in the mansion back in 1819, who turn out to be time-travelers rather than ghosts. When their parents died, the orphans were put under the guardianship of their uncle. Unfortunately he was a wastrel, and married a music-house girl ( Madeline Smith ). She moved her greedy mother ( Diana Dors ) into the mansion as housekeeper, but the old woman has ambitions. She plans to murder the children to secure their inheritance.

    The 1919 children discover the grave-stone of their predecessors, and realise they have only one day to save them. Using the same recipe as the 1819 children did, they create a magical potion that allows them to travel back exactly a hundred years in time. This also makes them invisible to most people, which accounts for one of the stories about ghosts. The film has a few inconsistencies when it comes to the ghosts and the time-travel, but it is a childrens' story so it gets held to a lower standard than usual.

    This was written, directed and produced by Lionel Jeffries ( Eyewitness ). Its main claim to fame is as an early role for Lynne Frederick , that forgotten English Scream Queen of the 1970s. The storyline's use of Dors as the villain puts this in the Hag-sploitation genre, similar to Who Slew Auntie Roo? Dors was the English equivalent to Marilyn Monroe , and she was only about forty years old when this was made.

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    The Amazing Mr Blunden (2021)

    The Amazing Mr Blunden (2021) Made fifty years after the original, this follows pretty much the same script. There are a few notable changes, however. This one starts in the modern era, and the children travel back in time two centuries rather than one. The mother ( Vinette Robinson ) and her children are mixed-race, to symbolise the more ethnically diverse England of the Twenty-First Century.

    While the original was written, directed and produced by Lionel Jeffries ( Eyewitness ), this time the honour goes to Mark Gatiss - who also gives himself a supporting role as the bumbling pyromaniac husband of the villainess ( Tamsin Greig ). The cast even includes a cameo by Madeline Smith , a recognisable member of the original cast. Simon Callow ( OUtlander ) takes the title role, while British film critics Mark Kermode and Kim Newman are listed as Mr Karras and Mr Merrin respectively.

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    Boy Called Christmas, A (2021)

    Boy Called Christmas, A (2021) Auntie Ruth ( ) visits her deceased niece's grandchildren, and reads them a bedtime story which turns into a heart-warming Fantasy tale. Yes, this is the same format as The Princess Bride .

    Back in the pre-Christian past, a pagan Viking boy was nicknamed Christmas by his mother. The mother died before the story takes place, so she is only referred to in the past. Anyway, the boy lives alone with his father. Until, that is, the King (Jim Broadbent - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ) orders a group of men to travel into the far north in search of a symbol of hope. Since the father is a forest ranger, he is recruited to join the group.

    The father never remarried, so there is no wicked stepmother. However, he has a sister - so the boy is left in the care of his wicked Aunt Carlotta ( Kristen Wiig ). When she succeeds in breaking the boy's spirit, he and his pet talking mouse (Stephen Merchant - Jojo Rabbit ) decide to walk into the far north in search of his father.

    The good news is that the boy is rescued by an elderly elf (Toby Jones - Red Lights ). The bad news is that the elves' Ruler ( Sally Hawkins ) is a dictator who has banned their favourite holiday - Christmas! Yes, this story suggests that the origins of Christmas have nothing to do with Christianity itself. In other words, the word Christmas is only used for effect.

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    Christmas Angel (2012)

    Christmas Angel (2012) A young girl lives with her single mother ( Teri Polo ). They discover that a creepy man (Kevin Sorbo - Hercules: The Legendary Journeys ) owns the old house next door. The girl believes that the house is magical, and makes wishes come true. She befriends his tenant (Della Reese - Touched By An Angel ), and thinks that Della is some kind of angel.

    The girl wishes for a new husband for her mother. Before long, Sorbo starts to become the mother's love interest. Be careful what you wish for! Eventually, he and the girl bond. Much like the actor in real life, his character here is an Xian obsessive. Happy holidays!

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    Christmas Chronicles, The (2018)

    Christmas Chronicles, The (2018)

  • 2000
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    Elf (2003)

    Elf (2003) Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell - Land of the Lost ) is a human who was raised by Santa’s Elves at the North Pole. However, the average Elf looks like Peter Dinklage (who has a great cameo). Ferrell is six foot five, although he exhibits the mentality of a six year old. The Elves cannot cope any more, so they send him to New York City to live with his real father (James Caan - ).

    Ferrell meets Zooey Deschannel , and has hilarious adventures in NYC.

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    Elf-Man (2012)

    Elf-Man (2012) A scientist invents an amazing energy source, a microchip. However, he cannot patent it because the government offices are shut for Xmas. Unfortunately he is kidnapped by a gang of bumbling robbers led by Jeffrey Coombs ( Re-Animator ). The robbers want him to hand over the valuable microchip he built.

    It is Xmas Eve, and one of Santa's Elves (Wee Man - Jackass) gets trapped by the missing man's children. The kids make a magical wish that the Elf-Man helps them get their father back in time for Xmas. He is magicaly compelled to help them, before he can return to his own home.

    The result is the Elf-Man taking on the robbers in a series of scenes ripped from different movies in the Home Alone series.

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    Fred Claus (2007)

    Fred Claus (2007) Nick (Paul Giamatti - Shoot'Em Up ) has become Santa, and is is happily married to Miranda Richardson . Fred (Vince Vaughn - Psycho (1999) ) is a cynical repo man. Not actually a Scrooge type, though - he still retains a lot of likeability. His long-suffering girlfriend ( Rachel Weitz ) lets herself be flirted with by the likes of Jeffrey Dean Morgan ( The Walking Dead ), which is definitely a step up.

    Some of the elves are played by full-size actors. Instead of forced perspective, like in Lord of the Rings (2001) , it appears to be an early use of the green-screen tech used in Captain America: The First Avenger (2012) . For some reason, Elizabeth Banks wanders around as a full-grown human girl.

    The North Pole is visited by an efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey - Superman Returns ) whose report has the potential to shut down the entire operation. It turns out that this supposedly impartial investigator actually has a personal agenda. Yes, who would have thought that Spacey would be a creepy bad guy. He turns out to have had a childhood obsession with Superman, which is ironic because Spacey played Lex Luthor in Superman Returns .

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    It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

    It's A Wonderful Life (1946) This starts as a conversation between a couple of angels, represented by animated pictures of stellar constellations in an attempt to update the supernatural with 1940s science. One of the angels, Clarence, is being briefed on his first mission. He must help a suicidal man - but first, he must watch the man's entire life up to that point.

    George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart - Rear Window ) is a nice guy who lives in small-town America during the first half of the Twentieth Century. His hometown is Bedford Falls, upstate New York, although in certain exterior shots it looks like southern California.

    The story follows George through his life, which centres around the Credit Union that his father founded. This is the economic heart of the community, and is the peoples' only defence from greedy slum-lord Mr Potter. Every time George gets close to fulfilling his dream, which is to leave town and explore the wider world, something happens at the Credit Union to drag him back in. Eventually, something goes so badly wrong - thanks to the machinations of Mr Potter - that George contemplates suicide.

    Clarence confronts George, in the guise of a regular man. When George wishes aloud that he had never been born, Clarence magically grants this wish. George finds himself in an alternate universe where the town is called Potterville and everyone is worse off. His oldest friends, Bert the cop and Ernie the cab driver, completely fail to recognise him. Finally he learns his lesson ...

    Frank Capra delivers one of the most memorable Xmas movies of all time. It is famous for its feel-good ending, so we do not have to worry too much about spoilers. However, there is one way in which the movie is unsatisfying. This is a drama, not a thriller, and the focus is on the protagonist's internal conflict. As a result, the external conflict with the antagonist is secondary. Basically, the villain never gets his come-uppance!

  • Cleopatra 2525
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    Journey Back To Christmas (2016)

    Journey Back To Christmas (2016) A nurse ( Candace Cameron Bure ) in small-town USA is making the best of things as the Second World War draws to a close. It is December 1944, and she just got word that her husband was killed, but this is a cheery Xmas-themed movie so she does not show any sign of depression. Instead she goes around her daily work, with lots of foreshadowing. For example, that night there will be a comet which only passes by Earth every seventy-one years.

    The nurse wakes up the next morning, and discovers that seventy-one years have passed. A helpful passer-by calls the cops. Well, this is the USA - so ambulances are expensive and cops are free. The male cop (Oliver Hudson - Scream Queens ) is very understanding, and takes the nurse home to live with his mother. The female cop ( Brooke Nevin ) is jealous and paranoid. Also, there is a local Karen who gets herself involved in everyone else's business.

    Luckily, the oldest man in the town (Tom Skerritt - Alien (1979) ) remembers the nurse from his childhood. He puts the clues together, regarding the comet. The nurse was meant to teach modern-day people how to have an old-fashioned 1940s Christmas, In return, she was meant to see the positive impact that she had on other peoples' lives - like in It's A Wonderful Life (1946) . Of course, since this is a happy-happy Hallmark-type movie so the hard-edged human drama aspect is completely missing.

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    Last Christmas (2019)

    Last Christmas (2019) Emilia Clarke works as an elf in a shop owned by Michelle Yeoh . She received a life-saving heart transplant a couple of years previously, but her relationship with her family has suffered and she is quite depressed.

    She meets a man (Henry Golding - Snake Eyes ), and begins a romantic relationship. Of course, it turns out to be more complicated than that.

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    Last Train To Christmas (2021)

    Last Train To Christmas (2021) The protagonist (Michael Sheen - Underworld ) is a Peter Stringfellows type, a successful nightclub-owner in the 1980s. He takes a train ride home with his new bride, a girl much younger than himself, and reflects on the choices he made earlier in his life. Specifically his falling out with his brother (Cary Elwes - Princess Bride ).

    The movie has certain depths, and some of the performances are outstanding. Elwes manages to be unrecognisable, but Sheen is in every scene and is impressive on every level. The film's one flaw is the ending itself, taken from Where's Jack? ... which might work on an artistic level, but is too open-ended and seems to leave questions unanswered.

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    My Adventures With Santa (2019)

    My Adventures With Santa (2019) Santa Claus wants to save Xmas before his rival, the former Queen of the Elves ( Jamie Luner ), takes it over.

    A child sends Santa a letter with only one Xmas wish - that Santa saves his family. Santa and Mrs Claus ( Barbara Eden ) invite momma ( Denise Richards ) and the rest to stay at the North Pole for a few days.

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    Santa Baby (2006)

    Santa Baby (2006) Mary Class ( Jenny McCarthy ) is a high-flying executive. Unfortunately her father falls ill, so she must return home and take over running the family business. The twist is that her father is Santa Claus (George Wendt - Ghost Whisperer: Season 5 )!

    Mary has plans to modernise the Elves' toy-production system, replacing hand-crafting skills with automation. Naturally this leads to humourous situations.

    There is also a plotline concerning Mary's love-life. She has a boyfriend who is a fellow high-flying executive. However, she also warms up towards her High School BF, Ivan Sergei ( Jack Hunter and the Lost treasure of Ugarit (2008) ).

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    Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

    Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) Once upon a time - well, we get the background story to how Santa got the job and ended up living at the North Pole.

    Eventually we get to the Modern Day (circa 1985). Top Elf Dudley Moore ( Bedazzled (1969) ) tries to modernise the workshop. Dudley gets himself exiled, so he goes to NYC and works for megalomaniac toymaker John Lithgow ( Third Rock from The Sun ).

    Santa befriends a homeless boy in NYC. By strange coincidence, the boy meets a girl who is evil Lithgow's stepdaughter ...

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    Santa Clause (1994)

    Santa Clause (1994) Tim Allen ( Shaggy Dog ) is a highly successful business executive. Unfortunately his marriage was less successful, because his wife divorced him and re-married a jerk named Neil (Judge Reinhold - Beverly Hills Cop ). The good news is, his ex-wife lets him look after their pre-teen son so she can head off for a week alone with her new husband, .

    The protagonist accidentally kills Santa Claus. In order to humour his young son, he then gets talked into replacing Santa. One's suspension of disbelief might waver a bit when the main character simultaneously claims that magic does not exist, and shows no surprise when he finds out that he does.

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    Santa Clause 2 (2002)

    Santa Clause 2 (2002) Santa (Tim Allen - Shaggy Dog ) takes a holiday from the North Pole to visit his kids, who are staying with his ex-wife and her new husband (Judge Reinhold - Beverly Hills Cop). He has trouble with his teenage son, but gets to meet the gorgeous Headmistress ( Elizabeth Mitchell ).

    Meanwhile, back at the North Pole things are out of control. Bernard the Elf (the genius from Numbers TV show) created a replacement Santa, a big rubbery robot Tim Allen. But the Robot goes out of control …

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    Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)

    Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) Santa (Tim Allen - Shaggy Dog ) is back.

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    Santa's Little Helper (2015)

    Santa's Little Helper (2015) Dax The Axe is a yuppie businessman. Instead of getting the big promotion he expected he gets fired from his job. As a result, his entire shallow money-obsessed lifestyle falls apart. In all fairness, he was living well beyond his means for quite some time.

    Santa's Herald of Home Operations (Ho-Ho-Oh) resigns, and the old man needs an office worker to take over. He considers recruiting Dax for the job. Santa's Personal trainer, Billie ( Annalynne McCord ) also wants the job, but gets roped into verifying Dax's suitability for the role.

    The job criteria specifies certain characteristics, rather than any kind of skill, experience or ability. Of course, this movie is aimed at children. However, it is disheartening to consider that achievements are no longer important in many parts of modern life.

    The protagonist and his arch-rival are both apparently WWE performers. Yes, this movie is a wrestling spin-off. In all fairness, there is no actual mention of wrestling in the movie itself.

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    Santa's Summer House (2012)

    Santa's Summer House (2012) 1980s action stars Gary Daniels and Daniel Bernhardt are reunited after working together as the villain's henchmen in The Expendables . Now they are passengers on a tour bus in California. Among the other passengers is Kathy Long , another B-movie martial arts star.

    The bus gets lost in a mysterious fog, and ends up at a massive mansion in the middle of nowhere. The lady of the manor is Cynthia Rothrock , the 1980s Hong Kong chop-socky legend. Yes, this could be the ultimate face-off. Instead ...

    This is not funny enough to be a comedy, and there is no real conflict so it is certainly not a thriller. Instead it is a missed opportunity. Rothrock's husband is supposed to be Santa, but while he is an old white man he lacks certain visual cues. For example, he is as clean-shaven as any other Hollywood actor. It is nice to see the action stars cast against type, but a bit more work could have made this more memorable.

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    Santa Suit, The (2010)

    Santa Suit, The (2010) Hunter (Kevin Sorbo - Hercules: The Legendary Journeys ) runs a toy-manufacturing company, but he is basically a modern-day Scrooge. The real-life Santa Claus turns up and lays a curse on him. Hunter now looks like an old homeless man, and is treated accordingly. He must work as a toy-store Santa over the Xmas holidays and learn the error of his ways.

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    Santa With Muscles (1996)

    Santa With Muscles (1996) Blake (Hulk Hogan - ) is a selfish millionaire who wastes his time running around annoying Sheriff Hinkley (Clint Howard - Star Trek: TOS ). When making a getaway in a shopping mall, Blake disguises himself as Santa Claus ... and then gets a concussion. When he wakes up, he assumes he is the real Santa. A con-man named Lenny (Don Stark - ), who is one of the Mall's Xmas elves, plays along with the delusion.

    The pair end up at an orphanage run by Leslie ( Robin Curtis ), where the inmates include a very young Mila Kunis . Our unlikely heroes must protect the place from the villainous Ebner Frost (Ed Begley, Jr - ).

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    Ice Age Franchise

    Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (2006)

    Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (2006) Following on from the end of previous film ...

    Our heroes discover that they are in a valley blocked by a glacier. But the glacier is melting - and the enormous lake on the other side is about to flood the entire valley. All the animals must get to the far end of the valley if they want to survive!

    Manny the Last Mammoth (Ray Romano) meets a Possum ( Queen Latifah ) who is a lot bigger and tuskier than her brothers ...

  • Ice Age
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    Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs (2009)

    Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs (2009) The squirrel is still after the acorn. He meets a female squirrel, but she is more interested in the acorn than in him.

    Ellie the Mammoth ( Queen Latifah ) is pregnant. The sloth is jealous, so he adopts three eggs that he found lying around in a cave. When they hatch, they turn out to be T-Rex eggs. However, this does not dissuade him. He tries to raise the hatchlings as vegetarians.

    Momma T-Rex takes her offspring home with her, and the sloth goes with them. The other mammals follow through the cave, into a lost world filled with prehistoric creatures. Luckily they run into Buck (Simon Pegg - Shaun of the Dead ), a fellow mammal who lives in the lost world. The T-Rexes are being hunted by a super-predator, the Spinosaur from Jurassic Park 3 .

  • Ice Age
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    Ice Age 4: Continental Drift (2012)

    Ice Age 4: Continental Drift (2012) Scratt the Rat's obsession with the acorn leads him to accidentally break up the super-continent of Pangea.

    The main cast try to survive this new disaster. They get stuck on an ice flow, floating away from the continent. They run into a gang of pirates led by Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones . Luckily for Diego (Denis Leary - Demolition Man (1994) ) the pirates' First Mate is a female sabre-toothed tiger ( Jennifer Lopez ).

    There is a subplot about Manny's daughter. She is now a teenager, and has begun to start dating.

    This is a musical, with several song-and-dance numbers.

  • Ice Age
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    Ice Age 5: Collision Course (2016)

    Ice Age 5: Collision Course (2016) Scratt the Rat's obsession with the acorn leads him to get launched into space, where he manages to accidentally send an asteroid in the direction of Earth. This leads on to a narration by Neil deBuck Weasel (Neil deGrasse Tyson - Stargate: Atlantis ).

    The main cast try to survive this new disaster. They leave their home, since it is no longer safe, and go in search of a way to deflect the asteroid before it causes an exinction level event.

    There is a subplot about Manny's daughter. She is now a teenager, and has begun to date a regular boyfriend.

  • Ice Age
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    Discworld Franchise

    The Colour of Magic (2008)

    The Colour of Magic (2008) This is the long-awaited adaptation of the best-seller by Terry Pratchett , narrated by Brian Cox ( Troy ), produced by Robert Halmi Snr and Jnr ( Farscape ) and directed by Vadim Jean . It was first broadcast in 2008, and consists of two segments of about two hours each.

    Rincewind (David Jason - ) is expelled from the Unseen University by the Archchancellor (James Cosmo - Braveheart ) and his ambitious underling (Tim Curry - Rocky Horror Picture Show ) for being the worst wizard ever. Luckily, he quickly finds new employment, thanks to Patrician Vetinari (Jeremy Irons - Dungeons and Dragons ). An anachronistic tourist named Twoflower (Sean Astin - Lord of the Rings ) hires him as guide to the city, a medieval fantasy landscape that parodies the works of Swords and Sorcery writers like Fritz Leiber .

    Our heroes blunder from adventure to adventure, avoiding Death (Christopher Lee - Dracula ) until they land at Krull, ruled by Astronomers who want to send explorers over the side of the flat world and look at the the turtle upon whose back the world rests. The plan is to find out what gender the world-turtle is. The Arch-Astronomer (Nigel Planer - ) knows how vital this is, because eventually the turtle will want to breed.

    The second part of the story is an adaptation of the sequel, The Light Fantastic. Our heroes find themselves back on Discworld, where they team up with Cohen the Barbarian (David Bradley - The Strain ) and Bethan the Pagan Priestess ( Laura Haddock ).

    The villainous Tim Curry has made himself Arch-Chancellor, and hires Herenna the Henna-Haired Harridan ( Liz May Brice ) to capture Rincewind for him. What our heroes do not realise is that, despite being a villain, the new Arch-Chancellor is the only one who can save the Discworld from impending doom. Unfortunately he is power-hungry and impatient, and only has the first seven spells.

    Will Rincewind get the Eight Spell out of his head? Will the Discworld collide with the mysterious red star in the sky? And will we find out how the world-turtles breed?

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    Hogfather (2006)

    hogfather (2006) Terry Pratchett long struggled to get decent movie adaptions of his books. There have been cartoons and audio-books, but this is the first proper big-screen outing. Well, actually it is made for UK TV, but it seems very good for something on a supposedly limited budget.

    Mr Teatime (Marc Warren - Dr Who: Love and Monsters ) is hired to assassinate the Hogfather - Discworld's version of Santa. Warren stated that his performance was based on Johnny Depp's in Willie Wonka . However, he seems to have developed an Ulster accent!

    Death (Ian Richardson - ) and his manservant, Albert (David Jason) have to take over from the Hogfather, so that children still believe in him. Death's grandaughter Susan (theatre actress Michelle Dockery ) looks a bit old for a teenager, but in Discworld anything's possible.

    Joss Ackland (Lethal Weapon II) is Ridcully, Chief Wizard, while Nigel Planer and Tony Robinson both pop up as well. Really an amazing cast, for a two-part TV movie. It is shown in two parts of two hours each, although the advert-breaks seem extra-long for some reason ...

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    Going Postal (2010)

    Going Postal (2010) Ankh-Morpork is no longer the Lankhmar-style Medieval/Fantasy city we loved. It is now more pseudo-Dickensian, a mock-Victorian effort that Terry Pratchett regularly updated to make more Modern. Vimes is nowhere to be seen - Angharad the werewolf is commander of the City Watch. Archchancellor Ridcully gets a small cameo appearance.

    The protagonist is an everyman figure named Moist Von Lipwig, a con-man sentanced to Death (without benefit of a trial). This may seem extreme, but it is pointed out that a non-violent crime is not necessarily victimless.

    Von Lipwig is given a chance at a reprieve by Lord Vetinari (Charles Dance - Game of Thrones ). He must re-open the Post Office, and go into direct competition with the Clacks' owner, one-eyed villain David Suchet.

    This is two segments of two hours each. To be continued ...

    The Postmaster challenges the Clacks to a race. Whoever can get a message to a distant city 1700 miles away (!) will win. Can a horse and carriage beat a system that works by visual transmission? It will still take the postman about three weeks to get his parcel there.

    Well, the clacks is notorious for the lack of investment in maintenance. The villain, in what may be an intentional parody of Atlas Shrugged , points out that he does not care about providing the BEST service - he cares about providing the ONLY service, and thus making more money!

    Pterry himself gets a tiny cameo at the end, as one of the newly-hired postmen.

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    Soul Music (1997)

    Soul Music (1997)

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    Wyrd Sisters (1997)

    Wyrd Sisters (1997)

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    Hot Tub Time Machine Franchise

    Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

    Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) This is a love it or hate it kind of film. It is basically The Hangover mixed with Back To The Future . There is even a great cameo from Crispin Glover, last seen as the Creepy Thin Man in the Charlie's Angels movies.

    A gang of 40-something guys (and a 20-something nephew) go on a male bonding weekend to a ski resort. They take a dip in the Hot Tub Time Machine, and find themselves back in 1986. And hilarity ensues!

    There are the usual conundrums regarding time travel. The guys Quantum Leap into their 1980s bodies, except for the nephew (who flickers and fades in a Back To The Future reference). However, their I-pods and other 2010 technology comes back with them. Also, although the film is set in 1986, some of the props come from 1988. Wow, let us pretend this is worth being anal retentive about!

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    Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

    Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015) This is set in the alternate universe started by the first movie. Lou was the richest man in the universe, but his company is in trouble now because he is a perverse moron. He has offended everyone, and holds a big party where he offends lots more people … until the lights go out and someone attempts to kill him. To save Lou’s life, his son and Nick (token black man in the original, now given a bigger role) take him to the hot tub again …

    The guys end up in the future, which is where the killer came from. Lou and Nick (the older guys) are happy to compare everything to films (especially Terminator ), but call the youngster a nerd when he refers to the multiple universe theory of Fringe . It does not pay to think too much about this film, just sit back and enjoy the same crude humour as in the first film.

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    Wallace and Gromit

    Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave (1995)

    Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave (1995) This is a thirty-minute Xmas special made for the BBC in the mid-1990s. Wallace and Gromit have a window-washing business, which is an excuse for them to use their wacky inventions.

    Wallace gets a love interest. Gromit gets framed for sheep-rustling!


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    Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005)

    Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005) The plasticine pair are engaged in humane pest control. They catch rabbits by using a huge vacuum cleaner mounted on the back of a truck. Wallace then decides to brainwash the rabbits into hating carrots and other vegetables. Since Wallace himself is on a vegetarian (cheese-free!) diet, this leaves one to wonder what exactly the rabbits are meant to eat. And naturally, something goes wrong ...

    A small village nearby is overrun with carrot-eating pests. Wallace and Gromit are hired to capture the rabbits. But they have to deal with a Were-Rabbit! Worse, Wallace’s love interest (the Lady of the Manor) has a jealous suitor - Victor Quartermain, a self-styled big game hunter!

  • A Close Shave
  • The Wrong Trousers
  • A Matter of Loaf And Death
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    Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008)

    Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008) After their big-screen feature-length offering, the plasticine pair are back on the BBC again. This is a thirty-minute Xmas special. Wallace and Gromit now own and operate their own bakery. The mid-sized town they live in apparently used to have thirteen bakeries, but someone brutally murdered the other twelve.

    Wallace meets his new love interest. Yes, his third in as many films. He is like James Bond these days! Unfortunately, Gromit has doubts about this particular lady ...

  • A Close Shave
  • The Wrong Trousers
  • Curse of the Were-Rabbit
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    The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists AKA Band of Misfits (2012)

    The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists AKA Band of Misfits (2012) Based on a comedic novel, this was made in claymation by Aardman studios. There is an all-star cast, with recognisable names in very small roles.

    The story is set in 1837. Queen Victoria ( Imelda Staunton ) has taken the throne, and orders the Royal Navy to destroy all pirates. Yes, apparently longitude was never discovered and the USA never achieved independence.

    The story's protagonist is Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant - Lair of the White Worm ), who has an all-star cast of shipmates. His sidekick is the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman - The Hobbit ), while the rest include the Albino Pirate (Russel Tovey - Being Human ), the Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson - Mr Mercedes ) and the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate ( Ashley Jensen ).

    The Pirate Captain needs to prove himself the greatest pirate alive, in order to impress the Pirate King (Brian Blessed - Flash Gordon (1980) ) and defeat Peg-Leg Hastings (Lenny Henry - ), Cutlass Liz ( Salma Hayek ) and Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven - ) at the Pirate of the Year Awards. He captures a ship, and one of the passengers - Charles Darwin (David Tennant - Dr Who (2005) ) - identifies the captain's strange parrot as being a dodo.

    The animated nature of the movie allows the director to take slapstick comedy to the next level. This leads on to an action-adventure climax.

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    Early Man (2018)

    Early Man (2018) A tribe of cavemen invent association football, commonly known in the USA by the nickname Soccer. They even make cave-paintings of it. Then, for reasons that are explained later, they give up on playing the game.

    Centuries later their descendants are still stone-age hunters. Dug (Eddie Redmayne - Jupiter Rising ) is ambitious. Unfortunately his plans to hunt a woolly mammoth are disrupted by the Brocca Divide. Yes, some Bronze Age people arrive, and conquer the valley.

    The cavemen are enslaved to work in the mines. Their only way out is to challenge the Bronze Age people to a game of their favourite sport ... Soccer! Chief Bobnar (Timothy Spall - Red Dwarf ) and the others are not exactly keen. Luckily a Bronze Age girl named Goona ( Maisie Williams ) is a fan of the game, and offers to teach them as long as they let her play on their team. Yes, the old trope of the girl-on-a-male-team is dug up.

    Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston - Thor: Ragnarok ) is under a lot of pressure from his abusive superior, Queen Oofeefa ( Miriam Margolyes ). However, rather than sabotage the caveman team he merely tells Dug the sad and sorry truth. Still, in the third act there is a change in character development and Nooth becomes a cardboard villain.

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