Traditionally I have always written about the film goodies that UK television viewers can look forward to over the Christmas period, and frankly I don't know why I bother, as it seems to get less promising each year. The schedules may be chock-a-block with movies, but so few of them are new to television and, by and large, the premieres are a truly dismal lot. Now I know that kiddies are capable of watching the same movie over and over ad nauseam, but I'm not sure that many adults fall into the same category.
Anyhow, before I get into the Christmas nitty-gritty, let me say a few words about the new Tina Fey-Amy Poulter movie "Sisters" (2015). I was looking for a suitable new movie to watch with my daughter on a girly afternoon out and settled on this. Being released the same week as the new "Star Wars" extravaganza it's not going to put much of a dent in that blockbuster's box-office, but we thought it might make for a sparkling afternoon's diversion. I was expecting something fairly adult and amusing after the tip-top review that it received from Kevin Maher in The Times, but we both found it only sporadically entertaining at best.
For their second co-starrer after 2008's "Baby Mama" (not one of this century's great comedies either), the gals chose to play chalk-and-cheese sisters upset to discover that mom and dad (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) are selling their childhood home. They are horrified, especially as Fey, currently homeless, jobless, and estranged from her college-age daughter, thought she just might bunk with them for a while. Tasked with cleaning out the junk pile that was their shared bedroom, the pair seem to revert to their most infantile teenaged behaviour and decide that it would be a wonderful wheeze to throw one last party for all their old friends at the soon-to-be-gone family homestead. Naturally this descends into predictable chaos and destruction, just about ruining the now unsaleable house. Not really the stuff of high comedy!
Blessed with a fast-talking, generally raunchy script, the film provides the occasional chuckle, but the mildly amusing sequences are interspersed with long, draggy, and generally annoying bits of shtick from a cast that is trying way too hard both to shock and to delight.
Anyhow back to the Christmas business at hand, there are remarkably few premieres overall in the hundreds of films on offer on terrestrial TV, and while for once I have not viewed about half of them, the only two which seem at all promising from my point of view are the cable-movie "Beyond the Candelabra" (BBC2 on the 28th) and "Sapphires" (also BBC2 on the 3lst). The rest are primarily two-star duds like "Diana" (26th on Channel 5), yet another yawny remake of "Romeo & Juliet" (BBC 2 Christmas Day), and "Nativity 2 - Danger in the Manger" (BBC2 on the 21st). I will probably watch -- but reserve judgment on several little-known offerings such as "WolfCop" (FilmFour tomorrow) and "Safe Haven" (BBC 2 on the 20th); however wild horses couldn't drag me to watch "Mrs Brown's Boys - D'Movie" premiering on BBC1 on the 31st.
Of the other new films which I have seen, if one ignores Christmas-themed television flicks and very basic childrens' animations featuring Tinkerbelle or Thomas the Tank, there is little to recommend. The best of the bunch are "Frankenweenie" on Christmas Day and the little Scottish gem "Sunshine on Leith" on the 30th. Of the new-to-television animations, "Brave" (BBC1 Christmas Day) and "Wreck-it-Ralph" (again BBC1 on the 1st) are both fine, but I was less enamoured of "The Croods" (BBC1 on the 26th) and "Turbo" (also BBC1 on New Year's Day). The remaining premieres "Purge" on the 23rd, "One Chance" on the 26th"Oz the Great and Powerful" (an over-rated mess) on the 27th, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" (something of an oddity itself) on the 3lst, and "A Good Day to Die Hard" (one sequel too many) on the 1st are unlikely to rock many boats. I may have missed one or two new ones, but believe me they're quite missable!
Never mind, there are always the good old reliables like "It's a Wonderful Life" to compensate for the lack of feel-good movies and plenty of black-tinged classics like "The Big Lebowski" and "The Trouble with Harry" to cut through the sugar. Sometimes it does indeed feel good to watch an old favourite that you've not seen for a while.
There will be no blog on Christmas Day next Friday, but I will try to return before the end of the year in time to wish you all a Happy New Year filled with good viewing.