A Christmas Carol (2009)
It's hard to believe that this one aired a full ten years ago. This is the animated Jim Carrey 'Christmas Carol' that divided audience in such a big way. It's very 50/50 in the way its reviewed. Some just settle for different versions of the story, some think this is far too dark, and some just claim the animation is far too stylized to appreciate other things about it. Me? I'll just come right out and say it. This is one of my favorite versions of the story.
Of course, unless you've been under a rock for the last century-plus, you know the story of 'A Christmas Carol'. Scrooge (Jim Carrey) is a greedy old miser who frowns on Christmas, seeing it as a "poor excuse to pick a man's pocket every 25th of December"). He is warned on Christmas Eve by his former partner Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman, who also plays Bob Cratchet here), in ghost form, that if he doesn't improve his ways, he's doomed to an eternity of bearing long lengths of heavy chains upon his death. That night, Scrooge is visited by three spirits representing his past, present and future (all also played by Jim Carrey) to help set him on the right path.
The biggest differences here that I can appreciate on a big scale are between a few things. For starters, the animation is absolutely gorgeous, following the more realistic feel of movies like 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within' and to a bigger extent, 'The Polar Express'. I have noticed that this style can creep some out by how real it looks while still being a cartoon, but I've always been a huge fan. If you have any chance to see it in 3D, I still remember it adding a lot to things, and would highly recommend it. Though, it's not like 'Avatar' where the 3D is what makes the movie good.
Beyond great animation, I can't help but give great praise to both Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman for their multiple performances in this. They both flex their acting muscles so well here, and I love that Carrey brings a sense of humor to the Scrooge role that is so rarely seen. The only competition he really has, in my opinion, is my all time favorute Scrooge, Alistair Sim. Personally speaking, I'm glad they didn't make him so one-sided. There are multiple versions of this story that make him a bit too serious for my taste, even if it is the same story. For some, it should be closer to the book, and I completely understand that. But personally speaking, I need to be able to laugh at Scrooge just as much as I need to be able to dislike him. Carrey does a great job of it, and I can't fathom why he was so overlooked here.
Another thing I love about this one, though many would disagree based on taste, was just how dark things got here. Between Marley, and the transition to meet the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (or Future, if you like), I don't mind saying that things actually do get genuinely creepy. Not only that, but they do these ghosts in ways that I've never seen before, making them the film's own thing, and not simply copying and pasting. This is probably one of those things that's criticized for not keeping it classic, but there are about a million different versions of this story out there. I love that this one got creative and did things a little differently, but still manages to tell the story as it needs to be told. Much like any other book adaptation, I like to say the important aspects of the story are still there.
Again, I find this movie to be split right down the middle as far as opinion goes. I actually love it, and I've watched it through a few times. However is still can't hold a candle to the 1951 classic I grew up with. Maybe it's just me, but I really enjoy how dark this got, how funny i managed to be at the same time, and I enjoyed the new ideas they played with. I'm not sure what's so bad about this movie that causes people to veer away from it, but I think it's worth a few watch-throughs to try to warm up to it. Just be willing to accept it as a ghost story a bit more than a Christmas story.
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Every once in a while, you hear discussion about a movie that comes across as being so incredibly bad that enough curiosity gathers in your mind to make you wanna see it for yourself. Usually, this is to try to see something so bad, it's good. I decided to check this one out based on that, but unfortunately, it turns out that it's just plain bad.
For something that's supposed to be a Christmas movie, it has so little to do with Christmas spirit. It's really just a movie about a little asshole who's trying to get home for Christmas, based on a bribe. I think he does one or two generous things along the way, but none of it develops his character, and the entire movie just falls flat.
We are introduced to a college student named Jake Wilkinson (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), who hasn't been home for any holidays since his mother died. As a result, his father (Gary Cole) offers him a bribe, offering up his Porsche for Jake to use once he gets there. Jake caves at the bribe, but finds himself in a Santa suit, complete with glued-on beard, in the middle of the desert instead. This is a result of him not giving the football team the correct answers to a test. Now, he must find a way to get home by 6:00 on Christmas Eve, with a sports car fueling his desire to be home far more than his family.
Before all this desert drop-off stuff happens, we also meet Jake's girlfiend, Allie (Jessica Biel), who is disappointed in him after he tries to provide Christmastime tickets to an exotic location, after knowing full well that she plans to be with her family. As a result, she ends up hitching a ride with Jake's romantic competition, the incredibly one-dimensional Eddie (Adam LaVorgna). I might also mention that all three characters just so happen to come from the exact same town, which is a pretty huge coincidence, considering how far they have to travel to get to the end credits.
The bottom line here is that the movie is a gigantic waste of time. Jake sort of ends up learning a little something by the end, but its nothing too deep. This is no 'Christmas Carol' or 'Wonderful Life' or even, I daresay, 'Christmas Star' in its ultimate lesson. But honestly, I got nothing from this at all. Jake's lead home by a bribe, his romantic competition, Eddie, is just another version of him, and even Allie isn't altogether likable. There's just no one to route for here, and I found myself simply not caring about anything by the end. Disney has much better Christmas movies to choose from. This one has very little going for it, if anything. It's a simple cash-in for the JTT heartthrob audience, and that's about the extent of this movie's heart.
The Christmas Star
Here's a made-for-TV, Disney Sunday movie that went completely under the radar, at least from my perspective. It was released in '86, but it's definitely not a title I remember from my childhood. I honestly wonder if anyone else I know would. I mean, this one doesn't even have a critical Tomatometer rating. But could this be a hidden, potential Christmas classic that needs a bit more word of mouth?
The film introduces us to a two-time felon named Horace McNickle (Ed Asner). While serving time, he manages to escape, during a prison visit, dressed as Santa Claus. He gets out way too easily, and it's ridiculous, but I couldn't help but laugh at how simple it was.
McNickle manages to find a hiding spot in a nearby neighborhood. Here, he is befriended by two naive siblings, Billy (Nicolas Van Burek) and Trudy (Vicki Wauchope) Jameson, who believe that he's the real Santa Claus. McNickle takes advantage of his situation to help him hide his counterfeit money. But as the crimes continue, this hardened Santa ends up learning a thing or two about the nature of the spirit of Christmas by overhearing conversations while in hiding, and relating to these children.
This one has been pretty much disposed of and forgotten, perhaps because it has a particular darkness to it. Its characters aren't altogether likable either. But for some reason, Ed Asner's character balances things out pretty well. He's by far the best part of this movie. Even though he's a con artist, and criminal, he's somehow likable, and comes across as an overall nice guy at heart. He doesn't do anything to harm these kids, really, and he doesn't take any magic away from Santa for these kids either. In fact, he's kind of convincing in his advice and how he talks to kids. Not so much as a jolly old Santa, but as a father figure... even if he is using them for a con job.
The only real problem I have with this one is that it doesn't seme to know what it wants to be. There are parts of it that get pretty dark, and might speak to grown-ups a bit more. But then it's counter-balanced with the cutesiness of Trudy's character, which it seems to rely heavy on, to keep it innocent. There are some moments that are great, but some are just a bit much on the sugar scale. Although I will say, this is not as cutesy as 'Noelle'! This could, I daresay, still pass as a good family viewing title, as long as you don't mind the quality of a made-for-TV movie.
While it's been lost for a long time, it can actually currently be found on Disney Plus, and might be a neat one for people to visit if they want something different to watch for Christmas. It's pretty low-quality, but what else can one expect from a TV-movie from 1986? There's just not a whole lot to complain, or boast about here. For me, it's just nice that it feels very different than what we're used to. It's almost like a children's version of 'Bad Santa'.
While browsing some original Disney streaming, this title kept popping up, so I decided to check it out. I tend to enjoy Anna Kendrick, after all, despite the cutesy stereotype some people might give her. I think she's a great actress, and give her full credit for her roles in basically anything I've seen her in - consider her a personal fave. However, this time around, that cutesy stereotype kinda came out a little too much for my taste.
On Christmas Eve, Santa (Bryan Brendle) reveals himself as the parent of two children. One fateful Christmas Eve, he passes his son, Nick (Bill Hader/Owen Vaccaro) the torch of eventually becoming the next Santa. Meanwhile, his daughter, Noelle (Anna Kendrick/Oakley Bull), is given the task of spreading Christmas cheer when she grows up. She likes the idea okay, but she's disappointed that she can't do more.
The years pass, and the kids grow up. But while Noelle is hard-working and enjoying her job, Nick is having a lot of trouble coming to terms with having to fill Santa's shoes. She gives him the advice to go away for a vacation, much to the dismay of pretty much the entire North Pole. The result is that he goes away for a little too long, and the upcoming Christmas might be ruined. Now it's up to Noelle to head out into the world, find her brother, and bring him home.
With the North Pole missing both Nick and Noelle, other brother Gabriel, who's pretty much the tech guy around the Pole, takes charge. However, he develops a way to figure out in black and white how many good kids there are in the world as opposed to naughty kids, and plans on using this unfortunate method for the upcoming Christmas. I won't say what happens at the end, but I feel like it may already be pretty predictable.
I'm a little bit stuck on this movie as far as rating it goes. On the good side of things, it might be a fun, and actually positive one for young girls. Noelle is pretty damn cutesy, as mentioned before, but she's nothing but positive, and still pretty likable. I just personally like her much better in other things. They were probably going for this, but it's very much Disney Princess in its execution - and even saying that, I can say I've seen much better Disney Princess movies.
Aside from the cutesiness, it's another "save Christmas"-themed film, and a lot of the dialogue is eye-roll inducing. But, I'm also watching this as a 37-year-old man, and this is clearly much more aimed at a younger, perhaps leaning towards female, audience. It's not for me, but for the young ones, it's just fine. However, I still think there are better things to watch that are far less sugar-coated for Christmas (which is saying a lot).
Ernest Saves Christmas
Taking you back to my childhood, here's my first review to introduce a seemingly long-forgotten icon for fun, family movies, Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney). And what better place to start with a family fun favorite than with a family fun Christmas movie?
But first, a wee bit of history. In 1980, a series of ads started up, featuring Ernest advertising a variety of products from popular, well-known stuff like Sprite to lesser known things like Convenience Coffee. We was a sort of go-to spokesperson for the time.
His popularity took off, and soon enough, movies were made. First 'Ernest Goes to Camp' (widely regarded as the best), then this. There was also a lesser known film in the early 80s no one talks about called 'Hey Vern, It's My Family Album'. Anyway, potential review projects for the future. For now, let's just see how Ernest saves Christmas.
The film opens with Santa (Douglas Seale), arriving in Orlando, Florida. In doing his research, he has come to Orlando in search of his best potential successor, a children's entertainer named Joe Carruthers (Oliver Clark). As the film unfolds, we can see certain character traits to Joe that show us exactly why he's the right person for the job.
Ernest comes into it when he picks Santa up at the airport as a cab driver. See, the fun thing about Ernest is that he's that guy with about a million different jobs, seeing as he advertised so many different types of products. Anyway, Ernest hears the whole story from Santa and has no trouble believing that he's telling the truth about everything. Ernest decides to help Santa out along the way, lest there be no Christmas that year. But can they convince Joe to take over such a responsibility?
We are also introduced to a girl named Harmony (Noelle Parker). She's the typical bratty kid of the late 80's/early 90's era who needs to become a better person by the end of the movie, while not being altogether so terrible. her worst crimes are being a non-believer, and being a somewhat greedy girl. She's there to be the lesson that needs to be learned, while Ernest is there for the fun of things, even though he's the main character.
Hands down the best part of this movie though, is Santa, himself. Even watching it now, Seale is awesomely convincing in the role. He has an innocence about him, a twinkle in his eye, a charming smile, and the way he talks just makes you wanna listen. I dunno who my favourite Santa would be, but he's definitely up there.
This IS the typical Christmas plot of "do something, or there will be no Christmas this year", but in all honesty, I can't think of very many that came before this. That's just speaking personally though, I'm sure I'm mistaken. All I know is it's the first one I can remember. I loved this one as a kid, and I think I remember a lot of my peers liking it too. The only thing about watching it now is that it's dated.
For me, this one was more of a nostalgia thing, and I think it could be fun for audiences who were kids at the time. As for kids today, I couldn't promise they'd be into it. It definitely looks and feels like it comes from the 80's, and so many "saving Christmas" movies have come since that it's almost obsolete to youth nowadays. As for me, I still had fun with it, and it was a nice trip down memory lane.
All I Want for Christmas
Here we have another example of a WTF directorial moment, as this family-friendly title, aimed fairly heavily at children, is directed by Robert Lieberman. This is a man who once traumatized me as a kid with his movie 'Fire in the Sky', which I still claim to have the scariest movie scene of all-time (at least according to my tastes).
One might be relieved to know that this is a very far cry from anything horrific though. The plot is incredibly basic, and looking at the movie poster, I have to admit that I kinda hoped for it to be another movie. It looks as though two kids manage to trap Santa Claus and gangster-style him into giving them presents. It could have been laughably out of hand.
The real story, however, is the simple case of a little girl named Hallie (Thora Birch) and her brother, Ethan (Ethan Embry), facing Christmas with their parents separated (Jamey Sheridan and Harley Jane Kozak). Hallie wants nothing more than for her parents to get back together, so that they could celebrate the holidays as a family, and the film pretty much unfolds with her attempts at making her Christmas wish come true.
Meanwhile, Ethan is chasing preteen love, pursuing a girl named Stephanie (Amy Oberer), who also helps them on their mission in her own way. But really, she's mostly there to give Ethan something to gravitate towards while Hallie takes part in the main plot a little bit more. And being that this was still cute, little Thora Birch, things are easier to forgive. This was even before 'Hocus Pocus', so very early in her career, and we can actually see by her performance here, why she took off as a child actress.
But for as much praise as I might give Thora on her early acting, there's much more to this movie than one person's performance. Really, this is just another story about kids wishing their parents back together, and it's been done before and since then, and probably better. With that said though, it's still a harmless flick, and I'm not gonna sit here and pick it apart for being "bad". It's just a simple family flick from the early 90s, and it manages to do a lot without the use of Christmas magic so much as keeping things grounded in reality.
If you're currently on board with Disney Plus, and you have kids to entertain for Christmas, this isn't a bad title to tune into. But I will say that there are better Christmas movies out there, and this does kinda fade into the background as its not classic. It's just something that's been done before, with Christmas as its setting. The most interesting part about it, perhaps, is seeing these current grown adults as children who still have a sparkle of Christmas magic in their eyes.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
A Christmas movie I skipped over last year for the simple reason of just not caring, I decided to do it up this year and just get it out of the way. It sounds harsh, I know, but 'The Nutcracker' was never so much a musical than a ballet, and ballets are definitely not in my wheelhouse. But fantasy is, so I kinda figured why not? Maybe there would be something I could take away from it. But there's a problem I had going into this - I had never bothered to see 'The Nutcracker' beforehand. I only ever really knew the music from it.
Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants an incredibly unique key for Christmas. It's the key to a mysterious box that her late mother gave her. During a Victorian Christmas party, hosted by her Godfather, Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), she is given a golden thread, which leads her to the key, which disappears into a strange, parallel world.
Here, she meets a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), some mice, and representatives of three of the Four Realms; Shiver (Richard E. Grant) of the Land of Snowflakes, Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez) of the Land of Flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightly) of the Land of Sweets. Sugar Plum shows Clara a stage performance that retells the story of when her mother visited their world years before. In other words, they watch the original 'Nutcracker' Ballet.
Clara learns that the ominous fourth realm, the Land of Amusements, ruled by Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) is holding Clara's key that she's searching for. Further learning that Mother Ginger is kinda ruling things with an iron fist, Clara and Phillip brave the fourth realm, and in finding her key, hopefully restoring order to this strange, miniature world. But will they discover that there's more than meets the eye to Mother Ginger?
Having not seen the original 'Nutcracker', this movie left me feeling a bit like I should have done my homework. I don't have much to compare it to, as this was my first 'Nutcracker' experience. But with that said, in many ways, it reminded me of the 2010 version 'Alice in Wonderland', as though it's a sort of soft reboot. It's an experience for a new generation, an it looks really good, but the older generation kinda wonders if it was any good or not. It's perfectly passable, but there's just something a tiny bit off about it. It's not horrible, but just very bland and unexciting, even during the "intense" parts.
For yours truly, this is another one of those titles that's just kinda "there". It could come or go, and I wouldn't care either way. It was fun for what it was, but I think it's gonna appeal more to fans of the original source material, or perhaps children who are new to this whole thing. But according to other reviews, several seem to think this was a weak and altogether unnecessary title, so you might wanna take my review with a grain of salt.
Personally, I see this as relatively decent for what it is, and it could be seen as a fun adventure for the young and young at heart in the same way 2010's 'Alice in Wonderland' was. But it's still not for me, and probably not for anyone else who isn't into the whole ballet thing. It's another one of these titles I can't recommend one way or the other. But if you enjoy the original 'Nutcracker' story, it may be something to check out.
Bringing things back to Christmas, let's delve into the true meaning of the holiday with a retelling of the Nativity Story through the eyes of the animals, namely a young donkey named Bo (Steven Yeun).
We are introduced to Bo as he breaks free from a village mill, only to run into the virgin Mary (Gina Rodriguez) who has recently been told by God that she will give birth to his son. While they hit it off very well, Joseph (Zachary Levi) is looking for answers on how to support Mary through her pregnancy.
We learn that King Herod (Christopher Plummer) hires an assassin to get rid of Jesus, who he sees as a threat to his throne. When Bo learns of this, he teams up with a sheep named Ruth (Aidy Bryant) who has lost her flock, and an optimistic dove named Dave (Keegan-Michael Key) to stop him. They are further aided by the three camels, Deborah, Cyrus and Felix (Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Tracey Morgan, respectively) of the three wise men, Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior (Phil Morris, Joel Osteen, and Fred Tatasciore, respectively)
Despite an all-star cast (some of whom I still haven't mentioned), and being a wide release, this one just didn't make it very far in the grand scheme of things. Even I completely overlooked it for my 2017 Christmas special, as it just looked a bit too childish. I love animation, but there was a certain aura of innocence around this that lead me to believe I wouldn't like it much. Truth be told, I was right, but that doesn't make the movie all that bad.
While it's absolutely not for me, and I was often rolling my eyes at the intensity of the lameness of some of these jokes, I had to kinda go back in time in my head. I ended up asking myself if I'd like this as a kid, and I think I would have, but it still wouldn't have been something I'd keep going back to. Even then, it's a movie for kids pretty much 7 or under. It's perfectly innocent, and fun for little kids, but I'd have to forewarn parent that this is THAT kind of movie.
What I mean by that is that it's the kind of movie your little kid might wanna watch and rewach, but it'll become a pain in your ass as a parent because you know there's far better stuff out there. It's certainly not something I'm gonna be going back to anytime soon, as it has the quality of a straight-to-TV movie. But with that said, if you're an elementary school parent, it might be a good one to sit your young one down in front of for an hour and a half of entertainment. It's lame, but perfectly passable for what it''s trying to do.
Perhaps a good way to do it after the crazy hustle-bustle of the holiday season would be to find it on Netflix, turn it on, and let your kid be entertained while you take a nice nap. 'Cause trust me, this one is kinda sleep-inducing for us grown-ups. It's about as edgy as a movie Ned Flanders would make.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Now here's a title that I let go right by me, without paying much attention. It's strangely right in my wheelhouse, but at the time of its 2005 release, my wheelhouse wasn't entirely established yet. Back then, I was mostly familiar with Robert Downey Jr. from 'Chaplin', and Val Kilmer as 'Batman' or Madmartigan from 'Willow'. I was always familiar with the title, but kinda overlooked it as a generic action movie. Now that I've seen it, it's pretty much an instant favorite.
We open with our main character and narrator, Harry Lockhart, beginning a recap of how he got to a Hollywood party. After an unsuccessful robbery, and a police chase, Harry finds himself hiding in an audition. Having lost his friend during the robbery, he has a break-down which is mistaken as method acting. An openly gay private investigator, "Gay" Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer) suggests for him to participate in a real investigation in order to develop his character.
Meanwhile, Harry meets aspiring actress Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), finding out that she's actually a childhood crush all grown up. While Harry and Perry find themselves in an intricate murder case, events end up entangling themselves, giving "everyman" character, Harry, a personal vendetta. Perry, Harry and Harmony end up reluctantly working together to get to the bottom of things.
There's so much I appreciate about this one, and I'm happy to have found another movie to add to my rewatchable collection. For me, Harry is a potential new favourite character. Imagine Tony Stark if he had average, everyday intelligence, leaning a bit towards dumb, but still only human. He still has that sense of humor mixed with that intensity when things get serious.
On the other side of things, we have Perry, who is a real asshole, but feeds Harry some of the funniest insults. The one about looking up "idiot" in the dictionary is kinda legendary. In fact, the perfect scene to illustrate these two interacting with each other. It's not enough to call it bickering back and forth, but these two really don't like each other and its perfectly clear.
This is another one that follows in the footsteps of unconventional Christmas movies, where Christmas takes place in the background almost completely. It's an action comedy you could watch pretty much any time of year. The writer/director of this one is Shane Black, who we either remember very fondly for penning 'Lethal Weapon', or not so fondly for executing 'Iron Man 3' (which still isn't horrible, but definitely a weak chapter of the MCU). I'd have to say, after scrolling through his IMDb resume, this is one of his best titles for sure.
It's a lot of fun, at times intense, at times laugh out loud funny, and it'll even leave you a bit squeamish without going incredibly overboard. There IS a rough torture scene here, but it's balanced out with humour and doesn't really show anything. In fact, it's kinda similar to 'Lethal Weapon's torture scene... maybe Shane Black didn't get a lot of hugs growing up? Anyway, I loved it, its a new fave for sure!
In the tradition of Christmas movies, one of the big themes is love/romance. While I'm mostly a fantasy/Santa Claus Christmas movie kinda guy, there is something I genuinely appreciate about these slice of life, romantic Christmas comedies. In my humble opinion, 'Love, Actually' would be the best example of such a movie, and I've always found it hard to top.
This movie was pretty damn good for what it was, but still can't quite hold a candle. If 'Love, Actually' is the steak, then this is the burger. Still perfectly good, I'd still pick it off the menu, but not quite the same quality.
Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) lives in London, England, writing a wedding column for a newspaper. She has a very heavy thing for her coworker, Jasper (Rufus Sewell). He doesn't return the same feelings, but still kinda strings her along as he goes ahead and gets engaged to a different colleague. Needless to say, this kinda breaks Iris, and she puts her house up for a two-week exchange in order to get away, hopefully far.
On the other side of the world, Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz), a movie trailer editor, has recently been cheated on by her boyfriend, Ethan (Edward Burns), and likewise wants to get away from everything to try to forget him. The two ladies meet online through the house exchange website Iris uses, and they make the deal to switch things up for those two weeks. Amanda headed to Iris' Surrey cottage, and Iris headed for Amanda's L.A. mansion.
During Amanda's trip, she meets Iris' brother, Graham (Jude Law) and they fall for each other immediately. On the other side of things, Iris befriends her new neighbor, a 90-year-old screenwriter named Arthur (Eli Wallach), who is probably my favourite character in the film, as he's such a kindly, mellow old charmer. He helps her with her self-esteem, and a film composer named Miles (Jack Black) who might be the key to her happiness.
Being that Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz are the leads in a film directed by Nancy Meyers ('Something's Gotta Give', 'It's Complicated') one might very well brush this off as just another predictable romantic comedy. But there is a certain amount of heart and charm put into this, that there were plenty of moments that had me smiling and even laughing. Simply put, the movie leaves you with a feeling of warmth.
Truth be told, I was also very focused on Iris and Miles through this, as my own personal worst habit is falling for the person who isn't right for me at all. Not bad, just not right. I found them to be much more relatable, and they sorta played the everyday people in this. I appreciated Amanda and Graham's story, but it did feel a little overboard at times, and there was an unfortunate reminder of one of my exes in Amanda. But there are moments that help soften things up as well, so it's not all bad.
I'm glad I finally got around to seeing this one. As a fan of 'Love, Actually', I was generally told that this was kinda the coin-flip for best romantic Christmas comedy. And honestly, there were many moments here that made me think of 'Love, Actually'. I feel like this could have been two stories that were cut from it, but not in any kind of rip-off way. It's more like a bonus feature. I could honestly back-to-back them, myself. 'Love, Actually' has become a Christmas tradition, so let's see if this follows. Not for everyone, but it warmed my heart on a personal level.