Saturday, December 23, 2006

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Still have some holes to fill on your holiday shopping list? Here are a few celebrity-branded gift ideas you might want to consider, and yes, these are all real products.
Hilary Duff Backpack
Carmen Electra MasterCard
Clay Aiken Bobble Head Doll
Diavolo for Men by Antonio Banderas
William Shatner All-Bran

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Coming Attractions

It's that time of year again where studios release their serious work to be considered for Oscar voting. So as a way of taking a break from all of that, I thought we'd focus on something a little more comedic but with a hint of seriousness. In an earlier post I took a jab at the Internet comparing it to a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters. Well, occasionally those monkeys come up with some good stuff and give us access to previously untapped levels of creativity. One such example is the recut movie trailer. This is where people take clips and make a movie trailer that makes the film appear as if it is from a totally different genre. YouTube is full of such efforts and below are my favorites.

Sleepless in Seattle: This was one of the first re-cut trailers to surface. If you ever thought Meg Ryan's character in Sleepless in Seattle was kind of stalker, you weren't alone. Here's a trailer re-cut to make the movie look like a psychological thriller. In a similar vein, the thriller version of Office Space is below that.

Shining: At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Steven King's horror classic The Shining re-cut to look like a inspirational buddy comedy.

Scary Mary: Here's Disney's family classic Mary Poppins recut into a suspenseful horror movie.

The last two are from some guys that take it a little further and re-cut a movie to be patterned after a specific film. The first is Must Love Jaws which turns Jaws into some sort of weird love story with the guys and the shark. The second one, The 10 Things I Hate About Commandments, features The Ten Commandments re-cut to look like a teen high school comedy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Top of the Christmas Morning to You

In 1964, using stop animation techniques, Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass produced a little Christmas film called Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. To this day NBC's museum in New York has a display with the original figurines. The movie, which featured the legendary Burl Ives as the narrating snowman, is still considered a classic. The week it originally aired TV Guide dedicated four pages to its ground-breaking technology. The term "animagic" was coined and Rankin and Bass were on top of the world. In an effort to recreate the animagic, the two would team up several more times over the following decades for stop-animation and cartoon specials, mostly at Christmas time. Examples are 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Year Without Santa Claus. They even produced some specials featuring the religious side of Christmas like The Little Drummer Boy, The Little Drummer Boy II and my favorite, Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. That was all fine until they started doing cross-holiday films like Rudolph's Shiny New Year and Jack Frost (narrated by Buddy Hackett as the February 2 ground hog).

The best of the Rankin & Bass cross-holiday specials is by far The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold from 1981. Though only 25 minutes long, this feature manages to pack in a gripping story line that follows the development of intriguing characters through plenty of twists and turns all narrated charismatically (and musically) by the late Art Carney. There's even an evil temptress banshee who disguises herself as a fair maiden to steal the gold. But ultimately, the story is one of redemption and forgiveness at Christmas time as people and leprechauns alike overcome differences and make their way back home for the holidays. So this Christmas Eve as you gather with family and friends, don't forget to set aside a half hour to enjoy The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold at 1:30 pm on ABC Family Channel. If you only see one Christmas special this season, make it golden. If you do see more than one Christmas special, below is a table with air times for all of the Rankin & Bass shows between now and New Year's.

(All times are MST. Check local listings for more information)

Title Year Date Time Channel
Little Drummer Boy 1968 Dec 14 8:00 PM ABC Family
Little Drummer Boy II 1976 Dec 14 8:30 PM ABC Family
The Year Without a Santa Claus 1974 Dec 15 8:00 PM ABC Family
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town 1970 Dec 15 9:00 PM ABC Family
'Twas the Night Before Christmas 1974 Dec 15 11:30 PM ABC Family
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town 1970 Dec 18 8:00 PM ABC Family
Frosty's Winter Wonderland 1976 Dec 19 8:00 PM ABC Family
Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey 1977 Dec 19 8:30 PM ABC Family
The Year Without a Santa Claus 1974 Dec 20 11:00 PM ABC Family
The Year Without a Santa Claus 1974 Dec 20 8:00 PM ABC Family
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 Dec 21 7:00 PM CBS
Rudolph's Shiny New Year 1976 Dec 22 8:00 PM ABC Family
Little Drummer Boy 1968 Dec 24 1:00 PM ABC Family
The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold 1981 Dec 24 1:30 PM ABC Family
Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July 1979 Dec 24 2:00 PM ABC Family
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus 1985 Dec 24 4:00 PM ABC Family
The Story of the First Christmas Snow 1975 Dec 24 5:00 PM ABC Family
Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey 1977 Dec 24 5:30 PM ABC Family
Pinocchio's Christmas 1980 Dec 24 6:00 PM ABC Family
Jack Frost 1979 Dec 24 7:00 PM ABC Family
Frosty's Winter Wonderland 1976 Dec 24 8:00 PM ABC Family
'Twas the Night Before Christmas 1974 Dec 24 8:30 PM ABC Family
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town 1970 Dec 24 9:00 PM ABC Family
The Year Without a Santa Claus 1974 Dec 24 10:00 PM ABC Family
Rudolph's Shiny New Year 1976 Dec 24 11:00 PM ABC Family
Little Drummer Boy 1968 Dec 25 12:00 AM ABC Family
Little Drummer Boy II 1976 Dec 25 12:30 AM ABC Family
Frosty's Winter Wonderland 1976 Dec 25 11:30 PM ABC Family
Rudolph's Shiny New Year 1976 Dec 26 7:00 PM ABC

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Hollywood Triple Threat

In Hollywood these days singers want to be actors and actors want to be directors and people without any talent just want to be famous. So while it's not uncommon for stars to try to be everything for their fans, only a select handful can muster the versatility required to be a true Hollywood Triple Threat. Willie Nelson is just such a star. His next movie Fighting with Anger isn't due out for several months, but the premise is so intriguing I couldn't wait to comment on it. In it, Nelson comes off as the Hollywood Triple Threat that is arguably the hardest to duplicate: actor, singer, martial artist. Don't let the fact that he's 73 fool you, he can still swing a round house with the best of them and Fighting with Anger is the perfect vehicle to showcase his talents.

From the film's official web site: "Ray is a young, beautiful, secret and deadly assassin. Her skill and anger are thrived by her past and a mysterious young man that is the focus of her life. When her last job goes terribly wrong and an innocent woman is killed, she is faced with the pain of her past and a new nemesis that emerges from the shadows. Why does she fight with such anger?" Why indeed. But the film's anchor is Nelson: "The country music legend is featured as Will, the experienced hit man that takes Ray under his wing. Nelson is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has a great interest in the action movie genre. His devotion to the project will play a major part of the film's success." Nay, his devotion is more than a major part. The fate of this film rests solely on the shoulders of the Red Headed Stranger (gray hair now). He has even written some songs for film's soundtrack including an ominous collaboration with Del Castillo Brothers entitled "In the Shadows."

Not since Chuck Norris have we seen this range. You all know Chuck from his hit TV show Walker, Texas Ranger, but did you also know he performed the show's theme song, the BMI Music Television Award winning "Eyes of a Ranger"? Did you know he was six-time undefeated World Professional Middle Weight Karate Champion? For more interesting facts on Chuck, go here (but I warn you, you'd better have a lot of time to waste).

Who will emerge as the next Hollywood Triple Threat? Only time will tell if Jackie Chan or Jet Li will release a pop album. Until then, we've got the talented Willie Nelson happily singing while giving bad guys the beat down in low-budget movies.

Speaking of low budget, after he's done fighting with anger, Nelson will reprise his role as Uncle Jesse in a straight-to-video prequel of The Dukes of Hazzard. Sadly, he is the only cast member from the first movie returning for the second. Needless to say, the fans of the first movie are up in arms. Here's a quote from a fan message board, and as you'll see, I made no effort to correct any grammar errors:
"You know whats stupid. They didn't even put the real actors (from the first movie)in the second movie. Why is not my favorite Celebrity Jessica Simpson in this movie. Or Johny, Scott in this movie is not going to be the same. I love THE DUKES OF HAZZARD. But with Jessica Simpson, Johny, Scott. I mean Jonathan Bennett is also one of my favorite actors, but I hoped that Jessica Simpson was going to be in this movie. Well what cant we do nothing.. The first Dukes movie still rock my socks."
The Infinite Monkey Theorem states that a million monkeys typing on a million typewriters would eventually recreate the works of Shakespeare. The Internet has proven that theorem false.