From All The Cats And Humans At The Shattered Lens, We Hope You Have You Had A Wonderful Holiday!

“Merry Christmas, movie house!”

“And happy New Year to you … in jail!”

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus….”

“Now wait a minute, Susie. Just because every child can’t get his wish that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Santa Claus.”

“You must believe in Mr. Kringle and keep right on doing it. You must have faith in him.”

“Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…”

“How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”

From all of your friends at the Shattered Lens, we hope that you have had a happy holiday and we look forward to sharing more with you in the year to come!

A Christmas Film Review: Scrooge (dir by Ronald Neame)

There have been many good film versions of the Charles Dickens novella, A Christmas Carol.  Several of them could even be called classics.  Everyone from Bill Murray to James Earl Jones to Tori Spelling to Fredric March has taken a turn at playing a version of the famous miser who, after being visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, changes his ways and becomes the most generous man in London.  This holiday season, I watched quite a few old TV shows and I was somewhat surprised to discover just how many sitcoms have featured an episode where one of the characters has A Christmas Carol-like experience.

Though actually, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  A Christmas Carol is a universal tale and it’s one that continues to be appealing 174 years after it was originally written.  You don’t have to be rich, British, greedy, or even a man to relate to what Ebenezer Scrooge goes through.  We’ve all be haunted by the past.  We’ve all wondered what we’re missing out on in the present.  And we all fear how we’ll be remembered in the future.  In fact, I would say that A Christmas Carol is probably as close to perfect you can get.  The only problem is that Bob Cratchit’s son is named Tiny Tim and any work of fiction that features a character named Tiny has to be docked a few points.

With all that said, my favorite film version of A Christmas Carol is the 1970 musical, Scrooge.

Scrooge sticks to the original details of the story.  Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Albert Finney.  (Finney was only 34 when he made Scrooge but was made up so that he looked closer to 120.)  The men, women, and spirits in Scrooge’s life are all played by a collection of distinguished British thespians.  Edith Evans is the stately Ghost of Christmas Past.  Kenneth More is the Ghost of Christmas Present, a decadent figure who drinks wine and travels around with two frightening-looking children.  Alec Guinness is a heavily chained Jacob Marley and he plays the role with just the right combination of sarcasm and concern.  (“No one else wanted to come,” Marley says when he greets Scrooge at the entrance of Hell.)  An actor named Paddy Stone is credited as playing the silent and shrouded Ghost of Christmas Future.  Let me just say that the Ghost of Christmas Future always scares me to death whenever I watch Scrooge.  I imagine little children in the 70s were traumatized by his skeletal visage.

What sets Scrooge apart is that it has singing and dancing!  That’s right, this is a musical version of A Christmas Carol, featuring songs composed by Leslie Bricusse.  Now, the overall quality of the songs is open to debate.  There’s 11 of them and really, only three of the songs are particularly memorable.  (Those songs are: I Like Life, I Hate People, and the Oscar-nominated Thank You Very Much.)  But, honestly, who cares?  The cast performs them with so much energy and enthusiasm that it’s impossible not to get swept up in it all.

(Admittedly, Albert Finney doesn’t really sing.  He just kinda growls the lyrics.  But that’s appropriate for the character of Scrooge.)

Scrooge is an outstanding production of a timeless tale.  It came on TV at least four different times this holiday season and I watched each time.  And I’ll do the same next year!

And as Tiny Tim, who did not die, said, “A Merry Christmas to all!  God Bless us, everyone!”

Cleaning Out The DVR: A Very Merry Toy Store (dir by Paula Hart)

(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 193 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded A Very Merry Toy Store off of Lifetime on November 26th!)

As I watched A Very Merry Toy Store, I found myself wondering, “Could any couple possibly be more adorable than Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez?”

Hart and Lopez play rival toy store owners in this movie and they are the main reason to watch.  Hart is Connie Forrester.  Lopez is Will DiNova.  At one time, their fathers owned one toy story but when a conflict led to the end of their partnership, it also led to Connie and Will growing up to be rivals.  Connie’s toy store is struggling.  Will’s toy store is thriving but he’s struggling personally as he tries to deal with a divorce.  However, Will and Connie will have to set their differences aside because Roy Barnes (Billy Gardell) has just arrived in town and he brings with him the promise of the type of big chain store that puts independent toy stores out of business!

So, obviously, the main appeal here is that Mario Lopez was A.C. Slater and Melissa Joan Hart was Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.  The film even highlights the Sabrina connection by casting Beth Broderick as Connie’s mother.  (Broderick gets a subplot of her own, a sweet love story with old pro Brian Dennehy.)  Lopez and Hart are so overwhelming likable that it’s easy to overlook the fact that nothing surprising at all happens in A Very Merry Toy Store.  Whenever they get together and smile, the blinding likability on display keeps you from worrying about things like plot holes or the fact that Roy is a bit of a cartoonish villain.  Lopez and Hart are fun to watch and you hope that their characters end up together.  If nothing else, you know they’re going to have amazingly likable children.

Speaking of Mario Lopez, does he have a picture of Dorian Gray in his attic or what?  The same day that I watched A Very Merry Toy Store, I also watched an old episode of Saved By The Bell and I was once again shocked by the fact that Lopez has apparently not aged in twenty years.  As for Melissa Joan Hart, she’s all always be Sabrina to me.  She’s also a pretty good actress with a very genuine screen presence.  This is the second time that Lopez and Hart have played a couple and hopefully, they’ll do so again next Christmas.

A Very Merry Toy Store may be a predictable holiday film but it is more than saved the charisma of its two leads.


Cleaning Out The DVR: Wrapped Up In Christmas (dir by Peter Sullivan)

(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 193 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Wrapped Up In Christmas off of Lifetime on November 25th!)

It’s not easy being a single mother during the Christmas season, especially when you’re a young and ambitious professional who works as the general manager of a struggling mall.  You want everyone to have a good Christmas but your boss is demanding that you evict all of the locally owned stores.  You want to find a good man and a good stepfather for your daughter but every man you meet has nothing in common with you.  You’re sophisticated.  You have dreams.  You have ambition.  You have an education.  You don’t want just any slacker.

And then one day, you meet a man who seems like he’s perfect.  He’s a lawyer, even though he’s currently helping his mom run her toy store (a store that just happens to be on the list of businesses that you’re supposed to evict).  He seems to be interested in everything that you’re interested in!  It seems like he’s perfect but what you don’t know is that he’s putting on an act.  See, he not only works in his mom’s toy store.  He’s also been voluntarily serving as the mall’s Santa Claus and when your daughter told him that she wanted you to find a man for Christmas, she also told him everything that you’re looking for.

Meanwhile, all the lovable people who work in the mall are giving your new man advice on how to impress you and your boss is still demanding that you evict everyone the week before Christmas and suddenly, you realize that everything that could happen in a Lifetime holiday movie has happened…

Seriously, if there’s anything that distinguishes Wrapped Up In Christmas from other holiday Lifetime films, it’s just how complete it is.  There’s literally nothing that doesn’t happen.  It’s all here.  A workaholic protagonist who needs to learn the true meaning of Christmas.  A nearly saintly man who happens to have one secret that could possibly derail his otherwise perfect relationship.  A cute child.  Santa-involved intervention.  A family of matchmakers.  (Actually, this one has two families of matchmakers.)  It’s all here!

Anyway, I liked Wrapped Up In Christmas.  There was nothing really special about it but it had a sweet soul and Tatyana Ali and Brendan Fehr was likable in the leads.  It’s an enjoyable little holiday movie.


Music Video of the Day: Christmas In The Sand by Colbie Caillat (2012, dir by Roman White)

Merry Christmas everyone!

I’m actually writing this post on December 17th so I don’t know if it’s going to snow this Christmas or not.  Certainly, I would like it if it did.  I live in Texas, so I hardly ever get to see snow.

But, as today music video of the day shows, you can have a merry Christmas even if it doesn’t snow.  Even if you’re on the beach, you can have a wonderful Christmas.  Way to go, Hawaii!

(I love Hawaii.)

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!