Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 1966 American animated musical comedy television special directed by Chuck Jones. It is based on the eponymous children's book by Dr. Seuss, the story of The Grinch trying to take away Christmas from the townsfolk of Whoville below his mountain hideaway. The special, which is considered a short film as it runs less than an hour, is one of the classic Christmas specials from the 1960s still shown regularly on television. Jones and Geisel previously worked together on the Private Snafu training cartoons at Warner Bros. Cartoons during World War II.

The 26-minute short was originally telecast in the United States on CBS on December 18, 1966. CBS repeated it annually during the Christmas season until their last airing in 1986. Beginning in 1987, TNT began exclusively running the special. Unlike the years it aired on CBS, The Grinch now ran several times during the Christmas season. In 1990, TBS also began running the special. From 1996 until 2005, The WB Television Network also began airing the special at least once per season. Then in 2006, The Grinch returned to one of the big three networks, this being ABC, which began broadcasting it several times annually during the Christmas season until 2014. On August 13, 2015, it was announced that the special will move to NBC, which will air it twice during the Christmas season under a three-year licensing deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. It is currently aired during the Christmas season additionally on various cable channels owned by Turner Broadcasting System. including TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, and Boomerang but with some scenes trimmed to fit more commercial time.

Boris Karloff, in one of his final roles, narrates the film and also provides the speaking voice of The Grinch. (The opening credits state, "The sounds of the Grinch are by Boris Karloff...And read by Boris Karloff too!") The special was originally produced by The Cat in the Hat Productions in association with the television and animation divisions of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation


National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a 1989 Christmas comedy film directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik. It is the third installment in National Lampoon's Vacation film series, and was written by John Hughes, based on his short story in National Lampoon magazine, "Christmas '59". The film stars Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid, with Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki as the Griswold children Audrey and Rusty, respectively.

Since its release in 1989, Christmas Vacation has often been labeled as a modern Christmas classic. It is also the only sequel in the Vacation series to have spawned its own direct sequel: a 2003 made-for-TV release entitled National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure.

The film has achieved three home video releases: VHS and Laserdisc in early 1990, and a "Special Edition" DVD in 2003. In 2009, the film was released as an "Ultimate Collector's Edition." At the same time of this release, it was also released on a simple Blu-ray/DVD combo.

With Christmas only a few weeks away, Chicago resident Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) decides it is time to get a Christmas tree. He gathers his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo), daughter Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and son Rusty (Johnny Galecki) and drives out to the country where he picks out a huge tree. Realizing too late that they didn't bring any tools to cut the tree down, they are forced to uproot it instead.

Soon after, both Clark's and Ellen's parents arrive to spend Christmas, but their bickering quickly begins to annoy the family. Clark, however, maintains a positive attitude, determined to have a "good old-fashioned family Christmas." He covers the house's entire exterior with 25,000 twinkle lights, which fail to work at first, as he has accidentally wired them through his garage's light switch. When they finally come on, they temporarily cause a city-wide power shortage and wreak havoc for Clark's Yuppie neighbors, Todd (Nicholas Guest) and Margo (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). While standing on the front lawn admiring the lights, Clark is shocked to see Ellen's cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and her dense but bighearted husband Eddie Johnson (Randy Quaid), as they arrive unannounced with their children, Rocky and Ruby Sue. Eddie later admits that they are living in the RV they drove to reach Chicago, as he is broke and has been forced to sell his home. Clark offers to buy gifts for Eddie's kids, to help them have a good Christmas.

With Christmas approaching quickly, Clark begins to wonder why his boss, Frank Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray), has not given him his yearly bonus, which he desperately needs to replace an advance payment he has made to install a swimming pool. After a disastrous Christmas Eve dinner, he finally receives an envelope from a company messenger, who had overlooked it the day before. Instead of the presumed bonus, the envelope contains a free year's membership for the Jelly of the Month Club. This prompts Clark to snap and go into a tirade about Frank, and out of anger, requests that Frank be delivered to the house so Clark can insult him to his face.

Eddie takes the request literally, drives to Frank's mansion, and forcibly brings him back. Clark is shocked at this development, but confronts Frank about the cancellation of the employees' Christmas bonuses. Meanwhile, Frank's wife, Helen, calls the police, and a SWAT team storms the Griswold house and holds everyone at gunpoint. Frank decides not to press charges and explains the situation to his wife and the authorities, who both scold him for his decision to scrap the bonuses, and decides to reinstate them (with Clark getting an extra 20%).

The family goes outside, with Rocky and Ruby Sue believing they see Santa Claus in the distance. Clark tells them it's actually the Christmas Star and that he finally realizes what the holiday means to him. But Uncle Lewis (William Hickey) says the light is coming from the sewage treatment plant; Clark is reminded of an earlier incident where Eddie had been dumping sewage into a storm drain. But before he can stop him, Uncle Lewis tosses a match he had used to light his cigar aside, triggering an explosion sending him flying into the family. Lewis' wife Aunt Bethany (Mae Questel), who is utterly senile, proceeds to sing the "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the whole family and the SWAT officers join in, gazing at Clark's Santa Claus and reindeer set (which he destroyed earlier out of anger), still burning and flying into the distance. The entire Griswold family, the Shirleys and the SWAT team members then celebrate inside the house, while Clark and Ellen embrace. After Ellen goes inside, Clark looks at the sky, happily smiling toward the stars and saying: "I did it."

Chevy Chase as Clark W. "Sparky" Griswold, Jr., an optimistic, caring, repressed, unfortunate, family man, who always wants his family to have the perfect vacation, but it never turns out the way he wished it would be.
Beverly D'Angelo as Ellen Smith Griswold
Randy Quaid as Cousin Edward "Eddie" Johnson
Juliette Lewis as Audrey Griswold
Johnny Galecki as Rusty "Russ" Griswold
John Randolph as Clark Wilhelm Griswold, Sr.
Diane Ladd as Nora Griswold
E. G. Marshall as Arthur "Art" Smith
Doris Roberts as Frances Smith
Miriam Flynn as Cousin Catherine Johnson
Cody Burger as Cousin Rocky Johnson
Ellen Hamilton Latzen as Cousin Ruby Sue Johnson
William Hickey as Uncle Lewis
Mae Questel as Aunt Bethany
Sam McMurray as Bill
Nicholas Guest as Todd Chester
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Margo Chester
Brian Doyle-Murray as Frank Shirley
Natalia Nogulich as Helen Shirley
Nicolette Scorsese as Mary, the lingerie counter clerk
Devin Bailey as Clark Griswold, Jr. (age 9)
Jeremy Roberts as Cop

Monday, December 14, 2015

Home Alone

Home Alone is a 1990 American Christmas comedy film written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. The film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a boy who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. Kevin initially relishes being home alone, but soon has to contend with two would-be burglars played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. The film also features Catherine O'Hara and John Heard as Kevin's parents.

Since its release, Home Alone has become the highest-grossing live action comedy film of all time in the US and was as well worldwide until The Hangover Part II in 2011. Home Alone has spawned a successful film franchise with four sequels, including the 1992 film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, the only Home Alone sequel to have the original cast reprising their roles.

In the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Illinois, the McCallister family is preparing for a Christmas vacation in Paris. On the night before their departure, the entire family gathers at Peter and Kate's home, where their 8-year-old son, Kevin, is ridiculed by his siblings and cousins. After an argument with his older brother, Buzz, Kevin is sent to the third floor of the house, where he wishes that his family would disappear. During the night, heavy winds cause damage to power lines, which causes the alarm clocks to reset; consequently, the family oversleeps. In the confusion and rush to get to the airport in time to catch their flight, Kevin is accidentally left behind.

Meanwhile, Kevin wakes up to find the house empty and, believing his wish has come true, is overjoyed with his new-found freedom. However, Kevin's joy turns to fear as he encounters his next door neighbor, "Old Man" Marley, who is rumored to have murdered his family with a snow shovel in 1958; and the "Wet Bandits," Harry and Marv, a pair of burglars who have been breaking into other vacant houses in the neighborhood and have targeted the McCallister's house. Kevin is initially able to keep them away by making the house appear as if the family is at home, but they realize after three failed attempts that Kevin is home alone.

Kate realizes mid-flight that Kevin is missing and, upon arrival in Paris, the family finds out all flights to Chicago for the next 2 days are completely sold out. Peter and the rest of the family go to his brother Rob's apartment in the city while Kate manages to get a flight back to the United States but is only able to get as far as Scranton, Pennsylvania. She tries to book a flight to Chicago but again, there are no seats left. Unable to accept this, Kate is overheard by Gus Polinski, the lead member of a traveling polka band, who offers to let her travel with them to Winnetka on their way to Milwaukee in a moving van, which she happily accepts.

On Christmas Eve, Kevin overhears Harry and Marv discussing plans for breaking into his house that night. Kevin goes to church and watches a choir perform. He runs into Marley, who sits with Kevin and they briefly speak; he learns that Marley is actually a nice man and that the rumors about him are false. He tells Kevin he is watching the choir because his granddaughter is in it, but he never gets to see her because he and his son are estranged, and have not been on speaking terms ever since; Kevin suggests that he try to reconcile with his son.

Kevin returns home and rigs the house with numerous booby traps. Harry and Marv break in, springing the traps and suffering various injuries. While the duo chases Kevin around the house, he calls the police and escapes the house, luring the duo into a neighboring vacant home. Harry and Marv manage to catch him and discuss how they will get their revenge, but Marley sneaks in and knocks them unconscious with his snow shovel before they can do anything to Kevin. The police arrive and arrest Harry and Marv, having identified all the houses they burglarized due to Marv's habit of flooding them.

On Christmas Day, Kevin is disappointed to find that his family is still gone. He then hears Kate enter the house and call for him; they reconcile and are soon joined by the rest of the McCallisters, who waited in Paris until they could get a direct flight to Chicago. Kevin keeps silent about his encounter with Harry and Marv, although Peter finds Harry's missing gold tooth. Kevin then observes Marley reuniting with his son and his family. Marley notices Kevin and the pair acknowledge each other before Marley and his family go home. Buzz suddenly calls out, "Kevin, what did you do to my room?!" at which point Kevin runs off.


Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an energetic 8-year-old boy who is the youngest son of the McCallister family. He can be obnoxious and annoying, but he is proven to be extremely clever and resourceful.
Joe Pesci as Harry, the short leader of the Wet Bandits. He is intelligent but short tempered and ruthless.
Daniel Stern as Marv, the tall member of the Wet Bandits. The dimmer of the duo, he has a childlike enthusiasm for toys and likes to leave the water running to 'mark' the houses they have robbed.
John Heard as Peter McCallister, Kevin's father.
Catherine O'Hara as Kate McCallister, Kevin's mother.
Roberts Blossom as Old Man Marley, the McCallisters' elderly neighbor.
The rest of the McCallister family is portrayed by: Devin Ratray as Buzz and Mike Maronna as Jeff, Kevin's brothers; Hillary Wolf as Megan and Angela Goethals as Linnie, Kevin's sisters; Gerry Bamman as Uncle Frank; Terrie Snell as Aunt Leslie; and Kevin's cousins are portrayed by Jedidiah Cohen as Rod, Senta Moses as Tracy, Daiana Campeanu as Sondra, Kieran Culkin as Fuller, Anna Slotky as Brooke, and Kristin Minter as Heather.

The cast also includes: John Candy as Gus Polinski, "the Polka King of the Midwest"; Ralph Foody as Johnny, a gangster who appears in the fictional film Angels with Filthy Souls; Larry Hankin as Larry Balzak, a police sergeant who works in family crisis; Ken Hudson Campbell as a man dressed as Santa Claus; and Hope Davis as a Paris-Orly Airport receptionist.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It's a Wonderful Life


It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in 1939 and published privately in 1945. The film is now among the most popular in American cinema and because of numerous television showings in the 1980s has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season.

The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born.

Despite initially performing poorly financially because of high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has come to be regarded as a classic. Theatrically, the film's break-even point was $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box office failure that today everyone believes ... it was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were."

It's a Wonderful Life is one of the most acclaimed films ever made, praised particularly for its writing. It was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, placing number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, and would also place number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time.  Capra revealed that the film was his personal favorite among those he directed, adding that he screened it for his family every Christmas season.

In Bedford Falls, New York, on Christmas Eve 1945, George Bailey is suicidal. Prayers for him reach Heaven. Clarence Odbody, Angel 2nd Class, is assigned to save George in order to earn his angel wings. To prepare Clarence, his superior Joseph shows flashbacks of George's life.

At age 12, George saves his younger brother Harry, who fell through the ice on a pond, costing George the hearing in one ear. Later, he catches a potentially deadly mistake made by his boss the druggist, who was distracted by the news of the sudden death of his son.

On Harry's graduation night in 1928, George discusses his dreams of travel and building things with admiring classmate Mary Hatch. Suddenly, George's uncle, Billy, informs him that his father had a stroke. Following his father's death, George postpones his plans in order to sort out the affairs of the family business, the Bailey Brothers' Building and Loan, a longtime irritant to Henry F. Potter, the richest man in town. He talks the board of directors into rejecting Potter's proposal to dissolve the company, but they agree only on condition that George run it. He gives his college money to Harry for his education. George waits for Harry to graduate from college and replace him at the Building and Loan.

When Harry graduates, he brings home a wife, whose father has offered Harry a job. Although Harry vows to decline the offer for his brother's sake, George cannot deny him such a great opportunity and keeps running the Building and Loan. George marries Mary, and is forced to use the money saved for their honeymoon to weather a bank run.

George starts Bailey Park, an affordable housing project. Potter, losing tenants, tries to hire him away, offering the 28-year-old a huge salary and the promise of business trips to Europe, appealing to his yearning to travel. George angrily rejects the offer.

George is unable to enlist for World War II because of his bad ear. Harry, however, becomes a navy flier and is awarded the Medal of Honor. On Christmas Eve morning 1945, the town prepares a hero's welcome for Harry. Uncle Billy goes to Potter's bank to deposit $8,000 for the Building and Loan. After bragging to Potter about Harry, Billy absentmindedly leaves the money behind, and Potter keeps it.

When Uncle Billy cannot find the money, he and George frantically search for it. After berating his uncle for endangering the Building and Loan, George goes home and destroys his corner of the living room. He apologizes to his frightened wife and children, then leaves.

Desperate, George appeals unsuccessfully to Potter for a loan. Potter tells him his life insurance policy makes him worth more dead than alive. George gets drunk, gets into a bar fight, and crashes his car into a tree. He staggers to a nearby bridge to commit suicide. Unbeknownst, Clarence has been watching him from the shadows.

Before he can jump, Clarence jumps in the river and pretends to be drowning. George rescues him, but does not believe Clarence's claim to be George's guardian angel. When George wishes he had never been born, Clarence shows him what life would have been like without him. Bedford Falls is now named Pottersville and is filled with cocktail bars, casinos, and gentlemen's clubs. The old druggist went to prison for manslaughter (because George was not there to catch his mistake), and his father's business had failed due to Uncle Billy's incompetence.

George attracts police attention and flees to his embittered mother's home, now a boarding house. She reveals that Uncle Billy was institutionalized after the stock market crash. In the cemetery where Bailey Park would have been, George discovers the grave of his brother, who drowned without his intervention. Consequently, the hundreds of servicemen Harry would have saved are also dead. Mary is a timid spinster working at the library.

George runs back to the bridge and begs for another chance. His prayer is answered, and he runs home joyously, but the authorities are waiting there to arrest him. Mary and Uncle Billy rally the townspeople, who donate more than enough to cover the loss. Harry toasts "the richest man in town." A bell on the Christmas tree rings, and his daughter recalls the story that it means an angel has just earned his wings.

James Stewart as George Bailey
Donna Reed as Mary Hatch Bailey
Henry Travers as Angel Clarence Odbody
Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Henry F. Potter
Thomas Mitchell as Uncle Billy Bailey
Beulah Bondi as Ma Bailey
Frank Faylen as Ernie Bishop, the cab driver
Ward Bond as Bert, the cop
Gloria Grahame as Violet Bick
H.B. Warner as Mr. Gower, druggist
Frank Albertson as Sam "I-A" Wainwright
Todd Karns as Harry Bailey
Samuel S. Hinds as Peter "Pop" Bailey, George's father
Lillian Randolph as Annie, the Baileys' maid
Virginia Patton as Ruth Dakin Bailey, Harry's wife
Mary Treen as Cousin Tilly, employee
Charles Williams as Cousin Eustace, employee
Sarah Edwards as Mrs. Hatch, Mary's mother
Harold Landon as Marty Hatch
William Edmunds as Mr. Giuseppe Martini
Argentina Brunetti as Mrs. Martini
Sheldon Leonard as Nick, Martini's bartender
Bobby Anderson as Little George Bailey
Jean Gale as Little Mary Hatch
Jeanine Ann Roose as Little Violet Bick
George Nokes as Little Harry Bailey
Frank Hagney as Potter's mute aide
Charles Lane as Potter's rent collector
Karolyn Grimes as Zuzu Bailey
Larry Simms as Pete Bailey
Carol Coombs as Janie Bailey
Jimmy Hawkins as Tommy Bailey
Charles Halton (uncredited) as Mr. Carter, bank examiner
J. Farrell MacDonald (uncredited) as the man whose grandfather planted the tree
Harry Holman (uncredited) as Mr. Partridge, college teacher
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer (uncredited) as Freddie, Mary's annoying high school suitor
Dick Elliott (uncredited) as the fat man on the porch
Tom Fadden (uncredited) as the bridge caretaker
Stanley Andrews (uncredited) as Mr. Welch, teacher's husband
Al Bridge (uncredited) as the sheriff with arrest warrant
Ellen Corby (uncredited) as Miss Davis
Max Wagner (uncredited) as the cashier/bouncer at Nick's Bar
Marian Carr (uncredited) as Jane Wainwright, Sam's wife
Adriana Caselotti (uncredited) as the singer in Martini's Bar
Joseph Granby (uncredited voice) as Angel Joseph
Moroni Olsen (uncredited voice) as the Senior Angel

The contention that James Stewart is often referred to as Capra's only choice to play George Bailey is disputed by film historian Stephen Cox, who claims that "Henry Fonda was in the running."

Although it was stated that Jean Arthur, Ann Dvorak, and Ginger Rogers were all considered for the role of Mary before Donna Reed won the part, this list is also disputed by Cox, who states that Jean Arthur was first offered the part, but had to turn it down for a prior commitment on Broadway, before Capra turned to Olivia de Havilland, Martha Scott, and Dvorak. Rogers was offered the female lead, but she considered it "too bland". In chapter 26 of her autobiography, Ginger: My Story, she questioned her decision by asking her readers: "Foolish, you say?"

A long list of actors were considered for the role of Potter (originally named Herbert Potter): Edward Arnold, Charles Bickford, Edgar Buchanan, Louis Calhern, Victor Jory, Raymond Massey, Vincent Price, and even Thomas Mitchell. However, Lionel Barrymore, who eventually won the role, was a famous Ebenezer Scrooge in radio dramatizations of A Christmas Carol at the time and was a natural choice for the role. Barrymore had also worked with Capra on his 1938 Best Picture Oscar winner, You Can't Take It with You.

H.B. Warner, who was cast as the drugstore owner Mr. Gower, actually studied medicine before going into acting. He was also in some of Capra's other films, including Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Lost Horizon, You Can't Take It with You, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The name Gower came from Capra's employer, Columbia Pictures, which had been located on Gower Street for many years. Also on Gower Street was a drugstore that was a favorite for the studio's employees. James Stewart says in the film that he wants to build skyscrapers; he had studied and graduated in architecture before his acting career.

Jimmy the raven (Uncle Billy's pet) appeared in You Can't Take It with You and each subsequent Capra film

The original story "The Greatest Gift" was written by Philip Van Doren Stern in November 1939. After being unsuccessful in getting the story published, he decided to make it into a Christmas card, and mailed 200 copies to family and friends in December 1943. The story came to the attention of RKO producer David Hempstead, who showed it to Cary Grant's Hollywood agent, and in April 1944, RKO Pictures bought the rights to the story for $10,000, hoping to turn the story into a vehicle for Grant. RKO created three unsatisfactory scripts before shelving the planned movie, and Grant went on to make another Christmas movie staple, The Bishop's Wife.

At the suggestion of RKO studio chief Charles Koerner, Frank Capra read "The Greatest Gift" and immediately saw its potential. RKO, anxious to unload the project, in 1945 sold the rights to Capra's production company, Liberty Films, which had a nine-film distribution agreement with RKO, for $10,000, and threw in the three scripts for free. Capra, along with writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, with Jo Swerling, Michael Wilson, and Dorothy Parker brought in to "polish" the script, turned the story and what was worth using from the three scripts into a screenplay that Capra would rename It's a Wonderful Life. The script underwent many revisions throughout pre-production and during filming. Final screenplay credit went to Goodrich, Hackett and Capra, with "additional scenes" by Jo Swerling.

Seneca Falls, New York claims that when Frank Capra visited their town in 1945, he was inspired to model Bedford Falls after it. The town has an annual "It's a Wonderful Life festival" in December. In mid-2009, The Hotel Clarence opened in Seneca Falls, named for George Bailey's guardian angel. On December 10, 2010, the "It's a Wonderful Life" Museum opened in Seneca Falls, with Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu in the movie, cutting the ribbon.

Both James Stewart (from Indiana, Pennsylvania) and Donna Reed (from Denison, Iowa) came from small towns. Stewart's father ran a small hardware store where James worked for years. Reed demonstrated her rural roots by winning an impromptu bet with Lionel Barrymore when he challenged her to milk a cow on set.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Elf


Elf is a 2003 American Christmas comedy film produced by Jon Berg, Todd Komarnicki and Shauna Robertson, directed by Jon Favreau with music by John Debney and written by David Berenbaum. It stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Daniel Tay, Ed Asner, and Bob Newhart. It was released in the United States on November 7, 2003 by New Line Cinema. The story is about one of Santa's elves who learns of his true identity as a human and goes to New York City to meet his biological father, spreading Christmas cheer in a world of cynics as he goes. The film received positive reviews from critics and it earned $220.4 million world wide on a $33 million budget. The movie inspired the 2010 broadway musical Elf: The Musical and NBC's 2014 stop-motion animated television special Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas.

One Christmas Eve, during a stop at an orphanage, a baby boy, captivated by the sight of a teddy bear, crawls into Santa Claus's (Ed Asner) sack of toys. Santa unknowingly takes the boy back to the North Pole, and when discovered, is named Buddy because of his "Little Buddy" branded diaper. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) volunteers to raise him.

Buddy (Will Ferrell) grows up at the North Pole and is unaware of his humanity. Papa Elf makes him his apprentice and explains that he repairs the "Kringle 3000, 500 Reindeer-Power" jet engine on Santa's sleigh, which he invented in the 1960's when the Christmas spirit that powers the sleigh started declining after people started to stop believing in Santa Claus, forcing him to build the engine to assist Santa. Due to his being a human in an environment designed for the North Pole elves, Buddy is uncomfortably bigger than the elves, and is unable to use the items utilized by them. His toy making skills are comparatively inferior and he is unable to keep up with the elves' high quotas, and despite the elves' assurances that he's just "special", is demoted to a demeaning job testing toys. While working, he overhears a conversation in which one of the elves mentions that Buddy is in fact a human. Papa Elf reveals that Buddy was born to Walter Hobbs (James Caan) and Susan Wells and given up for adoption, and that Walter never knew of his existence. He explains how Susan later died and that Walter now works at a children's book company in New York City. Buddy is convinced by Leon the Snowman (Leon Redbone) to go to New York to find his father. Prior to leaving, Santa informs him that his father, Walter, is on the naughty list due to his greed and selfishness.

Upon arriving in New York City, Buddy fails to comprehend several aspects of the human world, crossing the street at the wrong time, chewing discarded gum from a subway banister (despite Santa's warning), and taking a coffee shop's claim to have the "world's best cup of coffee" literally. Eventually, he finds his father in his office in the Empire State Building. Walter initially lets him in, thinking Buddy is sending him a Christmas gram but when Buddy tells him about Susan Wells, an incredulous Walter has him removed by security. Taking the guards' sarcastic advice, Buddy goes to Gimbels, where the manager (Faizon Love), mistakes him for a store employee. In the store's Santa Land, Buddy sees Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), a Gimbels employee to whom he is instantly attracted. Upon learning that Santa will be arriving the next day, Buddy sneaks into the store after hours and spends the night giving Santa Land a makeover, complete with Lego models, fancy decorations, and a giant glitter sign.

When the store Santa (Artie Lange) arrives, Buddy is shocked to discover that it is not the real Santa Claus, and the two have a destructive brawl after Buddy rips off the man's fake beard to expose him as an impostor. As a result, Buddy is banned from the store and sentenced to 24 hours in jail. Walter gets a call from the police and, after reluctantly bailing Buddy out, takes him to a pediatrician (Jon Favreau) for a DNA test, which confirms that Buddy is Walter's biological son. Although Walter is still incredulous seeing Buddy as insane, he is pressured by the doctor into taking him home to meet his stepmother, Emily (Mary Steenburgen) and 12-year-old half-brother Michael (Daniel Tay). Walter and Michael are put off by Buddy's childlike behaviour (such as slathering his spaghetti in maple syrup and M&Ms and not seeming to understand that neither of them are interested in playing with him), but Emily insists that they take care of him until he "recovers".

Buddy eventually befriends Michael after single-handedly helping him defeat a gang of bullies in a snowball fight, and Michael encourages Buddy to ask Jovie out. Meanwhile, Walter learns from his boss Mr. Greenway (Michael Lerner) that his company is failing after publishing the flop "The Puppy and the Pigeon" with two missing pages, after Walter had refused to reprint the book citing the high cost of doing so. The next day, after some pressure from Emily, Walter reluctantly takes Buddy to work with him and sends him down to the mailroom so he cannot be disturbed. However, he accidentally becomes drunk after mistaking a co-worker's whisky for syrup and throws an outrageous party, which causes the mailroom supervisor to interrupt a phone conversation between Walter and best-selling children's author Miles Finch (Peter Dinklage), whom Walter wants to hire in order to save his company. Buddy goes on a date with Jovie and manages to win her over with his child-like personality. Meanwhile, Miles Finch arrives at Walter's company and begins to share some of his suggestions for book covers, but Buddy interrupts the meeting to tell his dad about his newfound love and believes the vertically challenged Finch to be an elf. Miles brushes it off at first, but becomes increasingly annoyed with Buddy's attempts to find out how he had managed to leave Santa's Workshop, to which Buddy remarks that Miles is an "angry elf". Finch loses his temper and attacks Buddy before storming out, despite Walter's attempt to explain Buddy's misunderstanding. Furious that the one chance of saving his company has been ruined, Walter takes his anger out on Buddy, saying even though he is his son, he wants him out of his life. Deeply saddened, Buddy returns home and, after writing a message on an etch-a-sketch apologizing for ruining everyone's lives, leaves Walter's apartment and contemplates jumping off of a bridge.

Back at the office, Walter's associates reveal a notebook Finch left behind in the conference room. Discovering that it is filled with excellent ideas for children's books, Walter excitedly tells them to get a storyboard ready. Meanwhile, Michael finds Buddy's note, and bursts in on Walter's meeting with Greenway to frantically tell him that Buddy is gone. After Michael points out that Walter seems to care more about himself than his family, Walter asks Greenway to reschedule, but when he callously refuses, Walter and Michael tell him "up yours" before leaving. As a result, Greenway fires Walter. Buddy, while lamenting his situation, sees Santa's sleigh crash in Central Park, which attracts the attention of various news stations, the NYPD, and fellow New Yorkers. When Buddy finds Santa, he explains that the sleigh's engine had broken off, and that the last bit of Christmas spirit which powers the sleigh has faded as well. Walter apologizes for having hurt Buddy and accepts him as his son. Buddy then takes them to meet Santa, who reveals to them that believing in him can make his sleigh fly. Getting an idea, Michael steals Santa's list and reads it in front of the TV cameras set up outside the park so that people all over New York City can believe in him, while the Central Park Rangers, who never forgave Santa for putting them on the naughty list, chase his sleigh as Buddy tries to reattach the engine.

Jovie, who was in the crowd after seeing the events on TV, manages to overcome her shyness and gets the sleigh back in the air by the power of Christmas spirit when she leads the crowd of people in singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" on live TV, recalling Buddy's statement; "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." However, Santa is still unable to fully power the sleigh. Walter, who was mouthing the words, is convinced by Michael to overcome his lack of Christmas spirit and starts singing for real. This allows the sleigh to fly higher without the engine, as the Christmas Spirit has been restored. The TV cameras are unable to capture Santa's sleigh, so the world's collective Christmas Spirit is safe.

By the next Christmas, Walter has started his own publishing company with the first best-selling book released titled Elf, an account of Buddy's adventures written and illustrated by Buddy himself. Sometime later, Buddy and Jovie have a daughter named Susie, named after Buddy's now-deceased biological mother. During the film's closure, the family visits Papa Elf at the North Pole.

Cast
Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf
James Caan as Walter Hobbs
Zooey Deschanel as Jovie
Mary Steenburgen as Emily Hobbs
Daniel Tay as Michael Hobbs
Ed Asner as Santa Claus
Bob Newhart as Papa Elf
Faizon Love as Gimbel's manager
Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch
Amy Sedaris as Deborah "Deb"
Michael Lerner as Greenway
Andy Richter as Morris
Kyle Gass as Eugene Dupree
Artie Lange as Gimbel's Santa
Peter Billingsley as Ming Ming (uncredited)
Leon Redbone (voice) as Leon the Snowman
Ray Harryhausen (voice) as Polar Bear Cub
Jon Favreau as Dr. Leonardo
Mark Acheson as mailroom worker
Jim Carrey was originally attached to portray Buddy.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Star Wars- Getting Caught Up on the Story!



The early development of the Expanded Universe was sporadic and unrefined, particularly because there was so little official material for the creators to build on. For example, the "Expanded Universe" is generally considered to have begun with Alan Dean Foster's February 1978 Star Wars spin-off novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye (although technically it began with Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7 in mid-January 1978). This novel drew inspiration primarily from an early draft of the Star Wars script and was conceptualized as a possible filmed sequel. Furthermore, while George Lucas was given sole writing credit for the original Star Wars novelization, Alan Dean Foster actually ghost-wrote it, contributing heavily to the Universe in the process. While he worked on the novelization, he was given a copy of the working script and a tour of the production.

Much of the early EU material from the early 1980s contained analogies to the real world, rather than embracing the holistic fiction of the Star Wars films. Much of this material now seems rather detached from the rest of the EU.

A turning point was reached when West End Games began publishing the Star Wars Roleplaying Game in 1987. In order for players of the roleplaying game to create new adventures, West End Games needed to provide supplemental material describing the Star Wars universe in previously unknown detail. For example, the Aurebesh alphabet was originally a random piece of set dressing in Return of the Jedi. Stephen Crane copied those symbols and turned them into a complete and coherent alphabet (which would later be used in the feature films). Developing details like this in a consistent fashion turned West End Games' Star Wars products into a de facto reference library for the Star Wars universe, to the point where Lucasfilm actually sent copies of the game supplements to other EU developers to use as source material.

Shortly thereafter, in the early 1990s, Bantam published Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy. Widely publicized as the "sequels which were never made", Zahn's novels reignited Star Wars fandom and sparked a revolution in Star Wars literature. Around this same time, Dark Horse Comics acquired the Star Wars license and used it to launch a number of ambitious sequels to the original trilogy, including the popular Dark Empire stories.

All this development began to feed back on itself: West End Games was producing roleplaying supplements detailing the material from Dark Horse's comics and Zahn's novels. Novelists and comic creators were using West End Games' supplements as reference material. Sequels to the novels were being published as comics and vice versa. The scope of the Expanded Universe grew at a prodigious rate.

To date, the bulk of the Expanded Universe has detailed the Star Wars universe after the end of Return of the Jedi. Numerous of topics, including the rise of the Galactic Empire, the personal histories of Anakin Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine, and the Clone Wars had been declared off limits by George Lucas before the development of the prequel trilogy.

It was decided in the late 1990s that using the Empire as the villains had become repetitive and monotonous. Hence a new threat, the Yuuzhan Vong, was introduced in The New Jedi Order, more specifically, in the first book of the series, Vector Prime. Vector Prime proved controversial, as it marked the first and only time a major character from the films (Chewbacca) was killed off in an Expanded Universe work.

X-Men Apocalypse Official Trailer



Following the critically acclaimed global smash hit X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer returns with X-MEN: APOCALYPSE. Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshipped as a god. Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

In Theaters - May 27, 2016

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Josh Helman, Lana Condor, Ben Hardy