Category Archives: Favourites Friday

[Festive Friday] The Muppet Christmas Carol

Greetings, one and all, and welcome to another edition of Festive Friday. This week it is the turn of another seasonal must at Cinematic Delights HQ, The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Starring the fantastic Michael Caine alongside a host of your favourite muppets – including Kermit as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit and the Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens – this 1992 film is a fantastic Christmas film that will capture the imagination of everyone both young and old.

Empire magazine sums the film up as: “Vastly enjoyable despite the syrupy, soppy song bit in the middle (go make a glass of mulled wine during it). Michael Caine is perfect in the role and there are many genuine belly laughs.”

I’d agree with the belly laughs part though I must confess that I enjoy the singing!

I grew up watching Seasame Street, and there is something timeless about Jim Henson’s puppets. While animatronics and CGI continues to evolve, there’s something very special about them. The Muppets is getting great reviews and I’m sure – when it’s eventually released in the UK – Kermit and co will be exactly the same characters as I loved 20 years ago.

These are three of my favourite clips from the film, courtesy of YouTube:

– the wonderful Marley and Marley

– Bob and his son, Tiny Tim, an adorable duo

– my absolute favourite scene – it’s such a catchy tune!

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[Festive Friday] Elf

Welcome to the very first of my five special Festive Friday posts. This mini series is very much like my regular Favourites Friday series, except I will only being looking at Christmas films. Though you may not feel Christmassy yet – and I don’t particularly either! – we’re now into December so the holiday season will soon be upon us!

First up is one of my favourite Will Ferrell flicks, Elf.

Released in 2003, Elf is the story of Buddy the Elf. These aren’t your Middle-earth style elves, these are proper Christmas elves that are exactly what you’d expect: small and dressed in little felt suits with a hat and pointy shoes. The only thing out of place is Buddy – he’s a little on the large size…

To call him a little on the large size is being very, very polite...

Elf is a wonderful Christmas film, and there’s three particular reasons why it is always a must watch at Cinematic Delights HQ at this time of the year.

1. The comedy element

There are many famous sayings about laughter and the ability to make people laugh. My favourite has to be: “laughter is the best medicine”. I have several films I like to watch if ever I’m feeling a bit blue or under the weather and Elf is one of them. Buddy is certainly one of Ferrell’s best performances, if not the best. Buddy is such a likeable, fun character who is impossible not to like.

Like any good comedy film there are plenty of quotable lines. One of the best has got to be this one:

2. Family relationships

Christmas is undoubtedly a time for family, and Elf is packed full with family. As he soon find out, Buddy has a large extended family. As well as his adopted father he has his birth father, stepmother and younger brother. He also has feelings for the lovely Jovie, played by Zooey Deschanel.

Elf is very much a film about self discovery, and it’s fun to see how the other family members are affected by Buddy’s appearance. Happily, everyone does get along eventually.

James Caan is great fun as Buddy’s birth father, Walter. A high-flying businessman who works at a children’s book company, Walter doesn’t know what to think when Buddy turns up. His stepmother and half-brother are much more welcoming, with Michael acting as Buddy’s romantic guru regarding Jovie.

Bob Newhart is lovely as Papa Elf, Buddy’s adopted father who supports his son in his decision to find Walter.

3. A real Christmas

Elf portrays Christmas is a very stereotypical manner, which I love. Father Christmas is, as I’ve always imagined, an older fellow with a big white beard, glasses and red suit. Like I said earlier, the elves are small and dressed in little felt suits with a hat and pointy shoes. They all live happily together at the North Pole and yes, there are reindeers as well.

New York City is also how I expect it at Christmas, packed full with shoppers with all the department stores bursting with Christmassy goodness. There’s lots of snow on the ground and decorations fill the streets.

Sometimes, you really do just want a film that is literally bursting to the seams with Christmas!

  • What do you think of Elf? Is it a must watch for you?

[Favourites Friday] Hot Fuzz

After writing about another Wright/Pegg/Frost film a few days ago, Shaun of the Dead, I thought I’d write about another one, which I’ve always really enjoyed: Hot Fuzz.

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost

IMDb: ” Jealous colleagues conspire to get a top London cop transferred to a small town and paired with a witless new partner. On the beat, the pair stumble upon a series of suspicious accidents and events.”

I can’t quite place my finger on why I love this film so much, there’s simply too many reasons. It’s very well-written, the acting is spot on and, living in a small village myself, I love the setting.

Pegg is the top London cop, Nicholas Angel, Frost is the witless new partner, Danny Butterman, and this buddy cop flick really does have it all: gruesome murders, interesting locals and a hell of a lot of guns – farmers’ mums have guns, don’t you know. In my opinion, this film is comedy at its finest.

Watch this film if you’re a fan of British comedy, which is shown to perfection in this film. Pegg and Frost are always great to watch on screen, and Hot Fuzz shows off their fantastic relationship very well.

[Favourites Friday] Dirty Dancing

Following on from last time’s Favourites Friday post on Footloose, I’m going to carry on the dancing theme. This month’s post, on Dirty Dancing, is dedicated to my grandmother, More Nan, who passed away last night, aged 87. For many years she used to go ballroom dancing – up until about five or so years ago she was still dancing. Her claim to fame was once having a dancing with Richard Attenborough!

Dirty Dancing (1987)Dirty Dancing (1987)

Director: Emile Ardolino
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey

When I think of Dirty Dancing there are many things that spring to mind: that scene in the lake, that line about a watermelon and that line about a corner.

The film is about Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, and the summer spent with her family vacationing at Kellerman’s, in 1963. She knows exactly what she wants to do with her life: after attending Mount Holyoke College to study economics of underdeveloped countries she plans to join the Peace Corps.

After being invited to one of the secret after-hours parties held by the entertainment staff, Baby observes a different, sexier, kind of dancing, led by the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny Castle.

On finding out that Johnny’s dance partner, Penny, is pregnant, Baby suggests that she takes Penny’s place in the annual dance that Johnny and Penny take part in at a nearby resort. To get Baby up to Penny’s standard is going to take a lot of work. Cue a lot of practice, and a lot of tension and romance.

I can’t give just the one reason why I love Dirty Dancing so much, there’s many, many reasons why I do. I love the dancing, the music and the fact that is isn’t ‘soppy’ romance. And, of course, Patrick Swayze is wonderful as Johnny.

Dirty Dancing is quite a girly film but it’s a wonderful, feel good flick with a great soundtrack that will have your foot tapping long before the end credits start to roll.

[Favourites Friday] Footloose

Footloose (1984)

Director: Herbert Ross
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer and John Lithgow

“See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of celebrating life. It’s the way it was in the beginning. It’s the way it’s always been. It’s the way it should be now.”

I first saw Footloose a few years ago, and have loved it ever since. It even beats my beloved Dirty Dancing. Sorry, Johnny!

From the title sequence with the dancing feet to Kevin Bacon’s iconic dancing in the warehouse, there are many memorable scenes in this movie.

I’m not a dancer – I had quite a few ballet lessons as a child, though – but I really, really love Footloose. For those unfamiliar with Footloose, it is the story of Ren McCormack, a young man who moves with his mother to a small town to live with his uncle and aunt. To call the move a ‘culture shock’ is to put it lightly, especially when Ren finds out that dancing and rock music has been banned in the town.

In my opinion, Kevin Bacon epitomises rebellious Ren perfectly while John Lithgow fits the part as the town’s reverend, who believes he is protecting his town by banning dancing, very well.

While the plot may seem far fetched, according to IMDb, it is loosely based on events that took place in the small, rural, and extremely religious farming town of Elmore City, Oklahoma in 1978. Dancing had been banned for nearly 90 years until a group of high school teens challenged it.

Another thing I love about this movie is the killer soundtrack, featuring songs by Kenny Loggins, Bonny Tyler and Deneice Williams. This scene, featuring the late Chris Penn, where Ren teaches his friend Willard to dance, is one of my favourites from the movie.

As you may have guessed, after reading how much I love the original, 1984 version, I will not be watching the 2011 remake featuring Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough and Dennis Quaid. I have watched the trailer and it left me feeling very, very angry…