The House and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen
While everyone else was looking forward to yet another Spider-Man movie or that new Thor film, I was waiting on bated breath for the new Will Ferrell comedy! Now sure, the guy hasn’t been at the top of his game lately, but more often than not he still manages to have a certain amount of charm and charisma that keeps his more mediocre movies at least somewhat entertaining (*cough* Daddy’s Home *cough*) so at the very least his presence usually means I won’t be tearing my seat up in frustration while sitting in the theater. What really sold me on this movie though is that it co-stars Amy Poehler who along with Kaitlin Olson is one of the most underrated comedians out there and really SHOULD be headlining big blockbusters along the current greats like Kevin Hart and Melissa McCarthy. Not only that, but the premise was actually pretty interesting with its sights firmly aimed at the ridiculousness of college tuition fees and the burden it places on students who want ta chance at great opportunities and the parents who are stuck with the extortionist bills. Being one of those unlucky bastards still paying off his student loans, I can certainly relate! Does this movie manage to take full advantage of its extremely talented cast and solid premise to deliver one of the funniest films of the year, or have the filmmakers squandered a fantastic opportunity to make something great? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the mild mannered middle class Johansen family, made up of Scott, Kate, and Alex (Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Ryan Simpkins), taking a tour of Alex’s dream college that they can JUST barely afford since she won a local scholarship for being such a good student. Of course, the city council led up by Bob Schaeffer (Nick Kroll) has decided to divert the scholarship funds towards making a gaudy and impractical local swimming pool (complete with water slides and a food court) w which gives Scott and Kate only three months to come up with tuition money or else Alex can’t go to college. Fortunately, they have a friend named Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) who’s teetering on the edge of total instability after his wife left him and comes up with an idea to not only make them the money they need for Alex’s education but to get him some extra cash so the bank doesn’t foreclose on his house and hopefully get his life back on track enough to win over his soon to be ex-wife. The plan? Use his absurdly large house to set up an illegal casino for all the local housewives and working dads (and vice versa) to unwind and lose a shit load of money! If Scott and Kate can just hold it together for a month, they can make just enough money to pay for Alex’s tuition and close up shop before the one cop in town (Rob Huebel) or even that asshole Bob Schaeffer find out what they’re doing. Can Scott, Kate, and Frank keep things from getting out of hand in the high stakes world of illegal gambling? Look, we’ve ALL seen Casino so it can’t be THAT hard, right?
Krampus and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Michael Dougherty
There really hasn’t been a good Christmas horror movie since Gremlins, has there? I’ve heard good things about Rare Exports, but that didn’t even get a decent sized theater release here in the US. That’s all about to change… maybe, with this horror film about the holiday season’s canonical version of The Grinch! It certainly has an uphill battle considering how hard it is to walk that line between scary and being hilarious (intentionally anyway) but there’s some strong talent behind this film so there’s a good chance they can actually pull it off! Will this movie manage to be a fun horror comedy that becomes a holiday staple, or is this a giant piece of cinematic coal that we’re being punished with for giving War Room so much money? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about a family who gets together on Christmas despite the fact that no one likes anyone. You’ve got Tom and Sarah (Adam Scott and Toni Collette) who are the parents of Beth and Max (Stefania LaVie Owen and Emjay Anthony) and they’re playing host to Toni’s sister Linda (Allison Tolman), her husband Howard (David Koechner), and their three kids Stevie, Jordan, and Howie Jr (Lolo Owen, Queenie Samuel, and Maverick Flack). Oh, and there’s a baby in there somewhere along with bitter sardonic Aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell). Wait, am I forgetting anyone? THAT’S RIGHT!! Tom’s mother Omi (Krista Sadler) who will play Miss Exposition here as she knows ALL about Krampus yet doesn’t tell the family until well after the shit has hit the fan. Anyway, as you’d expect around the holidays, tensions flare up and there’s a huge fight that causes young Max to finally give up on the Christmas spirit. This decision makes completely responsible for what happens next and the deaths of whichever loved ones get caught in the crossfire. A huge storm rolls in that cuts off this neighborhood from the rest of the world and takes out the power and cell phone towers. There’s something else out there though and the family soon finds themselves besieged by Gremlins knock offs, snow monsters, and a really fucked up Jack in the Box before Krampus finally shows up to deal with this family himself. Can they survived Yuletide massacre long enough to open their presents? Will Max be forever haunted by the fact that his sadness (which is something that’s REALLY outside of his control) is the root cause of all this horrifying shit being rained upon them? Is it at least as good as Santa’s Slay!?
Even if it is, that’s some serious damning with faint praise.