Thursday, December 22, 2011

Toy Tinkers (1949)

Do you remember a few years ago I told you about Sweden's Christmas Eve tradition with Donald Duck? No!? Well, you should click here and read it! Anywho, here's a Donald Duck Christmas Cartoon to make your spirits bright...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Week In Movies - Put It Over There, Greaseball

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) After Ernest, this is my second favorite Christmas movie! Last year, I shared the TV edit with my oldest son and he liked it. My younger son, Tanner, seems to have a better crafted sense of humor already so I was eager to show it to him too. He laughed alot and at all the right parts a 6 year old should laugh at. This is a movie that has seemed to pop up on just about every channel for the holidays. I have the DVD, but the TV-version basically cuts out the cursing and a couple of off-color jokes and then it's pretty ok for a family to sit down and watch. I taped it off CMT first, and even though it was in HD, the picture was only centered in the middle of the screen. TV Land shows a full screen version, but we don't get TV Land in HD. We finally went with ABC Family, which is showing a nice widescreen HD print with the curse words simply muted and a few minor snips around PG-13 jokes.

Friends With Benefits (2011) Justin Timberlake is such a talented fella. He's not only a good actor, he's a gifted comedic actor and he shines here in this tale of no strings attached sex with a friend. My major beef with this flick is that it pretends to mock all the contrivances and cliches of romantic comedies and then go ahead and follows the exact same path of 300 romcoms before it. Still, the cast is quite good and the film moves along at a brisk pace. The highlight of the movie in my book is a film-within-the film; a dead on parody of a romantic comedy that is seen on TV a few times staring Jason Segal and Rashida Jones. This would have made a much more interesting feature film.

March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934) Here's an ancient production of the classic Babes in Toyland story, this one most notable for featuring Laurel & Hardy. While the film is all around pretty good, when Laurel & Hardy aren't on screen the film quickly sags. There is also a depiction of the Three Little Pigs played by midgets in pig costumes and it's pretty terrifying, as is a monkey in a Mickey Mouse costume.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Macarena

I've always wondered how close we were to getting a Macarena movie. That song was huge and then instantly hated by anyone who didn't like fun in their ears. Well, we never got a Macarena movie...which I hope would have involved a young group of kids saving their local youth center by holding the world's largest Macarena Dance Off to raise funds...but we did get this great spin-off holiday song to cherish for years to come:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yogi's Home Up North

Here's (what appears to be) a promotional photo of the Hanna-Barbera gang outside of the Yogi's Cave attraction at Canada's Wonderland, a sister park to Kings Dominion. I swiped the picture from the amazing Flickr feed of user Mr. Flintstone. Canada's Wonderland opened in 1981 in Ontario and featured similar attractions to those found at KD and Kings Island. By the time I made it to Wonderland in 1986, Yogi's Cave had been transformed into Smurf Cave. Of course, at the time, that was OK with me! Here's the write up about the Smurf attraction from Wikipedia:

A funhouse-like cave building that featured scenes of Smurfs in their "natural" habitat. This attraction was actually converted from Yogi's Cave in Yogi's Forest (1981–1983) before the area was changed to Smurf Forest for the 1984 season. Also featured near the end of the cave was a section of Gargamel's house where Gargamel would be playing his organ. Gargamel's house was formerly the Ranger's Cabin during its use in Yogi's Cave. Smurf Village was removed and replaced by an arcade until 1998 where it housed Meet-and-Greets with the Rugrats. Currently it functions as a gift shop and mini-arcade in the Zoom Zone area.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

He-Man + She-Ra + Christmas = Awesome

One of the crown jewels of my VHS collection has always been He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special, which I taped one random Saturday afternoon off Baltimore's WBFF 45 long after He-Man & She-Ra were a thing on any kid's radar. I was more than stoked to find this great Christmas special released to DVD and sitting on the shelf for me at Wal-Mart for a mere $7.50! Of course I picked it up and now it will be a treasured keepsake of Christmas memories for our family to share for generations to come!

If you've never witnessed the pure holiday magic of He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas's about 40 minutes of the muscle-bound duo fighting creatively named creatures like The Snow Beast, The Beast Monster, and the Manchines. He-Man tosses off his one liners which aren't really puns, he just kind of says things with the delivery of a joke, even though there is no joke to be had. I'm not sure how She-Ra managed to fight so many bad guys in her show and this special seeing as how her outfit is skimpier than stripper. I spent hours watching the She-Ra show when I was a kid and perhaps that is why later in life I developed an affinity for strippers....but anyhow...Orko ends up getting beamed to Earth and then he brings back two kids who share the traditions of Christmas with everyone on Eternia. Nasty ol' Horde Prime doesn't like Christmas so he sends Skelator and Hordack to find the kids. When the kids end up with Skeletor..what happens is possibly the greatest couple of minutes in all of filmed Christmas entertainment history...You gotta click here to see it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Week In Movies - I Like Christmas

Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas (2011) I find the Disney Channel's Good Luck Charlie to be the most tolerable of their kiddie sitcom stable. This feature length Xmas outing is even more tolerable without an audience screaming with forced laughter after ever other line. The made-for-TV movie find the show's family split up at the start of a trip from Chicago to Palm Springs. The dad and the boys end up at Grandma's by plane while the oldest daughter and mom travel much slowly by a variety of ground methods. This ain't a holiday classic, but it's a pretty good TV movie with some holiday cheer and a few solid laughs. It's easily accessible for anyone not familiar with the show and for anyone with Disney Channel as I'm sure it's running just about every day between now and December 25.

30 Minutes of Less (2011) Solid comedy with a solid cast including the always fantastic Danny McBride, underrated Nick Swardson and Parks & Recreation's Aziz Anzari along with Jesse Eisenberg; all tied up in a crazy heist involving a bomb strapped to Eisenberg's chest and he has 10 hours to rob a bank for the bad guys or they'll blow him up. With a nice breezy run time of under 90 minutes, this comedy is action packed and pretty darn funny.

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988) Seriously, I could not love this movie an ounce more! Easily my favorite Christmas movie, it's also gotta go on my list as one of my all-time favorite films. I've written about it at least twice before. Once, two years ago when I first shared it with my kids and there is also this lengthier, nerdier article I wrote back in 2006.

Scrooged (1988) This is another one of those movies - beloved by America - that I just don't get. Released to theatres less than two weeks after Ernest Saves Christmas, I've just never got this modern Bill Murray take on A Christmas Carol. I saw it way back on either VHS or HBO and didn't care for it all. The last couple of years I've been meaning to take another look at it and I gotta say I was actually pretty bored with it. There's an impressive cast but it just doesn't do anything for me. Murray's speech to the camera at the tail end was pretty impressive but other than that I found it to just be an awful bore.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945) I always wonder how uptight people really were back in the black and white days or if it's just the rose-colored lens of the cinema. When an old woman sees an unmarried man and woman walk into a bedroom at 11:00 at night and then she goes totally nuts and quits her job because of it...well, it's hard to follow along with a movie like that. There's some pretty silly stuff that happens in this flick, but all in all you can't really beat classic Hollywood's depiction of post-wartime Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Good iGrief

This is one of those things where I would seriously consider buying an iPad just so I can experience this...

Friday, December 09, 2011

Walking In A Dutch Winter Wonderland

In December, Dutch Wonderland transforms itself into Dutch Winter Wonderland. Not only is the park decorated with lights and other such Christmasy stuff but there's a few new attractions as well. The Christmas time park is open for the next two weekends and then also the week after Christmas. At $12.99, it really is a good bargain for a Christmas attraction! The admission price is fair just to get in and see the park's main attraction: The Royal Light Show. The Light Show is a display of thousands of Christmas lights blinking and twinkling to the rhythm of seasonal music. The show just about literally envelopes the audience. When seated in the viewing area, the lights dance not only in front of you but on every side of you including behind and above. It's a great spectacle and nothing like the neighbor down the street who has a couple of lighted trees synced to Manheim Steamroller. This is good stuff! As if that wasn't enough... kids LOVED the new Polar Playground attraction. A semi-outdoor pizza joint in the park has been turned into a wonderland inside a wonderland. The walls depict Arctic scenes of penguin life while hundreds are soft foam "ice cubes" are waiting for kids to play with, build and use their imagination. Elias and Tanner easily killed 45 minutes having a blast inside this seasonal setup. They loved it. We ended up going back to it two more times through out the night. The park did a real nice job of transforming an existing space into something completely different.

Santa's Reindeer-In-Training are also on display in the area usually reserved for pony rides. I guess it has been a while since we've been to an attraction with real live reindeer because my boys flipped when they were standing face to face with Santa's real reindeer. We even got to see a little reindeer scuffle!

Entertainment options during the Christmas season include the live show "Jingle Bell Rock." This is a simple 10 minute show with two very talented dancers knocking out a few Christmas tunes and a few bad jokes. Unlike other shows at DW, this one appeared to be lip-synced however the dancing was a couple of levels above the summer shows. Either way, I can never seem to make it to the Radio City Music Hall Spectacular so this will have to do for me for now.

In the large Mill Stream Eatery in the back of the park, they have set up a Train Display and Gingerbread Houses. You can vote on your favorite Gingerbread House, which were all designed by local kids and organizations. This Smurf Village was one of the more elaborate displays and got a vote from all three of us! The Mill Stream is also open for business as usual adding Baked Potatoes with Chili and Cheese on top! Didn't try one, but if I make it back this season I just might have one!

Another neat little touch were there little houses set up in nooks and crannies of the park, each depicting a little Christmas scene inside. Nothing too elaborate, but it reminded me of the kind of things shopping centers used to do at the holidays when I was a kid.

Duke and The Princess were both decked out in their gayest apparel. Neither of my boys will go anywhere near the Princess if I've got a camera on hand, but Elias did cooperate for a snapshot with Santa Duke. In addition to all the Christmas fun, the park also has a dozen or so of their rides open. There's a list of the available rides on the park's website, but we were very happy to find a lot more that weren't on the list open for business. The kids were delighted to take another spin on the Turtle Whirl, and we took unplanned voyages on the Astroliner and the VR Voyager. Again, a nice little bonus touch DW!

Of course, this trip didn't cost us a dime (except for some Kettle Corn and a round of Shooting Gallery) as DW includes the Halloween time and Christmas event with their season passes. We're hoping to hit up the park one last time before our passes expire on December 30. Even if you're not a season pass holder, Dutch Winter Wonderland is a top notch Christmas attraction worth every penny.

Monday, December 05, 2011

My Month In Movies - November

As you may have noticed (but probably didn't) the My Week In Movies feature has not been seen as of late. It's been a busy month here at the WWoB offices and the updating has fallen behind. Not to worry! I've been keeping track of all the movies I've seen and now I'm here to report to you in one giant swoop for the whole month of November. Here's the quick rundown...

The Muppets (2011) A
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) A
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2011) A
Halloween (1978) A
Taladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2005) A-
Bad Teacher (2011) A-
The Man Called Flintstone (1966) A-
Spy Kids: All The Time In The World (2011) B
Exporting Raymond (2010) B
Machete Maidens Unveiled (2010) B
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (2011) B-
The Muppets Wizard Of Oz (1995) C
The Teacher (1974) C-
Captain America The First Avenger (2011) C-
Turtle: The Incredible Journey (2010) C-
Tomboy (1985) D
Pick Up (1975) F

November Movie Count: 17
2011 Movie Count: 189
My goal for the year has been 200 movies. I think I can make it!

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