Double Feature: Let It Snow (2019) & Holiday Joy (2016)

Christmas is less than two weeks away and we’re working hard on these holiday viewings.  Netflix does have a nice selection of new movies and some that aren’t as new but still new additions.

Here we go!

Let It Snow (2019)

Let it snow

Director: Luke Snellin

Cast: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Matthew Noszka, Jacob Batalon, Miles Robbins, Joan Cusack, Anna Akana

In a small town on Christmas Eve, a snowstorm brings together a group of young people. – IMDB

Based on the novel of the same name with 3 stories by 3 authors (which I haven’t read), Let It Snow is a surprisingly fun little film intertwining the three stories together to make one movie. Its style is in the style of Love Actually. It doesn’t land quite as well as Love Actually does but the three stories depending on which one you like more works more or less in the context of the story. Its main groupings goes to the childhood friends Angie “The Duke” (Kiernan Shipka) and Tobin (Mitchell Hope) and JP (Matthew Noszka); Dorrie (Liv Hewson), her best friend Addie (Odeya Rush) and Dorrie’s crush Kerry (Anna Akana); and lastly, Julie (Isabela Merced, previously known as Isabela Moner) and Stuart (Shameik Moore). All of these characters eventually end up, along with some friends and other supporting characters end up because of being snowed in during Christmas Eve at this local restaurant called Waffle Town.

Let It Snow is rather basic and simple and yet with the snowscape background and its interesting characters and stories about different types of friendships and relationships and a variety of different issues, these characters all end up having a Christmas Eve that becomes rather memorable and changes some of their things in life as they figure out how to be honest to themselves about their feelings and their future. It has the rather feel good elements present that makes it a decent watch. Is it something that is spectacular or very stand-out as a holiday film? Probably not. But to satisfy a simple little holiday watch, this one does deserve a chance. And that’s coming from myself who isn’t really much of a John Green fan (which explain why his segment of relationship is the one I liked the least) whereas my fave with genuinely fun moments although a few wooden acting moments between Julie and Stuart however the story itself is fairly charming.

Kiernan Shipka has definitely found herself an actress with a few Netflix films at this point. She does have quite a nice fun element to her characters. At the same time, the start of this one that plays a rather funky character, the Tin Foil Woman and the narrator is Joan Cusack who while a little odd somehow has this glue effect to the three stories.

Holiday Joy (2016)

holiday joy

Director: Kirk D’Amico

Cast: Bailee Madison, Jennifer Robertson, Sandy Jobin-Bevans, French Stewart, Ethan Pugiotto, Luke Bilyk, Natalie Ganzhorn, Darren Eisnor, Kolton Stewart, Jeni Ross

A shy high school student’s Christmas wish comes true only it isn’t exactly as wonderful as she’d hoped. – IMDB

Take a little of changing identities and the holidays and we have this film Holiday Joy where Bailee Madison’s character Joy becomes a member of the next door neighbor’s  family, a wish that she has of breaking away from her lacking family. The grass is greener on the other side is definitely used here as comparison and literally but it also gives the valuable lesson that what you see on the surface of the beautiful appearances sometimes aren’t really as you expected. The whole reality vs. expectations is the main basis as everything that Joy believes is better all turns out to be very much the opposite. It also emphasizes on everyone’s part having a crucial effect despite her feeling of insignificance and such. Holiday Joy is more about the message it carries but has a rather lacking execution with some questionable acting and some plot points that might not make a ton of sense as with such plots that bring in the whole identity change and incoherent things that just leaves it one that shouldn’t really be questioned to begin with.

Holiday Joy is a rather simple sort of story. Its not exactly a Christmas story but is set during the holiday season. There’s some nice elements of using “change” as its main focus and then takes a fun little play on how the accident that makes Joy’s reality change also eventually finds her figuring out how to change it back but not really at the same time. Its a nice little change on the usual formula. Its not an outstanding movie but for people okay with some simple and straight-forward type of TV movie, its an alright choice. For myself, I do enjoy Baileee Madison (mostly when she was in younger roles) so it had an appeal for me but a lot of performances here left a little bit to be desired.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? What are your thoughts?

Conviction (2010)

I never quite figured out why I always wanted to seeing this but never actually bought it or whatnot.  It was available on Netflix and it was going to expire so I made it a point to give it a viewing.  Maybe it was because Hilary Swank never did a bad movie (except New Year’s Eve, but we’ll pretend that never happened due to few cast members). Or maybe its because its based on a true story, which I have no knowledge of before hand.  Whatever the reason, I gave it a watch a few days ago.

Let’s check it out!

conviction posterDirector: Tony Goldwyn

Cast: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver, Peter Gallagher, Melissa Leo, Bailee Madison, Ari Graynor

Kenneth Waters (Sam Rockwell) and Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swanks) are brother and sister that love each other and are inseparable as siblings.  When Kenneth Waters is arrested by police office Nancy Taylor (Melissa Leo) for the murder and sentenced to lifetime in jail, she spends almost the next two decades, sacrificing her marriage and sometimes being a good mother to get her high school degree and proceed to go into law school in order to be the lawyer to overturn her brother’s case.  In her heart, she knows he is innocent and her determination along with the help of her best friend, Abra Rice (Minnie Driver) leads her to defeat one challenge at a time.

Conviction 2010

Honestly, I don’t know what I did of late but the movie gods have been extremely awesome to me. Its been pretty much a streak of pretty decent movies.  Conviction is no exception.  Just for fun of it, I always go over Rotten Tomatoes quickly before writing these out to see the rating to get an idea and they called it manipulative.  I’m still trying to grasp when a movie does that.  To me, this wasn’t manipulative but it was pretty real. Obviously, I don’t know the true story so I don’t know how “true” it is in terms of fact but as a movie experience, it was just wow.  I was pulled in right from the start and it never really let up.

Conviction 2010

The story itself is no doubt an amazing and heartfelt one.  The hoops that Betty Anne Waters has to go through just based on trust for her brother and the bond they share make this so genuine.  I really have to give it to Hilary Swank for another awesome performance but as well as she was as I had expected, the performance that blew me away was Sam Rockwell.  I’m a newbie when it comes to Sam Rockwell.  Lets just say, I might even do a marathon on the man’s performances.  This guy took this role and just ran with it.  Although, his character Kenny was in prison more than outside and his only interaction we had was the little bit when he talked to Betty Anne, the emotions he had was just way too compelling.  A man that can act out a role with so little room to wiggle in and covered, tough, desperate, happy, sad, hopeless all in the course of about 100 minutes is just a great actor.  Something that based on a true story usually is known and we know the ending but with the right performances, it brings out the story so much for effectively.  Conviction managed to do that. Aside from them, the supporting roles from Minnie Driver as Betty Anne’s best friend help loosen up the serious mood at times which is usually very much needed in a movie that has such heavy content.

Conviction 2010

Honestly, I have nothing else to say about it.  Conviction is moving and compelling true story that takes you on a courageous and ambitious journey of a sister who will do anything for her brother, and constantly reminds herself and her brother to not give up because they are always getting close and who believes and trusts so much in family and its amazing and tugs on a heartstrings.  With the convincing performances of Swank and Rockwell along with great supporting roles, Conviction is a must-see! 🙂

What did you think of Conviction? What are your thoughts on Hilary Swank? What are some of your favorite performances of Rockwell that you’d recommend? 

Parental Guidance (2012)

After a few days of break, I finally managed to get a lot sorted out and we’re back to the next recommendation.  This was following my review on When Harry Met Sally (my review HERE) and Dan from Top 10 Films dropped by and recommended me to check out Billy Crystal’s 2012 flick Parental Guidance.  I’m not well known to Billy Crystal except for that flick up there and his performances as the host of the Academy Awards a good while back.  I had my reservations on this one but I’m going to trust Dan and check this one out.  Before we continue, you might want to hit up Top 10 Films and check out their awesome site because although I don’t comment as much as I should, they have some awesome content there! 🙂

Now, we’re ready? Lets check this out!

parental guidance posterDirector: Andy Fickman

Cast: Billy  Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott, Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush, Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, Gedde Watanabe

Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) is fired from his job because of his outdatedness.  When he and his wife Diane (Bette Midler) get a call from their daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) to help look after her three kids while her and husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) head on a business trip and a long awaited trip. Upon their arrival, Artie and Diane realize the differences between their old school parenting/teaching methods when faced with their grandchildren: Harper, Turner and Barker, different sort of upbringing. At the same time, their daughter shows reluctance and doubt towards them and leaving her for a few days.

Its a bit weird that Rotten Tomatoes gives this like a total fail in the 20s or something while IMDB gave it like a 6.1.  Now I’m going to say that I agree with IMDB more because I had a lot of fun with Parental Guidance.  Comedies are those always hard to please the majority of people.  For me, most of the funny worked for me.  There were some that was really over the top and stretching and really nearing rather stupid territory but they always pulled themselves back and I had a decent laugh out of it. Obviously, my grandparents were never like this.  Chinese families rarely have this crazy going on.  They just have strict and more strict and authority and rules.  So this whole thinking for yourself and out of the world nearing irresponsible grandparenting style is above me so all I can do is laugh at it or be completely WTF about it. Point is, I had a good time with this one.  It was family comedy with a pretty sweet ending.  Honestly, I think I’m just going through some weird phase because my eyes water up for anything but that last bit made it just so heartwarming in a way.


Parental Guidance may be pretty predictable and there really isn’t much special in a story about old  and new parenting differences but I always like the whole family angle.  A former generation thats grown apart but learns about each other more through unexpected situations like teaching grandkids.  Maybe there is nothing special but the cast in Parental Guidance is definitely the highlight.  As  I mentioned before, I’m not well known to Billy Crystal as an actor but I am to his humor.  For me, it still works and he demonstrates it here.  Alongside the very talented Bette Midler, who I adore as an actress and for her humor, they meshed together well.  I didn’t expect anything less actually.

parental guidance bette midler bailee madison

Next, we have the new gen group which includes first and foremost, the daughter Alice played by Marisa Tomei. Now, talking about the most unknown actress in my knowledge would be Marisa Tomei.  I recognize her face and I know some stuff she’s been in but then again, I’ve never actually seen her act.  I think she’s a pretty funny lady.  She has a nice on-screen vibe that I personally enjoy and as this uptight in-control mom role, she brings a little extra spark to it.

parental guidance billy crystal josh

Parental Guidance is about spending time watching over kids so definitely we need to look at the three young actors.  They were pretty awesome! The characters themselves were pretty fun with each their own little characteristics and their own problems.  The problems themselves were pretty realistic as well.  One had her pressure of perfection, future and it made her forget how to be a kid as she was so uptight.  That one was Bailee Madison who is the more known young actor among the three and the one that I like quite a bit.  I remember her in Just Go For It, where she was pretty hilarious as well.  She has a nice range of emotions in her acting so I think she’s pretty impressive.  The two little boys are pretty good because both have the issue of finding their self-confidence: one with the issue of a stutter (Turner played by Joshua Rush) and the other with imaginary friends (Barker played by Kyle Harrison Breitkopf).  Joshua Rush is in the Mr. Peabody & Sherman movie and has suddenly made want to go check that out.

Overall, I had fun with this one.  It wasn’t any that you’ll remember forever or stand out from the bunch but somehow I liked how they approached, as predictable as it was. The cast was great and made me laugh quite a bit.  The little family comedy thing was done in a decent way that I didn’t feel was absurd 85% of the time so thats a great thing 🙂 I’d say if you like Billy Crystal or Bette Midler, this is a good one to check out! Plus, there’s a small role for the Asian dude in Sixteen Candles but in a much older role.

This was a very good recommendation from Dan at Top 10 Films.  I often wonder if people remember themselves recommending these things but the site is awesome so go check it out, subscribe, comment, etc. Its really fun over there 🙂

Have you seen Parental Guidance? What are your thoughts on Billy Crystal and/or Bette Midler? 

Halloween Marathon: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

I feel a bit conned at this current moment by this movie.  The DVD cover said Guillermo Del Toro presents so I thought he was the director.  Obviously, I learned that I should read the box because he’s just the writer.  However, I do admire Del Toro quite a bit so I picked up this DVD from the bargain bin.  Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark seems to have a decent cast at the very least, which is something I don’t often encounter much in horror movies.  Let’s check it out!

don`t be afraid of the dark posterDirector: Troy Nixey

Cast: Bailee Madison, Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Jack Thompson, Julia Blake, Garry McDonald

Sally (Bailee Madison) is given by her mother to her father, Alex (Guy Pearce) and taken to a 19th century mansion owned many years ago by a famous artist Emerson Blackwood (Garry McDonald) who happens to have disappeared and that he’s restoring with his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) to resell.  As she tries to deal with the new family situation, she discovers a hidden basement of the house and starts hearing voices calling out to her to be her friend and to go play with them.  Eventually, she realizes that these hidden creatures are the reason of the mysterious disappearance of Blackwood and that they are now trying to take her away also.

don`t be afraid of the dark 4

Don’t Afraid of the Dark has many elements that are similar to Pan’s Labyrinth (one of my all time faves).  Apparently this is a remake but with certain characters swapped around, I can’t make a comparison as I’ve never heard of it before.  So, why do I say its similar? One, our main character is a young girl, and only that but she also moves into a big creepy mansion with another significant other of a parent.  Two, they also have hidden areas, labyrinth like and gardens,etc. You get the idea, right? Three, there are strange creatures around that want something from her and try to manipulate her.

don`t be afraid of the dark 2

Am I saying the similarities are a bad thing? Not necessarily.  The movie is shot quite well, with a few parts that made me laugh quietly.  It slowly builds the mood.  The movie takes place pretty much in one sole location being the mansion that is being restored and it has this eerie and creepy atmosphere, especially in the dim scenes.  Of course, it also has a magical luring effect especially when entering the source of where the creatures hide out.

don`t be afraid of the dark 3

The characters themselves aren’t all bad. I have a feeling its the script and not the actors themselves that are causing their roles to be irritating and annoying.  Guy Pearce was this ridiculous overly realistic father that I wanted to punch him in the face at certain parts.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of him.  I mean how can I not be after Memento (another one of my all time faves).  And they all make these stupid decisions which lead to bad consequences of course.  Bailee Madison who plays our lead here, as young Sally, is pretty good.  I mean, her character is a bit frustrating also because she does dumb things also.  The creatures are all her fault and then she doesn’t really do much to stop whatever is happening until the end when Katie Holmes’ character Kim, somewhat helps her out (in a way).  I actually was impressed with the creatures.  As much as they were in the dark a lot, when they did show up, it wasn’t wimpy stupid creatures, it actually was done really well.  I actually wouldn’t expect any less with Guillermo Del Torro attached to this.

don`t be afraid of the dark 1

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is not completely a horror as its more creepy thriller.  I did tell you, I’d be going into thrillers now, right? Its a good change in pace. The story was fairly good, and I enjoyed this one a fair amount.  Its not Pan’s Labyrinth of course but I guess, if you have seen the original, maybe you’d feel different.  I wouldn’t know because I don’t have the comparison.  The character’s and their scripts are a bit fluky to me but its not the fault of the cast themselves.  Impressive creatures and a good atmosphere really brings this movie into the good horror thriller area.  I’d say that its worth your time to check it out :).

Did you like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark? Have you seen the original? Are you a fan of Guillermo Del Toro?