Holiday Marathon/Netflix A-Z: Once Upon a Holiday (2015)

Okay…I’m cheating a little but its the holidays and I really wanted to wrap up Netflix A-Z and get holiday movies in so I put in this Hallmark movie called Once Upon a Holiday! I’ve been watching a lot of these Hallmark/TV movies and they have just been a pretty enjoyable feel-good experience. The point of these movies are to be heartwarming so as long as it does that, I think I’m pretty cool with it, especially since its the end of the year and all I really want is to relax in all the preparation and craziness.

Let’s check it out!

Once Upon a Holiday (2015)

Once Upon a Holiday

Director: James Head

Cast: Briana Evigan, Paul Campbell, Greg Evigan, Tony Alcantar, Jay Brazeau, Beverley Elliott, Casey Manderson, Jacqueline Samuda, Tara Wilson

When a princess escapes her entourage to explore New York over Christmas, she meets a young man who shows the beautiful stranger his side of the city.-IMDB

Once Upon A Holiday is a fun little Hallmark movie based similarly to Roman Holiday. Along with its familiar modern day revamp, we also have some familiar faces. The first would be our princess in disguise played by Briana Evigan who is in two Step Up movies. Next would be her real life father who plays as her uncle in this one who had a long filmography with some notable titles. Tara Wilson maybe ring a bell as well as Jay Brazeau and definitely Beverley Elliott who plays Granny on TV series Once Upon a Time. Roman Holiday is a classic lead by some great talents and memorable characters. It would be unfair to hope that a modern day revamp could possibly live up to even Audrey Hepburn’s performance alone, however, Once Upon a Holiday has a rather heartwarming take to this romance drama with a lot of festive moments set in the bustling New York City.

Once Upon a Holiday

Roman Holiday is a high bar to aim for but the performances here are nothing short of fun. In fact, I’d go straight to say that the performances are what brings a lot of charm to Once Upon a Holiday. Throwing the physical attractions aside, Once Upon a Holiday takes on a more chemistry that grows between Briana Evigan’s Princess Katarina (aka Katie) and real estate agent turned renovation business owner, Jack. Briana Evigan brings an innocence and naivety to Katie’s character, very much like a princess sheltered from the world would. While bad things do happen to her and we as the more street saavy audience knows even more than she does, its also that characteristic that makes her more open-minded to accept the people she meets while still trying to dodge cleverly the familiar security detail tracking her down.

On the other hand, Paul Campbell does a great job at being Jack. He is quite the introvert but while being mesmerized and confused by this girl that appears in front of him, seemingly oblivious to everything around her and just learning about something as simple as eating hot dogs, he also reaches out to try and help her. Jack is a good-hearted man who has been tainted by love. There’s something incredibly genuine about Paul Campbell’s role as Jack that makes him believable.

Its not to mention that Paul Campbell and Briana Evigan emit such attractive chemistry between them and the script brings out well a lot of their feelings and thoughts to help us connect to them on a more personal level. Not many can relate to a princess but we can relate to wanting to be in control of our own life and having the power to make our decisions and choices. On the other hand, we can also love the feeling of family and simplicity. Sure, its a little far-fetched in a story to have a love like this one in just a few days time but that is the power of movies and even the romantic in me who doesn’t quite buy the love at first sight thing can fall for.

Once upon a Holiday

Perhaps what makes Once Upon a Holiday a lot more fun is its colorful supporting characters. Jay Brazeau and Beverley Elliott play an ex-magician, Harry that owns a magic store and his ex-assistant, Dixie. Along with them is a scene where they join into a Santa Claus party. On the other hand, there is also Jack’s sister Emily played by Tara Wilson who is charming to watch in a loving and supportive way. By her side is Emily’s small-time reporter Ross, who seems quite stupid and ridiculous as he hopes to find his big break into the big leagues of reporting and turns out to be, very predictably, the guy who ends up following the story of the missing princess and goes on his own wild goose chase.

To be honest, its hard to critique a lot on these heartwarming movies. I’ve said it frequently in the last few reviews. There’s something touching and heartwarming and feel good about them that its okay to accept them for exactly what they are. As predictable and formulaic or even ambitious as they are, these movies are harmless and fun. Not everything is going to be Oscars standards but at least these movies are far far away from being horrible. Perhaps, its the holiday that makes me less cranky about these movies or I’m just a big softie (as Jay says, which I definitely am). Once Upon a Holiday might not be perfect (and I’m aware of that and acknowledge it), but the performances themselves made me love the characters probably far more than I probably should admit. I’ve always been honest about liking movies that a lot of other people would criticize heavily, why stop being myself now, right? ūüėČ

Step Up All In (2014)

The goal this year is to try to review everything I watched. ¬†I did a fantastic job of that in the first two years of blogging and eventually it kind of fell apart as the versatility grew. ¬†However, this year, I’m trying to step up ¬†my game (no pun intended). The other night, I was sitting by myself after a long day of shovelling and cleaning and all that fun stuff winter and the holidays brings and I decided to relax so I pulled out Step Up: All In and gave it a go. ¬†For the record, if you are new here, I’ve reviewed all the previous Step Ups already. I really enjoy them even though I very much know that they are not strong in their stories but the dance routines and the music are always what I go to this for, and well, Adam Sevani’s character.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and check out the synopsis first! ūüėČ

Step Up All In (2014)

step up all in

Director: Trish Sie

Cast: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam G. Sevani, Misha Gabriel Hamilton, Stephen Boss, Stephen Stevo Jones, David Schriebman, Mari Koda, Alyson Stoner, Isabella Miko

All-stars from the previous Step Up installments come together in glittering Las Vegas, battling for a victory that could define their dreams and their careers.-IMDB

¬†After the first Step Up with a decent storyline, the rest of the Step Up movies are very much about the dance, choreography and upbeat music that keeps it going. ¬†Most of the times, the story is just extras to give it a little story in the background even if its very much predictable and cliche in every way. However, I don’t mind it at all. ¬†The point is, I went in and came out with a skip to my step and started dancing and moving during the movie and being mesmerized by the energy of the dance and the originality of the choreography. ¬†The dance talent on screen is really awesome. ¬†Step Up Revolution was all about the dancing and Step Up 2 The Streets was all about finding the courage to embrace your talent and this is where the main guy, Sean (Ryan Guzman) and Andie (Briana Evigan) respectively come together. ¬†The best part is that between these two coming together and of course, falling for each other in the process, Adam Sevani playing one of my favorite characters Moose gets a much bigger role. Except, its about how dance is hard to be a profession and it doesn’t matter how hard it is to reach your dream and how impossible it seems, you just have to remember that its what you love and not make it into something that you dread, in a way. ¬†The message is there, as it is for every other Step Up movie: follow your dreams proudly and live out your passion no matter how hard it is. ¬†Its because of this message that I love these Step Up movies also.

Step Up All In

Honestly, Step Up All In is the first movie that does feel a little empty.  It tries to focus more on a plot and giving us the story of Moose and Camille while building on Sean forgetting why he danced in the first place and his relationship with Andie making him see the light and not turn into a jerk who forgot where he came from. Fact is, the story could have been simplified much more and kept to the normal formula.  I applaud the effort of trying to get something more in there but you know what it sacrificed? The amazing dance choreography that the previous installments had. In the first 30 minutes of the movie, I actually started feeling a little sad that they had taken this path because the dancing was really bad and the music was lackluster.  However, once the group does get together and it heads into their training phase, it really picks up much more and the dance portion becomes much better and very engaging to watch.  They still try hard to put that story in there but the chemistry between the dancers, especially Sean and Andie start to shine.

Step Up All In

I think its time to dive a little into the cast. I’m not a huge fan of Step Up 2 so I have my reservations for Briana Evigan however, it has nothing to do with her dancing abilities. ¬†I actually kind of really liked the dancing and even acting and whatever chemistry they had between Andie and Sean. ¬†Moose and Camille (Alyson Stoner) are really great as well. They give it a lot of drama and its okay because I do like their characters even if its unnecessary. ¬†I can get pass even that forced plot but my main issue was the stupid leader of the Grim Knights and the host of the dance competition Alexxa Brava (Isabella Miko). The latter wins it for parts that I wanted to fast forward because it is just over the top ridiculous. ¬†And some of you know how much over the top ridiculous I can handle. She was just plain annoying when it could have been entertaining.

Step Up All In

Overall, Step Up All In adds in too much unnecessary plot to try to make this dance series into something more, in turn causing it to lose what I truly love it for. However, it is only the first little bit that has that issue and when the group LMNTRIX crew gets together, the chemistry and dance choreography take a turn for a very positive path uphill and turns into a rather engaging Step Up movie. ¬†Its still very much a dance movie that is really nothing special but bringing back familiar characters from the previous installments and keeping the emphasis of following your dreams and passions is one that I truly love, appreciate and find rather inspiring. Although, unless you do love this franchise, I don’t think you will like this one a lot, in fact, you might as well go back to watch some of the earlier ones.

Have you seen Step Up All In? Are you fan of the Step Up franchise? Which is your favorite?