the wishing tree

the year: 2012
the genre: drama
the cast:
the plot: Professor Evan Farnsworth  is a widower who works tirelessly at a prestigious boarding school in Maine, dedicating all his time to helping his students believe in themselves. Accepting a job to teach the students left behind during Christmas vacation, including talented scholarship student Juliet, nerdy outcast Albert and privileged bad boy Drew, Farnsworth quickly faces a challenge when Drew gets into trouble. Upset his wealthy parents ditched him for a Paris skiing vacation, Drew takes his anger out on the neighboring town’s Wishing Tree, a bare tree decorated with handwritten notes containing the townspeople’s holiday wishes. A much loved tradition, it doubles as a fundraiser for needy families, depending on donations from eager wish-makers. Drew's misguided mother eventually threatens Farnsworth's job, but with the help of the students, Farnsworth discovers that anything is possible.
don't miss: Albert's secret hot cocoa recipe.
listen for: Juliet's solo of "There's a Place for Us".
I think the trailer is a bit misleading.  The romance takes a backseat to the plot of Farnsworth's interactions with the students - which is a much better storyline anyway.


the christmas card

the year: 2006
the genre: christmas
the cast: John Newton (Cody Cullen); Ed Asner (Luke Spelman); Alice Evans (Faith Spelman); Peter Jason (Richard); Lois Nettleton (Rosie Spelman); Ben Weber (Paul)
the plot: In the midst of war in Afghanistan, Cody Cullen is touched by a Christmas card sent by Faith Spelman from the small, picturesque town of Nevada City, California. As months pass, the card never leaves his side, giving him the strength to survive and setting him on a mission to find her.
 don't miss: the shenanigans that go on when Luke and his brother-in-law Richard get together.
extra bonus points: if you recogize Paul from the Gas-X commercial. (tee hee!)
listen for: "Chicken salad sandwich on rye, crispy curly fries - extra crispy, and hot chocolate with marshmallows."


you've been warned

The next group of posts will include corny, schmaltzy Christmas fluff. You know the kind. Guaranteed to have a predictable plot with either a heartwarming adjustment of priorities to get in the spirit of the season or a life-changing event to the tune of one or more Christmas carols. So if you're in for some good old-fashioned Christmas nostalgia/romance/magic...buckle up, 'cause here we go. What can I say? It's the hap-happiest season of all!


the reel dope

Movie reviews for: A Tale of Two Cities, White Wilderness, and Raw Wind in Eden.


love at the thanksgiving day parade

the year: 2012
the genre: rom-com
the cast: Atumn Reeser (Emily Jones); Antonio Cupo (Henry Williams); Ben Cotton(Brian)
the plot: Chicago native Emily Jones loves her city, and has dedicated her career to coordinating its beloved Thanksgiving Day parade every year. This year, Emily is hoping for a memorable holiday and anticipating a long-awaited proposal from her long-distance boyfriend Brian. Her world turns upside down when the parade director hires a wealthy development consultant, Henry Williams, to analyze the finances of the parade and increase profits. Immediately writing Henry off as a privileged playboy, Emily worries he will ruin the joyful spirit of the parade, not knowing how much it means to the city. As the two are forced to work together to pull off a successful production, Emily is determined to show Henry she’s in charge. But when Emily suffers a sudden setback, she starts to rely on Henry to help her through it, and suddenly realizes she might be falling for him.
 don't miss: the ice cream dilemma.
 extra bonus points: if you are game for Nutty Movie Night.
you can watch the trailer here.
disclaimer: this is 100% corny, sappy and fluffy.  You've been warned. ;)


the reel dope

Movie reviews for: The Matchmaker, The Big Country, and Rock-a-Bye Baby.


the giant mechanical man

the year: 2012
the genre: romedy
the cast: Jenna Fischer (Janice); Chris Messina (Tim); Malin Akerman (Jill); Rich Sommer (Brian); Topher Grace (Doug); Lucy Punch (Pauline) 
the plot: Janice is out of work, living with her well-intentioned but overbearing sister Jill, and struggling to build a fulfilling life for herself. Tim is a street performer whose unique talents as a "living statue" don't exactly pay the bills.  When they both get a job at the local zoo, their connection begins to blossom.  Meantime, Jill pushes Janice to date the deluded, smarmy, self-help author, Doug Duncan.  Will Jill's meddling ways threaten to undermine Janice's first real shot at love?
extra bonus points: if you don't want to punch Doug after 30 seconds.
listen for: "I once had a wool sweater. It was really itchy. I almost wore it when I was flying to London in first class for a book signing. I'm an author."
don't miss: when Janice goes postal on the guy who pokes the monkeys. 
also listen for: “It only takes one person to make you feel special and valid and feel like you belong.


the reel dope

Movie reviews for: Bye Bye Birdie, The Ugly American, and Dr. No.