December 12 – Yellow Snow

Gift Receipt Required

Last week, we opened the Super Saturday Shot Day Christmas season with a look at some of the best gifts given and received in movie history. Today, we see the flipside of that, with the worst presents to be exchanged. These should have definitely been returned to the sender:

#5: Necklace – Love, Actually

I know what you’re saying: “You’re crazy, Sip Advisor… all that boozing has finally damaged your brain!” Now, before you exhile me from this site and the internet altogether, hear me out. The necklace given in this case is a bad gift because it was to be given to the wrong person. Karen (Emma Thompson) is ecstatic when she believes she’ll be receiving an expensive necklace from her husband (Alan Rickman). When all she gets is a Joni Mitchell CD, she knows something is up and confronts her partner. Rickman can’t seem to get Christmas right, given this and his turn as Hans Gruber in Die Hard!

love actually snape

#4: Lingerie – Elf

Giving your partner some sexy lingerie might be the most selfish gift in history (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I mean, who’s it really for!? That said, it gets even worse when you’re a middle-aged elf, giving your long-lost father a sexy teddy. With so much sugar running through his veins, Buddy was bound to make some mistakes in his first visit to the world away from the North Pole. And what a confusing place to start, as he must travel to New York City to reunite a father who didn’t even know he existed.

#3: Bunny Pajamas – A Christmas Story

Most of us have been there at some point in our lives, when a gift from a distant relative just doesn’t jive with our wants and desires. Poor Ralphie not only gets a set of bunny pajamas (complete with floppy ears and cottontail) from his aunt Clara, but to add insult to injury, the sleepwear is pink because aunt Clara mistakes Ralphie for being a girl… not a strapping young lad capable of wielding a Red Ryder BB Gun. After showing his new jammies off to his mom, dad, and brother (who can’t help but laugh at the ridiculous outfit), Ralphie is allowed to change and get back to his present opening.

A-Christmas-Story-pink nightmare

#2: Jelly of the Month Club – Christmas Vacation

Looking to cut costs, Frank Shirley enrols his employees in a Jelly of the Month Club, rather than reward them with their annual Christmas bonus, as has been tradition. Aside from the loss of cash money, I have to ask: Is there really that many good jellies to fill up the calendar? As Clark Griswold says, with his boss held hostage in their home, people rely on that money and when they don’t get it, that’s just rotten. Mr. Shirley learns his lesson and promises to bring the bonuses back, even adding an extra 20% to Clark’s. If it had been a Beer of the Month Club, would all be alright!?

#1: Various – The Nightmare Before Christmas

While his heart is in the right place – wait, does Jack Skellington even have a heart? – any gift coming from Sandy Claws is probably one you shouldn’t bother opening. In his attempt to become the new face of Christmas, Jack delivers shrunken heads, Christmas tree-eating snakes, pumpkin jack-in-the-boxes, vampire teddy bears, toy ducks with sharp teeth, and living wreaths to the children of the world, causing dismay and chaos on Christmas morning. Jack really sounds more like a Christmas-themed mercenary than the bearer of great gifts.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Yellow Snow

While The Gift of the Magi presents are incredibly thoughtful, they’re poorly planned and communicated: Jim sells his watch to buy Della a comb for her hair, while Della sells her hair to buy Jim a chain for his watch. Definitely a couple that needed to focus a little more and buy a mutually awesome gift together!

Advertisements

December 5 – Santa’s Coming

The Gift of Giving

All this month, for Super Saturday Shot Day, we’ll be looking at the best Christmas gifts exchanged in movies and on TV. To get everyone into the Christmas spirit, let’s start with the greatest gifts in movies:

#5: Red Ryder BB Gun – A Christmas Story

While I’m far from a gun guy and little Ralphie did end up injuring himself shooting the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle (just as everyone told him he would), this gift makes the best list because every one of us, growing up, had that one dream item that we wanted more than anything else in the world. And when it showed up under the tree on Christmas morning, you truly believed in the spirit of the season.

A-Christmas-Story-bb gun

#4: Pool – Christmas Vacation

Having grown up with a pool, I can totally appreciate how awesome it would be to be told your dad was installing one. Of course, with Clark Griswold’s Christmas bonus waiting in the wings, he’s not even sure he’ll be able to deliver on his promise of scorching hot days spent poolside, refreshed and relaxed. Just as Clark makes his big announcement, he discover his bonus isn’t what he thought it would be, but I’ll  have more on that next week.

#3: Gizmo – Gremlins

Mogwai’s seem pretty cool. That is, until they get fed after midnight, come into contact with water, or are exposed to sunlight. At least Gizmo stays cute and cuddly throughout, despite the fact it is the reason for all the mayhem that ensues. When a mogwai goes bad, it turns into a gremlin and then you really have to be careful, as these deranged creatures have been known to kill. In the end, the town is saved and Gizmo can return to normal… until its next late night feeding.

gremlins nicki minaj

#2: Lady – Lady and the Tramp

Is there a better gift to have lying under your tree than a cute little puppy. I’d say a kitten, but I’ll give them a pass here! Lady comes into her family’s life as an energetic pup; a Christmas gift given from Jim Dear to his wife Darling. After growing up, getting into mishaps and adventures, and finding love, the story sticks with the Christmas theme to show that Tramp has joined the family fray as has a litter of pups, the next generation of the household.

#1: Invisibility Cloak – Harry Potter

Everyone out there has fantasized at some point or another about being invisible. Well, Harry Potter is the one who actually gets the chance and really, the poor guy deserves it after all the years he’s spent as a slave to his extended family and guardians. If the Sip Advisor had an invisibility cloak, I would get up to all kinds of mischief… some of which I probably shouldn’t even share. To give you a hint, there would be a lot of pranking on Mrs. Sip!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Santa’s Coming

  • 0.5 oz Coconut Rum
  • 0.5 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 0.5 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with a Cranberry

I also have to include the bell from The Polar Express here, as the tiny trinket (gifted by Santa, himself) provided years of joy for a young boy and his little sister, allowing them to enjoy the spirit of Christmas throughout the years, so long as they truly believed.

November 28 – The Talking Monkey

A Glimpse Inside

Last week, we began looking at one of the most underrated elements to visual storytelling: narration. It’s amazing how essential the narration of a movie or TV show can be, sometimes making or breaking a project. This week, we move to the big screen. Let’s get things rolling!

#5: Sin City

As if coming from the pages of a comic book, viewers are taken on a journey through the voice of each focal character, learning their desires, motives, issues, fears, and discoveries. Narration comes from a variety of sources, including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Clive Owen, each captivating the audience with their character’s story. Film noir is no stranger to the narrator storytelling device, but Sin City brought the style back to the mainstream.

sincity

#4: A Clockwork Orange

The ultra-violent Alex (played by Malcolm McDowell) is a drug-fueled sociopath who won’t hesitate in committing all kinds of horrible acts on innocent victims. As a result, many of Alex’s thoughts are quite disturbing and the way they are delivered by McDowell, in Alex’s teenage Cockney slang, will really have your skin crawling. Despite all efforts to reform Alex, the teen eventually returns to his old habits and more suffering is in the cards.

#3: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It’s one thing to narrate a movie and it’s a whole other ball of yarn when you’re delivering the words of Dr. Seuss! I wonder how many retakes were needed to perfectly deliver some of the Seussian language? Regardless, Hannibal Lecter himself, Anthony Hopkins, nailed it, retelling the tale of The Grinch, who can’t stand the Whos down in Whoville, especially as the Christmas holiday approaches. While critics were less enthusiastic about the film, the Sip Advisor has always enjoyed it.

the grinch decorating

#2: Fight Club

The haunting narrations of this film will leave viewers chilled to the bone, as the protagonist (played by Edward Norton) turns his insomnia into attending support groups and later, starting a terrorist organization, bred out of a fighting club. While we never get the main character’s name, we certainly get all the thoughts that make him tick and lead to his mental breakdown… the problem is, he realizes too late exactly what he’s started and can’t stop.

#1: A Christmas Story

In a style that would go on to be the inspiration for The Wonder Years, we learn about the trials and tribulations little Ralphie goes through as he asks for a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle” for Christmas. This includes convincing his teacher, parents, and even the big guy himself, Santa, that the gun isn’t as dangerous as many fear. As if that’s not enough, Ralphie has to deal with schoolyard bullies, swearing in front of his parents, and ruined Christmas dinner.

Super Saturday Shot Day: The Talking Monkey

  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz Banana Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz Milk
  • Garnish with a Banana Slice

Of course, there’s always the king of the narration, Morgan Freeman, with credits in the role including Shawshank Redemption, War of the Worlds, March of the Penguins, and Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. If a Hall of Fame, dedicated to the art, were to ever be built, Freeman would be its inaugural inductee!

December 3 – Chocolate Peppermintini

Christmas Classics

Especially given it’s the winter months and the weather outside is frightful, it’s nice to snuggle up and watch a bevy of classic Christmas films. What should you include in your movie marathon? Ask and you shall receive. Here are my favourite Christmas flicks!

It’s a Wonderful Life

I absolutely adore this classic. And when you think about it, many of us might have never viewed the tale that has been copied and parodied so many times. It was never intended to be a “Christmas movie”, but that’s what it became. Jimmy Stewart is amazing throughout the movie (no surprise there, as the dude is actually an American hero) and his portrayal of George Bailey, who is too often in the wrong place at the wrong time, is one of the most treasured characters in cinema history.

Elf

The story of Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell at his usual level of crazy!) searching out his father and integrating into the fast-paced world of New York City is a fun movie to get into the swing of things during the holidays. Buddy has to work hard to get the hardened folks of New York City, as well as the rest of the world to find their Christmas spirit, which powers Santa’s sleigh, of course. The film, which has material both kids and parents alike can enjoy, has even led to a Broadway musical.

Bad Santa

If you’ve been following this site for any period of time, you knew that a raunchier film was going to come up at some point… here it is! Billy Bob Thornton plays Willie T. Stokes, an alcoholic womanizer who roams from town to town as a mall Santa, staking out his place of occupation in order to rob the store before moving on to the next score. Things are different this time when he falls for a woman and a loner kid and decides to eventually change his ways.

A Christmas Carol/Scrooge

It’s hard to pick a version that is best to view, but my favourites include The Muppet version (no surprise there) and probably the edition with Alastair Sim playing the cranky curmudgeon. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, this is another Christmas tale that has been parodied constantly, as Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, warning him that if he doesn’t change his ways, many will be affected and no one will care when his time on the earth is done.

Scrooge

Home Alone

While I’d caution folks who wish to view any of the movies past Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, the first two entries are cinematic gems. As a kid, you only wanted to see the last segments of the films, where plucky Kevin McCallister sends burglars Harry and Marv (The Wet Bandits) through his nightmarish house of horrors, but with age and wisdom, I’ve come to realize the movies are much more than that. They include a lot of wonderful Christmas imagery and are perfect holiday romps.

A Christmas Story

This movie is a family favourite around the Sip Advisor offices. The story sees young Ralphie embark on a quest to receive a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. He runs into obstacles at every corner from his teacher giving him a poor grade on his essay on what he wants for Christmas to Santa Claus himself (a mall Santa that is) telling him he’ll shoot his eye out… and he nearly does in the end. TV network TBS has been known to broadcast the movie in a 24-hour cycle on Christmas day, so if you haven’t seen it yet, shame on you!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

What a treasure this movie is. From Cousin Eddie’s antics to the misadventures of the hapless Clark Griswold, there are so many laughs in this film. Clark is looking to provide his family the perfect Christmas experience, much like the ones he enjoyed as a youngster. That all goes awry as the holiday becomes more of a nightmare with each incident, underscored by Clark’s uncertainty of whether his Christmas bonus will arrive and allow him to build a swimming pool for his clan.

shitter-was-full

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Some people crap on this flick, but I think it’s quite enjoyable. Thanks to the longer running time, not afforded to the cartoon special classic, we get a better understanding of why the Grinch hates Christmas and all the Who’s down in Whoville. Jim Carrey was the perfect choice to play the ‘mean one’ whose heart grew three times that day. This movie ushered in the chain of Dr. Suess stories to be adapted for feature films; some good, some bad… this is one of the good ones.

Die Hard & Die Hard 2: Die Harder

I’m a little disappointed that this series abandoned the Christmas time setting after the first two releases. This is for the action fan out there that wants only a sprinkle of the Christmas spirit in their movies. The first film begins with an office Christmas party that is invaded by terrorists while the sequel is set in an airport, as hero John McClane is waiting for his wife to arrive home for the holidays. Both movies are filled with shootouts, creative kills, and catchphrases galore!

Love, Actually

If you’re looking for a little more romance with your Christmas movie fare, give this film a try. It’s one of those “separate stories that all come together at the end” ensemble cast dealies, but it’s very good… even if Hugh Grant is a featured actor… a Prime Minister, no less. Set in Britain during the lead up to Christmas, the film sets out to prove that “Love, actually is all around us” and they hit the nail on the head through the interweaving narratives.

Drink #337: Chocolate Peppermintini

Chocolate Pepperminti Drink Recipe

  • Rim glass with Christmas Sprinkles
  • 1.5 oz Vodka (I used Smores)
  • 1 oz Peppermint Schnapps
  • 0.5 oz Crème de Cacao
  • 0.5 oz Chocolate Liqueur
  • Top with Milk

What are your favourite Christmas movie viewings? I’m always looking to add to my annual “To Watch” list, so send those ideas in!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
While not a bad drink, Mrs. Sip didn’t like how sweet it was. I enjoyed its booziness and flavours (I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate and mint together!), although using the Smores Vodka might have altered the taste and a plain Vodka may have been bettered suited for the recipe.