The Princess Switch (2018) Film Review

I would not have watched this were it not for the “Six Flicks of Christmas” podcast with Nikki Britton and Laura Hughes. Two awesome Aussie comics who do a podcast watch party and a review. I watched the film listening to the watch party and it was a hilarious way to watch it – I intend, in the year-long lead up to Christmas, to watch the next two Princess Switch films the same way.

So, the story is that baker Stacy (Vanessa Hudgens) ends up in the Kingdom of Belgravia for an international baking contest, but when she bumps into Lady Margaret (also Vanessa Hudgens) who is engaged to the Prince, she is convinced to swap lives for a couple of days. Lady Margaret does this to live like an ‘ordinary person’ – and consequently spends two days with Stacy’s best mate and his daughter, so… spends the two days with two American tourists… not a normal person of Belgravia. And that’s only part of the ridiculousness of the film. But, a good old switcherooo… I didn’t mind this film too much at all. Not sure how I would have gone without the funnies in my headphones, though…

Single All the Way (2021) Film Review

Peter (Michael Urie) has been perpetually single, much to the annoyance of his entire family who believe he can only be happy when he has a love that he can bring home for Christmas. To try to fool them, he brings home Nick (Philemon Chambers) his best mate (who is clearly a bit in love with Peter). But Nick immediately gives the game away, and Peter’s mother sets him up on a blind date with a handsome and lovely bloke, James (Luke Macfarlane) and things seem to be going well. But what would a Christmas romantic comedy be without family meddling and some singing in a local bar?

I quite enjoyed this for the silly Christmas romp that it was. Plus with Kathy Najimy, Barry Bostwick and Jennifer Coolidge supporting… hard not to like, really. Far too many in the family, I still don’t know who were sisters, who were aunts, which kids belonged to who, but it didn’t matter. This was fun.

Office Christmas Party (2016) Film Review

Josh (Jason Bateman) and Tracey (Olivia Munn) are a couple of mid-level workers at a place run by an entitled and useless bloke, Clay (TJ Miller). When his sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston) turns up to shut down the branch there is only one way to save the branch… a massive Christmas party. (Plot wise, that almost made sense).

There were plenty of great cast members, there were moments that were a bit funny, but overall it was a mess of stupidness that only occasionally was able to get even a chuckle out of me. I kept hoping it would get better and it just kept letting me down.

Let It Snow (2019) Film Review

It’s a super snowy day in small town USA, right close to Christmas. There’s a boy in love with his best mate, only she is kind of seeing someone else, there’s a girl who ends up accidentally spending the day with a super-famous musician when their train ends up stuck in the snow and they wander off together. And there’s a girl who’s spent some fun time with another girl, but when the second girl is out with her popular mates, she barely acknowledges the first girl’s existence. Oh, and a young DJ who is trying to become known by throwing a party and having a famous DJ turn up. It’s a lot, the stories kind of overlap, and come together in a stupidly long and unnecessary party scene.

Based on a fun book with three connected shorts by three excellent YA authors (John Green, Lauren Myracle and Maureen Johnson), I thought this would be a lot of fun. And it sort of was, although it felt really flat, and I found it very hard to differentiate between a few of the actors. But I’m very aware that I’m not the audience for this film, if I was a young teenager, perhaps I’d have loved it.

Christmas on the Farm (2021) Film Review

Emmy (Poppy Jones) is an author who is struggling to writer her next bestseller, and so writes a book about her childhood growing up on a farm in Australia. However, taking poor advice from her gent, she changes the book, putting herself in the role of her mother. So when the publisher and her son decide that the only way they will buy the book is to experience a Christmas on the farm (which doesn’t seem like a very reasonable nor realistic request) things turn into a bit of a face.

Maybe it was just after the last couple of stinker films that I watched, but I actually quite liked this one. I mean, it didn’t make a huge amount of sense in many ways, but it was fun. This is the kind of fun Christmas movie I’m up for, personally.

Father Christmas is Back (2021) Film Review

The Christmas family (yup, that’s their surname, although that wasn’t apparent until about halfway through the film) are all convening at the stressed-out sister’s house. One sister is a socialite who brings a different man each year, the other is young and… actually, I barely remember she exists. Mum is secretly having fun times with the uncle, and the dad’s been gone for ages. Until now…

It’s a big name cast… Elizabeth Hurley, Caroline Quentin, John Cleese, Kelsey Grammar… but it’s a massive stinker of a movie. I hadn’t thought I’d dislike a film more than A Castle for Christmas, but I really did. Just… ugh. But, there was a family karaoke night at the pub, so it met at least one of the requirements for a Christmas film.

A Castle for Christmas (2021) Film Review

For whatever reason, this year I decided to watch some Christmas movies and see if they are as bad as I expected them to be. Well… this was a doozie.

Sophie (Brooke Shields) is a bestselling author of a romance series, but is being hounded by her fans because she killed off the male love interest in her most recent book. To escape the spotlight, she goes to Scotland, her grandfather’s town, to visit the castle where he (or his father? I got a little confused on fathers and grandfathers) worked. Arriving in the town, she makes friends with a bunch of locals who have a craft group, and finds that the castle is owned by a handsome but annoying lord, Myles (Cary Elwes). However, he is on hard times and needs to sell… and Sophie has a lot of money. What could possibly happen.

This was terrible on pretty much every level. I think when you have a film set in Scotland but can barely find a Scottish actor, even amongst the extras, it’s probably not a good sign. Also, if you struggle to make sense of the plot, in particular why any of the disagreements are happening, that’s also not good. Add in some real unnecessary detail, like Sophie having mad hair skills for no real reason, and a random maybe red herring that is seen once and then never referred to again, and you have a real mess of a film. But there is a singing scene in a pub which becomes a regular sign for a true Christmas film… regardless of the quality of the film…

Waking Romeo by Kathryn Barker (Book Review)

It’s a time travel book, so things get a bit confusing. So, it’s sometime in the future. Time travel has been invented, but only going forward in time. However, as more and more people leave the past, the present can’t be built… as such. People are barely surviving, Amongst this are Romeo and Juliet… a couple, only Romeo is in a coma and Jules is estranged from her family. But then a time traveller comes from the future, something which shouldn’t be possible, and things get super confusing.

What I love about time travel narratives is that often things only become clear toward the end, and then little things fall into place and everything makes sense. I loved this book. I trusted Barker and continuous and when it all clicked, it was great. It’s a YA romance sci fi… and Shakespeare. Ace.

With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan (Book Review)

Australia in the 1950s. Living a seemingly normal life to those on the outside, the Dohertys are actually spies. Both parents worked for ASIO, and as part of their daily life, they used their children to watch for unusual activity, to remember number plates, to pose in places to allow their parents to take photos of people of interest and other, unusual behaviours. And to not ask questions.

With My Little Eye recounts these strange events in their lives and looks at the lasting effects of a life of clandestine behaviour on the adult Doherty children. It’s fascinating.

Trick of the Dark by Val MCDermid – Book Review

After falling into disgrace in the world of psychology, Charlie is relegated to exam supervision and other lesser tasks at her university. In addition to this, she’s developed an attraction to a woman who is not her wife. When the opportunity comes up to investigate a perceived mishandling of justice at Oxford University, the place where she was education, and where the other woman lives, Charlie is drawn away from her home. But things are not clean cut, and she finds herself unable to extract herself until she finds the answers she is looking for.

I’m a fan of McDermid, but I felt that this book had a few plot hole issues that I found difficult to ignore. Overall, it was a good mystery with red herrings, mis-rememberings and reveals that were very engaging. However, to thoroughly enjoy it, I needed to push aside my scepticism about certain aspects, and felt that perhaps had parts been reframed in some way, I would have believed it more.