Six Characters in Search of a Blogger

7.6 Gagging Grandma: Christmas with the Chasseurs in “The Ref”

Take one demented couple who have accrued thousands of hours in therapy.  Add one cat burglar (in the person of Denis Leary), a blackmailing son, multiple dysfunctional family visitors, a hostage situation, and a little dash of Christmas Eve and you have the hilarity that is The Ref.

Featuring two of my favorite actors, the brilliant Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey, this witty gem directed by the late great Ted Demme has many classic moments.  But undoubtedly one of my favorites features the character Rose (the bitingly acerbic matriarch of the family), berating Gus (the burglar, played by Denis Leary) for his incompetence as a man and a criminal.

The hilarious part for me is that this speech from Grandma isn’t so far off what some of my friends (or their mothers) might say in the same situation.  

(My friends are awesome.)

7.5 Keira Knightley Gets Some Christmas Love

Love Actually is a flawed film.  There are hilarious moments.  There are cliché moments.  There are moments when good acting talent is wasted.  And there are moments when the film descends into the ridiculous, such as when the British Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant) is caught kissing his catering manager backstage at a grade school play.  Cute, but ridiculous.  

But there is one moment in the film that stands out above all others to me.  Of course, it is utterly fantastical–I don’t know many men who would have the imagination or the grace to make such a gesture.  (And I know still fewer women who would be able to resist it.) But I’m a sucker for it nonetheless.  The moment I am talking about is when the character, Mark (played by Andrew Lincoln) shows up at the front door of his best friend’s wife (the character Juliet, played by Keira Knightley) to tell her that he is in love with her.  And it’s done in such a wistful, funny, quiet way that it’s beautiful.

7.3 I Like Life: Scrooge Gets His Drunk On

This post goes out to my friend Mellie, with whom I have had numerous moments of hilarity over Albert Finney’s performance in Scrooge (a 1970 musical remake of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.)    

Now, I must give Mr. Finney great props as an actor–he’s incredibly talented, and I have been very moved by his performances in such films as The Browning Version and A Man of No Importance (to name a few.)  But Scrooge represents a rather comic misstep in his otherwise brilliant career:  my biggest giggles have come during such classic songs as “You…you” and “I Hate People.”

Now this isn’t to say I don’t like the movie…because I do, very much.  It’s a rollicking piece of Christmas kitcsch that you’ll find yourself humming along to, again and again (especially if you have a few egg nogs in you.)  And unquestionably one of my favorite moments is when Scrooge meets the ghost of Christmas Present, drinks a little bit of wine, and allows himself to admit “I like life.”

I couldn’t think of a more appropriate song for Christmas Eve.  So gather with your family, have a little (or a lot of) wine, and sing along (you’ll find it hard not to):

7.2 The Triple Dog Dare: Flick Licks the Flagpole

Holy smokes, who can forget when Ralphie’s friend Flick (played by actor Scotty Schwartz) accepts the Triple Dog Dare to lick the flagpole in A Christmas Story?  It is easily one of the best scenes ever in Christmas film history.  And frighteningly familiar:  I knew a kid who did the same thing at recess back in 2nd grade, and it was just as painful, embarrassing, and pee-your-pants funny as it was in the movie.

Now, please forgive me for being irreverent during this Christmas season, but every time I watch it, I can’t help but wonder whether there was some deliberate symbolic foreshadowing for Scotty Schwartz’s career planted in the script?  (Scotty went on to star in porn films.  Insert guttural Beavis and Butthead chuckle here.)

7.1 Alfalfa, “all growed up” in It’s a Wonderful Life

Without doubt, It’s a Wonderful Life is my favorite Christmas film.  I’m rather ashamed to admit I never saw it until I was in college, and this was thanks to a couple of classic film buffs (both under age 10!) for whom I babysat back in the day.  So thanks, Lili and John, wherever you are!

There are innumerable classic moments in It’s a Wonderful Life, of course.  The moment when George (Jimmy Stewart) courts Mary (Donna Reed) as they sing “Buffalo Gals” (and that old man from the porch calls out, “why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death?”) The moment George saves the Savings and Loan from the bank run during the Depression, and places the two dollars they have left in the safe.  And the ultimate moment at the end of the film, when Zuzu says, “Look, Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings,” and George looks up and says, “That’s right, that’s right.  Atta boy, Clarence.”

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer

Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer

But you might have missed a very critical cameo in the film by Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer, of Little Rascals fame, as Mary’s would-be suitor “Freddie Othello” at the high school dance.  He only has a handful of lines, but it’s his one big act of defiance that enables the plot during the rest of the movie:  that’s right, Alfalfa is the one who pulls the lever to retract the moveable floor during the Charleston contest.  And it’s what causes Mary and George to go flying into the gym pool, get absolutely drenched, and walk home together in their makeshift costumes (she in a swim robe, he in an ill-fitting football uniform.)  And then, they fall in love…

You can relive the scene here (the clip is long, so please forgive me! Alfalfa features in the first 3-4 minutes.)

Week 7: My favorite characters/moments from Christmas movies
December 21, 2008, 11:45 pm
Filed under: My favorite characters/moments from Christmas movies | Tags: , ,

Hey, everyone!  This week, given how busy we’ll all be with the upcoming Christmas holiday, I’ll just be featuring quick snippets of my favorite characters from several Christmas movies.  (Thanks, in advance, to YouTube for supplying me with the raw material.)  And if you have the time, feel free to chime in with some of your favorite characters/moments from Christmas movies!

6.7 The Seventh Day: The Perfect Gift for that Person Who Has Everything
December 20, 2008, 8:00 am
Filed under: Santa and His Posse | Tags: , , , ,


the Barack Obama caganer

Everybody poops: the Barack Obama caganer

Forget about the Barack Obama commemorative plates and coins that keep getting hocked on infomercials all across cable TV.

This Christmas, tell someone you care with the Barack Obama caganer.  No Nativity scene would be complete without the next President of the United States leaving a little bit of history for the Christ child.  

It’s also great as a potty training demo for toddlers:  everybody poops, and so does the President-Elect!  So why not buy this little symbol of “yes we can” for your bathroom?  

But act quickly!  Supplies are limited, and no doubt Republicans will soon be snatching these up while they make jokes about Obama’s effect on the economy.

So visit and buy this very special memento of the 2008 election today!