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The Santa Clause (1994)

The Santa Clause (1994)Watch the trailer!

Happy Holidays! It's part one of our yearly pairing of holiday films, this year starting with a new take on the story of Santa. In this episode we take a look at 1994's "The Santa Clause," starring Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, David Krumholtz, and Peter Boyle. Directed by John Pasquin, this film tells the story of Scott Calvin (Allen), an advertising executive for a toy company, and also a single father to his son Charlie (Lloyd). On Christmas Eve, after hearing noises on the roof, Scott scares "Santa" who falls off the roof and disappears, leaving only his santa suit. Scott and Charlie find a card that says "Put on the suit, the reindeer will know what to do." And so begins a year-long saga as Scott slowly begins to transform into Santa Claus, much to Charlie's delight, and the dismay of his ex Laura (Crewson) and her new psychiatrist husband Neal (Reinhold).

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The Guns of Navarone (1961)

The Guns of Navarone (1961)Watch the trailer!

Our second War Film moves ahead four years in real time, but focuses on the same time period as the first. This time, it's a hopeless plan to sabotage twin radar-guided guns that are preventing the allies from rescuing some two-thousand men stranded on the island of Keros in the Aegean Sea. But a mountain-climber and his partner, a demolitions expert, a master strategist, a butcher, and a trained killer may just be the team who can pull it off! Directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Quayle, Stanley Baker, James Darren, Irene Papas, and the beautiful and talented Gia Scala, this is a masterful demonstration of how you make an engagin, tense, and riveting espionage film! Plus, the trio give a shout-out to a listener who flagged a hole in their library of reviews thus far, and they reveal which two popular Christmas films they're reviewing this year, regardless of how two of the three feel about them!

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The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)Watch the trailer!

The holiday shopping season has begun, so it's only fitting that we turn to War films for this pairing. Our first film is a true classic, and an absolutely favorite of one of the trio, "The Bridge on the River Kwai" from 1957! Directed by David Lean and starring Sir Alec Guinness (back before he was a "Sir"), William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald, Geoffrey Horne, and Andre Morell, the film follows a group of British POWs who have been sent to a work camp during World War II. The group is led by the upright Colonel Nicholson (Guinness) who demands of the camp's leader, Colonel Saito (Hayakawa) a strict observation of the Geneva Convention. Thus begins a war of wills between the two men. Meanwhile, American POW Shears (Holden) is thought dead after an escape attempt, but actually manages to get back to a British colony, and is persuaded to join a commando team bent on bringing down the bridge Nicholson and his men are building for Saito. A fantastic film, winning seven Academy Awards, and featuring a tune that will forever be stuck in your head, especially after you find out what the words to it were!

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Grumpy Old Men (1993)

Grumpy Old Men (1993)Watch the trailer!

The second film in our end-of-year holiday films is a modern classic, starring two of the funniest comedians ever to grace a screen, paired with one of the most beautiful women in film history! Directed by Donald Petrie, this is the story of John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon), a widower with IRS woes, who lives next to his best frenemy in the world, Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) in a small town in Minnesota. Both men have known each other for fifty years, and have a comfortable, if antagonistic, relationship. Johns daughter, Melanie (Daryl Hannah) is having marriage problems, while Max's son Jacob (Kevin Pollak) is running for Mayor. Their friend Chuck (Ossie Davis) runs the local bait shop where John and Max pick up their ice-fishing supplies every day. And John delivers beer to his father, "Grandpa Gustafson" (Burgess Meredith at his funniest) at his ice shanty every day. It's a comfortable, if predictable life, until Ariel Truax (Ann-Margret) moves in across the street from John and Max, and throws both of their lives into a competitive chaos. Funny, sad, moving, and hopeful, this film delivers a solid hour and forty-three minutes of entertainment. And the trio discuss what two war films they're marching out for the next pairing!

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)Watch the trailer!

Our pairing of end-of-year holiday films begins with a film about getting home for Thanksgiving. Directed by legendary film-maker John Hughes, this movie tells the story of marketing executive Neal Page (Steve Martin), who is just trying to get from New York to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving with his family when a winter storm throws a wrench in his plans. Add to that the excruciatingly-annoying interference by one Del Griffith (John Candy), a shower curtain ring salesman, and that fact that their paths seem inextricably crossed over the next 48 hours, and you have a recipe for a comically-uncomfortable buddy travel picture. With cameos from Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon, Dylan Baker, and Edie McClurg, this film is a one hour and 33 minute explanation of just how wrong things can go when you simply try to catch a flight home!

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