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Top 5 Christmas Movie Rentals

With Christmas 2 days away, one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit is to watch some great Christmas classics.  And like most everyone, I have my favorite Christmas movies I must watch every year as part of the holiday tradition.  For all you who might be wondering what to rent for Christmas Eve/Day, here are my top 5 suggestions!

5. Elf

For the Santa:  If you’re looking for a comedy that includes a great storyline involving Santa and the magic of the Christmas spirit, look no further. Watching Buddy (Will Ferrell) try to adapt in New York with his biological father (James Caan) is entertaining for adults and children.  Elf has so many unforgettable scenes, including an awkwardly hilarious scene with Games of Thrones star, Peter Dinklage.

4. Just Friends

For the Anna Faris: This may not seem like the typical holiday film, but I assure it’s one of the best.  While visiting his hometown during Christmas, Chris Brander (Ryan Renolds) comes face-to-face with his old high school crush, Jamie (Amy Smart), with whom he was best friends.  Since being rejected by Jamie, Chris has become a handsome ladies man and hopes to finally win her over.  But not with out some obstacle…Que Anna Faris as the psycho, conceded pop star who’s obsessed with Chris.  Be prepared for Faris to provide, quotable lines, WTF moments, and numerous laughs.

3. The Family Stone

For the Tears:  The majority of Christmas movies tend to tug at our heart strings, and though films like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street might be the more traditional holiday tear- jerkers, I prefer to grab the tissues for the all-star cast in The Family Stone.  It’s not all sad, there’s plenty of comic relief and romance to make you feel all kinds of emotions while watching.  Most importantly we see a true example of a free-spirited family who love each other unconditionally.

2. Scrooged

For the Adaptation: There have been numerous versions of the timeless classic, A Christmas Carol.  From the big screen hits, to some even more dreadful TV movies.  But no matter what remake I have seen, nothing beats the 1988 adaptation, Scrooged.  Bill Murray does a fantastic job as the heartless TV executive who is visited by 3 spirits to help change his ways on Christmas Eve.

1. While You Were Sleeping

For the Family: I call this film the “whole package family Christmas movie.”  Original, smart, funny, romantic, and heartwarming.  After Lucy (Sandra Bullock), a lonely ticket collector, saves Peter’s (Peter Gallagher) life; he falls into a coma.  While at the hospital, Peter’s family accidentally mistakes her as his fiancé.  As they welcome her into the family with open arms, she is unable to resist the kindness and love of a family she has always hoped to be a part of.  But of course not everyone in the family buys her story, leading to comical encounters and a blossoming romance.  It’s the perfect film that showcases what Christmas is really all about- spending time with your family.  And remember, you don’t necessarily have to be born into a family to be apart of one.

Honorable Mentions: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause

Musical Review: White Christmas Illuminates The Stage With Color And Joy At Fair Park

Though we may not be wishing for a “white” Christmas this year after the Icepocalypse weekend,  Dallas Summer Musicals has brought snow to Dallas in a safe and fun way for the entire family to enjoy.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is a holiday classic, and if you have seen the film, the stage adaptation follows the same storyline.  The story of two showbiz buddies, Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, as they team up in business and romance with a sister act to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general.

The musical showcases a slew of talented performers.  Featuring James Clow as “Bob Wallace,” David Elder as “Phil Davis,” Trista Moldovan as “Betty Haynes” and Meredith Patterson as “Judy Haynes.”  All four are no strangers to the theater, having done numerous Broadway shows.  Each principal character brought a stand out factor to their performances.  Davis and Patterson bring constant laughs with their hilarious tumultuous relationship.  They also kill it in one of the best tap dancing performances I have ever seen at the top of the second act.  But, I will come back to that in a moment.  Moldovan gives jaw dropping power ballad solos that will leave you in awe.  Clow not only has an amazing singing voice, but he also has an incredible speaking voice that makes you feel as if you have traveled back to 1954.  Also appearing in the play is Ruth Williamson as “Martha Watson,” Joseph Costa as “General Waverly,” and the unbelievably too young to be that talented, 9 year-old Shannon Harrington as “Susan Waverly.”  This is Harrington’s second year in a row playing Susan for the national Broadway tour.  I can only imagine where this kid will be at age 16, but something tells me a Tony Award could be involved.

The production of the play was phenomenal.  Director, Norb Joerder deserves enormous praise, as does his entire cast and crew, for the dazzling set design and the quick background changes as each scene passed.  I’m still amazed by how many different set designs Anna Louizos produced, and by how well crafted they were.  Speaking of quick changes, I wish I had counted how many costume changes there were, but I would have lost track.   Costume designer, Carrie Robbins, might just be the scene stealer of the whole show with her numerous eye-widening outfits.   Designed with a variety of color and different styles from short shorts to winter evening wear.  It was like a 1950’s mini fashion show; you can’t wait to see what they will be wearing next!

The musical moves quickly, and at the beginning of Act II the time will really fly.  It starts with my favorite scene out of the show, an impressive tap dance number led by Phil and Judy along with the Chorus. Truly breath-taking choreography.

White Christmas is the perfect show to take your family to during this Christmas break.  There’s laughter, there’s love, there’s music, and best of all there’s snow!

WHITE CHRISTMAS THE MUSICAL is performing at Dallas Summer Musicals at the Music Hall at Fair Park thru December 29th.

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Movie Review: “Angels Sing” Is A Heart Warming Tearjerker

As if I wasn’t excited enough for the Christmas lights that would be soon be surrounding me this season, Angels Sing has got me ready to plug-in the chord and illuminate my neighborhood.

The holiday spirit isn’t for everyone and for Michael Walker (Harry Connick Jr.) it’s been gone for over 30 years.  A terrible accident on Christmas morning caused him to loose his older brother.  Everyone around Michael has tried to bring out the happiness he once had.  Sadly, nothing has ever seemed to work.  Things only get worse when Michael and his family move into their dream home that is a part of the biggest neighborhood light-show in the country.  Michael refuses to be a part of the festivities, causing conflict with his neighbors.  But when tragedy strikes, and his son starts to follow in daddy’s bitter footsteps.  Michael realizes he must make amends with his past.  With the help from a generous stranger named Nick (Willie Nelson), he is encouraged to find the joy he once felt.

Compared to other holiday films, this is much sadder than most.  I had a constant lump in my throat the entire time I was watching.  The story was good and creative in its own way.  The last thirty minutes of the film drags.  You kind of know how it is going to end at this point, so you are getting anxious to see the outcome.

I particularly enjoyed the performances by Harry Connick Jr., Connie Britton, and Kris Kristofferson.  I liked how Connick didn’t go full “Scrooge.”  His character is still a loving father and husband.  He gives a realistic portrayal of how someone would feel about a specific day that resurfaces the worst memory from your life.  You don’t hate him, you sympathize with him.

I can’t say that this film will stand out among the wave of Christmas movies this year.  But the message of the movie should be one that no one forgets.  “Memories are the best gift a father can give his son.”  To put it in terms relatable to everyone, memories are the best gift you can give anyone.  So make sure you leave great ones for people to remember you by.

Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language.

Angels Sing is now playing or coming soon to select cities.

Originally posted on

Movie Review: “Black Nativity” is Passable for a Holiday Movie

Let me just say that this movie is lucky they had such a talented all star cast, otherwise it might have been unbearable to watch.

This is a simple and standard script.  The originality lies in its musical numbers and the interesting way they parallel the story of Jesus Christ’s birth with another pregnant couple who has nothing, but never seems to loose faith.  To be fair, the film is based on the 1961 Off-Broadway play.   I have a feeling this story works better on stage then on screen.

When his mom (Jennifer Hudson) is forced to foreclose their home, Langston (Jacob Latimore) must spend Christmas break with the grandparents he never knew.  Played by Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett, the two welcome their grandson with open arms.  Since it is clearly obvious his grandparents have been living a life of luxury, Langston becomes suspicious and angry as to why they haven’t helped him and his mom financially.  Langston begins to ask more and more questions.  Leading up to what some might call a “shocking” reveal, the family secret starts to unfold.

Now I did enjoy all the moments with Whitaker and Bassett.  The two are just such great actors.  Even in a mediocre film like this, they some how make it pleasurable with their performances.  The music is great, and once again Jennifer Hudson shows off her strength in her power ballads.  Everyone else sings well, but there is a clear “Idol” out of the bunch.

It’s not even so much the cheesiness of this film that bothers me.  I like musicals, so that was not a problem for me either.  Although, some of the songs ran longer than they should have.   It was more the fact that so many problems that occurred would get resolved so unrealistically quick.  Because this film is a family holiday movie, minor details like that can be overlooked.  Had it premiered during the Lifetime channel’s Christmas movie marathon, Black Nativity would have fit right in.  In fact, the film would have been a stand out TV movie.  Unfortunately, big screen holiday competitors like The Best Man Holiday and Frozen are likely to leave more lasting impressions this season.

Rated PG for thematic material, language and a menacing situation.

Black Nativity hits theaters November 27th.

Black Nativity Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on