Happy Holidays and welcome! We are counting down the days until December 25th and, in that time, I will be reviewing each and every Christmas/holiday film I watch during the month. They’re mostly a selection of films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.
Please enjoy and leave a comment!
And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:
Holiday Inn (1942)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
White Christmas (1954)
Santa Claus (1959)
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972)
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
I Believe in Santa Claus (1984)
Lethal Weapon (1986)
Die Hard (1988)
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
Home Alone (1990)
Die Hard 2 (1990)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Jingle All the Way (1996)
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Home Alone 3 (1997)
Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)
Olive the Other Reindeer (1999)
Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales (2002)
I Want a Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)
Love, Actually (2003)
Home Alone 4 (2003)
Bad Santa (2003)
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)
The Holiday (2006)
Our next film is…
WATCHING: Iron Man 3 (2013)
DIRECTOR: Shane…goddamn…Black. He wrote and directed this sucker, reuniting with Robert Downey, Jr.
WHAT IS IT: Iron Man 3 is many things:
- It’s the third entry in the Iron Man franchise.
- It’s the 7th entry in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”.
- It’s the first film in the “second phase” of that universe.
- It’s our final stop on the Shane Black Christmas Tour.
THE PLOT: Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) hasn’t been mentally well since the events of “The Avengers”. He finds himself up all night, neglecting his girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), inventing every single type of suit his brain can come up with. Bad timing is everything: a terrorist named “The Mandarin” has surfaced, committing several bombings inside the United States, warning of a large-scale event come Christmas.
When Stark’s former bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau) is nearly killed in one of the Mandarin’s blasts, Stark’s arrogance gets the best of him and he dares the Mandarin to come to him and face him — which he does by sending his goons to attack and bomb his home. With Stark presumed dead by Pepper and the world, he goes undercover with his new prototype armor in order to find the Mandarin and get even.
WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: It got mostly positive reviews from critics who praised Black for inserting verbal wit and dialogue into the proceedings. They also praised the darker tone and called it more focused than the previous outing.
WHAT DID I THINK?: Robert Downey Jr. is in fine form here, having mastered the part of Tony Stark simply by virtue of playing himself. Gwyneth Paltrow is back as Pepper, Don Cheadle reprises his role as Stark’s best friend James Rhodes, and it’s nice seeing Favreau again (he directed the first two films) but the movie also has Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce and, for once, we have villains in the Iron Man films which are worth watching.
Pearce is perfection as the cocky Aldrich Killian, the founder of a company which has, essentially, unlocked and added to an “open slot in the human brain” which allows for the potential of healing and immortality. There’s more to it, of course, as Killian’s a front for “The Mandarin”, a mysterious figure (played by Ben Kingsley) who Killian is involved with for personal gain. I’d speak about Kingsley in his role but I’m not sure I can spoil it. He has a great deal of fun hamming it up as “The Mandarin” — but he’s got another side which gives him a lot more depth than you’d think…and I’m gonna stop there.
Rebecca Hall is also here as Maya Hansen, a young scientist (and one of the many “notches” on Stark’s belt from his younger days) who holds the key to what Killian needs for his plans to succeed. Unfortunately, she isn’t well-developed past that and, for some reason, he role was severely reduced in the final product which is unfortunate because when she’s on-screen, however, she’s very good.
Anyhow, as I said, this film is the final leg of our tour through the Shane Black Christmas Film Quartet (I swear, I’m adding words to that each time I write it) and it checks all his boxes:
- Features RDJ from Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.
- Witty buddy-cop banter
- Takes place during Christmastime.
- RDJ narrates the film just like Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight and like he did in the aforementioned Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.
Black’s dialogue is awesome and makes you chuckle like the previous three films of his I’ve discussed with parts of the film recalling a retro 80’s/90’s-style action film a’la Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight.
One of my favorite moments is where one of the bad guys going after an armor-less Stark is closing in on him — except Stark has improvised a booby-trap and there’s this exchange before he lowers the boom:
WOMAN: Is that all you got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?
STARK: Sweetheart…that could be the name of my autobiography.
The film is just fun and, in my opinion, is the best of the Iron Man trilogy of films.
(NOTE: And maybe I’m over-rating Iron Man 3 a bit. I have no idea. It just holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first film my wife, Danielle and I saw when we began dating and I will never forget going to see it that night with Alexis Ciara, Erick Frymire, Tim Wong, and Erin Wong and everything was new. I remember that Danielle and I went out for Pho before the movie and she was late because she was having car problems so she had me order and eat by myself and then order her Pho as take-out. I’m not kidding: Danielle snuck the entire meal into the theater. Not quite sure to this day how in the holy hell she did that but she did. And I remember her eating it right there while the movie played while Alexis looked on, confused and amazed, just like me. Then we saw this movie and we had fun. All of us laughed and clapped and everything about that night was just perfect. It was the beginning of great things. So, yeah, Iron Man 3 is always going to be special to me.)