Tag Archives: holidays

SBox Recommends: Office Christmas Party (Movie Review)

Note: SBR never spoils. You are safe. Enjoy!

office-christmas-party-poster

Ah Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year just couldn’t come soon enough this year. With a year full of tragedy, hate, scandal, death and Lord knows what else I repressed throughout the year, it’s good to be close to the end of the year and to celebrate the most kindhearted holiday around. I needed this season. The nostalgic Christmas specials. The shining lights and heartwarming decorations. The relaxation that comes after a semester of stress and work. The pleasant sounds of Christmas songs ringing in my head day-in andday-out. The cool wintery air. (Wait I live in Florida). The slightly cooler late summer air. Most of all, I needed a good laugh.

That’s why, even in a month that has Rogue One and La La Land among others playing, I chose to watch Office Christmas Party. I wanted to laugh and get in the Christmas spirit at the same time. Does the film succeed in either of those areas, or did I make the wrong move? Continue reading SBox Recommends: Office Christmas Party (Movie Review)

Advertisements

My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies (800 & 900 View Special)

(Update: The plans for the 900 View Special have changed since this was published. I will explain it in my weekly update this Sunday. Merry Christmas until then!)

Took me long enough to get this out, right?

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year if you ask me. I hold Christmas particularly dear, and therefore uphold many family Christmas traditions at my house. There’s the standard stuff like church service, Christmas dinner, and decorating. But one of my favorite part of holiday may be the movies and specials.

From November through December, the family comes together to watch some films and programs tailor made for the holiday season. After all, it only makes sense to see them once time of the year, so why not exploit them when and while we can?

That’s why I wish to commemorate my favorite Christmas movies and share them with you guys. You only hit 800 and 900 views once, so why not?

By the way, yes your eyes don’t deceive you. Instead of my usual Top 5, I now bump it up to Top 10. Why? Because it’s Christmas, that’s why! I have two lists to make today. No, not naughty and nice, but 800 View Special and 900 View Special. (Click here if you don’t follow). So let’s start with movies and later I’ll get to Christmas specials and episodes.

One last thing, this is not the top 5; it’s my top 5. Feel free to disagree.


#10: Four Christmases

This film follows a couple played by Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. Every year since they met they have escaped spending time with their families convincing them they’re off doing charity work when in fact they go on vacation. One year they’re caught on the News before boarding a plane to Fiji. With the cat out of the bag, they are forced to spend time with all four of their families in one day.

It’s a standard movie that can be very funny at times. I’ll be honest in saying I’m surprised this is on the list, but I can’t deny that I have a soft spot for it and can’t avoid it during the holidays. Vaughn and Witherspoon are a good comedy duo and do well in playing such a peculiar yet content couple.

#9: Jingle All The Way

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a workaholic father much to the dismay of his son. After missing his karate tournament, he promises his son he’ll make an effort to put him first. To prove it, he also promises to get him his most wanted toy, a Turbo Man action figure, for Christmas. He procrastinates and forgets to get the doll. Now it’s Chrsitmas Eve, and he finds himself on a witch-hunt for the most wanted toy in America.

Sounds corny, doesn’t it? Believe me, it’s not that bad. This is one of those movies that immediately puts me in the Christmas mood. It most certainly alludes to a situation we all come across at least once when shopping for presents- all the Tickle Me Elmo stories we know too well.

#8: The Santa Clause

Tima Allen is a divorced, workaholic father (déjà-vu) who has his son over for Christmas. That night they hear someone on the roof and go to investigate. Allen startles the intruder who falls off the roof (hint-hint: it’s Santa) When inspecting the body, a card in the coat pocket says to put on the suit and proceed to the sleigh. Allen arrives at the North Pole where he is told that he’s the new Santa, much to his dismay. A year passes by as Allen starts to change into a much fatter, jollier man than he once was.

I’m sure many have seen this movie already, but it bears repeating that this is one of the great ones. It’s an interesting take on the Santa story, and a warm-hearted tale for the holidays.

#7: The Polar Express

Hope you like Tom Hanks, because he’s all over this movie.

A young boy is having a dilemma. He is having trouble believing that Santa Clause is real. On Christmas Eve night, he hears and sees an express train coming down the street. He is greeted by a conductor who tells him this train will take him to the North Pole.

This is a mandatory movie for the holidays for me. You know it’s Christmas when this movie is playing. If you haven’t seen it yet, know that the animation is beautiful, the story is enthralling (especially considering it’s based off a 20 page children’s book), and the acting is great (since many of the characters are played by Hanks).

#6: Elf

Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human who was accidentally stolen by Santa as a baby and taken in by the elves. He finds out he is human as an adult, and searches for his father “in a magical land called New York City”. His father is a workaholic (who would’ve figured), but it’s up to Buddy to put his dad in the Christmas mood.

Thanks to Will Ferrell, this movie is a laugh riot. Many of the best jokes go over kids’ heads, so I think it’s best appreciated by adults and teens. With the film’s unique character acting as a foil for the blunt, drab world around him, it’s definitely worth looking at.

#5: Arthur Christmas

In the North Pole, Santa is getting up there in age, and has two sons: Steven and Arthur. Steven is the head of what is now a technological operation delivering toys on Christmas Eve, while Arthur is resides in the mail room answering and organizing children’s letters to Santa. One year, the operation accounted for all children except for one. News of this hits Arthur hard, so he and his grandfather (the former Santa) go to deliver the last present before the night ends.

This is a new age classic for sure. For one, you’ve got to love Arthur and his clumsy, kind-hearted, bumbly, and optimistic self. You also have to admire this take on Santa’s mythos. Sure a technological Santa operation has been done before, but I like the dynamic of old vs new which isn’t often covered. Plus, the narrative hit every note it attempts to perfectly, being a charming, funny, and climactic experience throughout.

#4: Rise of the Guardians

The story follows Jack Frost, a being with the power to cause ice and snow at a whim. He roams the earth for 300 years unable to be seen or heard because he’s not believed in. One day he is selected to be the newest Guardian. Guardians consist of all the holiday icons (Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Sandman) that work to protect the children of the world. Jack is called to help the Guardians fight off the Boogey Man who tries to instill fear into the world instead of good.

I’ve seen this movie a few times before, but it wasn’t until recently I fully appreciated how great this movie really is. I guess it technically isn’t a Christmas movie since it takes place around Easter, but it employs Christmas elements and has Santa. I think this is one of the smartest Christmas movies to come out in recent years. It houses a pretty heavy and detailed story and creates a mythos all its own. Certainly a watch for anyone this or any time of the year.

#3: Die Hard

Bruce Willis is a police officer who is visiting his divorced family for the holidays. His first stop is his ex-wife’s work. While he is there, the place is taken over by a group of terrorists lead by Alan Rickman. It’s up to him to stop this attack from the inside while getting some help from the outside with a fellow cop.

Okay there’s always someone who will argue that Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie. I beg to differ. Any film taking place on Christmas is a Christmas film by default. That’s why I put one of the greatest 80’s action films of all-time on this list. The reason this isn’t higher, though, is because I tend to watch it other times of the year as well. In terms of Christmas movies, this isn’t as restricted as others on this list.

#2: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

In a snowflake exists little being called Whos, who love the Christmas holiday more than anything. To the north of Whoville lives the Grinch, played by Jim Carrey, who despises Christmas with all of his being. He hates it so much that he attempts to steal it away. So he dresses up as Santa and steals every whos’ presents.

But you already knew that didn’t you? One of Dr. Seuss’ finest stories turned into a live action movie. Sounds like an awful idea initially. While I know some who hat this movie, I don’t. This is another must-see for me on Christmas. While it may be a little too risqué in comparison to the original book, I personally don’t mind the changes. I think it’s funny and entertaining for what it is, and should at least be seen once if you somehow haven’t yet.

#1: Home Alone

Macaulay Culkin plays Kevin, an 8-year old boy in a big family taking a Christmas vacation to Paris. The morning of the trip, the whole house sleeps in, leaving Kevin at home by mistake. Kevin must now fend for himself until his parents return. It won’t be easy though, because two burglars are attempting to rob the house while Kevin is in it. Can Kevin survive being on his own while fending off the “wet bandits”?

When I think of a Christmas classic movie, this comes to mind immediately. What’s not to like about Home Alone? It’s funny, well-acted, clever, and has Joe Pesci trying to censor himself during the famous house trap scenes. Recommended without reservation!


These are ten of my favorite Christmas movies. If you get a chance this holiday season, try to catch these when they come on. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite Christmas films. I love to hear recommendations, so fire away!

Click here for My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Specials and Episodes.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

SBox Soapbox: Should Black Friday Exist?

As Thanksgiving passes it makes way to a holiday season much bigger, grander, and merrier. The final holidays of every year are quickly approaching: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. No matter which one you celebrate, no one can deny the scale of which these winter holidays wield. And the road to those wonderful holidays starts with a day known as Black Friday.

Black Friday means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It usually depends on whether you’re the business or the consumer. The avid shopper or the early bird shopper. The one who boycotts the event or the one that participates. A more universal definition would be that Black Friday is the most important shopping day of the year. At no other time of the year will you find prices this low. You need to buy presents, and the retailer wants your dollar.

Black Friday is usually the subject of a lot of controversy. Consumerism shows its true colors this weekend whether you like it or not. Every year a wave of desperate, caffeine-induced, sleep-deprived, short-tempered, and often smelly shoppers charge in full force into the nearest store to reap the greatest deals. You hear the horror stories every year. One year an employee gets trampled just to open the doors, the next an old lady sprays everyone with pepper spray for an Xbox.

With all of the infamy and hype built around this time of year I started to wonder why Black Friday is a thing. What I mean more so is whether Black Friday should exist.

First thing to discuss is why Black Friday as a scheduled event is held. The main purpose as many of us know is, while there isn’t that much literal gain from every item, it drives up sales numbers to an incredible rate. The trick is that as you buy more and more things the retailer profit gets greater and greater. Basically, it exists for the investors and disguised as a “first shopping day of the holiday season”. As we all know, companies make this happen by offering the most incredible deals of the year.

However, the reason I am beginning to question to question the importance of this day is because of the numerous days surrounding it. Allow me to explain.

While Black Friday has never seized to be a thing, the trend as if late is to expand this single day as much as possible. The result is “Black Friday weekend”, where the deals leak into the days following Friday. Plus, there’s the now popular Cyber Mondays, where the holiday sales can continue from the comfort of your web-enabled home. Not to mention the fact that online retailers still celebrate Black Friday and brick-and-motor retailers celebrate Cyber Monday. Additionally, Black Friday has been starting earlier and earlier each year; so much so that we now start Black Friday Thanksgiving Day at 6 PM. That’s right, Black Friday now starts on Thursday afternoon.

Do you see what I’m saying here? I think Black Friday has lost whatever meaning it was aiming for. With all of these things considered, I as the consumer that these stores are trying to entice have no drive to go to the store on Friday. Why would I anymore? With all of these options, I can walk in the store any day I feel like it and still get a good deal.

The only thing differentiating Friday from its surrounding days is a slightly better deal and the slightly increased chance of substantial supply of what I’m shopping for. Oh wait! There is still that incredibly high probability of injury to look forward to!

Even if Black Friday is supposed to be about the experience of it all (camping out in front of a Walmart in the cold while you join a thousand others dart into the store and all), that’s starting to become undermined as well. Yesterday was one of the most silent Black Fridays in history. All that rustle and bustle that is supposed to represent the “spirit” of it all is now being reserved for Thanksgiving night. Even those numbers aren’t much to sneeze at when those who had actual family and friend plans are less likely to walk in until the weekend anyway.

Now I’m not trying to bash on this shopping season by any means. I know for an implicit fact how many people value Black Friday. A good deal is a good deal after all. I personally never tried it, but to each their very own. All I’m trying to say is that Black Friday is a concept that is losing its meaning.

This year sparked the discussion of stores being open on Thanksgiving. It’s an interesting topic to discuss, especially now that “Gray Thursday” is slowly becoming the standard. Really quick, I think that employees reserve the right to take their holiday off from work. No one should be forced to work on a national holiday.

But relating to the matter at hand, I will guarantee that, with current trends, within 5 years stores will be open all day Thanksgiving. However, when that happens, Black Friday as we know it will officially be dead.

If yesterday is an indicator of anything, Black Friday will lose relevance in future years. Therefore, I would like to illustrate a compromise.

If the trend really is to expand the shopping day as far as it can possibly and practically get, let’s expand it another way. We already have nearly 5 days of the sale (Thursday-Monday), so why not make it a full week. If you make a “Black Week” instead of a Black “FriDAY” you could still have your increased sales season without straining so hard to make it earlier and earlier, painstakingly turning Thanksgiving into Black Thursday. So start Friday at midnight and make the deals last till the Thursday afterward.

As a customer, a week of sales sounds a lot better than a single day or even a weekend. Besides, the term “Black Friday” tends to scare people off. No one avoids Black Friday for no reason. Make no mistake about it: Everyone wants to take part in these deals. The only thing stopping them is the negative connotation with the whole notion. People will be much more drawn to shopping this time of year is you give them an opportunity they’re comfortable with.

Consider this. Black Friday is slowly going away anyway. Mark my words. Predestined days for savings won’t matter when we’re shopping on Thursday anyway. Plus, Americans are already searching for alternative ways to take advantage of the sales without stampeding into a nearby store. That’s what Cyber Monday is all about. It only makes business sense to embrace a full week of the sale.

And why wrestle with protesters disturbing the holiday rush because you decided to open on Thanksgiving when the cost-effective solution is to open later?

I realize this may not be the solution to it all. I’m just making an observation due to the hoopla made because of Thanksgiving shopping. And once more, I’d like to restate that I am not bashing Black Friday. Far from it. All I’m doing is offering an alternative idea.

What do you guys make of all of this. Does Black Friday mean anything to you anymore? Let me know in the comments because this topic really interests me. I’d love to know what your take is on this.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!